53 years ago, on August 13th, the Berlin Wall was built. Walter Ulbricht signed the plans to build a wall to seperate the German Democratic Republic from the Federeal Republic of Germany on 12th of August. The borders were closed and the constructions began in the night from 12th to 13th of August already. In the early hours of Sunday, 13th of August most of the work was already done: the border to West Berlin was closed.
During its existence of almost 28 years, the Berlin wall went through different stages. Each generation made the wall safer and increased the physical as well as psychological separation from East Germany to the West and the rest of the country.After barbwire, wood and concrete slabs, the fourth generation of the Berlin Wall was built in 1975. 3,6 m high concrete elements seperated East from West Germany and made it even more impossible for GDR citizens to flee.
Simoultaneousley, the punks and squatters movemement swept over from West to East Germany. Along with it, the Berlin Wall developed to a space of expression of opinion and solidarity. Until its fall in 1989, the wall became the biggest art space worldwide and a visit was part of the standart program for tourists.
The surface served as platform for political messages, exchange of ideas and became a symbol for an entire generation. However, this instrumentalization did also demystified and trivialized what the wall actually stand for – the violent division of a country, a culture into two worlds.
White Streak Action
“This streak is re-performed as mark in the area of berlin in order to denounce the Berlin wall as Ghettowall”
In November 1986, five ex-GDR citizens painted a white streak along the wall to counteract the trivialization by WallArt of the Berlin Wall. The five friends were part of the punk, anarchists and Hippie scene in Weimar but were able to exit to West Berlin in 1984. Already after one day of painting, they had to interrupt their project because the action was observed and documented by the Stasi all the time. They where caught, when a secret door in the wall opened and Stasi officials arrested one of them; the remaining others were able to flee. In 2010, the Action White Streak was worked off and a touring exhibition was established. While studying the material and records it came out that one of the five friends was a Stasi snitch from 1981-1984.
Heroes for One Day by David Bowie: