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“Berlin Wall: Icons of a Border Installation” is too uneven to rank with the best exhibitions in which artists retake historical photographs in the present day, but it does offer its share of striking imagery. Taken in 2006 by students at Germany’s University of Paderborn, the exhibition mixes historical images of the Berlin Wall with photographs from today. The exhibition could have used more explanatory captions, and the translations from the German are needlessly rough; the young artists also dwell too heavily on graffiti, East German relics for sale, and other predictable motifs. But some works are arresting. One pairs a brick building in grainy black and white with its postmodern, clean-lined, pastel-hued successor; another pastes a vintage image of a toppling church steeple within a depiction of its modern-day surroundings; a third, made possible by painstaking research, superimposes old and new views of a streetscape—a ghostly image that perfectly suggests the fleeting nature of memory.
THE EXHIBIT IS ON DISPLAY MONDAY TO THURSDAY FROM 9 A.M.-5 P.M. AND FRIDAY FROM 9 A.M.-3 P.M., TO JUNE 12 AT THE GOETHE-INSTITUT WASHINGTON, 812 7TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 289-1200.