LONDON: Legendary German filmmaker Wim Wenders has opened an exhibition of his photographs that capture the devastation wrought by the 9/11 attacks, which he hopes also convey “surreal beauty”.
Up at the Imperial War Museum, “Wim Wenders: Photographing Ground Zero” presents large-scale images of the apocalyptic scenes that the veteran director shot less than two months after the attacks.
The haunting photos show the still-smoking ruins of the collapsed World Trade Center towers, as workers cleared the site in November 2001.
“I had wanted the place to somehow tell me something,” Wenders said at the launch of the exhibition in the British capital, “to give me a message.”
He recalled rays of sunshine filtering through the gigantic skeletons of the towers, amid the smouldering ruins and thick layers of ash carpeting the ground.
“A surreal beauty appeared,” Wenders explained, “and I took it as a great sign of hope that there was something beautiful emerging.”
The acclaimed director – best known for art-house hits like “Wings of Desire”, “Pina”, “Buena Vista Social Club”, and “Paris, Texas” – said he hoped Ground Zero could be “forever a symbol of peace and healing”.
He noted recent events in Afghanistan, with the total withdrawal of US and NATO military forces and return of the Taliban, may add “particular resonance” to his images for some visitors.
Wenders, who has established himself as a giant of European cinema while cultivating a decades-long love affair with the United States, has also photographed extensively during his career.
That passion has been increasingly represented in his film-making this century, especially in the visually arresting 2005 family drama “Don’t Come Knocking”.
Meanwhile his photos have been published and exhibited around the world.
“Wim Wenders: Photographing Ground Zero” is up at the Imperial War Museum through January 9.