As a filmmaker, Wim Wenders is known for celebrating the dry, dusty majesty of West Texas – particularly Big Bend National Park – and the damp, grey drab of West Berlin. In a new exhibition of his photography at Blain|Southern Berlin, Wenders is again out west, in Texas (back in Paris) and Colorado (and elsewhere) but also in Germany, in the countryside around a Berlin where West is no longer best.
The images in ‘Time Capsules: By the Side of the Road’ stretch across both continents and (four) decades, making clear Wenders’ fascination with a Germany heavy with history and events, and a vast American West largely empty of people and their consequences (though Wenders manages to find both).
Some of the images on show are suitably epic in scale (one stretching a full 4.5 metres). Wenders is clear that his intent is less to take people to a particular place and time than to summon it up, as if by magic, to ‘transport people to those places in the world that I found and liked; photographs give me a chance to take the places to them’.
Upstairs in the gallery are smaller, older images, mostly in black and white, of people and places now much changed or long gone.
‘I think I had wide-open eyes for America,’ Wenders says, ‘and the American landscape in a general sense seemed extremely attractive to me, both as a photographer and a filmmaker. Maybe the long absence from Germany has enabled me to see places here with the same wide-open eyes. What has remained the same: in those landscapes, German or American, I’m still looking for traces of civilisation, of history, of people.’