Art show depicts confusion after Berlin Wall fell

Fri Oct 2, 2009 11:28am EDT
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By Alexandra Hudson

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - When the champagne corks stopped popping and the euphoria at the fall of the Berlin Wall began to recede a deep bewilderment took hold as East Berliners weighed up new freedoms with the end of life as they knew it.

A freakish landscape developed in the city in the months following November 9 1989, encompassing abandoned border posts, the punctured wall, vacant buildings-turned-night clubs and vast areas of muddy no-man's land greedily eyed by developers.

As the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall approaches a Berlin gallery is showing some of the art spawned during this era, when artists scavenged among the debris of celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate or trawled old East German government buildings for materials to portray a city in flux .

Hans Hemmert took the plastic cases of the lights that once illuminated the death strip along the Berlin wall and hung them vertically to exploit their tear-drop shape, in his work "Trauerarbeit 2" (Mourning work 2) from 1990.

Bettina Sefkow picked up the mangled wire champagne cork casings she found strewn around the Berlin Wall after the giddy reunification celebrations, placed them on a sober white background and photographed them like crime-scene exhibits.

"This was a time when people from two utterly opposing systems suddenly collided. It was a confusing situation but artists also saw it as a time of possibility, a free space in which to experiment and find new meaning," said Guido Fassbender, co-curator of the exhibition at the Berlinische Gallery.


Some of the exhibits have an elegiac mood.   Continued...

<p>People watch the short film "A sunset takes 7 minutes" by Johanna Domke during the Art between Traces of the Past and Utopian Futures exhibition in the Berlinische Gallerie in Berlin September 30, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>