Wim Wenders’ documentary-style photographs capture a sense of the profound tragedy that often accompanies Jerusalem in the modern imagination. In contrast to the magisterial panorama of Reuwich’s work, or the imaginative rendering of the city in the Hague Map, Wenders captures a desolate landscape that hints at the troubling political situation of the city in the twenty-first century. Taken from Mount Zion—believed by many to be the burial site of King David and a particularly important location in the history of Judaism—Wenders’ image highlights the way in which the geography of the city has been shaped by both Judaism and Islam. As if standing on the 'holy mountain', the viewer’s eye is caught by the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the centre of Wenders’ image, implicitly placing the two sites in parallel. While Wenders’ composition recognises the centrality of these two important spiritual locations, it diminishes their power by foregrounding of a decrepit-looking graveyard, suggesting a sense of loss and degradation that exists in modern day Jerusalem.
The image can also be interpreted to refer to the hope of many to be buried in Jerusalem so that they might be among the first to rise—but that that is a future reality and not the current situation.
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