Bernhard Ludwig gave the last document of Germany's nuclear facilities

Bernhard Ludwig gave the last document of Germany’s nuclear facilities

Wrote Oscar Holland, CNN

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, a wave of mourning was felt across the world’s nuclear industry. Nearly 5,000 miles away in Germany, where the use of nuclear energy has long been the subject of controversy, the incident sounded like a death knell.

Immediately Chancellor Angela Merkel Announced He was taking seven of the country’s oldest nuclear power plants off the grid. Soon, he promised that by 2022 the rest would be permanently closed, with the state’s focus shifting to renewable alternatives.

So a year after Fukushima, when photographer Bernhard Ludwig visited a nuclear plant for the first time, he not only glimpsed a remote world – he recorded a concluding chapter in German history.

Control rods depicted inside an open reactor at the Emsland nuclear power plant in northwestern Germany. Credit: Bernhard Ludwig

“We chose a time when they were changing fuel rods,” he recalled of this first encounter in a phone interview. “We talked to the guy operating the loading machine and we were able to run it over the furnace one by one and I’d got my first picture I’d seen a few press photos, but when you were there it’s a different thing to start this project.”

In the years that followed, Ludwig toured dozens of other sites. Through a combination of paperwork, persuasion, and confidence-building, he gained rare access to the country’s end-to-end nuclear facilities as well as capturing the already ongoing devastation.

Inspired by Edward Bartinsky (a Canadian photographer known for his portrayal of human intervention in mines, oil refineries and landscapes), he decided to record the whole picture of the country’s nuclear sector – not just power plants, but research centers, and radioactive waste training facilities.
Inside the aluminum-paneled control room in the stationary FR2 research furnace Karlsruhe.

Inside the aluminum-paneled control room in the stationary FR2 research furnace Karlsruhe. Credit: Bernhard Ludwig

The resulting photos are mesmerizing at times. Ludwig’s approach to patterns and symmetry reveals the beauty hidden in intricate centrifuges, retro-style control rooms, and great cool towers that he described as having religious, cathedral-like quality.

“Sometimes equipment or things are like a person – I try to portray them,” he said. “You take a picture and don’t think so much about what it is. You get a feeling and you follow it. And every time it gets more refined.”

The rest is neutral

Ludwig has now compiled about 300 photos into a new book, “Nuclear dream“Over 400 pages, it’s a study of nuclear energy, complete with illustrations, illustrations, and contributions to physics and architecture.

The photographer also referred to the advantages of the new technology of that period as “the aesthetics of the atomic age” by vintage posters and paraphernalia. Inspired by movements such as modernism and the Bauhaus school, these early utopian paintings provide a free impetus with today’s often faded advantage paintings.

Radioactive waste can be permanently stored inside a search mine scattered below the town of Gorleben.

Radioactive waste can be permanently stored inside a search mine scattered below the town of Gorleben. Credit: Bernhard Ludwig

Yet Ludwig says he is not for or against nuclear power, but is interested in a “neutral” technology that once promised the future. He said his intention was to promote the country’s invisible world, not to promote or criticize the country’s energy policy.

“It was indeed a document,” added Ludwig, who said the dispute over nuclear power was like a “civil war” in Germany. “You have two camps. It’s like you’re Trump’s America

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Although Fukushima’s catalyst worked Widespread public opposition Germany is a country committed to establishing a nuclear power plant 20 years ago. Debates over the perceived dangers and shortcomings of nuclear energy are still old.

Left-wing demonstrations outside the nuclear facilities were common in East Germany in the 19 1970s, and there were frequent violent clashes with police. Proposals to remove radioactive waste from Gorleben’s salt mines have since made the small town a beacon for protests. (In Ludwig’s book, Germany includes a picture of an explorer scattered beneath the Gorleban as part of an ongoing search for a permanent answer to its nuclear waste problem).

Ludwig's project also took him to the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in present-day Ukraine.

Ludwig’s project also took him to the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in present-day Ukraine. Credit: Bernhard Ludwig

The real “turning point” for Ludwig, however, was Chernobyl. The catastrophe of 1986 – which sent radioactive results across Europe – caused Increases the rate of cancer And the one-thousand-square-mile area of ​​present-day Ukraine has become heavily populated – the controversy in Germany has changed dramatically. Soviet-designed facilities in the east of the country, such as the Griffswald nuclear power plant, were canceled after the country’s reunification. And no new nuclear power plants have been built in Germany since the 1990s.

In addition to visiting sites in Finland and Brazil, Ludwig also made pilgrimages to the Chernobyl exclusion zone to paint a more complete picture of the art. The images he provided, along with wonderful images of the doomed plant’s long-abandoned control room, helped maintain purposefulness and balance in the project, he said.

“If you publish hundreds of pictures about nuclear energy that show its hidden beauty and you don’t show disaster, it won’t be true.”

Nuclear dream: The hidden world of nuclear energy, “Published by DOM, now available.

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