89/90: Christian Schulz on photographing the fall of the Berlin Wall
Christian Schulz has lived in Germany’s lively capital since 1981. Through his lens, this respected photographer has captured not just some of the city’s most tumultuous political movements but also framed daily scenes from the lives of its citizens. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, his exhibition 89/90 was on display at Hotel de Rome between 2nd October–8th November 2019, offering guests and visitors an insight into this defining event in the city’s history. We spoke to Schulz to understand more about the man behind the camera.
Tell us a little about how you got started as a photographer...
“In the beginning, I was an autodidact. I started in 1980, taking pictures in a small town in West Germany. In 1981, I moved to West Berlin because I wanted to avoid compulsory military service. Various people from across West Germany and the rest of the world similarly came to the city with uncommercial interests: They could live in cheap accommodation and express themselves artistically. For me, it was at the beginning of the eighties that I experienced all the new influences of the different arts.”
How early on did civil unrest begin to be publicly noticeable? Did you ever feel at risk holding a camera?
“The unrest started to be really noticeable in the middle of the eighties, but I really never had problems when taking pictures, except if I wanted to document violent confrontation.”
Can you tell us more about the photographs on display at Hotel de Rome as part of 89/90 and how you chose them?
“We wanted to tell a story about the fall of the wall, before, during and after. One of my personal favourite images in the exhibition is Mother with Child or Madonna with Child. The photo resembles an old painting from the 15th century. The motif of the Madonna with child is a key subject in Renaissance art, along with the discovery of perspective. Through this, my photo becomes a citation of art history.”
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Christian Schulz / Collection Regard