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Following the trail of the Berlin Wall

In 2008 and 2009 Swiss filmmaker and photographer Dominique de Rivaz walked the 155 kilometres along what was once the Berlin Wall. She took pictures of the wall’s path through the city centre and the countryside along the border with the state of Brandenburg.

De Rivaz mainly walked the path during the cold months of December, January and February, but also returned to the trail in April when the cherry trees were in full bloom. She did not just want to take “pretty” pictures, but create a work that combined the small things along the path, the unexpected stops along the journey and the humour of certain everyday situations, with the large, life and tragedy.

The wall is largely invisible 25 years after its fall. But its shadow crosses through fields, roads and houses like a scar. The wall is different as seen by a photographer, rather than a historian or an archaeologist. The feeling that emanates from these images is compassion. When we look at her images we cannot help but think of those who have dreamed of what might be on the other side and the suffering of those who attempted to escape their prison.

De Rivaz was not just taking pictures of fragments of the wall or its ruins, she was documenting its path. And, her documentation is above all evidence of the power of life to reclaim its rights over the tragedies of history.

(Images: Dominique de Rivaz, from the book “The never ending wall – the Berlin wall trail”, Lausanne: 2009, Editions Noir sur blanc. Text: Chantal Britt,

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR