Last week saw the 26th anniversary of the historic events of November 1989 when a popular uprising by citizens of the German Democratic Republic led to the opening of the Berlin Wall, which had stood and divided friends, families, a city, Germany and Europe since it was constructed in 1961.
I started photographing the Wall in 1985 during a visit to the city and have returned at regular intervals over those 30 years to look at the changing natural and built environment along the course of the Wall. No-one could have dreamed 30 years ago that the Berlin Wall would fall in such dramatic and sudden circumstances. But rather than looking at those momentous events, my photographs show how the Wall occupied the physical space between two halves of the city and now, years after it fell, where the traces and scars can still be seen on the landscape.
Berlin Now and Then is an ongoing project and has been exhibited and published down the years. I am currently in Berlin and once again have set out to capture the the continuing changes which make much of the Berlin Wall nothing more than a distant and barely visible memory.
To go with my latest Gallery feature on this site about my observations of a typical intersection in Beijing, I thought it would be interesting to share a slice of iPhone footage I made at the time I captured the images.
Closer inspection of both film and photos reveal some of the cast of characters appearing in both media.
Hope you enjoy this moving, swirling, swerving tribute to the ubiquitous Chinese junction.
Beijing on the move. Any time, any place, anywhere. In this sprawling metropolis, ordinary people are going from A to B, all day, every day.
Take any junction and stand there for long enough and you’ll see cameos of life played out. Small vignettes of existence. Slices of lives lived on the move. Where are they going? Where have they been? Are they late or on time? As the lights turn red, they are forced to stop. Pause. Wait. In doing so, we glimpse some lost in thought, some impatient, some carrying out mundane tasks, adjusting bags, making phone calls or in the case of the refuse collector, examining the damage to his cart, clipped by one of the all-pervading automobiles.
Pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes all edge forward in anticipation, jockeying for space mindful of the cars and buses which could appear from any direction. There are rules – of sorts – but there’s little time to obey them.
As the lights turn to green, they are off. They disappear from view forever, leaving nothing behind but a collection of pixels in my camera and a snapshot of a typical Beijing day. In seconds they are replaced by a new intake, and the cycle continues.