The Absence and Presence of the Berlin Wall 






Berlin Wall (Mitte/Kreuzberg) (2022) archival pigment print, 24 x 16" (60.96 x 40.68 cm)

My solo show, The Absence and Presence of the Berlin Wall, was on view at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien from February 25 - March 20, 2022.

“31 years after German reunification, the division of the country is quite evidently still present and palpable in terms of the economy, politics, and psychology. Gesche Würfel, who has lived abroad for almost two decades, sets out with her project to search for clues to the former inner-German divide along the 160 km long Berlin Wall path. Using her camera, Würfel documents the breaks opening up in the city’s architecture and observes how nature has reclaimed space, apparently having obliterated many traces. In places where the Berlin Wall was erected as a border fortification system on the orders of the GDR government 50 years ago, in August 1961, there are now new forms of inclusion and exclusion, but also places offering no clues to their history. Every 2.8 km – representing the 28 years of the Wall’s history – Würfel photographically records those places where the divided city was a reality. Construction fences, the walls of houses, green apple orchards, busy roads, and abandoned forest paths are among the subjects of her photographs. Architecture and nature refer symptomatically to the psychological dimension of this historical event. Through conversations and interviews with contemporary witnesses, memorial staff, residents along the Wall, and those affected by it, Würfel exposes wounds and documents the story of reunification. People on both sides of the Wall are united by the aftermath having etched itself into their lives, reflected in their (dis)satisfaction with life.

The artist will be at the exhibition from 2-5 pm on 27.2, 06.3, 13.3., and 20.3., when she would like to interview and portray visitors. Please bring along a photo/object relating to the Wall and the state of reunification.”



Sponsored by:



Tracey Morgan Gallery – NC Arts Council – Durham Arts Council – Center for European Studies at UNC Chapel Hill – New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fiscal Sponsorship - The Puffin Foundation

Partners:

Stiftung Berliner Mauer – Universität der Künste, Berlin (UdK)



This project consists of three parts:

- 61 composite images. I cycled along the 160-km long Berlin Wall Trail starting from the Brandenburg Gate, and every 2.8 km – representing the 28 years of the Wall’s history - I photographically recorded those places where the divided city used to be reality. I took six photos at each location (front, back, left, right, sky, and ground) and combined them as composites in Photoshop. 

-Interviews with and portraits of twenty-five Berlin Wall witnesses. I also photographed the witnesses’ objects relating to their memories of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.

- Collages of Berlin Wall archive images from the Stasi Records Archive (Archive of the Ministry of State Security of the former German Democratic Republic) that is now part of the German Federal Archives. I cut out the death strip from each panorama image and collaged the remains of the images to envision new landscapes without the Wall.



0 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


2.8 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


5.6 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches

11.2 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


72.8 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


86.8 km (2021) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


112 km, 2021, archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm  / 27.56 x 41.33 inches 


126 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


128.8 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


131.6 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


156.8 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


159.6 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


162.4 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches


165.2 km (2022) archival pigment print, 70 x 105 cm / 27.56 x 41.33 inches



Neue Landschaft 1 / New Landscape 1 (2023) collaged archival pigment prints, 15.24 x 30.48cm / 6 x 12 inches, Quelle/Source: BArch MfS+HA_I+Fo+1+Bild_0123+mast (and 0016 and 0069)

Neue Landschaft. Collage 2 (2023)  ©BArch MfS+HA_I+- Fo+349+Bild_0063+mast (0097, 0058, 0064, 0083, and 0037)
Neue Landschaft 2 / New Landscape 2 (2023) collaged archival pigment prints, 9 x 12 inches (collage), 12.5 x 15 (paper size) Quelle/Source: BArch MfS+HA_I+-Fo+349+Bild_0063+mast (and 0097, 0058, 0064, 0083, 0035)






Mark