Kai Wiedenhoefer


Why Borders Disfigure Landscapes as Well as Thoughts

WALLONWALL is a photo exhibition on the Berlin Wall about walls that separate people worldwide.

In 1989, as a first-year university student, I photographed the fall of the Berlin Wall in my hometown. It became the very symbol for the downfall of the USSR as a superpower and the end of a world order that had shaped our planet and lives for almost half a century. It was the most exciting and positive political event I’ve witnessed—a first-hand experience of history in the making which deeply moved me.

During that time, many people believed that this would be the end of walls as a political instrument and we'd put them on the garbage heap of history as an anachronistic tool. Twenty years later I've been proven wrong. On the contrary, walls have had a renaissance. Border barriers went up again in the U.S., in Europe, and the Middle East as the aftermath of political, economic, religious, and ethnic conflicts. Now, people have to arrange their lives around them.

The fall was for me a formative experience that years later caused shock and concern when the separation barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was erected. I documented the latter between 2003 and 2006, and published it in the volume Wall. With Confrontiers I expanded this theme into a comprehensive project about borders worldwide in order to stress that walls and fences of borders are not solutions to today's global, political, and economic problems. The Berlin Wall was the best proof for this—peace begins where walls fall, not where they are erected.

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