I don’t really remember the collapse of the Berlin Wall in detail because I was only 9 years old at the time. However, when I visited the East Side Gallery in Berlin for the first time, I knew I was standing before something of huge importance.
The East-Side-Gallery is simply a 1316 metre section of the former Berlin wall, chosen to display over one hundred paintings by 118 artists from 21 countries, and is the largest open-air gallery in the world.
This is no spontaneous selection of graffiti on the wall, but authentic paintings that were carefully thought out to express the feelings and emotions of the population. The artwork represents hope, the freedom gained and the desires and expectations for all that was new.
During my first visit I wondered how the images were so well-conserved and even had white spaces between them. In actual fact the East Side Gallery was completely renovated in 2009 and all its images were repainted.
Almost twenty years after the first painting, many images had deteriorated with the climate and others covered in graffiti. For the renovation, the former artists were invited to participate in the repainting of the wall. 87 artists came for the event and painted their section of the wall for a second time.
The wall stretches 1316 metres between the Oberbaumbrücke Bridge and the Ostbahnhof railway station.
My first thought was that the gallery was: in this sense not quite authentic since the works were originally created to demonstrate the feelings and ideas of a particular moment. Surely they could not do it in the same way a second time?
However the fact remains that the East-Side-Gallery provides an impressive display of recent German history. Walking among the shadows of the wall gives a real sense of oppression. It is impossible to see over the other side or to cross the wall. Fortunately today the length of the wall only measures 1300 metres.
The East-Side-Gallery is a monument of freedom and hope, and for me particularly it represents just how dangerous the construction of borders and boundary walls really is.
East Side Gallery
Mühlenstraße, between the Oberbaumbrücke bridge and the Ostbahnhof station.
Entrance is free.
How to get there
Ostbahnhof: S3, S5, S75
Warschauerstraße: S3, S5, S75, U1, Tram10
East Side Gallery Führungen
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