July 7, 2002

Photo Exhibition in Berlin Revisits Sept. 11 Attacks


BERLIN, July 6 An exhibition of photographs taken in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington has opened here as part of a series of events to commemorate the date.

The show, titled "Here Is New York," opened Friday evening at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, a building just yards from where the Berlin Wall once stood.

"This trauma needs a face, and now we have many," Germany's interior minister, Otto Schily, said at the opening of the show, which is being partly financed by the Interior Ministry.

This is the first international stop for the show, which originated in New York City and will travel to 14 cities across Europe later this year, including Paris, London, Zurich and Stockholm.

Using the same format as the original show in SoHo in New York, the exhibition is a collection of unframed and uncaptioned images clipped over wires strung across the room, like images from a gruesome nightmare hung out to dry.

The opening was a quiet event. Little was heard in the gallery but sound of footsteps as patrons moved from one image to another across the wood floor.

For those who experienced Sept. 11 only on television, the exhibition broke through the anesthesia of repeated news broadcasts.

"On CNN you saw the same clips again and again, and it became like a movie," said one visitor, Christina Sas, as she walked around the exhibit. "This gets under the skin."

For some who attended the opening, the images found resonance with personal memories of Germany in World War II.

"I experienced the war as a little girl in Leipzig," said Christel Friedrich, 64, as she stood clutching her handbag in front of a wall of pictures. "I saw great buildings fall into themselves. I remember watching a woman carrying her legless husband out of the ruins of a bombed building that had just collapsed."

"This is a different dimension," she said. "As a child you just live it, as an adult you understand it on a new level."

Mr. Schily used the occasion of the opening to renew an appeal to the United States to endorse the International Criminal Court. "We understand the trauma" of Sept. 11, he said, "but especially because we see this, this should be one more reason more for the I.C.C."

Subtitled "A Democracy of Photographs," the show was put together from images submitted by 3,000 photographers. About 500 photographs are being shown at this exhibition. More can be seen on the Web site, www.hereisnewyork.org.

The Berlin organizers have added some photographs taken by Germans in New York, the result of a request by a German television program after Sept. 11 for viewers to send in their images of the city. Most were taken before the attacks, but even the more banal tourist snapshots gain depth when seen in conjunction with images of the attacks.

The building housing the Sept. 11 exhibition was heavily damaged at the end of World War II when Allied warplanes bombed Hitler's underground headquarters, which was nearby.

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