Wednesday, July 22, 2009

East Side Gallery

The "East Side Gallery" is the longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall (1.3 km), made up of 105 works of art from 118 artists from 21 countries.

Berlin Wall 101: There was actually a double wall on the East side...West Berliners could get right up next to the wall, so on that side it was usually covered with graffiti. And they even had platforms next to it so you could look over to the other side in certain locations. But on the east side, there was a second wall and between them was a "no man's land" filled with barbed wire, land mines, and sand...Guarded by dogs and watch towers. So the East Berliners couldn't get up next to the wall at all. It was smooth and white.

So in 1989...when the wall is opened up, the Eastern Side of the wall also started to get painted. In one location, a long stretch near the Ostbahnhof, a bunch of artists from all over the world got together in 1990 and painted a "gallery" of works along the wall.

In the years since then, weather, graffiti and vandalism took their toll, and you could barely even recognize the works. Now for the 20-yr anniversary, the original artists are coming back to Berlin to redo their pieces. Today this section of the wall is the longest remaining piece, and it is under "memorial protection" (Denkmalschutz) so it is supposed to be preserved in its original condition. So they are even redoing the cement and filling in holes to make sure the wall looked how it did in 1990! Kinda crazy...Anyways, here are some pictures of the renovation-in-progress:
Artists in action....
Some samples from the gallery:

Above: "So strong, and yet so vulnerable. the people (das Volk), man (der Mensch), the forest, the tree."
Above: This painting has become really famous, known as the "Bruderkuss," "brother kiss," which was a greeting in the former Eastern Block to show respect. In this mural (after a photograph) it is Erich Honecker (E Germany) und Leonid Breschnev (Soviet Union).

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