Category Archives: Berlin

New York/Berlin

Arcaid shortlisted photos, World Architecture Festival, Berlin

This picture popped up on my twitter feed just a little while ago. It’s the installation of the finalists for the Arcaid architecture photograph award at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

That’s my picture at the far right. Attendees of the festival vote for their favorite photograph, and the winner is announced at a gala dinner that closes the event.

New York/Berlin

Ebertstrasse, Berlin, 1989 — © Brian Rose

28 years ago today, the Berlin wall opened. It was a moment of joyous celebration, a triumph of the human spirit, and an eternal symbol of freedom against repression.

28 years later, we are in a much darker place as the shadow of authoritarianism stalks once again in the United States and abroad.

But let us not doubt, on this day, that an aroused public will not permit the walls of hatred and tyranny to stand. And those who desecrate our ideals, and seek to tear apart the bonds that unite us, will be vanquished.

“A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”  — The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

New York/WTC


A great article and interview about WTC in CityLab, The Atlantic’s web zine about urban affairs.

Mark Byrnes writes:

…most who page through WTC will contemplate Manhattan’s relentless transformation since a turbulent and mythologized 1970s. Change has come through economic shifts, public policy decisions, and tragedy. Rose’s work provides a clear, visual understanding of what the city has lost and gained through it all.

Please support WTC by pledging to my Kickstarter campaign.
Your help is needed!!

New York/Borders

The former Iron Curtain border, Germany, 1985 — © Brian Rose

It was fearsome thing up close, the walls and fences that divided Europe during the Cold War years. From a distance it sometimes appeared more benign — silvery ribbons of steel following the contours of the landscape. But the reality was plain — it was an apparatus created by autocratic governments for repression — and its dual purpose was to keep its own citizens imprisoned, and to limit the influence of western culture. Hundreds died trying to escape.

It was also a dangerous line in the sand between nuclear powers, and any incident along that line had the potential for triggering global catastrophe. I photographed the border in the 1980s, and I documented the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Mexican/American border 2016 — Photograph by Kirsten Luce  (New York Times article)

The border between the United States and Mexico can appear similar to the old Iron Curtain with miles of steel fencing snaking through the undulating desert Southwest. It is not the Iron Curtain — it serves a very different purpose — but it, too, is a deadly and dehumanizing scar on the land.

The leading presidential candidate for the Republican Party proposes to extend the fencing across the entire border with Mexico and make it taller, more impenetrable. A beautiful wall, as Donald Trump says.

There Berlin Wall, 1985 — © Brian Rose

The problems of illegal immigration and the desperate flight of refugees seeking freedom will not be solved by a higher, stronger, more efficient — and deadly — wall. It’s a fool’s errand. And the antithesis of American values.

The East Germans euphemistically called their border fortifications the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, or anti-fascist protective rampart. Trump’s beautiful wall is fascism — nakedly expressed, for all to see.

New York/Berlin

Lichtgrenze (border of light) in Mauerpark  — © Brian Rose

It has taken a while to scan my Berlin negatives from last November. I was there on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the wall, November 9, 1989, to be exact. The first couple of days were dark and grey, typical for the season in that part of the world. And then I had two days of sun. The image above shows the installation of inflated balloons that formed the LIchtgrenze (border of light) that marked the trace of the former wall through the city. At night, LED lights mounted in the balloon bases, made them glow. During the day, they appeared like a string of pearls stretching across the cityscape.

I shot about 70 sheets of film in the four days leading up to the 25th anniversary, and scanned about 2/3 of them. I think there are about 15 images that are keepers. Working up the scans in Photoshop is time consuming. They are large files — about 500 MBs each — and the level of detail that I bring to coaxing the right look and feel out of the negatives is substantial. It’s relatively easy to color correct globally, but to get everything singing in an image can take hours. And something that looks great one day, can look drastically different the next. Such is the subjective nature of color.

