One of the more fantastic — and frankly, unexpected — byproducts of celebrating the people whose work I find interesting or inspiring is that occasionally, I am asked to collaborate in some way on a particular project. The most recent example was with Miri Berlin, a photographer whose gorgeous, minimalist cityscapes first caught my eye in 2014 for a post on Faded & Blurred. I fell in love with her use of color and negative space to capture seldom-seen sides of places like Israel, Japan, Portugal and her native Berlin. Over the next several months, we exchanged a few messages and in the summer of 2015, Miri emailed to tell me about a book project she was working on called Berlin Mirimalism and to ask for feedback on her selection of images. I told her how much I loved the images and that I thought they would make a terrific book, after which she asked if I would be willing to write the foreword. I was honored by the request and told her of course I would love to be involved. The English version of the foreword is below; a German translation is also included in the book.
For those of us who grew up in America during the end of the Cold War, our perception of Berlin was largely shaped by the media’s portrayal of it. While Russia became the Evil Empire, Berlin was still seen as part of a culture of lingering oppression, a prisoner of its own propaganda, living in the shadows of WWII. In the media, Berlin was often presented as a heavy, hopeless place. Grey. Sullen. Even after the Wall — a literal symbol of that oppression — came down in 1989, many let the fears of the past shape their perceptions of the present.
Through the lens of photographer Miriam Pelzman, aka Miri Berlin — in a style dubbed “Mirimalism” — the city eschews the drab demeanor of passé perceptions, and bounds from the shadows into the light. In fact, few shadows appear in the work at all, replaced instead by acute architectural angles and sweeping shapes of color suspended against expanses of vivid blue sky. The crafted compositions often border on the austere — where a piece of a lamppost, the top of a tent, or a fragment of a building helps create a beautifully subtle visual tension. The sea of negative space invites the viewer to think about what lies beyond the frame, rather than merely within it. There are few details to reveal location, giving the photographs an Everywhere quality and for a few moments, we are untethered explorers, floating from scene to scene looking for landmarks to call home.
With Berlin Mirimalism, Miri Berlin has crafted a body of work that presents a collection of spaces that are elegant in their simplicity; the compositions are purposeful without being aggressive. She is not simply showing us a Berlin, and certainly not the Berlin of decades past. This is her Berlin — vibrant and compelling, bold and modern, hopeful and full of possibility.
I can’t thank Miri enough for inviting me to play a small part in such a wonderful project.
Miri is offering two versions of Berlin Mirimalism: a 7.5×7.5 in (19×19 cm) softcover and a limited edition 11×11 in (28×28 cm) hardcover (only 25 available), which also includes a signed and numbered print of one of Miri’s favorite images from the book. BUY THE BOOK HERE