Controversies News Germany

Artists plaster Berlin Wall murals with paper

The symbolic whitewashing is a protest against the ongoing threat to the historic site caused by rapid gentrification

The painter and chairman of the East Side Gallery Kani Alavi tapes paper to the wall of murals. Photo: Oliver Mehlis, © dpa

This weekend, artists protested against any further demolition of the East Side Gallery in Berlin, an open-air exhibition space covering 1.3km of the Berlin Wall, by covering it with paper. So far, 100m of the wall has been wrapped but the protesters plan to cover the entire section. “We want people to know what it would be like if the gallery wasn’t there,” says Kani Alavi, the president of the East Side Gallery Artists Association. “We chose white because it’s neutral and reminds people of the original colour of the wall.”

In March, a German property developer removed segments of the gallery to allow access to a building site for luxury apartments. Some critics saw this as a further sign of the rapid gentrification that is endangering Berlin’s cultural history. The current protests are not specifically in reaction to the new construction development, Alavi tells The Art Newspaper, but aim to highlight the ongoing threat to the site. “Something needs to be done,” he says.

In 1990, international artists painted murals across the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It is seen by many as a symbol of freedom and peace. The gallery of work was restored in 2009 to fix fading paint.

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