Karina Nimmerfall
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[2012] La Cité (Die Siedlung)


HD video (8 min.)
color / sound



After the end of the Berlin Airlift in 1949, Tegel Airport in West Berlin became the military base for the Armée de l'Air, the French Air Force. In order to house its military and civilian members, the French military started, at the beginning of the 1950s, to build entire neighborhoods around the base. These miniature cities were designed in the tradition of modernist large-scale building planning and functioned completely autonomously from the city of Berlin. With the German reunification and the deactivation of the Allied Forces, these small settlements were abandoned in the early 1990's by the French military and were then turned over to the German Federal Agency, whose attempts towards subsequent re-use failed in most cases.


Cité Foch, built in different stages between 1957 and the 1970's, contains more than 780 residential units, a large shopping and recreational center, as well as educational and entertainment facilities. It was the largest of these developments, and was also home to the French Secret Service and later the German Federal Intelligence Service, who used the transmission tower on this site for its electronic intelligence operations. After the end of the Cold War, the complex was sold to a private developer and has stood neglected for the last two decades. The dilapidated buildings, suffering from severe decay and currently standing abandoned, face an uncertain future. La Cité shows the different configurations of space through its various layers of history. Somewhere between document and fiction, oral history and urban myth, it engages questions in regard to the history of the site and its politics, as well as their conditions within the past, present, and even possible near future.



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