To explore Berlin is to at once feel that on almost every street you are reminded of some part of its rich history. When we first arrived I was taken aback by how much graffiti there was on what seemed like almost every wall, only to find out that it is because graffiti is not criminalize here and is seen as a form of freedom of expression. For me, coming from San Diego, I associated graffiti (when it doesn’t look like obvious art work) with gangs and criminality and thought, “yikes! We must be in a bad part of town.” This of course, was just ignorance on my part, and my own fear and anxiety over being somewhere new and unfamiliar. After arriving I started doing research on the history of street art in Berlin which inevitably led us to the East Side Gallery and the history of the Berlin Wall. Our friend Sarah also recommended this spot. This open air gallery is truly unique, not only because it is the largest open air gallery in the world, but because of where the art has made its home (on a length of what remains of the Berlin Wall, specifically painted on the East side, which was the communist side of Berlin during the Cold War). While the West side represented freedom, liberty, and progression following the war, the East side was ruled with an iron fist, through force, threats, and essentially imprisonment of its citizens. On the West side, prior to the fall, graffiti and street art began to flourish as a means of expressing its people’s thoughts and feelings about politics, religion, and life, while the East side remained blank, sterile, and militarized. So when the Wall came down in November of 1989 the whole city seemed to become a canvas for artists and those who wanted to express themselves and their new found liberty, freedom and joy through graffiti and art. The East Side Gallery is a stunning display with contributions from over 100 artists from all over the world stretching .8 miles down the city street by the canal. It can be challenging to admire and take pictures with so many tourists all packed onto the sidewalk, meandering and trying to take selfies next to their favorite works of art, but it is well worth the stop especially when you take the time to understand the history behind the wall and its art.
Wo ist der East Side Gallery?