A nocturnal study of the U7 u-bahn line in Berlin. The U7 was built to take people from the residential south-east, to the industrial north-west of the city without the trauma of interchange in East Germany, or to pass any ‘ghost stations’ on the other side of the wall. The line was designed by Rainer Rümmler, a cold war architectural engineer who had had a bold personal style, seeminly influenced by Pop art, Turkish carpets, ancient Egyptian art and architecture. Rümmler was meticulous, designing the seating, the ashtrays, the kiosks, the lighting, the tile work: everything. Perhaps the U7 was even built, and built so decoratively, to help its passengers forget or ignore that which lay to its eastern side temporarily, like falling into a dreamy sleep.
"The film Nach Spandau is concerned with looking and being, and in a sense, that is where it begins and ends: Because I wanted to see the design undisturbed by thronging passengers I spent about 2 months at least 4 nights a week travelling up and down the line with a tourist camera, a notebook and a pen. ‘I’ am quite blankly included in what this work is, because there is no way around the fact that making the film was a devotional and mysterious activity, and had in its act of pilgrimage for observation’s sake something perhaps akin to developing a tacit knowledge, or understanding of materials. I used the platforms as a studio and a place to think, they reminded me of spaces I had seen repeatedly in dreams; a dream architecture.
"And this embarrassingly naïve fact is the core of the work. As I was engaged in this nocturnal pursuit I noticed that I was not entirely alone in the small hours, there were sleepless people who sat and read on the benches, street people who, when the weather turned, got together in groups to drink and talk, there were the bottle collectors, and teenagers with nowhere else to go to smoke in peace, all of whom watched trains going past without getting on. A kind of village hall atmosphere can prevail in these stations at 4 am. The models in advertising that stared down or grinned wildly, or reappeared, identically, ghostly, in dozens of stations miles apart from each other took on the significance of god heads, cave paintings from a culture I oddly belonged to." - C.H.