An Artist Looks Back at the Berlin Wall
People across Germany are preparing to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To remember that turbulent time, one panoramic artwork transports people back to when the wall divided the city
An exhibition in Berlin takes viewers back in time to three decades ago. On a cold and grey day in the 1980s, people are shown going about their lives in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.
But ever present is the huge wall that once cut through the city.
The panorama exhibition showcases the Berlin wall on a 900 square meter large polyester fabric. It’s creator reflects on the normality of life then. He questions if he were a bad person for not noticing the wall.
“I had a friend that lived on one of the streets next to the wall and I can still see how I would stir my coffee and look out the window at the wall and then I turned around and we just spoke about normal things. You didn’t see the wall anymore,” said Yadegar Asisi, artist.
Yadegar Asisi came to East Germany as a young child after his family fled the Iranian authorities.
After finishing his university degree, his time as an asylum seeker was up and was asked to leave the country.
In the end, he moved just a few hundred meters, across the wall to the west side of Berlin.
“The stories are real. They are things that happened. I was there for all the stories myself. And that’s why I think I’m a good person to speak about these things,” said Asisi.
The exhibit shows people bringing their children to school. Punks, standing around and smoking. And behind the wall, traces of another life with the flag of East Germany hanging from a window.
The first more temporary structures were eventually replaced by a large permanent wall structure. A large zone where people were not allowed, complete with mines and snipers in guard towers, was called the death strip.
In October 1989, protests around the country, as well as mass migration to countries such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, led tens of thousands of people gathered at the border crossings, demanding to be let through.
In the end, the guards opened the gates and the Berlin wall was soon after torn down.
“When everything that was set in stone just falls. This is something that keeps happening in the history of humanity, but when you are really an eyewitness to such an event then it is something very moving and it makes you realize that everything can be changed,” Asisi.
Asisi’s permanent exhibtion can be seen in a specially constructed building near Checkpoint Charlie. It was first opened in January 2017.
In Berlin, a week of exhibitions and ceremonies will culminate in an open-air concert at Brandenburg Gate on November 9th.