Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It was 1989: I was just a small tot at the time. A baby, unaware of the significance of this event in 20th century history. I was actually most probably sitting in my Mum’s, or my Aunt’s lap, in a small town in Italy, visiting family in the beginning of wintertime and savoring some dessert or drinking some coffee too rich or strong for my young age! Nevertheless, my Mum liked to point out many years later that I had been within closer to proximity to these powerful and moving moments in history than many others, and most definitely than where I was at the time of the recounting. But then, anywhere is closer to Berlin than Australia!
It was many years later, as a 21 year old on my “gap” year traipsing around Europe with an oversized backpack that I got to actually visit the incredible city of Berlin. Filled with history. Overflowing with self-expression. Bubbling over with a liberal dose of grunge and change. It was most definitely an artistic, whimsical, fascinating city – weighed down by the history and calamities of the 21st century, but buoyed by this renewed sense of freedom, liberty, passion, and reformism.
It is well known that Berlin has some of the best art, distractions and street or urban art. Alley ways filled with graffiti, posters and artworks. Walls which become modern graffiti galleries. The East Side Gallery is maybe the most famous though, touristy but historic parts of the Berlin Wall now dedicated as a long quasi-cinematic insight into the German psyche of revolution and change. It is like one extended film negative of upheaval and emotion. It really made me experience a sense of awe at the resilience of the human spirit. Hope. Desire. Freedom. Love. They remain at the centre of the human condition in spite of repression, oppression and gloom. It sounds like a cliche, but Berlin really does inspire. It makes you appreciate and value your own freedoms.
Its street art is just a manifestation of the urban renewal that followed the human spirit’s revival in this city in the 1990s and onwards. Often on dark, grey concrete and in a cold, windy city, the street art can appear sombre and intimidating. But it can also be uplifting and political. Interesting and insightful. At the least, it makes Berlin distinctive among cityscapes with its architecture to boot (will have to cover that another time!). Here are some of my favorite shots from my trip in 2008 (some of which may have been taken by my sister, so I also want to thank her for having been a wonderful travel companion!!), and I apologize as I did not have the best camera by any means at the time, but my angled shots remain a trademark favorite!
Takele’s was big when I was there for the graffiti staircases!
Portrait in pink
Too much to ask for a kiss?!
Berlin’s version of Pablo Picasso’s famous masterpiece of the Spanish Civil War, Guernica
A crack in the wall. The way to freedom.
The tide of desire for human freedom that overtook Berlin and East Germany is a reminder to enjoy and appreciate freedoms in our own countries that were fought for as recently as 25 years ago in a modern, developed country.
A short history of the wall…
Delivery of love. Even in chains.
A long time. But long enough?
It’s intense. But it’s also a beautiful patchwork artwork of humanity. I love it.