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Cold War remnants of East Germany displayed in photography exhibit

Two decades since its end, the Cold War’s effects on Eastern Europe are still visible in many ways. One example is the work of photographer Fredrik Marsh.

As showcased in his exhibition, “Transitions: The Dresden Project,” Marsh’s photography depicts abandoned and decaying architectural remnants of the former Soviet Bloc. His images capture the forgotten shells of industry on the outskirts of Dresden, Germany.

In 2002 Marsh traveled to Dresden as part of an artist exchange program funded by the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Unsure of what exactly he was going to photograph, Marsh did have a clear idea of what he didn’t plan to shoot.

“I wasn’t trying to make the touristic, postcard kinds of pictures that everybody else makes of the city,” Marsh said.

After being pointed to the outskirts of Dresden, Marsh found the subject he was looking for in the abandoned hotels, factories, and apartments which have remained largely untouched for decades. Marsh’s project grew beyond anything he had expected prior to arriving in Dresden.

“It just snowballed, and changed, and kind of took on a reality of it’s own,” Marsh said.

Marsh’s photographs offer a look back in time, but also a contextual understanding of today’s Eastern European society. The images of desolate buildings stand in stark contrast to the growing and vibrant city of Dresden. As evidence of this growth and development, the seemingly static subjects of Marsh’s work are being renovated or replaced.

“What I was photographing is disappearing very quickly. As it should. It’s a 20-year-old remnant of the Cold War,” Marsh said.

Marsh, an OSU alumni, was born in Quantico, Va. and now resides in Columbus. He has shown his work in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as locations in Syria, China and Germany. He has not, however, forgotten his roots as a Buckeye.

“I’m still really proud of the fact that I’m an OSU grad,” Marsh said.

Marsh’s photography will be on exhibit at the OSU Urban Arts Space through Mar. 27. “Transitions: The Dresden Project” will also feature a film and a selection of objects recovered during Marsh’s time in Dresden. On Thursday Jan. 28, Marsh will be at the Urban Arts Space to do a walkthrough of the exhibit, as well as a discussion and book signing.

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