Living history: Fall of the Wall 1989

As I saw the pictures of the Wall falling on TV, I knew immediately: I have to be there. I wanted to live this historical moment. There are only a few chances to do that in a lifetime, and this was a particularly good instance. For more than 28 years the Wall had divided Germany into two parts, separating countless families and friends.

Many people from Eastern Germany lost their lives as they tried to overcome the Wall.

When joy turns into melancholy

On my arrival in Berlin shortly after the 9th of November 1989, I immediately felt this incredible mood that was embracing the city: happy faces everywhere, people talking with me, sharing their joy. I was in the middle of the biggest and longest after party ever. But melancholy was steadily taking over because almost everybody was somehow aware that the party was over, and what the next morning would bring was uncertain.
Welcome for 'Ossies' in united Germany at Invalidenstrasse.

Photographing for a better understanding

On my trip to Berlin I had been afraid of arriving too late. – Actually, the timing was perfect for photographing. Looking at the pictures I took 25 years ago, I am seeing the ambiguity of what I captured much more clearly. Photographing can be a way to understand what we see and feel.

The wide angle

I used my nearly new Nikkor 24mm f/2 for most pictures. The inspiration for that was evident, since I had directed a TV feature on William Klein, a grand master of wide angle photography. Nevertheless, it was a right choice for the situation I found in Berlin. With a wide angle lens you emphasize: either you are very close, in the middle of what is happening – or you put a real distance into your picture.

Swiss newspaper 'Der Bund' dedicated a full page to my Berlin photographs in late 1989.
There was still no access to the symbolic Brandenburger Tor. View from East Berlin.

Album: Berlin 1989 - Fall of the Wall
Surprise me

Capturing time and space

Pink Leg - Manhattan 2004

Life is oftentimes more surprising than our imagination. That's why I am a picture taker and not a picture maker. I believe that my pictures are already made, presumed I am able to see them. Some people might think I use an elaborate collage technique for the STREET ART series. Although a flattering guess, it is not accurate. There is nothing arranged or manipulated in these photographs. They are "as seen" in the streets of a city I explored with my camera.

Visual narratives

I started the SREET ART series in 1995, during one of my regular visits to New York City. Torn billboards and wild postings fascinated me from the beginning. But it's only coincidentally I made my first pictures with this motif, alongside with moody photos of lower Manhattan. - How STREET ART pictures became my thing? - It's a story with a nostalgic touch - because many things have changed since then, and the places have become history.

My laboratory

In 1995 a camera was a black box with film - no display to get a first impression of the captured photos. Fortunately in Manhattan there were many small laboratories offering to process film and print photos within a few hours. Most of them were in the Photo district, an area of photo businesses, located near the iconic Flatiron Building – my favorite part of Manhattan at that time. Probably also because in this neighborhood I had the feeling being part of this world, somehow. Going to MY laboratory became a nice habit, and it was a special moment to pic-up the prints and to contemplate what I had captured in a coffee shop nearby.

It’s in one of these moments I discovered the intriguing potential of these early STREET ART pictures: I realized that these visual narratives were microcosms of all that embodied New York City for me. Since then I developed a passion for these spots that we usually don't even notice. Unintentionally I am ready to see my next picture, wherever I am.

Eine frühe Aufnahme, welche zur Serie STREET ART führte - New York 1995