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Ann Dijkstra, Pond, now without carps to fish (mischief), 2016

Although I was in Berlin for a few days and saw lots of interesting exhibitions and neighborhoods with creative shops and beautiful metro stations. What impressed me the most, was not Berlin but the park at Schloss Pillnitz in Dresden. I walked through the personal history of my husband’s childhood. He lived with his parents and sister in Schloss Pillnitz during the dividing of Germany in GDR (East Germany) and FRG (West Germany). Dresden was part of the GDR.

The Schloss was divided into compartments during this period in history. In each compartment lived one family. The park was the playground of the kids who lived in Schloss Pillnitz. My husband told me where he played as a child and what it looked like back then. Most of the old trees are still there. Accidentally there was an exhibition of the photographer Franz Zadnicek who showed the glasshouse or ‘Palmenhaus’ during the 1980’s, right before the fall of the Berlin wall. My husband told his childhood memories based on the photographs on show. The architecture out of cast iron and glass (in the Joseph Paxton tradition) was rusted and unstable. It was dangerous, but not dangerous enough for a child who wants to discover his environment and what this environment has to offer.

My mother-in-law showed me some little black and white pictures of the time they lived in Schloss Pillnitz. It looked like pleasant social meetings of young people, but in the end it was a hard and bitter time. These young people on the photographs made obviously the most out of a time of restriction, fear and anxiety. The park and its trees have seen and experienced all this, but stand still up to the present day and are surrendered by autumn for the umpteenth time.