Shot in 1902, “The Flying Train” takes viewers on an uncommonly crisp journey aboard a suspended railcar. Throughout the two-minute video, riders see Wuppertal residents walking across pedestrian bridges and down dirt roadways more than a century ago. The city is known still today for its schwebebahn, which is a style of hanging railway that’s unique to Germany.
MoMA recently pulled the black-and-white footage from its vault and said that curators originally believed it was shot with 70-millimeter film rather than 68. “Formats like Biograph’s 68mm and Fox’s 70mm Grandeur are of particular interest to researchers visiting the Film Study Center because the large image area affords stunning visual clarity and quality, especially compared to the more standard 35mm or 16mm stock,” a statement notes.
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Artist Diane Meyer has spent the last several years meditating on the Berlin Wall and the physical and visual divisions between, and within, cultures. In her series Berlin, Meyer embroiders 43 photographs with meticulous stitches that overlay pedestrians, walls, and forests. Each embroidered area represents the former wall, which would have bisected or blocked the views now seen in Meyer’s photographs.
The project is part of Meyer’s broader practice of “combining a traditional, analogue process with the visual language of digital imaging,” the artist tells Colossal. “At one point, I was experimenting with large landscape images using thousands of little tiny squares of carpet remnants which functioned as pixels. I think these early experiments ultimately led me to the work that I am doing now.” Meyer explains that for the Berlin series, she sought to evoke how the wall continues to exude a felt presence in the city, despite having been removed decades ago.
I started thinking about the relationship between forgetting and digital file corruption, particularly given how photographs are strongly tied to and ultimately often replace memory. By re-inserting the Berlin Wall through embroidery, a pixelated view of what is behind the wall is seen, creating the effect of an almost ghost-like trace in the landscape.
Meyer shares with Colossal that the materials of her artistic practice have evolved over time, shifting from straight photography to more multimedia approaches, but that she has consistently returned to some core concepts. “My work has long been defined by explorations into the physical, social, and psychological qualities that characterize place,” says Meyer, shifting genre and medium depending on the conceptual framework she is working within.
Her current undertaking is Reunion, a series of elementary school class pictures from the 1970s, which Meyer explains is an outgrowth of a previous project centered around family photographs. With Reunion, the artist seeks to focus on body language by obscuring the normal focal point of facial features with stitched interventions. “I am interested in exploring these details to reveal not only the relationships between the various figures, but also how, even at a very young age, children were taught and instructed to pose in particular ways, often based on gender,” Meyer tells Colossal.
Marking 30 years since the fall of the wall, Berlin is on view through January 10, 2020, at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. See more of Meyer’s current work on Instagram and explore the artist’s archive on her website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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120,000 Ribbons Wave Across the Former Footprint of the Berlin Wall in an Installation Marking 30 Years Since the Peaceful Revolution
On November 9, 1989, German officials decided to allow residents of Communist East Germany to cross over and visit the Western, democratic half of the divided country. Though the complex process of physically and ideologically reunifying the country took about a year in total, November 9th is considered a landmark day. To celebrate 30 years since the Berlin Wall began to break down, artist Patrick Shearn (previously) was commissioned to create a large-scale installation that integrated the reflections and hopes of 30,000 people.
Visions in Motion was on view November 4th through 10th in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a location that had previously been a demarcation of division. A statement from Poetic Kinetics explained, “the artwork’s rectangular shape conjures the form of the wall; but instead of a heavy, impenetrable border, the form takes flight.” The massive installation spanned 20,000 square feet and was comprised of 120,000 fabric streamers, a quarter of which featured hand-written messages that were collected in the months leading up to the display.
Shearn is a resident of Los Angeles, Berlin’s sister city, and is renowned for his large-scale kinetic installations, which he calls “Skynets”. Tying the German installation to its sister city, the Los Angeles-area Wende Museum, which houses Cold War artifacts, invited Los Angelenos to contribute messages to Visions in Motion as well.
Shearn and his team at Poetic Kinetics are prolific creators. You can explore much more of their archive on the Poetic Kinetics website, and follow them on Instagram to keep up with their latest projects around the world.
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A Partially Submerged Train Car Provides a Dramatic Entrance to Frankfurt's Bockenheimer Warte Subway Station
Subway stations are typically just a means to an end, simple structures that allow a large overflow of commuters to enter and exit at will. It is less common for the design to be a destination in itself, like the popular Bockenheimer Warte subway entrance in Frankfurt, Germany. The station, erected in 1986, was built to look as if an old tram car had crash landed into the sidewalk that surrounds the station. The entrance was designed by the architect Zbigniew Peter Pininski who was inspired by René Magritte surrealist paintings. Although slightly dark, the work does have a hint of magical realism, making riders feel as if they are arriving at Platform 9 3/4 rather than just another subway stop in Frankfurt. (via My Modern Met)
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In 2011 Tomiyasu Hayahisa started photographing a ping pong table located in a public athletic field across from his dorm in Leipzig, Germany for a series titled TTP. Tomiyasu had first noted the location after observing a white tailed fox perched near the legs of the table, and after waiting several days for the animal to return, he began to photograph the other life forms that congregated or paused near the outdoor game. Rather than spotting the fox, he captured families, partiers, and lonesome daydreamers using the area as a bench or bed.
“At the time I had been living in a student doom in Leipzig and it was possible to photograph from window the table tennis table, how people from different countries use it in their way,” Tomiyasu told Colossal. “And it could be the message of this work that the place could be everywhere.”
If you enjoyed this series, you might also enjoy Yevgeniy Kotenko‘s On the Bench, a project which observed the daily life of a park bench in Ukraine for over a decade. TTP has been shortlisted for the 2018 MACK First Book Award. You can see more of Tomiyasu‘s work on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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German photographer Robert Götzfried (previously) seeks out unique architecture for series that focus on one particular element of a culture or place. Previous projects have documented the pipe organs of 20 German Catholic churches, observed the creative construction of Cambodia’s roadside barber shops, and captured abandoned storefronts that exist across Australia.
For the last few years Götzfried has focused on photographing the design of bowling alleys and “Kegelbahnen” across Southern Germany, most of which exist from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Kegeln is a German sport similar to bowling, however with smaller balls, only nine pins, and shortened lanes. The sport has fallen from popularity, and many of the photographed lanes’ quality has diminished with the times. You can see a larger selection of Götzfried’s photographic projects on his website, Instagram, and Behance. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Editor's Picks: History
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