PHOTOGRAPHER AND VISUAL STORYTELLER
When people goes to Praque they wan't to see the bridge, the Karl Bridge, filled with tourists, entertainers, hustlers and souvenir sellers.
Frankly, I haven't seen that bridge in a long time, but anyway I also go to Prague to see a bridge, Nusle Bridge, also called Suicide Bridge.
Nusle Bridge is placed 3 km south of Karl Bridge, built in 1968-1971 from stretched concrete, one of the first really big constructions of its kind.
The architect was only 28 years old and won the assignment in an architecht competition.
In 1968, Czechoslovakia was part of the Soviet controlled eastern part of Europe.
In 1968 the people of Czechoslovakia wanted something else and caused the Praque Spring revolution, which was covered in pictures by Josef Koudelka, now Magnum.
The revolution lasted almost 9 months and ended by an invasion from the Soviet Union.
One reason for the long period of time before foreign interaction was partly because of Praque being an ancient fortress and that mainroads into the city was easy to block.
Coincidently the nusle Bridge was on its way, and could have help the invaders to react more quickly.
Because of the revolution and the late reaction, the bridge had to be changed during the construction, so that it could transport heavy Soviet trains and not only light metrotrains, just to be sure if future revolutions should occur.
The bridge was in 1970 stressed tested using military tanks, both as a practical way to add weight, but also as a power demonstration to the population.
ME AND THE BRIDGE
But in 2014 this bridge cought my attention. I was in praque on a workshop with Ron Haviv (SEVEN) and accidentialy stumbled over the brutal construction and the old buildings beneath, where a full community of people live their daily life.
I photographed the bridge for a full day and decided to return later for more pictures and stories.
On my next trip I discovered a small memorial site, like a burial, just under the bridge and tried to find out what happened, and the story just caught my interrest from there.
After asking several people an old man finally told me what had happened.
A young girl had walked on the bridge, outside the barriere, until she was over the railway tracks under the bridge and had then killed herself by jumping.
This story made me curious and I went back to Copenhagen to investegate in the matter online.
This is what I learned.
Over a period of 30 years 300 people had killed themselves jumping from the bridge. In the same period 3000 people had been stopped in trying to do the same.
The numbers are enourmous considering that the places, people drop, is the home or parkinglots for thousands of innocent people.
One dead pr. month, 10 attempts pr. month being stopped, with all the commotion and stress it had caused.
I started talking to people living under the bridge and heard stories of children finding skullfragments, traffic being stopped, flying suiciders and kids learning to look up, not left and right when crossing the street, etc, etc.
I even visited the now aging architecht and had a coffee, a brandy and a nice talk.
Since 2000, where the the bridge was equipped with a very tall and save fence, the number of suicides has dropped a lot.
OLE BO JENSEN - COPENHAGEN - +45 61790820 - OLE@IMAGEBUREAUET.DK
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