Project page: christianschmeer.com/Malaise-2013
Synopsis: Malaise is a non-narrative short film and photographic series exploring Beelitz-Heilstätten. Built from 1898 as a sanatorium to care for victims of tuberculosis its intended use soon became distorted, serving as a German military hospital during World War 1 and 2, and Soviet military hospital after World War 2. Prominent historical figures recuperated in the hospital, notably; Adolf Hitler, after being wounded at the Battle of Somme during WW1, as well as Erich Honecker following his dismissal as the head of the East German government. In 1989, the grounds became the scene of 6 murders as necrophilic serial killer Wolfgang Schmidt, also known as “The Beast of Beelitz”, terrorised the area. Once considered amongst the most advanced hospitals in Europe, Beelitz-Heilstätten has been abandoned and left to dilapidate due to discrepancies over ownership.
Counting over 60 buildings spread over 200 acres, linked via underground tunnels, Malaise delves into a small fraction of the “healing town”, but attempts to convey its unsettling atmosphere through a distinct, yet delicate treatment of colours and tones. The photographic series acts in coalescence with the film, which was shot alongside the photographs and blends subtle camera movements with a selection of still images.
Project funded by IdeasTap. In-Motion Essay created as part of IdeasTap Photographic Award competition 2013 in association with Magnum Photos.