Ralf Marsault - Berlin years on the Wagenburg

Ralf Marsault

In the 1980s Berlin became the epicentre of social experiments in rebellion against bourgeois lifestyles. Young people came from all across Europe to settle in the ‘Wagenburgen’ caravan colonies that occupied available vacant urban lots.

Like the Tower of Babel, Berlin with its youth camps, cultural and linguistic mix, and alternative music scene opened up new horizons for the photographer Ralf Marsault, enabling him to continue the fin de siècle series of portraits of young anarchists, travellers, and punks that he had begun in Paris and London. His photographs do not document the caravan colonies as such, however, but rather conjure and orchestrate a reconfigured reality. Marsault does not seek to reduce his subjects to their appearance, but rather to integrate them into fictional periods of history, without passing judgment on their way of life. The images of Berlin broaden the scope of those from the other two cities by offering an atemporal and atypical vision that muses on the choice of a life on the fringes of society.

The exhibition presents a selection of 30 portraits and views of the Berlin caravan colonies.