My friend (and client) Rebecca Bloom recently traveled to Berlin. Rebecca shares her reflections in this guest blog post.
Berlin seems to keep reinventing. History has demanded this to a great extent, but the spirit of innovation and revitalization appears to a traveler as an authentic cultural choice. This piece of modern sculpture is made of crushed cars. It was the first installed art I saw in Berlin and the theme of productively recasting the obsolete carried me through the rest of my visit.
Brandenburg Gate on a sunny, summer day. Because of Berlin’s many transformations it simultaneously conjures division, nationalism, dominance and disgrace. It is a little bit spooky and surprisingly small-scale and graceful compared to other dramatic European landmarks. Today, it teems with free expression. It was amazing to see that, considering all that has marched through and become entrenched on either side.
For example: Seen on the Unter den Linden leading up to the Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag is only a few blocks away. I was travelling with my daughter who had just come from Moscow and then St. Petersburg. This was also just after Snowden arrived at Moscow airport.
The truly dignified and poignant Holocaust Memorial. Across the street at the edge of the Tiergarten is another memorial to homosexuals who perished in the Holocaust. It is almost too much to take in. What struck me most was the unvarnished recognition of the magnitude of loss and the respect that pervades. There is no scripted way to enter, exit or process the experience, but it occupies a large piece of property in the center of unified Berlin, which on its own speaks volumes.
The East Side Gallery is one of the most historically and artistically interesting places I’ve been in the world. Over a mile long, it is a multi-artist mural painted on the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall in Friedrichshain. The original work was done in 1989 after the fall of the Wall, but it is a living piece of art, full of political statements and contemporary expression from all over the world. As the photos below show, people still paint on it with current messages of hope and protest. Let’s hope there’s a way for developers to build the inevitable condos without razing this remarkable site.