July 12, 2024

Arty Highlight from Berlin

1. East Side Gallery

Probably the most famous piece of art in the city, this is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing. When it fell on November 9th 1989, this part of the wall was left standing and artists from all over the world travelled to make their mark on it. Riddled with colourful, industrial, motivational, and political quotes and images, the artists have left Berliners with a beautiful piece of history to lighten those dark years when the city was split.

2. Jewish Memorial

The full name of this sculpture is ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ which could be deemed harsh by some but quite fair and necessary to most that know anything about German history. Having looked it up before I went to Berlin I wasn’t too excited about it, but the truth is photographs do not do it justice at all. Designer Peter Eisenman has created 2,700 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern at varying heights and widths. This memorial was not built to look at, and visitors are encouraged to enter it to gain the full experience. The floor is also varied throughout, taking visitors on a long, confusing tour of concrete, at times towering above one’s head which creates the desired effect of anxiety – even though you can clearly see the exits all around you. The journey is powerful, and for some reason sadness radiates from the coffin-like blocks at the entrance to the towering grey rectangles looming in the centre.

3. Panorama of The Ancient Metropolis at the Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum is one of many on Museum Island, and the only one we had chance to go into. It revolves around two huge artworks – an ancient Greek/Roman altar, excavated and rebuilt completely in the museum, and a panorama painting by Yadegar Asisi. The latter was by far the most interesting, as the altar was rather underwhelming after witnessing the panorama first. The huge artwork, sealed together in a giant cylinder shape, paints a scene from the ancient city of Pergamon in 129AD. On entering you have to climb quite a few floors up to the central viewing gallery, but it is all worth it once you get up there. Music and clever day-night time lighting turn this almost into a cinematic experience, as it is easy to imagine the characters in the painting going about their daily lives. This panorama style artwork was truly awe-inspiring, and I doubt I will ever see something similar in my lifetime.

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