“Berlin” Exhibition by Professor Diane Meyer Weighs History and Memory

The Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, NY is currently exhibiting Berlin, a series of 43 artworks by artist and LMU professor of studio arts Diane Meyer. Shown for the first time in its entirety, the exhibition coincides with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and include artworks never before shown.

Created over the course of seven years, the photographs trace the entire circa 96-mile path of the former Berlin Wall, taking in sites in the German capital’s city center, as well as the outskirts of the city, through suburbs and the countryside. As an architectural structure, the Berlin Wall defined geopolitics between East and West for decades, influencing identity and allegiances on both sides of the structure.

The tearing down of the wall became emblematic for a changing world order—with the absence of the structure, as impactful as when it stood. Meyer’s artworks in the exhibition are especially timely, as they resonate with the current political dialogue and divisiveness, surrounding the usefulness of a physical barrier in the US, both literal and symbolic. For many

Germans under the age of thirty, the relationship with the wall and its place in their psyche, although an after-the-fact experience, continues to resonate. Meyer notes, “1989 wasn’t that long ago. The wall today is almost ghostlike—even though it isn’t there, you can still feel it.”

Sections of the photographs have been obscured by cross-stitch embroidery, sewn directly into the photograph. This stitching is a signature mark of the artist across her artworks. The embroidery is made to resemble pixels and borrows the visual language of digital imaging in an analog, tactile process. In many images, the embroidered sections represent the exact scale and location of the former Wall offering a pixelated view of what lies behind. In this way, the embroidery appears as a translucent trace in the landscape of something that no longer exists but is a weight on history and memory.

Meyer was particularly interested in photographing locations with no visible traces of the wall itself, several of the photographs depict more than just the subtle clues of its existence—particularly some of the guard towers. Meticulously made, the artworks show Meyer’s mastery with integrating needlepoint into the photographic medium to breathtaking effect. With artworks ranging in size from only 5.5 to 16 inches across, the series invites close scrutiny regarding labor of the hand and the underlying concepts and narrative.

The Berlin series has been reproduced in numerous publications including Smithsonian magazine and recently featured in A Matter of Memory: Photography as Object in the Digital Age (George Eastman Museum, 2016).