These are the first of the 4×5 scans completed. You’ve seen some of these images before, but those were actually taken with my point and shoot, usually held on top of my view camera.

Footbridge with LIchtgrenze — © Brian Rose

Reichstag and other government buildings on the Spree — © Brian Rose

This was a carefully set up shot on a promenade along the Spree, the river that wanders through the center of Berlin. The domed building in the rear is the Reichstag. I felt that I needed something like this — a visual coda, a bit of photographic bravura, for my project that began almost 30 years ago.

Bernauer Strasse display — © Brian Rose

Berlin Wall exhibition in Arkade shopping mall at Potsdamer Platz — © Brian Rose

The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall was, of course, a moment both celebratory and reflective. Much damage was done by the division of the city and the Cold War division of Europe in general. People were killed attempting to escape the communist east. Life ambitions were curbed by repression. On the one hand, the reunification of the country meant that the democratic west with all its creative opportunities prevailed, but on the other hand, its crass excesses overwhelmed the more sober lifestyle of the east. And so here we are presented with the perfect dialectical complexity of contemporary Germany. An exhibition about the wall with fake artifacts, a kitschy reconstruction of a guard tower (a real one can be found 500 meters away), juxtaposed with riveting footage of the wall being built in 1961 and people making desperate dashes for freedom. All of it packaged and on display in the Arkade shopping mall in Potsdamer Platz.

Topography of Terror site and former Luftwaffe Headquarters — © Brian Rose

A few blocks away from the commercialism of Potsdamer Platz one finds the Topography of Terror — the exposed foundations of the Nazi Gestapo/SS headquarters, a preserved strip of the Berlin wall, and the former headquarters of the Nazi air force. The visual compression of history here is profound.

Wall remnant near the Nordbahnhof — © Brian Rose

There are only a few stretches of the inner wall that still exist — the easily recognized graffitied concrete slabs with the pipe along the top. People were eager to see it all hauled away after its opening in 1989. People now wish they had kept more of it. But there are many lengths of outer wall that can be found around the city especially along rail yards and abandoned industrial areas. Most people don’t even realize that these are remnants of the double walls that surrounded West Berlin.

Stay tuned for more photographs.

New York/Berlin

Lichtgrenze (light border) along the Spree with the Reichtstag and other government buildings.

I’ve just started scanning my 4×5 negatives from Berlin. So, let’s begin with the last one — the last piece of film, in fact. The light border marking the course of the former Berlin Wall followed the Spree River in the heart of Berlin 25 years after the wall came down. The Reichstag in the background.

I began this project almost 30 years ago when I made my first trip along the Iron Curtain in 1985. It may end here. with this picture.

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
– Leonard Cohen


Berlin/New York

Checkpoint Charlie — © Brian Rose

Wall hysteria at Checkpoint Charlie. Here we are 25 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the interest — the obsession — with the wall is stronger than ever. “The Berlin Wall, See it Here.” A large drum-like structure contains some sort of multi-media wall experience. I didn’t’ go in.

The Brandenburg Gate — © Brian Rose

A blue sky scrim in front of the gate with the globes of the “light border” running across the stage. After several cloudy days, the real sky mimicked the artificial sky, or vice versa. TV cameras were in position, music stages prepared for bands and orchestras, grandstands were erected for VIPs.

Niederkirchnerstrasse — © Brian Rose

Before the light globes were inflated, the stands were placed along the path of the former wall, with plastic bags over the LED lights that illuminated the balloons once they were mounted. A Dutch bike was parked against a street pole. An ad for a Walker Evans exhibition stood at right. On the billboard across the street, a thank you to world leaders, notably Mikhail Gorbachev, stood next to a McDonald’s ad.

iederkirchnerstrasse (detail) — © Brian Rose

1-2-3 Cheese! Danke! Spasibo! Thank You! Gorbachev, a hero here in Germany, gets top billing. George Bush (the father) is off to the side.

