Berlin U-Bahn (short for Untergrundbahn) is Germany’s largest underground railway network operated by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). With its 173 stations across 10 lines, it is a major part of Berlin’s public transport system.
There are numerous stations with very characteristic architecture and design.
Usually, platforms are crowded with people. U-Bahn stations are places of transit. For some, they are regarded as “non-places”, because they do not hold enough significance to be a real place.¹
Time and Space
Often, we do not recognize all the little design details or the overall beauty of the station’s architecture because we’re in a hurry to just leave the platform as quickly as we can to get to where we really want to go. But even while waiting for a train for a couple of minutes, we tend to look at our smartphones only (at least whenever there’s WI-FI or maybe EDGE) and do not see anything around us.
In our view, a Berlin U-Bahn journey can be taken in complete accompanied solitude. It offers a more genuine experience of Berlin than many others. The city then is just a grid of lines, a collectively mapped geographical reduction.
With our photography project, we want to show an unusual, solitary and silent view of Berlin’s U-Bahn stations devoid of people. On every platform, we take our time to shoot the same perspectives and angles.
From March 2016 until April 2017, we managed to photograph nearly all of Berlin’s U-Bahn platforms.
Two close-ups: signage and tiles/decor.
Two wide-angle shots: wall with signage and whole platform.
Whenever possible, we take long exposures with moving objects.
Although shot during busy days, there must be no faces on our photos.
Leica M9-P with Leica Super-Elmar M 18mm F/3.8 ASPH for wide-angle shots.
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 5D MarkII with Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L USM for close-ups.
Due to the rules of BVG, no tripods for the making of our shots.
Instead of tripods, we use a strap pod and a bubble level (at least for the Leica).
¹ Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995)