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The Colorful Face of a Disappeared World - An Exhibit from 1914

August 11th, 2014
die welt.jpg

News from Berlin - A lost world, the one before 1914. A world which was silently waiting for an announced death. After one hundred years of the outbreak of World War One, Berlin is commemorating the conflict and its victims: the city is full of exhibits which try to depict the varied landscape of a tragedy. Data, figures, even voices and noises. But, what about colors?

In the first decade of the Twentieth Century, a French banker called Albert Kahn started sending around the globe crews of photographers. As waves of a silent tide, the reporters took their cameras around the world: at every new click, a new image was stolen from the world, a world which was about to vanish. Buildings, monuments, houses, old streets, but most of all people: faces, hands, gestures, costumes. All blessed by colors.

What Mr Kahn had in mind was the creation of an archive (Les Archives de la Planète) of short movies and color pictures, showing “the other”: he meant it to be a peace mission, based on the premise that knowing other people is the first step towards peace relations. No more enemies, no more hostilities: colors and cameras instead of roaring cannons. Between 1908 and 1930, the archives got filled with more than one hundred hours of shooting and more than 72,000 pictures.

If you want to dive into the past, if you want to give it a face, a real face, you have time up to November 2nd:  the Martin-Gropius-Bau is waiting for you. Take notice: up to August the 24th the exhibit will be open everyday from 10 am to 20 pm; after that only Wednesday-Monday 10 – 19. If you are a student, you can count on a reduced ticket (6.50 euros).

The exhibit’s name? “Die Welt um 1914. Farbfotografie vor dem Grossen Krieg”: literally, the World in 1914. No other title would have been more suitable than this: from picture to picture, from the green of the Mongolian fields up to the golden yellow of bread in Sarajevo, you will have the feeling of travelling both back in time and across meridians and parallels. The collection also includes the works of two other pioneers of color pictures: Adolf Miethe and Sergei Michailowitsch Prokudin-Gorskii, who took their cameras through German and Russian landscapes. The entrance ticket as a compass in your hand, get ready to set off at the discovery of a world which does not exist anymore. A world which started fading away in the moment when people stopped being naïve: when people stopped believing that colors could really bring mutual respect and, in the end, peace.  

News from Berlin - Berlin Global