Arcadia shopping mall, Potsdamer Platz — © Brian Rose

An jarringly incongruous exhibition in the Arkade shopping mall at Potsdamer Platz featured freshly made border signs.

Arcadia shopping mall — © Brian Rose

A kitschy mock-up of a guard tower stood in the center of the mall while very real, riveting, historic images of the Berlin wall being built played on a video screen.

Potsdamer Platz rail station — © Brian Rose

A snow slide in Potsdamer Platz mounted directly along the former trace of the Berlin wall. Throughout my trip, moments of dignity and gravitas were offset by moments of commercial crassness. Potsdamer Platz is a business and shopping center, but it’s only two blocks from the Holocaust memorial, two blocks from the site of the Nazi Gestapo headquarters, and one block from Hitler’s bunker. Shopping is one thing — over the top Time Square style advertising is another.


Berlin/Bernauer Strasse

bernauersignsBernauerstrasse — © Brian Rose

Signs mounted along the path through the former no man’s land along Bernauer Strasse. When the wall first went up in 1961, it began as concrete blocks topped with barbed wire. Neighbors could still call out to one another over the wall. Here you can see them standing on ladders or climbing on street poles. The provisional nature of the wall gradually gave way to standardized system that was effective and deadly.

When I began photographing the wall in 1985, it seemed that it was forever. But I had my doubts. It wasn’t that I could see obvious changes on the borderline, but having traveled to the east side a number of times, I came to realize that East Germany — indeed the whole communist/soviet project was held together with brutal force and an inordinate amount of duct tape and chewing gum. I couldn’t understand why the American government couldn’t see that as well. And above all, as the 80s wore on, the push back from citizens of the East — from to shipbuilders of Poland to the students in East Berlin’s Prenzlauerberg (where this photo was taken) became more and more intense.

Nevertheless, in 1987 the New York Times editorial page insisted that the division of Germany was just “a part of the furniture” of the global balance of power. I took issue with that, and my letter to the editor was published with a wonderful accompanying cartoon from the illustrator Suter.

The wall came down two years later.





LIchtgrenze — © Brian Rose

Some 8,000 illuminated balloons mark the line of the former Berlin wall as it snaked through the center of the city. Here the “light border” passes over a foot bridge above train tracks heading toward the Fernsehturm (TV tower) in the distance. On the evening of November 9th, the balloons will be released into the air.



iphone6Potsdamer Platz — © Brian Rose

The wall once ran directly through Potsdamer Platz, and now a double row of cobblestones marks the trace of the outer wall through the mostly paved square. A series of wall slabs with exhibition photos and text in between are placed directly on the former borderline.

The blue boxes have something to do with the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down. I’ve seen them in various locations. I suspect they’ll be stacked up and toppled.

After the wall came down Potsdamer Platz was recreated almost from scratch. Very few buildings had survived the war or the post war demolition in the border zone. Important planners and architects were brought in to make it, once again, a focal point of commercial and cultural life of the city. Commercial tawdriness has taken over to a great extent.

Topography of Terror — © Brian Rose

A short distance from Potsdamer Platz is the Topography of Terror, the former site of the Nazi SS and Gestapo headquarters. A long stretch of the Berlin wall still stands just above the excavated cellar walls of the Gestapo building. In the rear is the former Luftwaffe (air force) building.

Topography of Terror — © Brian Rose

The exhibition building, designed by Ursula Wilms, is a simple modern box with a steel mesh skin. At dusk, the lights inside can be seen through the mesh. Much of the site is covered in a grey gravel. To the left is the former Europahaus, one of the few buildings near Potsdamer Platz that survived Allied bombing, and one of the first modern high rise buildings in Berlin. To the right is Martin Gropius-Bau, a museum, that is currently exhibiting the photographs of Walker Evans.



Bornholmer Strasse, Berlin — © Brian Rose

My first day in Berlin in five years. I am here for the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin wall. I am adding to a project that began in 1985 when I traveled across Europe photographing the Iron Curtain including Berlin.

