Tacita Dean’s photogravure series Palast comprises a sequence of still shots from her film of the same name, angled at the reflective surfaces of bronze-mirrored windows on the Palast der Republik, or the Palace of the Republic, a government building opened in 1976 in former East Berlin serving primarily as the seat of the German Democratic Republic parliament. The imposing structure with its 180 metres of windowed facade embodied the architectural style of the socialist government – it was named ‘the house of a thousand windows’. Dean looks at the building close up, giving no sense of its vast scale. She focuses on the visual effects of changing light and reflections of surrounding buildings as the sun sets.
For years the building had been the topic of a heated debate; some wanted to destroy the symbol of the old hated regime, and rebuild the old Stadtschloss palace which was once located on the same site; others believed the building should be preserved as a remainder of the city’s eventful history. The Palast der Republik was demolished in 2006–8.