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Kelly Gorham: The Stones Have Memories

by Jacob Resneck
on 05 November 2009

Commemorating the 9 November 2009 unifying of Berlin, photojournalist Kelly Gorham's newest show, The Stones Have Memories studies the wall, looking at the structure as a modern architectural ruin.

While much of the infamous barrier has since been razed, the Berlin of today still bears the scars of its former partition. Brilliantly captured by Gorham, the photographer portrays a city once divided between the principal victors of World War II and that erased institutions that were built upon fear and violence.


Last year the Montana-based photographer—whose professional work has appeared in the New York Times and several major magazines—explored the urban neighborhoods of former East Berlin. Prior to his visit, Gorham did his homework, spending two years researching the city. The resulting subjects represent his careful selection of the starkest and most provocative symbols of a society that no longer exists.

"My guiding creative principal was to let the architecture speak for itself," he says. "Is it possible to document emotion without photographing a human face?"

The answer appears to be yes. Images of the towering Fernseherturm—a needle-like TV tower that dwarfed its counterpart in West Berlin—demonstrates how a city can use architecture to inspire as well as intimidate its denizens. Lighter subjects include remaining murals that extol the virtues of living in a planned socialist society, in which the state rationalizes every facet of a citizen's life.


Gorham had help from his friend Dan Wise, a photojournalism instructor at Montana State University, who helped distill the more than 1,000 images from more than 50 locations captured during the whirlwind trip.

"The photos meet fine art criteria of composition and aesthetics very well, but they also document a piece of history," Wise says.
 This month—as the world marks the twentieth anniversary of the wall's demise—Gorham will unveil his exhibition at the tiny 7444 Gallery in Saranac Lake, a former sanitarium town in the frozen Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.


More images after the jump.

The Stones Have Memories
9-30 November 2009
7444 Gallery
28 Depot Street
Saranac Lake, NY 12983 map
tel. +1 518 282 4743

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