The showers started again whilst we were at Suicide Circus and so we decided to head back over the railway lines. Despite the wet and cold, we consoled ourselves that Berlin in winter could be a lot worse! Fortunately, the showers did not linger and when we passed the train station towards East Side Gallery (where all the tourists are!), it had stopped completely.
After being spoilt by Bulowstrasse, we were very much looking forward to East Side Gallery. At over a kilometer long, it is the longest segment of the Berlin Wall that is still standing. And with paintings by over a hundred artists, some consider this a monument of reunification. However, the weather has since taken a toll on much of the work and in 2009, forty of these had to be restored. I guess that’s the hazard of an open air gallery.
As we turned onto Mühlenstraße where the gallery is located, we discovered to our dismay that the whole stretch of the wall have been fenced up!
This was unbelievable. After enjoying open air pieces everywhere we went, this was the first where we had to enjoy it behind an ugly looking fence! It was disappointing. Later we learnt the reason for it. Apparently it was put up a couple of months ago in a bid to save the paintings from being vandalized.
In some ways, it is almost ironic. Trying to save what some still call graffiti from graffiti! But we could definitely see what they meant. Some walls had tags on them and even writing and declarations of love from tourists. Then as if taking a selfie was not enough, it’s been reported that tourists have also been taking tiny chunks off the walls as souveniers for themselves!! Once more, another hazard of an open air gallery. So, until some of the works are restored and a more permanent solution is worked up to protect these pieces of work, the fence will remain.
Which is annoying for those of us who want nothing more than a photo. So we did try to take some photos from between the gaps in the fence which makes for some interesting shots.
And even tried under the fence which also provides a different perspective altogether!
Those are just a few of my favourites and we took a lot more before we came to the almost iconic piece by Vrubel.
Originally painted in 1990, it was repainted again in 2009 as part of the restoration work by Vrubel. The men are Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev. Believe it or not, it actually reproduces a photograph of the two men in 1979 at the 30th anniversary of the creation of the German Democratic Republic where they greeted each other with the socialist fraternal kiss. To put Vrubel’s painting into context of the time, the words of at the bottom by Vrubel says,”My God, Help Me to Survive this Deadly Love.”
Finally as a side note, if you are wondering about what’s behind the wall, you are right if you guessed there’s more! You can walk all the way back on the other side which is what we did.
On the back side, there is no fence and it looks like just a free for all. Anyone can put up anything here and it seems that there is a lot of “anything”. Some do try to be a bit more thought provoking but for the most part, it looks like everyone just trying their hand at something. I guess everyone had to start somewhere . . . .