Photographs of the Iron Curtain
I began a photo-documentation of the Iron Curtain, travelling across
Europe along the former dividing line between East and West. The pictures
were made in color with a 4x5 view camera, and describe the topography
of the border with its fences, watchtowers, and no man's land. To
my knowledge, this is the only comprehensive project of its kind dealing
with the now-vanished Iron Curtain landscape.
|The project was
originally intended primarily as a documentation of the border landscape,
but grew into a response to historical events when the East/West German
border was unexpectedly opened in 1989. I photographed the gradual
disintegration of the wall at the end of '89 and '90, and subsequently,
I have photographed the remarkable changes occurring in Berlin, where
the wall once cut through the city. November 9, 1999 will be the 10th
anniversary of the opening of the Berlin wall.
The project was first exhibited in 1987 at the International Center
of Photography in New York, and later versions of it have been exhibited
in Amsterdam and in Reims, France. The Museum of Modern Art and the
Metropolitan Museum of Art have acquired prints from the series.
The Lost Border website is divided into six major sections: Curtain,
Wall, Opening, Ruins, Reconstruction, and Requiem. The last section
is a series of photographs of a border memorial on the countryside
near Helmstedt made in 1996. Also, I have included an article by Anthony
Bailey, which originally accompanied a group of my photographs in
MHQ magazine, and a letter-to-the-editor published in the New York
Times in 1987.
|The letter provides,
I think, an interesting perspective on how we once thought about the
Iron Curtain and the Berlin wall. It also shows some of my thinking
about the subject, and points to what motivated me to begin the project
in the first place. Neither I nor anyone else foresaw how quickly
the border would be erased, but the fatalistic notion that it was
virtually permanent--part of the furniture of Europe--was something
I was never able to accept.
took years to finally find a publisher for the Lost Border. I have
dozens of rejections from both commercial and non-profit publishers.
Although I am pleased with the results, thanks to the support of Princeton
Architectural Press, the difficulties along the way were profound,
monetarily and spiritually. All I can say is that I persevered.
Too much of the art world has become disengaged from the larger concerns
of the public, and photojournalism, while providing a necessary window
on the events of the day, rarely provides a longer, dispassionate,
view of the larger issues. This project seeks to demonstrate a different
way of looking at these issues by examining the social landscape and
Computer monitors cannot begin to show the detail found in prints
made from 4x5 negatives, although the back-lit screen gives the images
a luminous quality that can't be duplicated in a paper print. Each
image in the website is clickable to a larger image of about about
760 x 600 pixels in its own browser window. A screen resolution of
1024 x 768 or higher is recommended--DSL/Cable or better.