This week marks the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall when twenty-six years ago, on November 9th an act of removing a barrier changed a country and in turn, the rest of the world. We walked along the remainder of the wall this summer on a rainy afternoon and we were so impressed by the colorful art and what it represented, from then to now.
Since then the city has taken the reminder of the past and like a caterpillar, the grey, bleak concrete morphed into a butterfly, an art project that began in the 90s to alter the symbol to one that represents peace and joy in it’s final stage.
The East Side Gallery is a large section that is left of the wall, with street art and graffiti images along it’s 1km section. There have been over 100 different artists that have contributed, all from dozens of different countries coming together to transform the wall into a living art piece, the largest open air collection of it’s kind.
There are several murals that depict some famous stories of escapes over, even through the wall. Zip lines, tightropes, in uniform and in tunnels, there were several creative ways.
The murals have been restored over the years, the wear and tear of the elements in addition to souvenir “taggers” or graffiti artists putting their mark on the iconic wall.
The project creates a dichotomy between a cold past and images of hopeful future, a small beacon of light through a dark time.
Aside from the art installation on what is left of the wall, Berlin itself seems to present itself to its visitors as an outdoor gallery space. It’s a great excuse to get out, take a walk and get lost in the city. There are few buildings that are untouched with some type of graffiti or street art, you’ll be pressed to find a corner without some little hidden gem of art.
The street art ranges from the bright to the bizarre, thought provoking pieces or just a wistful expression.
While walking from place to place don’t forget to look up and around the corner, there is always a large mural on a side of a building on a corner of a street. One afternoon we created our own street art tour and went on a hunt looking for some of the larger works in town, several are located not far from the East Side Gallery in the Kreuzberg area of town.
These larger works have put Berlin on the map as a city with some of the best street art. Although these massive murals are interesting, the smaller graffiti you’ll walk by on your way to work everyday is equally as compelling. Sometimes it’s more fun trying to find the little treasures.
There are several famous artists and you can find similarities in composition or repeat tags in each of their projects, like finding XOOOOX black & white images throughout different parts of town. One of my favorites was on the side of what looked to be an abandoned building on Oranienburger Strasse, with a simple message and chilling image.