Wednesday, 6 May 2009


I haven't been to Berlin since before the wall came down, when the world, or at least Europe changed forever. The cold war seems a long time ago now thank heavens.
 I used to live in Bergen-Belsen; the site of the infamous concentration camp, immortalised by the British photographer George Rodger, who was the first photographer to arrive and document the camp after it was liberated in 1945. Little remained when I lived there, as the original camp had been destroyed.
I was lucky enough to spend many fantastic weekends in Berlin, in both the East and West, though the East was a dire place to be, and it was always a relief to pass back into the West through Checkpoint Charlie.

Back to the present day, we visited The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a sobering site, vast in scale, and very impressively constructed. It was finished in 2004, and there are a total of 2711 concrete slabs, which you can walk amongst and at places, disappear from sight. Even when photographed in colour, the images look black and white, which seems appropriate. Words are inadequate to describe this place.

The trip to Berlin was to photograph the American born choreographer William Forsythe of Ballet Frankfurt. If 'Dance' isn't your thing, catch up with his work (here now in the UK) and have your mind changed for you. The lighting on the show I saw was the best I've ever seen on stage anywhere, ever, and I came away wiser for the experience. Forsythe was also a dream to photograph, helpful, enthusiastic, inventive, engaged and fun too. If only......

And whilst in Berlin, I photographed the artist Thomas Demand, who uses, amongst other media, photography to create his work. We spent a fascinating morning in his studio, learning about how he constructs his images. Commenting on his pristine 10x8 camera he shrugged and said no wonder it's clean; it only takes about 4 photographs a year.

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