Artist builds "Berlin wall" dividing rich and poor

Wed May 9, 2012 10:13am EDT
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By Elisa Oddone

BERLIN (Reuters) - A few paces from where the Berlin wall once divided the city's communist East from the West a Macedonian artist has built a new barrier, this time to separate the rich from the poor.

Nada Prlja's black stone wall, called the "Peace Wall", is 12 meters (yards) long and 5 meters high and bisects Berlin's central Friedrichstrasse, just south of Checkpoint Charlie, a famous former Cold War border post and today a major tourist attraction.

"The new wall underlines the gap between the upper Friedrichstrasse - characterized by fancy shops and expensive flats - and the poor southern part of the road which heads to the multi-ethnic Kreuzberg district," said Denhardt von Harling, spokesman for Berlin's Art Biennale show.

The Peace Wall, is part of the Biennale, which this year focuses on political art, and will stand for two months.

The art installation is intended to challenge the gentrification underway in the area over the last few years and highlight the huge wealth gap.

The 3.3 km Friedrichstrasse passes through the heart of Berlin's rebuilt city centre. Just beyond the site of the former wall glittering glass office blocks begin to give way to 1970s social housing, luxury boutiques are replaced by charity shops and the crowds of tourists and office workers disappear.

The sudden change is uncanny.

"A wall is a symbol of division, and is in itself capable of highlighting invisible gaps," said Prlja.   Continued...