Michael Bertram
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Design

DCV

Cover

Hardcover

Size

29 x 24 cm

Pages

176

Illustrations

86

Language(s)

German

ISBN

978-3-96912-047-7

The Mülheim-Kärlich Nuclear Power Station, 1975–2019

In 1975, construction began in Mülheim-Kärlich on what was to be the only nuclear power plant in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. After numerous court battles and only two years of trial and regular operation, the plant was decommissioned in 1988 and dismantled starting in 2001. The 530-foot cooling tower, taller than Cologne Cathedral, was the point of reference, landmark, and eyesore of an entire region; its time-consuming demolition became a symbol of the perennial political polarization over the decision to phase out nuclear power.

Michael Bertram (b. Mendig, 1968; lives and works in Mayen) took photographs of the reactor looming between homes and factories in order to record the future past in pictures. The plant cost seven billion deutschmarks to build and one billion euros to take back down: vast resources expended on a temporary installation that lasted forty years and left a lasting mark on the landscape, the surrounding communities, and the people who lived in its shadow. Starting with the demolition, the book presents an inverted timeline in eighty-one black-and-white photographs. The object seems to rise before our eyes until, at the end of the series, five color photographs conjure up a past that was very much present only a moment ago—a singular document of Germany’s industrial heritage.

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