Martina Zaninelli



My grandfather kept only a few photographs and medals from his time in the war, his stories were usually fragmentary.


When my grandfather was still alive, I tried to ask questions but tread lightly so as not to impose where I could feel it was difficult for him to bring these memories back. With time, I was convinced that I would eventually find out more. In hindsight, I regret not having tried harder to get him to reveal more of his stories. And so, these stories will remain hidden, as he won the struggle between his silence and my curiosity.

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The process of coming to terms with the horrors of World War 2 within the context of the family has often been avoided. Both collective shame and the terrible memories of those family members who participated in acts of war were obstacles to this process. Instead of actively reflecting upon one's own role in the war, most would stay silent. The historical reconciliation with the past was usually left to the schools and education system - hence the focus was moved conveniently away from one's own family members.

This silence is investigated by "Are there trees back in Berlin?" using the medium of photography.

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“ARE there trees in Berlin once again?”, grandfather asked my mother in autumn 2014.

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"Are there trees back in Berlin?" does not follow a purely historical and documentary course.

By making use of sombre atmospheric imagery, real pictures from the family archives, polaroids and as well as portraits and video I try to narrate an incomplete history – following last traces - and to illustrate the abstract and indefinite. The interaction between different sort of pictures should cause confusion and the need of reflection in the viewer.

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EXHibition view

Alfedena, Italy - 2018

Alfedena, Italy - 2018

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Berlin, Germany - 2017

Berlin, Germany - 2017


dienacht Special Issue / the exhibition's catalogue of "don't forget me not"

Are there trees back in Berlin? è stato realizzato con il sostegno della Provincia autonoma di Bolzano/Alto Adige - Ripartizione Cultura italiana.

Are there trees back in Berlin? wurde von der Autonomen Provinz Bozen/Südtirol - Abteilung Italienische Kultur gefördert.