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On Catastrophilia

Robert Polidori has a great eye for the sublime beauty — this is (philosophically speaking) something of an oxymoron, by the way — that lies hidden, in waiting, among the wreckage of devastation. His lavish photographic tableaux first came to my attention in a glitzy, upscale shopping mall in a newly built stretch of Berlin’s once-fabled Friedrichstrasse, a street that has long been littered with the fading memories of ruination. (Berlin is the capital of the modern ruin; it is also the capital of remembrance — and forgetting.)