This book attempts that which is actually impossible: to capture an entire day in the life of a city. Twenty-four hours, from one sunrise to the next. That said, the book does not seek to reduce a day to simply a number of hours or minutes. Rather, a day consists of different moments that come into being when – for an instant – what was, what is, and what could be are revealed at the same time. When photography manages to record such moments, then the sense of time held within them is suspended, made permanent. That is the wish of this book, to stop time and to preserve it, and thereby to create a record for the future: to know how things once were, and how we once lived. All on a single September day in Berlin.
Berlin is a fractured city. Its past is broken, divided and devastated. Its present is patchy and merciless. Its future unveils itself amongst empty lots and missing buildings. Like huge slabs, these periods of time are layered upon one another. In the blink of an eye, a gap can open up in which they all become visible – only for that gap to close up just as quickly. This is the landscape in which the inhabitants of Berlin live, work, dance, fail, hope, and die. A myriad of people, connected to one another because all they have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience, took place in this city. Everything at the same time, but everything at its own unique point in time.
After the fall of the Wall, seven photographers in Berlin founded the Ostkreuz Agency. ‘Ostkreuz’ is the name of a train station, from which one can set out in any direction. For the founders, the name denotes a place from which one can depart and where one can always meet again. Nineteen years later, the agency set out to rediscover and affirm its home city, and assembled thirty-six photographers to achieve that goal. On a September morning in 2008, these photographers ventured out into Berlin. Some followed specific people, others remained in particular places, others simply drifted. Each of them sewed his or her own thread through the city. From these threads a fabric eventually came into being, capturing that which is actually impossible: a day in the life of a city Marcus Jauer