All posts by fotokw

WALL and PEACE (Steidl Fall 2019)

Good fences make good neighbours people say but in reality they usually make real enemies. Peace starts where walls fall and not where they are erected – the Berlin Wall is the best proof for that says photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer who is based in the German capital. Between 2003 and 2018 he made ten journeys to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to document fences, walls and checkpoints of the separation barrier which the Israeli governments is still building.
From his experience of photographing the Israeli – Palestinian conflict over tree decades, the barrier worsens the problems in the Holy Land. The wall itself cements the assumed righteousness of the Israelis and is an aggression against the Palestinians who are caged in and become more frustrated. The paradox of the wall: It enhances the violence is supposed to curb. That creates the necessity for more policing and fortification – nonetheless the wall is regarded as a guardian of order, peace and stability.


In 1989 Kai Wiedenhöfer photographed the fall of the Berlin Wall in his hometown, and was deeply moved by this experience of history unfolding. At the time, Wiedenhöfer, like many, believed this event would mark the end of walls being employed as political tools and dismissed them as anachronistic instruments of division. Thirty years later, history has proved us wrong; indeed walls have enjoyed a barbaric renaissance. Border barriers have been erected in the US, Europe, and the Middle East in the aftermath of political, economic, religious and ethnic conflicts.

Wiedenhöfer has documented walls in Belfast, Ceuta and Melilla, Baghdad, Israel & the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the American-Mexican border, Cyprus, Korea, the Greek-Macedonian border, United Kingdom – France as well as the remains of the Iron Curtain. CONFRONTIER presents Wiedenhöfer’s comprehensive ongoing project and evidences his conviction that walls are not solutions to today’s political and economic problems, but proof of human weakness, error and our inability to communicate with one another.

Syrian Collateral

It is a paradox of war
that the injury of a single person
makes the biggest impression on us;
the one whose face we can see,
the one whose name and fate
we can actually recall.
The bigger the number of the victims
the less we are touched emotionally.
In 2014 and 2015 Kai Wiedenhöfer photographed for five months Syrian war wounded. Currently every weak 6 000 Syrians are injured. Syrian Collateral depicts forty of them in calm portraits which are complemented by long captions describing in detail each injureds fate. The portraits are combined with large panoramic landscapes of destroyed Syrian cities mostly Kobane. The injured and panoramas are interrupted by double paged fact sheets which provided the reader with basic figures about the damage which is done to Syria. For example the destruction of 2,1 million homes. Syrian Collateral is a quiet compendium of the most horrific conflict in our time.