Amendestrasse, Berlin Reinickendorf
Erkstrasse, Berlin Ricksdorf
Linienstrasse, Berlin Mitte
Putlitzstrasse, Berlin Moabit
Strasse der Pariser Kommune, Berlin Friedrichshain
Strausberger Platz, Berlin Friedrichshain
In Spring 2005, I went to Berlin to work out whether to move there for a while in response to an invitation for a pubic show. Looking around potential areas and places to live, I came across a small antiquarian bookshop and within it a set of old postcards.
The postcards fascinated me partly because of their particular compositional arrangements of sets of people lined up in front of the houses where they live and work. I had recently completed a series of group portraits in Moscow (Groups + Locations, Moscow, 2004, see: /seconds 1) which were made with passers-by in a spontaneously performative way in locations where both photography and the forming of groups in public is forbidden.
The set of postcards - only ten were ever made - further engaged me by the fact that all were made exactly 100 years ago (1905) but even more so by indicating the exact address of the photograph's location on the back.
When I moved to Berlin in the summer of 2005, I became interested in using these postcards as a set of instructions that gave me an exact place to go to and a specific group of people to engage to become part of the work.
I went to all ten locations and through a series of letters and negotiations, invited the current residents of that same address to come together for a group photograph as a random community of neighbours.
" (...) Neighbours (Berlin) takes an image from history tied to a particular and specific site and moment in time and then you have a revisiting of that site through people who are tied to the site in the present." John Slyce, Moscow Girls and other stories, exhibition catalogue, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin 2006
In these images each person stands as an individual within the group, and yet one can read into these communities of fate and fortune, where each will be connected to both the history and the presence of the building, the street, the area in their own way.
All works courtesy FRED (London) Ltd