Much building has occurred in the open areas that comprised the no man’s land between the double walls that ran through the city dividing it and surrounding what was once known as West Berlin. But even now, over 60 years since World War II, and 25 years since the wall came down, Berlin still exhibits scars and wasteland. It is, however, a greatly transformed place.

The Berlin wall, physically, is mostly gone. There are strips of it here and there, now landmarked, after years of a greater desire to see it gone. But the wall exists more vividly than ever in the imagination and in history, which is always present in this city haunted by the past like no other.

I made my first photographic venture yesterday going to Bornholmer Strasse, a place I had never photographed before, the location of the first border checkpoint to open in the evening of November 9th 1989 when thousands flooded across, there and shortly after, at other crossing points.

There is a monument to that event just across the bridge that crosses the railroad tracks where the border checkpoint used to stand. Large black and white photographs show the crowds of East Germans rushing across into West Berlin. Some of the wall still stands here. Not the outer wall that faced West Berlin, but part of the inner wall on the east side next to the border checkpoint.

Bernauer Strasse — © Brian Rose

From there I went two S-Bahn stops away to Bernauer Strasse, the location of the main Berlin wall monument. It extends for several blocks and includes sections of the original wall as well as visual interpretations such as the row of steel rods seen above. There are large images fixed to the plaster walls of apartment buildings — blank walls created when residents were evicted and buildings torn down to create a wider and more enforceable no man’s land. In the early days of the wall, Bernauer Strasse was the scene of many dramatic escapes as people leapt from windows that overlooked the west, and many were killed or injured.

There were many visitors to the memorial when I was there, and a motorcade of unidentified men in suits toured the grounds with police and bodyguards hovering around. Today, the S-Bahn drivers are going on strike for part of the day, and will operate fewer trains than normal throughout the week. This will potentially disrupt the festivities planned around the 25th anniversary of the wall coming down — a moment commemorating national unity and the ongoing fight for human rights — and I’m guessing their action will not be much appreciated by anyone.


New York/Border Photos



A time out from my Lower East Side book and exhibition.

My photographs of the former Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall are currently featured in the journal MAS Context. To quote their website, MAS Context, a quarterly journal created by MAS Studio, addresses issues that affect the urban context. Each issue delivers a comprehensive view of a single topic through the active participation of people from different fields and different perspectives who, together, instigate the debate.

The photographs shown begin in 1985 when I first began traveling across Europe with the view camera documenting the landscape of the Iron Curtain and come forward to a few years ago when I was last in Berlin. I have continued to photograph the area where the Wall once ran through the city. Although the border zone has become less visible over the years, there are still moments of urban disjuncture, as well as historical markers, remnants of the Wall, and the presence of new architecture and monuments.

In the last picture of the series, an East German Trabant, the iconic mini car, hovers from a video screen next to the Brandenburg Gate.




New York/Mitch Epstein

Berlin by Mitch Epstein

I picked up Mitch Epstein’s Berlin recently. Published by Steidl, it is the product of a six month residency at the American Academy in Berlin. Epstein writes in the introduction about  his Jewish family’s refusal to visit Germany, and how he first went there  at the age of 49 to work with Steidl and to mount several exhibitions. Surprisingly, Germans had become some of his staunchest allies. He describes Berlin as ” more complicated and poignant” than any city he had known save Hanoi.

Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauerstrasse – © Mitch Epstein

As you can imagine, given my decades long commitment to photographing Berlin and its Wall–the real concrete one that came down in 1989, and the ongoing Wall of the imagination and historical presence–I was interested in what Epstein would bring to the subject. I have never met Mitch, though we both went to Cooper Union in the 1970s–he a couple of years before me. And I have always had the highest regard for his work, especially his recent book American Power, an extraordinary journey across the United States focused on the use and abuse of energy.

