Wenders opens Sept 11 photos expo in London

LONDON (AFP) – Legendary German film-maker Wim Wenders on Friday opened an exhibition in London of his photographs capturing the devastation wrought by the 9/11 attacks, which he hopes also convey “surreal beauty”.

The showcase – Wim Wenders: Photographing Ground Zero, at the Imperial War Museum – presents large-scale images of the apocalyptic scenes shot by the veteran director 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, to give me a message,” Wenders said at the launch of the exhibition in the British capital.

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.

Wenders took the photographs in November 2001, two months after the attacks. PHOTO: AFP

“A surreal beauty appeared and I took it as a great sign of hope that there was something beautiful emerging,” Wenders explained.

The acclaimed director – best known for art-house hits like Buena Vista Social Club, Wings of Desire, Pina 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 United States (US) and NATO military forces and return of the Taleban, 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 US, 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.

The exhibition, at the south London museum, runs until January 9.