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Filling the Berlin void

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photographer Paul Raftery describes the haunted spaces where the wall once stood, captured in this series for the exhibition Berlin Void

Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism, Tiergarten. Photo: Paul Raftery

Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism, Tiergarten. The wall was on Ebertstrasse – yards away from the memorial where I took this photograph. The unknown man at the window and the red light of the cyclist provide an enigmatic quality.

Berlin Memorial Park, Nord Bahnhof. Photo: Paul Raftery

Berlin Memorial Park, Nord Bahnhof. A steel wall with the shadow of a streetlamp on it, this image has an eerie power. The shadow has a symbolic quality, reminiscent of the many repressive light towers in Germany’s recent past. Posts mark the former position of the wall.

Waste Land, Pankow. Photo: Paul Raftery

Waste Land, Pankow. As soon as I saw this space, I knew I had to shoot it: the steel-clad apartment building in the background; the two chairs; the unspoken narrative of what happens here – why are the chairs facing each other? The wall was just beyond the bushes.

Treptow, South East Berlin. Photo: Paul Raftery

Treptow, South East Berlin. On the left is one of the few remaining guard towers, while in the foreground are two playful sculptures. Placing art on a site is a typical way of reclaiming land in Berlin. In the background are warehouses where film and TV sets are made.

Bernauer Strasse, Mitte. Photo: Paul Raftery

Bernauer Strasse, Mitte. What was formerly the ‘death strip’ has become a ‘housing strip’. New-build apartments sit on the guarded wasteland beyond the wall. The juxtaposition between the old East block housing on the right and the new-build on the left tells the story.

Potsdamer Platz. Photo: Paul Raftery

Potsdamer Platz. A cold, clear December morning to record a touch of Mies van der Rohe… This was the busiest road junction in Europe before the war, a wasteland post-war, and now home to some bland architecture. The wall went through this new development.

New Housing, Hohen Neuendorf. Photo: Paul Raftery

New Housing, Hohen Neuendorf. These particular suburban houses, built on the former void, have views of a memorial to three East Germans who died trying to cross the wall. The wall passed through what is now called the white house.

Exhibition:

Berlin Voids: 25 Years After The Wall
Photographs by Paul Raftery
Anise Gallery, 13a Shad Thames, London SE1 2PU
Monday-Wednesday by appointment, Thursday-Sunday 12pm-5pm
Until 22 February

 

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