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MEMORIES. The Berlin Wall: From border to art

The Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) had an exhibit of wall pieces from the infamous Berlin Wall (1989/2009: Berliner Mauer.) which ran from July 8-August 8 2009. The various wall fragments were parced out to different artists from different countries and most are thought-provoking but all of them, creative.

Germany has the odd hubris of exhibiting its shame; that shame being the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, not, you will be forgiven for assuming, an obsession with trees or recycling. The country's affection for trees and latex fetishism have yet to register a blush. Dozens of memorials and statutes are in existence to counter the overwhelming international association with Adolf Hitler. Face it: one doesn't nearly conquer the world and is easily forgotten.

Back to the museum: the literal "wall" pieces were assembled in a huge circle in the courtyard so that visitors could leisurely take them all in. Slabs of concrete are not light exhibits with which to begin; and there is nothing light about the history of the Wall. The art pieces are symbolic but when those various artifacts were once indivisible stretches of the Berlin Wall symbolism had little to do with its appeal. The winding wall was oppressive, isolating, discouraging, and represented the communist dominance of Eastern Germany and the former Soviet Union. Friends and families were separated for generations and many, many Germans lost their lives trying to escape to the West.

Of the forty art pieces I especially liked Swiss Rolf Knie's execution of the Wall in an electric chair (The Wall sentenced to death)

Frenchmen Gerard Fromanger's iconic silhouette of a soldier guarding the wall (A Concrete Memory)

American Adam Steiner's iron case containing some of the Wall locked inside (Pandora's Box)

and Russian Erik Bulatov's painting of a stop sign interrupted (Nonstop).

click to see all of the works

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