Berlin’s unique history of conflict, violence, and transformation has created an arena of extraordinary urban surfaces, from which the present-day city and its layered, wounded past are projected simultaneously. In The Walls of Berlin, acclaimed cultural historian Stephen Barberexplores the intimate connections between those surfaces and the works of art and film that have both incised Berlin’s urban screens and been inspired by them.
Drawing on a vast range of material—from the first films of Berlin in the 1890s to the city’s place in contemporary digital art—the book takes the form of a series of image-propelled journeys across the face of Berlin and through its urban histories, excavating the ricochets among the city, art, and film. In Barber’s hands, Berlin's walls become apertures that mediate the city’s preoccupations and manias, damage and scars, strata and outgrowths, sexual obsessions, and urban vanishings. The Walls of Berlin is a rich cultural history of the city’s memories—as well as its acts of forgetting—that illuminates overlooked spaces and the sensory presences that inhabit them.
This is the first truly innovative look at Berlin since Siegfried Kracauer’s classic Streets of Berlin and Elsewhere, and it will be essential reading for anyone engaged with the transformations of contemporary cities as well as for readers and visitors enthralled by Berlin’s astonishing surfaces.