Germany

Berlin Landscape of Memory: Before the Wall Came Down and Today

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"It was hard for some of my students, to wrap their brains around the fact that a Western society, people who looked just like them, lived like this. And it was not too long ago," says photographer and teacher James Abbott of life on the Eastern side of the Berlin Wall. 

Abbott spoke with Reason TV's editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie about his photographic exhibit "Berlin: Landscape of Memory," part of this year's Philadelphia International Fine Arts Festival (PIFA).

The exhibit consists of mesmerizing still-life portraits of Berlin in the late 1980s, when the infamous Berlin Wall divided an ancient capital city and stood as the physical embodiment of the Cold War, and photos of the same locations from the present day, when Berlin is one of the most cosmopolitan and open societies in the world.

Abbott marvels that communism was able to be defeated in the former East Germany in a "bloodless revolution," and that enough time has passed that Berliners are able to have a sense of humor and kitschy nostalgia for things like the awful two-speed state-manufactured Trabant automobile (one of only two cars East Germans were allowed to own) and even for the terrifying Stasi secret police force.

About 5 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Fisher.

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