Both photography and the built environment play a significant role in transmitting cultural memory. This article explores how architectural photography might be seen in terms of constructions of cultural identity through Florian Profitlich's book Berlin-Bilder (Berlin Pictures, 1999), one of the most singular photographic books about Berlin to appear since the fall of the Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany in 1990. Long approaches Profitlich via F. Albert Schwartz, the late nineteenth-century photographer of Berlin, whose work shortly followed Germany's first unification. Schwartz's photographs allow a proper historicization of Profitlich's architectural photography, but the latter's numerous intertextual references to twentieth-century photographic practices force a dialectical reading of Berlin-Bilder, whose ostensible conservatism and nostalgia are persistently undercut by reminders of the modernity that they initially appear to repress.
J. J. Long; Photography/Topography: Viewing Berlin, 1880/2000. New German Critique 1 August 2012; 39 (2 (116)): 25–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1550845
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