When the word “wall” comes up in any other city in the world it doesn’t really stand out. When it comes up here in Berlin it suddenly gets this super heavy meaning. Yes, the Berlin Wall will forever be a scar that the city is wearing across its heart, in some places more visible than in others. But Berlin has so many more walls than just THE wall. I’m talking about the so-called firewalls or “Brandwand” in German, the walls on the sides of the typical townhouses. Not that they are something specific only to Berlin, but due to the destruction of the city so many of them are visible because houses are missing in the row.
At first site these walls look raw and unintentional, but if you look closely you can see that they sometimes have a kind of footprint that was left by the house that used to be in front of it. It’s like a shadow of the past that won’t go away. Many fire walls look really run down, some have graffiti and tags, others more elaborate and commissioned murals. Some are just painted and clean, and others have received some windows (something that is actually illegal because it defeats the purpose of the fire security).
The German photographer Harf Zimmermann, one of the founders of the famous Ostkreuz photo agency, has dedicated a whole photo book to the most charismatic walls of the city. It’s a beautiful Berlin documentary piece about this lonely and often neglected part of the city. It was released by Steidl last month. After the jump we have a little preview for you.