“The only rule I set myself was to stay on this road.“
The first line of the introduction to my recently self-publsihed book
Sonnenallee lay at the core of my exploration of a specific urban unit: the street.
The approach of systematically following one street from the beginning to its end
developed into a way of looking, of searching and of encountering people along
The series of about forty photographs documents the Berlin road Sonnenallee.
It is an exploration of the structure of this street as well as of its population. The
intersection of public and private as a spacial as well as a mental point, sphere
or area is visible in portraits and landscapes. Photographs through windows, of
shop fronts and open doors reveal my outside perspective but also suggest
gateways to enter.
Private moments occur in the encounters between me and my subjects resulting
in portraits. Sonnenallee residents are absorbed and embedded in their
surroundings. A visual integration takes place in the photographs that
emphasizes the close relationship of my subjects to the street.
The photographs convey a road of diverse communities where cultural and social
division exist as well as hybrid identities. The series of photographs is complemented
by short text pieces that were taken and reworked from conversations with
people encountered on the street. They are the voices of a young generation of
Berliners that have been relatively unheard. People who were born in this area of
Berlin to parents of Turkish and Arabic descent give insight into areas of belonging
and uncertain states of being in-between cultures. These statements are juxtaposed
with the urban landscape which appears constraining or neglegted at times, calm
and secluded at other times.
“From the urban beginning to its quiet end, the five kilometers of Sonnenallee
are captured in this book of forty photographs. The road, having been divided
into two states till 1989, again connects the centre to Berlin’s suburbia and forests
and lakes. With the rising of the Berlin wall, Sonnenallee was split and became
a dead end. Many buildings remained empty, who wanted to live at the edge, so
close to the wall?
People came from Turkey and later the Middle East. The first so-called
Gastarbeiter- guest workers- arrived fifty years ago, initially only to stay for a
little while. After a few decades, some returned to their home countries whilst
many had made a home here and stayed.” ...
[Extracts of introduction in Sonnenallee book]