robert harding pittman

Photos selected for “The Fence” photo exhibition – Brooklyn + 7 other cities

Photos selected for “The Fence” photo exhibition – Brooklyn + 7 other cities

I am honored and excited to have had my CoalScapes project selected for "The Fence" traveling exhibitions in Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta, Santa Fe, Durham, Denver, Calgary (Canada), and Sarasota, Florida, reaching over 6 million visitors annually. I will be traveling to Brooklyn for the opening and a tour with teen photographers on July 19th. This will be the first time that my CoalScapes will be exhibited publicly.


(Photographs by curator Dave Shelley, Jessica Bal and R.H. Pittman.)

If you are in New York, please stop by!
Location: Brooklyn Bridge Park - DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY.
Date: July 19, 2018
Time: 1-4pm. Teen photographers tour. / 6:30pm onwards - Artists' celebration + walking tour

CoalScapes synopsis:
Brown coal (lignite) mining was one of the largest industries in former communist East Germany, with a long tradition, making the country self-sufficient in energy production. With the fall of the Wall came the beginning of the end of the industry, with tens of thousands of people losing their jobs. Most of the strip mines were abandoned and slowly the ground water, which had been pumped out over years, is being allowed to seep back in to eventually create a landscape of artificial lakes.

The mining industry offered much employment and gave people a warm home, yet many people lost their homes as well. In addition to the tremendous environmental damage, the biggest emotional, cultural and historical cost was for those 1000’s of residents who had to give up their homes, as countless towns had to be bulldozed away in past decades to make way for strip-mining. The people portrayed here are from the former 750 year old village of Heuersdorf in Saxony, which no longer exists, and which is now a giant black hole. The volume of coal underneath the village generated only a few years of energy. (See RHP’s documentary film project – “Coal, Earth, Home” about the failed struggle to save Heuersdorf.)

Currently, the German brown coal mining industry is trying to revive itself and continues to look for new mining areas. After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, Germany made plans to shut down its nuclear power plants, which has given a boost to the coal mining industry. Once again, towns are slated to be destroyed, to make way for brown coal mining.