Checkpoint Charlie – © Mitch Epstein

I love Epstein’s photograph of Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most historically charged places in Berlin , the former Allied border crossing and scene of Cold War standoffs with the Soviets. It’s a perfect depiction of one of the the things I find fascinating about Berlin–deep and sobering history juxtaposed with crass commercialism and touristy kitsch. Berlin, the book, is a compilation of historical sites, many famous or infamous, others only known to those who have done the kind of research Epstein did.

The Dalai Lama at the Brandenburg Gate – © Mitch Epstein

Only a few of the photographs show the urban vibrancy of Berlin, a missing element, perhaps, but it is absolutely true that one can find oneself utterly alone at times in this vast and dispersed metropolis. There are abundant open spaces–former industrial wastelands and abandoned railroad yards–and the grassy ribbons of land where the Wall  and death strip once ran. Berlin is still a semi-cultivated city, a wild tangle of layered past and present, resistant somehow to the homogenizing power of money, which has sanitized so many other cities, especially in western Germany.

Stasi offices and interrogation rooms – © Mitch Epstein

As much as I like the photographs in Berlin, and I applaud its overall intent, I find this an oddly incomplete book–and not just because it offers only 37 images. The historical importance of each site photographed is clearly noted and visually explicated, but sometimes I sense that Epstein could not quite find a way to express the complex nature of the Berlin he alludes to in his introduction. Epstein does provide occasional glimpses of the new Berlin, a city in the midst of civic and cultural reinvention, however obliquely. But the limited  scope of the pictures gives the book the feel of an exhibition catalogue.

Lichtenberg – © Mitch Epstein

Epstein stumbled upon the scene above. There is no specific historic site here. But we are in the heart of the city in a large open plain with communist era housing blocks in the distance. Circus elephants caper about the field as if they have been transplanted from the African Savannah. Berlin, the city, is full of these moments of lyrical strangeness–I wish there was a little more of it in Berlin, the book.

Nevertheless, there are few photographers of Mitch Epstein’s creative  intelligence and visual acuity, and those attributes are amply evident throughout Berlin.

New York/MoMA


MoMA photography gallery — © Brian Rose

I am happy to announce that one of my photographs is on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. The permanent collection galleries have recently been reinstalled including new acquisitions–like mine–and historic photographs. My print can be seen at right in the picture above. It is one of my recent Berlin images acquired by the museum last fall.

William Christenberry photo above, Brian Rose below — © Brian Rose

Kudzu Devouring Building, near Greensboro, Alabama, photography by William Christenberry

Mauerstrasse, Berlin, 2006 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

My photograph is paired with one by William Christenberry, one of the pioneers of color photography, who is known, particularly, for his images of vernacular architecture, signs, and the rural landscape. A few years ago Christenberry did a series of images of structures enveloped by kudzu, the non-native vine that has become ubiquitous in the south.

There is an interesting symbiosis between the two images–a building being devoured by natural forces, and my multi-layered deconstruction of architecture in the heart of Berlin. The one concealing, the other revealing. It is also an honor to be shown with an artist of Christenberry’s stature, and in the same room with Tina Barney, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Leandro Katz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Jan Groover, and other noteworthy photographers.

Framework Houses by Bernd and Hilla Becher — © Brian Rose

I’ve written in the past that it sometimes seems that the Bechers are overexposed. You can’t go anywhere without seeing their images, often in large grids, like the Fachwerk facades above. But let’s face it, this is brilliant work, especially this grouping. Their approach transcends genres. It is rigorous and seemingly impersonal, but in the end, suffused with pathos for human endeavor.

New York/Uniquity

Lower Manhattan by Corinne Vionnet

Photographic plagiarism is an almost meaningless concept. I don’t mean the stealing of copyrighted images, which is generally a well-defined legal matter, but the idea that particular images of places and things are proprietary, that repeating the same view, or imitating another photographer’s compositional approach, constitutes an infringement of someone’s unique vision. It is possible to point disapprovingly at photographers who deliberately copy the work of others. You can call them unoriginal, even unethical. But it is a slippery slope to go down because the reality is that the visual world is fair game.

