ross benjamin

FROM CONJUNCTIONS: 55 URBAN ARIAS

The Berlin Project
Michael Wesely
—Translated from German by Ross Benjamin
 
Germany's capital has been shaped in a particular fashion by the epochal developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Various political systems and social upheavals have been etched in the urban landscape of Berlin. The city is widely regarded as a symbol of Germany’s checkered history—its ideologies, progress, decay, division, and reconstruction have left their marks everywhere. The city's turbulent past can be read in the remains of medieval city walls and early modern pioneering achievements, petit-bourgeois allotment garden colonies and ecological urban restructuring, industrial ruins or tenements from Germany's founding period. The past is manifest in the form of megalomaniacal, monumental architecture as much as in Real Socialist prefabricated construction. It is visible in war ruins and wastelands, in baroque splendor and modernist minimalism. A number of uncompleted urban planning designs have also contributed to Berlin’s heterogeneous appearance. This juxtaposition of diverse concepts has thereby produced a field of tension unique to Berlin.
          Since reunification, Berlin has again been experiencing a great boom and enjoying international attention. Within a brief period of time, entire neighborhoods have been radically altered or rebuilt. In many ways, the city is being redefined.
          In this project I took long-exposure photographs of important sites in Berlin. Each exposure lasted a year, capturing current developments of the city. In these long exposures, the evolution of  urban space becomes perceptible as movement. Construction projects and building modifications are documented along with preexisting architecture. A contrast thus emerges in the urban structure between growth and change on the one hand, and uniformity and immutability on the other.