In 2015 I had the opportunity to spend an extended period in Berlin, while there I noticed the amount of scars the older building bare. Everywhere I went, I saw shrapnel wounds or repairs that left visible evidence of what has historically happened there. I became entranced with these details, with this marks of the building’s and the society’s’ history.
The wounds spoke to me, and in them I saw not only the anger and hurt of the past but the beauty of their existence. Berlin is what it is, not in spite of these marks of history, but partially because of them and they can be beautiful; I wanted to honor that, to get close and witness it – to show the beauty.
Creating what is abstract at first glance, but is actually a record of the life of Berlin – beauty from pain and destruction and in that record also a metaphor for the scars we all have that make us who we are.
We all suffer tragedy and pain; it is part of the human existence. We can choose to remember it and learn from it. Change it into something beautiful or we can choose to forget it, ignore it, cover it up and risk returning to it later to be hurt again. These marks of Berlin remain to remind, and honor the history. For me they are a living part of the city as they are a living part of its community.
When I choose how I would present them – these abstracted, out of context marks all I could think about was scars on skin and how they remind you of where you have been. It was due to that idea I chose to print them on almost translucent mulberry paper, making the images feel as if they are on skin. This visceral reference lends to the emotional feeling the images convey and allows a subtle empathy while experiencing them.
Tamara Rafkin is an American / Belgian artist. Having grown up in Charleston SC and obtaining a BFA from The Atlanta College of Art, in the early 1990’s she has exhibited her photographic artworks extensively in the US, Europe and in Brazil.
Her imagery walks the line between the documentary and the narrative approaching the subject of how our emotions and culture are imprinted on our public spaces. A subject that she is drawn to both by personal history and an interest in cultural anthropology, perpetuated by having lived in several regions of the US and in Belgium.