Again, we revisit the reoccurring photographic theme of our trip: rephotography. But never fear; the redundancy ends in the short synopsis.
On Monday, May 16th, we walked a short block away from our classroom at IES to C/O Berlin. Housed in the former Royal Post Office building in Berlin-Mitte, C/O Berlin calls itself, “an international forum for visual dialogues.”
C/O Berlin's project manager Ann-Chrisoin Bertrand, along with Marc Volk, led us on a tour of the exhibit on Fritz Eschen's post-war photography of Berlin. Volk described his process in rephotographing Eschen's work while displaying the result on an iPad. Sometimes the building no longer existed; other times he had to ask for help from locals who had lived in the neighborhood when the original photo was taken. In a perfect combination of old photography and new media, C/O Berlin guests can also view Volk's modern-day rephotos with their iPhones and iPads via an application created for the exhibit.
Born in 1900 in Berlin, Eschen was a Jewish photojournalist and portrait photographer. He survived the era of National Socialism through his second marriage to Aryan wife, Gertrude Thumm. The approximately 120 photos in the exhibit span from 1945 to 1955, capturing everything from the post-war ruins to the Berlin Blockade to the division of the city. In addition to documenting political tensions of the time, Eschen also portrays the struggle of the people and the rebirth of Berlin's cultural life.
At the end of the tour, we were free to explore the other exhibits, one of which corresponded with the over-turned car displayed outside the building's entrance. Like a potential rephoto in itself, the former Royal Post Office was a gymnasium before it became a place for visual exhibition. So ends another rephotography journey; another investigation into the past, and another modern day translation, this time in the care of Berlin.