Denis Cherim

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Denis Cherim’s digital photographs of Berlin streets and squares continue a long-standing tradition. With the emergence of modern cities in the 19th century, the new imaging process of photography was developed. Technique, medium, and subject were closely linked from the very beginning. Images of lonely people in an anonymous crowd, portraits in the midst of pulsating city life, and city dwellers on public transportation have since shaped our perception of the metropolis. Shooting techniques and image content differ, but urban photographs share a sense of bearing witness of a social documentary perspective. Consider perhaps Eugène Atget’s photographs of Paris around 1900, which show asphalt workers at work in the streets before richly decorated shop windows, and Paul Strand, who, from 1910, depicted the hectic of people and traffic in the New York streets. Or the work of Walker Evens, who used a hidden camera in the 1930s to capture the tired and empty faces of ordinary folk on the subway.

At first glance, Cherim’s large color photographs appear razor-sharp in every detail and almost hyper-realistic. They show streets and places in Berlin such as the Museum Island, the banks of the Spree, Alexanderplatz, and the Brandenburg Gate. However, it quickly becomes clear that the focus is primarily on the people passing through, i.e., this is street photography rather than a picture-postcard touristic view of these spaces. The scene of fast-moving passers-by might invite the viewer to move hastily to the next photo, but something in the picture makes one pause. And once one has stopped to view this distraction, the gaze lingers to consider all the optical coincidences. It becomes clear that between the passers-by, the levels of their bodies are partially intertwined. For example, in the photograph on the banks of the Spree River, a young female passer-by appears to be walking on the shoulders of another person, and a female figure appears to be walking across the torso of another person.


Notable in Cherim’s approach is that he does not add elements to the photographed situation, but digitally cuts out individual elements of a shot and rearranges them using Photoshop in his play with layers. In the photograph of the Brandenburg Gate, which is lined with police cars, Cherim goes one step further: He also changes the architecture of the Berlin landmark. The quadriga is rotated and bears the lettering „Tomorrow is the question,“ inspired by the facade of the Berghain Club. The adjacent Haus Liebermann, a reconstruction of the former Haus Sommer by J.P. Kleihues from 1996, is transformed into a typical Berlin pre-war building.

While the layers of Cherim’s photos appear at times surreal, they simultaneously captivate the viewer by documenting everyday situations of the city that we experience but rarely notice. Even in the irritation of skewed spatial concepts, traces of recently transpired events can be found. The photographs show that these “decisive moments”, as Henri Cartier-Bresson called them, can be created digitally.

Text: Dr. Silke Förschler

About Denis Cherim:

Denis Cherim is a Romanian born self-taught photographer who grew up in Madrid, Spain. He studied a MA Graphic Printing, Illustration and Artistic Mintage at the Engraving and Graphic Design School of the Royal Mint of Spain. Curious by nature, he found in photography a perfect tool and ally in capturing the impressive story of our not always impressive reality. Through the years he has developed his very own photographic style which leaded to several photographic series and various artistic residencies. His photography has become a statement about his philosophy and understanding of the world.

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Fresh A.I.R. #5 Online-Showcase

The Online-Showcase offers an opportunity to get an overview of the highly diverse projects of the fourth class of Fresh A.I.R. artists with their different kinds of media and aesthetics.

On view are video and photographic materials about the individual projects, each of which is accompanied by an explanatory text that aims to offer insights into the work’s aesthetic experience.

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