Ruins of the Cold War
Following the creation of Czechoslovakia’s border security zone, adjacent settlements lay in ruins. For their former Sudeten German residents, the area’s dismal condition was a precondition for the “prayer wall,” expected to compensate for the losses. This chapter interprets their documentation of Eastern-bloc destruction as an attempt to validate new construction to the border’s west. It posits that photography, a medium essential for the task, faced a major challenge. Images of Cold War debris ran up against the formidable pictorial rubble legacies of World War II and the postwar period. Photography’s ability to point to a clear referent—its indexicality—verged on collapse. The chapter details how the aspiring chroniclers of Cold War ruins tackled this predicament.
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