Photographer Stitches Phantom Wall into Photos

The Berlin Wall fell decades ago but its ghost remains—stitched, if you will—into the fabric of the city’s psyche. Such is the theme of fine art photographer Diane Meyer’s series “Berlin,” where a pixilated representation of the former wall is embroidered into print photographs of locations where it once stood.

Inspiration: Meyer has a clear memory of watching the fall of the wall on television when she was 13 years old, she says. But she didn’t become captivated by its significance until 2012 during an artist residency in Berlin. “I hadn’t realized how big the wall was and how deep it extended into the suburbs and the forests. I became very interested in trying to find the subtle clues that remained in the landscape even when the wall was no longer there—small patches of trees that were smaller than others nearby, open plots of land, new construction, architectural discrepancies in some of the suburban neighborhoods, old street lamps facing the wrong way.”

The process: She made the photos using medium-format film and printed them on Hahnemühle paper using an Epson inkjet printer. She embroidered each photo using embroidery floss string, matching the colors of the floss with the colors in the photograph as closely as possible. “I had to manually put holes in the paper first to avoid the paper tearing, so it was a multi-step process,” she says. 

The result: “In many of the images the embroidered sections of the photograph represent the exact scale and location of the former wall, offering a pixilated view of what lies behind,” she says. “In this way, the embroidery becomes a trace in the landscape of something that no longer exists but is a weight on history and memory.”  

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer.