Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Berlin’s Wall of Light: art as a way to remember, celebrate and commemorate history

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This weekend was the 25th year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the twenty years following WW2 growing tensions in the east of Germany and eastern Europe were rising. Many inhabitants of the eastern parts o Germany were emigrating to the west. In 1962 the wall went up as a way prevent mass exodus of inhabitants from east to west. Pretty much over night east Berlin authorities, with the help of Soviet union soldiers, erected the first version of the wall; poles and strong barbed wire border to prevent passage. Telephone lines between the east and west were cut, families separated and essentially a nation and world divided. The wall stood for over 25 years, and was a daily reminder of the division between communism and democracy.

If you are interested in reading more about the history of the cold war and east-berlin, please look here.

In celebration of the fall of the wall on November 9th 1989, many artists have created installations and projects as responses..

LINK one 

LINK two 

The first piece you see, is a collection of comparative photographs ( now & then) with descriptions of central, popular and famous locations in Berlin. What I find particularly interesting is that in the majority of locations, where the wall had occupied large spaces, there are hardly any remnants of the structure. While it is wonderful that the wall is gone and Germany reunited, the physical structure of the wall offers a somber reminder of our past. It is so easy for us to forget, in the patters of our daily lives what the cost of our current freedom was.

The second article (video) addresses this point, by installing a “Lichtgrenze” ( light border) around the inner part of the city where the wall stood 25 years earlier. The artist Christopher and Marc Bauder created this 15KM long installation of 8000 eternally lit balloons suspended on poles. The lights were in place for three full days and then last night released as a celebration of the peaceful unification of Germany and fall of the wall.

Artisits Marc Bauder said, “We wanted to counter this ominous, heavy structure with something light”. The purpose of the instillation was not about resurrecting the wall but about remembering the separation. The idea was to have an alien object, foreign to the current city, which serves as a reminder of this foreboding 96 mile separating border that physically represented the division of the free world.

Take a look at the video ( its only three mins long) and read the article. Art and creativity can offer such innovative ways to connect people, past and the future. We create art to provoke deep thought, reflection and demonstrate humanity.

These two articles are perfect examples of this, and remind me just how important creativity is in the human experience.

What are your thoughts?

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2 comments on “Berlin’s Wall of Light: art as a way to remember, celebrate and commemorate history

  1. awellfare89
    November 13, 2014

    I have seen the Lichtgrenze project online before and it is so simple and powerful. Creativity such as this allows the artist to convey tragedies, past and current, through a tangible medium to those who may be detached from the situation. As the Berlin Wall has been absent now for 25 years, it gives the current generation a sense that this enormous structure was real, it was there. I love the artist’s point to fill the “heavy structure with something light.” I would have loved to see it.

  2. hgenetos
    November 14, 2014

    This is a great way to showcase how Berlin has evolved since the wall came down. It has such a neat arts scene. These monuments to the end of the Cold War and fall of the wall, and the country Germany has become are a strong example of what you can become.

    I was reading about this last week and found out that the balloons are actually biodegradable which is a wonderful bonus.

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