John Sandell photography
holocaustmemorial2m.jpg
Holocaust Memorial, Berlin (2)

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin. Officially called the 'Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe' (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) but usually referred to as the 'Holocaust Memorial', this 'field of stelae' – designed by the American architect Peter Eisenman – is set on an undulating site 100 metres south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the centre of Berlin. It opened in 2005 after a long and often controversial planning and building process. The 2,711 concrete blocks (stelae) are arranged in a regular grid over an area of nearly five acres. Each is around 8 feet long and 3 feet wide, but they vary in height from a few inches up to nearly 16 feet. At first the arrangement appears uniform, but closer inspection shows that each block is at a slight angle to its neighbour, creating a feeling of uncertainty.

Walking among the tall blocks at the centre felt disorientating and claustrophobic, despite a clear exit path: indeed, Eisenman has said that the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and that "the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason". I wanted to photograph the memorial without the certainty and comfort and busyness of the modern world around it, so most of my images taken over nearly an hour used a long lens to exclude surrounding streets. The weather was dull and the lighting flat.

Technical: NIKON D300, f=200.0 mm, ISO640, 1/125 sec @ f8.0

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