There were perhaps a couple of periods in the history of Berlin when the city could have been perceived as the promised land for culture, subcultures and all varieties of free expression. More recent of the couple is the time right after the Wall fell, turning the capital of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland into the fertile grounds for subversive creative practices. The name for this Berlin has never been officially adopted, but one of the latest proposals would be Berlin Wonderland. This is exactly the title of the monograph recently released by bobsairport, which features series of the period photography with commentary by the key protagonists of the inspiring artistic story of the free Berlin. Cityscapes, graffiti, mixed up icons of the East and West, people, people and people fill up the pages of Berlin Wonderland book narrating the history of Berlin today.
Berlin Wonderland was released with a party on May 16, followed by the book presentation on May 22 and an exhibition that took place at the Urban Spree gallery from 5th to 7th June. Monograph can be purchased online for the price of 29.90 euro.
Hauptstadt became not only the capital once again, but the place of the culture revival in the post-Cold War period. Numerous artists and activists flocked to the city where they contributed to the rebirth of Berlin as the true artistic center through the first years of reawakening. Berlin Wall was already a symbol of division, but torn down and heavily pierced, it assumed a novel significance as the symbol of freedom in every sense. Since the early 90s, Berlin Wall was one of the greatest inspirations of the Berlin based artistic scene.
Photographers, Publishers and their outlook
Visual testimony of the Berlin Wonderland between 1990 and 1996 has been documented by a group of prominent German photographers, some of which moved to the city right after the Wall came down. Their names are Ben de Biel, Hendrik Rauch, Philipp von Recklinghausen, Stefan Schilling, Hilmar Schmundt, Andreas Trogisch, and Rolf Zöllner. These camera creatives work in the field today, but their oeuvre made in Berlin over the free years, filled with contradictory visuals, interesting portraits, half-demolished cityscapes and many depictions of the infamous wall, makes the focus of the monograph.
Anke Fesel and Chris Keller both came to Berlin in 1990, so they are living witnesses of the blossoming era. They met in 1993 and continue to live and work together to date, when Berlin Wonderland, their creative brainchild, was issued with the help of bobsairport – agency they founded in 2007 that gathers over 80 photographers, mostly Berlin based.
Protagonists and Stories
Photographs of Berlin Wonderland are accompanied by interesting statements by their protagonists. Captured on film, they now stand not only as a visual, but also written reminder of the period. Characters featured in the book are many. Artists, musicians, performers, theatre actors, pyrotechnics experts – the list is long and intriguing, while each of them portrays a personal story behind the Berlin inspired actions. Names found in the book include Inés Burdow, Kenny Diezel, Tom Diezel, Eddie Egal, Cem Ergün-Müller, Hardy Hartenberger, Robin Hemingway, Brad Hwang, Chris Krapf, Marva H. Kübler, Arthur Kuggeleyn, Friedrich Loock, Line Maaß, Bastiaan Maris, Henner Merle, Roberta Possamai, Peter Rampazzo, Uta Rügner, Jochen Sandig, Paulo San Martin, Stefan Schilling, Ulrike Steglich, Marc Weiser, Daniel Weißroth, and Peter Zach.
Urban Spree exhibition
The exhibition promoting the Berlin Wonderland book was held at the Urban Spree Gallery at the beginning of June. The look back at the golden era of Berlin was presented in a series of 50 iconic photographs selected from the 200 pieces that entered the monograph. Most of the attention at the exhibit was given to the body of work of Ben de Biel, and his singular photographic language on the verge of documentary and colloquiality, spiced with historically valid visuals.