Feb 28–Apr 14, 2023


A place disappears
Ludwigstraße 73, 70176 Stuttgart Map
Mon-Sat 11 am-7 pm

In Germany, energy is still generated from lignite. To do this, people have to leave their homes and villages have to give way because the coveted raw material lies beneath them. The photographer and documentary filmmaker Yannick Rouault accompanies this unreal process using the example of the village of Manheim near the Hambach opencast mine near Cologne. His photos and exhibits raise complex questions about our relationship to energy, which are highly topical with the energy transition and climate change.

For those who come from the Rhenish mining area, the large landscape wounds of the opencast mine are a familiar sight. Large quantities are mined here, which has been used to generate heat and later electricity since the mid-19th century. Since then, the lignite in the Cologne Bay has been one of the most important energy suppliers for the region and beyond. For opencast mining, however, rail routes, motorways and even rivers had to be relocated again and again. Immense marks and wounds appear in the landscape. The people who live on the lignite deposits are resettled - in the Rhenish mining area alone there have been over 40,000 who have had to leave their homeland and find a new one. Even before that, the desolation of entire villages and areas began. Few endure to the end. This is how unreal scenarios are created, some of which tell of the impending demolition, decay and at the same time the enormous courage towards the big energy companies over decades.

The Munich photographer and documentary filmmaker Yannick Rouault was left speechless on his first trips through the area in 2014. He felt intuitively that this is not just a matter of resettling villages for lignite mining, but that there are many questions that will not be easy to answer. That's why he decided on a long-term documentary about the village of Manheim and the side effects associated with it. Since then, a series has been created that is less a before-and-after depiction, but rather depicts the dying of the village in poetic and emotional photographs. All photographs were taken with analogue 35mm cameras and 800 ASA films. The resulting coarse grain breaks through the technical perfection of today's photographs and enables a tactile reading.

The exhibition “Manheim – a village is disappearing” shows a selection from the more than 1,000 photographs in this series. The most recent recordings were made just a few weeks ago and give an up-to-date insight into the Manheim scenery. With his photographs, Yannick Rouault opens up numerous subject areas that raise important questions against the background of climate change and the current transformation of the energy sector. Visitors have the opportunity to complete the exhibition with their own questions and comments.

The village of Kerpen-Manheim is about 25 kilometers west of Cologne. As early as the late 1970s, it was decided that the site should give way to the Hambach opencast mine in the distant future. Mining was planned for 2022, the resettlement of around 1,700 residents began in 2012, and the first demolition work took place in 2016. Manheim gained international fame through the nearby remnant of the Hambach Forest, where the eviction of the forest squatters took place in 2018. Also east of Manheim is the Erftlandring go-kart track, where the racing career of brothers Michael and Ralf Schumacher began.