Layers of Berlin

May 8, 2013

Doug_Ness_120430_DSC4775Berlin is a city of layers: a city of constant change and re-creation.

When I think of Berlin, I think of Hitler, WWII and Nazi Germany, the Berlin Wall and John Le Carre novels, Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics, JFK, Ronald Reagan (“Tear down this wall!”), Leonard Bernstein conducting the Berlin Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Herbert von Karajan, Capital City, David Bowie, Lou Reed,, Art Center.

As I read about the history of Berlin on my flight over the Atlantic, I was struck at how often Berlin has transformed itself throughout its extremely colorful and turbulent history. From swampland to Prussian Capital to War zone to Industrial power, to art center and “sin city”, reformation, reconstruction, and then all over again, it has demonstrated a remarkable ability to re-create itself time and time again; layer upon layer.

Walking the streets of Berlin, I was fascinated by the graffiti, the torn posters, the great mishmash of freedom of expression. I would go back to the same location and, just a day later, the landscape was different–new graffiti painted, new posters in place of the old ones. Like tar on the road that’s since been re-paved, there was an ephemeral nature to the art on the walls.

This is my series of images captured there. Holistically, they serve as a metaphor for the long and turbulent history of constant transformation that Berlin has experienced–a constantly changing city.