German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer has seen a lot of walls over the past couple of decades. Beginning with the Berlin Wall, which he witnessed collapse in 1989, Kai has photographed many of the world’s most famous barriers, including the Peace Lines in Belfast, the DMZ between North and South Korea, and the U.S. & Mexico border.
After documenting the fall of the Berlin Wall, he says he was deeply moved by the historic event, and began to expand his focus to other boundaries set up in response to global conflicts. “This idea that we had – that we would have a free world – that proved to be wrong,” he said. “We have a big renaissance of walls.”
He’s had no shortage of subjects to shoot, since 22 new border walls have gone up in the 24 years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, compared with only 11 between World War II and 1989. In all, he made 21 trips to eight different walls.
This photo series struck a chord with me as here at Invisible Children, we’re not particularly fans of walls or borders. We believe that a worldview bound by borders is outdated and that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere. While I assume every place you go, someone will explain that a certain wall was needed (and for all I know, those explanations are warranted), but the concept of imposing will by physically separating people and places only isolates the global community. In my humble opinion.
When asked what about walls sparked his interest enough to make it a photo series, Kai said, “I think it’s a stupid concept, basically. The Berlin Wall was actually the best proof that you cannot solve a problem by building a wall. It’s counterproductive. Whatever it is — an economic problem or an ethnic or religious one — a wall will only make things worse. You can see it in Belfast, for example, where the more the people don’t know each other and don’t communicate with each other, the more people just get an image of the other side that has nothing to do with reality.”
It’s hard to imagine a world without walls. Figuratively and literally. But here’s to hoping that a day will come when those divisions won’t be necessary anymore.
Check out the photo series from Kai Wiedenhöfer in its entirety.