Corinne Vionnet’s images of popular tourist sites around the world demonstrates this well. She combines hundreds of photos available from Flickr and other photo sharing services taken from similar perspectives creating ghostly mimetics–pictures of pictures–expressing collective visual iconography.


The images made by tourists are picture imitations. They demonstrate the desire to produce a photograph of an image that already exists, one like those we have already seen. It is in fact a style of manipulating the viewer. Why do we always take the same picture, if not to interact with what already exists? The photograph proves our presence. And to be true, the picture will be perfectly consistent with the pictures in our collective memory.

The Brandenburg Gate by Corinne Vionnet

I use the two image above because they include icons that have figured prominently in my own work. Although I strive for images that go beyond visual cliches, I have never entirely avoided the obvious or the commonplace. The urban landscape we live in–even the natural landscape–is to a great extent prepackaged,  designed, and pre-consumed. I consciously work with and against these structural constants, both physical and those imprinted on our brains. The pictures below could easily work into Corinne Vionnet’s Brandenburg Gate compilation.

The Brandenburg Gate, 1985 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The Brandenburg Gate, 1989 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The Brandenburg Gate (4×5 film) –© Brian Rose

All three of my Brandenburg Gate pictures are locked into the axial and symmetrical nature of the space and architecture, but they are all on some level meta-images, images about images, a step removed from representation of the icon itself.

As much as I feel that I own the subject of the Berlin Wall, and to a much lesser extent Berlin itself, there have been lots of other photographers who have covered the same terrain, sometimes coming up with startlingly similar images. I have known and admired John Gossage’s work since I was a student. His book The Pond has recently been re-released. I did not know, however, until a short time ago that he also photographed the Berlin Wall back in the 80s around the same time I was there. Here are two of our photographs taken from similar vantage points:

The Berlin Wall by John Gossage

The Berlin Wall (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

Another photographer I greatly admire is Thomas Struth, who has photographed streetscapes and architectural subjects all over the world including Berlin. Just after the Wall came down he and I, unknowingly, both photographed along Bernauerstrasse where a wide swath of former no man’s land sliced through rows of buildings in the neighborhood Prenzlauerberg. Here are two pictures:

Photograph by Thomas Struth

Bernauerstrasse (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The world is awash in images. Legions of photographers, professional and amateur, have fanned out across the globe to document seemingly every scrap of land and every crumbling ruin no matter how banal. For me, it is occasionally deflating, thinking about this glut of imagery. But I have been doing this for a long time, doggedly following my nose where it leads, ignoring the trends and the crowds. Sometime, when I set up my view camera, people point their cameras over my shoulder, or even stand right in front of me and take a picture of what they think I am photographing.

What to make of all these similar images of the same subjects? For one thing, they are rarely identical. A millimeter this way or that can make all the difference. The transient quality of light and atmosphere. The passing stray cat, the discarded soda can, the random interplay of people moving through the scene. All these variables give the image its uniqueness. But what’s equally important, I think, is not the individual photograph, but the gradual accretion of images made over an extended period of time by a particular photographer.

I think it’s inevitable that photographer’s paths will cross and images occasionally overlap. You can’t copyright a view, and there are a lot of 1/125ths of a second to go around. Imitators will be seen for what they are. But don’t try to steal one of my images of the Brandenburg Gate. If you don’t want to pay for the rights, you can always go to Berlin, find where I stood, and get your own Brandenburg Gate.





New York/Two Images

I mentioned a few months ago that I was expecting the Museum of Modern Art to acquire two of my photographs. It is now official. The acquisition committee approved the purchase. This is not the first time I have sold prints to the museum. They have previously acquired images from my Lost Border/Iron Curtain series. But, I am pleased that they have now added more recent work from Berlin and Amsterdam.

