The Berliner Mauern zine, the title of which is taken from the graffiti/street-art blog, is now on its third edition. This issue, which came with some extra prints and stickers, is a basic black and white photography zine. The content is a mixture of tags, stencils, paste-ups and street-photography. As I was flicking through the zine I thought about what brings all this content together. Aside from the aesthetic of the zine the focus is on the illegal side of things and, generally, the more awkward stuff.
After questioning the author a bit I think it’s fair to say Berliner Mauern is a more personal reflection of the photographer. Not necessarily a coherent focus on a particular style but what the person behind the camera intuitively decides to capture. The author described their photography, to me, as a creative practice;
“…the surfaces I photograph. I do that because I see something in them. A form, a structure, a facial expression. For me it’s like painting to make these pictures. Its just that it’s technically faster. And ‘simpler’.
I don’t have money for oil paints, and I can’t paint very well either. Maybe that’s why I became a photographer. Although good cameras also cost money, of course… I just do what I think is right and don’t think much about why.”
In fact Berliner Mauern’s author challenges my earlier observation on the focus of illegality. Instead he questions the whole concept of illegality in a modern city submerged in advertising and facing a crisis of private and public space. The graffiti pictured in the zine is in some way questioning this sterile urban space. However it’s not just vandalism that is portrayed but more mundane objects such as buffed walls or fences. In explanation the editor of Berliner Mauern points me to the opening line of a poem called The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke. While lots of these fences,for instances, are aesthetically pleasing to photograph their function is ultimately pointless.
This third issue of Berliner Mauern is meant as a slight nod to the old school zines. Contrary to my initial thought of a binding theme there’s no real unifying concept other than the photography of messages on urban surfaces. I suppose that means that it’s down to the reader to take from it what they like. Number four in the series is already in the pipeline and is going to be a thicker mag. with full colour flicks.