SCHICHT (SHIFT) is a documentary collage. Picture by picture, we are presented with the outline of three histories which seem to be inextricably interwoven: the history of Germany, the history of mining (centered on the Conrad mine in Salzgitter), and the history of the Gerbaulet family. The film draws an arc from the first coal mining in the 1930s to the storage of nuclear waste in the now defunct mine. It hunts down the traces and remnants of history scattered throughout the city in the form of architecture, photographs and diary entries. Director Alex Gerbaulet confronts us with a densely woven fabric of memories. In hindsight, the boundary between the public and private spheres blurs. Pictures from the family album are mixed with archive footage; autobiographical moments are interwoven with regional history and images from collective memory.
Using a combination of found footage and new material, Gerbaulet develops a rich mosaic, a kind of archeology of the everyday lives of the post-war generation. These are images which give us insights into the story behind the idyllic images of tidy front gardens from the settlements of the 1950s: the mining industry which provided the materials for the Second World War, as well as for the postwar rebuilding and economic growth; the normalized symmetrical settlements built for the workers, the individual families who lived through the economic miracle. The non-chronological fragments circle around public and private memory, revealing the hidden underbelly of the town. It was here that the Hermann Göring works dug the earth, and where concentration camp prisoners were buried in the rubble. It’s here that father worked during the day, and where mother is buried. And it’s here that nuclear waste now finds its final resting place. (Lisa Weber)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist and pong film GmbH Berlin.