Mauerstrasse, Berlin (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose
From the series Berlin: In from the Cold

Since the Wall came down I have been returning to Berlin every couple years looking at developments in the former border zone, and venturing beyond to places and themes that resonate with my earlier work. Berlin, while having undergone two waves of rebuilding–first after World War II, and then after the Cold War–remains a city of scars, of vacant land and rough edges, in which history is laid bare.

In the photograph above, the layering of eras, architectural styles, materials and objects, conspire in an almost bewildering jumble. The location is but a few steps away from Checkpoint Charlie and the trace of the former Berlin Wall. As I was walking around the area, I discovered an opening to an inner courtyard–a Hinterhof, common in Berlin–and came across this scene.

There are any number of ways I approach things as a photographer. Sometimes, the subject–a building or object–demands to be respected as is, as opposed to being integrated into a willful composition. It is the composition. One of the things I’ve learned from my experience as an architectural photographer is that sometimes–often, perhaps–one has to remain subservient to the subject. And as an artist/photographer I realize that it is not necessary, nor is it advantageous,  to attempt to reinvent the medium each time I set up my camera and release the shutter.

There are also times when the subject is illusive. It may be contained in the inchoate envelope of a space, or found in the interstices of a barely recognized structure. For me, the spacial world is always a multidimensional reality, not simply a compositional layering of one thing upon another. I see things rather as a matrix, a situation comprised of any number of anecdotal or accidental relationships. The photograph above is that kind of image. In simpler terms, it’s about how all that stuff hangs together visually–about nothing–and about something essential that defines, in this case, Berlin.

Jewish Cemetery, Amsterdam (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

For 15 years, while living in Amsterdam, I photographed the changing periphery of the city and its less determined edges. I call the series Amsterdam on Edge, which expresses not just the physical location of the photographs, but the psychological condition of a society deeply unsure of its identity and its future in a  multicultural Europe.

In exploring the outskirts of the city, I often took trams to their end points, or drove to obscure areas along the freeways. One unexpected discovery was a Jewish cemetery bisected by a train viaduct and hemmed in by a freeway and high-tension power lines. Many of the gravestones were marked Westerbork, the name of the camp that served as a way station en route to Auschwitz and other Nazi camps. Nearly 90,000 Jews, more than 10 percent of the population of Amsterdam at that time, were killed.

New York/Onward and Upward

I have now linked my Berlin project–Berlin: In From the Cold–to my main website. The project covers the Wall, it’s demise, and the gradual re-emergence  of a new city overlaid onto the often dark history of the old. Some of the photographs were originally included in the Lost Border, but most have never before been exhibited or published.


The entire series is also available in printed form via Blurb, the online book service. You can page through the book below, or go directly to Blurb where the book is available for purchase. This is likely be a very limited run, so I encourage you to pick one up while you can.

In other news, I am still pursuing an eventual exhibition of my Lower East Side photographs, waiting for the funding to come through for a project involving a number of photographers documenting the state of Iowa, and I just met with architect Michael Mills, and architectural historian Meredith Bzdak to discuss a possible book about the Louis Kahn bath house in Trenton, which is currently being restored.

Iron Horse at Central Station, Oakland, California, affordable housing designed by David Baker (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The architectural field has been hit pretty hard by the recession, which we may or may not be recovering from. But despite the drop off in work, I am hanging in there. The projects above are what I try to keep focused on, but they do not pay the bills. It’s a difficult time to be a free lance photographer, especially one specializing in architecture. But the recent trip, photographing David Baker’s brilliant housing complexes in the San Francisco Bay Area, came at a good time and was a rejuvenating experience in many ways.

I am also contemplating getting back into the studio to record some of my songs, new and old, which I have continued to write over the years. I am hoping to work with my friend Jack Hardy, the songwriter, who is an expert at guerilla recording–throwing a band together and hitting the studio. Stay tuned…  Which at this point in time is a pretty anachronistic expression.