A new photo exhibit highlights coursework from Duke undergraduates who spent this past summer living, learning, and collaborating in Berlin, Germany. This project, called “Transits and Migrations: A Summer in Berlin,” is a collaboration between the Germanic Languages and Literature department and the Center for Documentary Studies.
The exhibit is located at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in the Porch Gallery and University Gallery and will be ongoing until April 15, 2017.
“Berlin is a unique and dynamic cosmopolitan city with an international dimension making it ideal for this project,” said Christopher Sims, who teaches the Berlin course.
The course combined classroom learning with the examination of work by other photographers and hands-on learning in which students photographed and interpreted the cultural life of the city.
“Like our other Duke-in-Berlin courses, we really conceive of the city as our ‘classroom,’ Sims said. “Because Berlin has so much to offer—from galleries, museums, an incredible variety of neighborhoods, and, of course, an endless range of historically-significant sites—we were rarely in our regular classroom sitting at desks.”
Project fieldwork sites included the U-Bahn—Berlin’s subway system—as well as Tempelhof airfield, a Nazi-era airport made famous during the 1948–1949 Berlin Airlift that is now a public park and a reception center for refugees.
Most of the students involved did not have formal photography experience, and students learned technique, analysis, interpretation, and the practice of color photography. For the final assignment, each student selected a topic or community to engage with during the six-week course. During the final week of the program, an exhibition was hosted in an art space in the Prenzlauer Berg district of the city.
“The highlight was definitely the pop-up exhibition at the end of the course,” said Katlyn Walther, an undergraduate senior from Harlingen, Texas, who is currently participating in the semester long Duke-in-Berlin Fall program. “It is one thing to view work on a laptop screen, but it is a different experience to step into a space showcasing the culmination of hard work and artistry by my peers and I.”
Students who contributed work to the exhibit included Rachel Corr, Dai Li, Ellen Liew, Barbara McHugh, Iliana Sun, Genevieve Valladao, Katlyn Walther, Wenqin Wang, and Deanna White.