Ingmar Björn Nolting
Hinter Fassaden

When the 19-storey Iduna-Zentrum was built in the early 1970s, it was considered Göttingen’s most prestigious property. It featured 407 apartments, a swimming pool, sauna and shopping centre. Anyone who wanted to live here had to be able to afford it. However, over time the anonymous living model became increasingly unattractive. Many owners and renters moved out, and welfare recipients as well as refugees from the former Yugoslavia moved in. As the resident structure changed, so did the building’s reputation. The concrete block is now considered not only an eyesore, but a social flashpoint as well. The shopping centre is gone; the sauna and pool have closed. Most 1970s-era high-rises share the same fate – the residential complexes have become symbols of a failed urban-planning utopia. For this long-term photography project, Ingmar Björn Nolting moved into the building for five months and portrayed welfare recipients, refugees, drug addicts, students and pensioners living in old-age poverty.

  • Architecture
  • Community
  • Drugs
  • Everyday Life
  • Germany
3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

I don’t think there was a single formative moment. It was more the many impressions and insights that you get as a documentary photographer. For me, photography has always been a key to the topics and life realities that interest me. The encounters my work has made possible have been both formative and enriching.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

When I started working on my project in Göttingen in autumn 2016, my brother still lived there. I visited him quite often and heard the stories surrounding that building. I’ve always been interested in people who live on the “edge” of our society. It was important for me to speak about it on equal terms. This is why I was preoccupied for so long with the building and some of the residents.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

Visual journalism will become more diverse, conceptually and in visual language. At least I hope it will. The future belongs to young photographers who intensively examine their topics and think about the attitude, imagery and presentation of their work. This will lead to new narrative forms that will endure, even in an ever-accelerating, digitised world.

Wie hast du Kontakt zu den Bewohner*innen in dem Haus aufgenommen und wie hat sich deine Beziehung zu den Menschen über die Zeit dort entwickelt?

Meinen ersten Kontakt hatte ich in einer Suppenküche in Göttingen. Ich traf mich dort öfter mit dieser Person, bis sie mich mitnahm zu sich. Ich habe immer versucht in einem vertrauensvollen Verhältnis mit den Protagonist*innen zu arbeiten und meine Projektidee transparent zu machen. Irgendwann wurde ich im Haus „weiterempfohlen“. An Türen habe ich eigentlich nie geklopft.

Wie hat dein Einzug in das Iduna Zentrum deine Arbeit beeinflusst und gab es Situationen, in denen du deine Doppelrolle als Bewohner und Fotograf als problematisch empfunden hast?

Eigentlich nicht. Für die meisten meiner Protagonist*innen war ich der Fotograf, der nun mal irgendwann auch im Haus wohnte. Die meisten kannte ich schon bevor ich einzog. Für mich war es viel wichtiger das Leben dort aus einer anderen Perspektive beobachten zu können, es bis zu einem gewissen Grad auch selbst nachfühlen zu können.

War es schwer für dich, einen Schlussstrich am Ende der Arbeit zu ziehen und hast du noch Kontakt zu jemandem aus dem Zentrum?

Ein solches Projekt hat kein Ende, außer man setzt sich selbst einen Zeitpunkt. Für mich war es der Termin meines Auszugs aus dem Wohnkomplex. Ich hatte drei Monate zuvor den Mietvertrag gekündigt und damit war der Zeitpunkt fix. Mir war klar, dass ich nach dieser sehr intensiven Zeit nicht mehr an diesem Thema weiterarbeiten werde. Der Abschied von den Menschen, die ich dort kennen gelernt habe, ist mir schwergefallen. Mit einigen bin ich noch in Kontakt. Wir telefonieren oder tauschen uns über soziale Netzwerke aus. (Interview: Jan Kräutle)

During the project, photographer Ingmar Björn Nolting distributed notebooks to the residents, which they could use however they liked.

Curated by Jan Kräutle

© for all photos by the photographers
© for all videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1995 in Aalen, Germany
Ingmar Björn Nolting studied photography at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts. He currently lives in Leipzig and works as a freelance photographer. His long-term projects are devoted to documenting social, geographic and geopolitical isolation. In 2018, he won the Emerge Visual Journalism Grant for the project “Behind Façades”, which is being exhibited here. Along with four other photographers, Nolting founded the DOCKS Collective.


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