Episode 02: What is the East Side Gallery?

East Side Gallery by Roberta Caldas

Location:

Mühlenstrasse, 10243 Berlin

Facts:

  • The biggest open-air art gallery in the World
  • Most visited Berlin Wall site

The East Side Gallery is the longest stretch remaining of the Berlin Wall. It is a very popular place among tourists that come to put their selfie-sticks into use. Interestingly, according to different surveys, tourists don’t even know in which side of the Wall they are when visiting the gallery. Don’t worry if you are included in this group, we will tell you all about it.

During the GDR regime, the Berlin Wall could not be reached on its Eastern side so it could easily look all crappy. What happened in Mühlenstrasse was different though. Because the street was a protocol route for important visitors coming to East Berlin from the Schönefeld Airport, the stretch of Wall there had to look nice and pretty. After all, it was the GDR’s business card.

This is why the huge block of concrete was the perfect canvas after the GDR regime went down. So, in 1990, artists from many different countries came to Berlin to be part of the artistic intervention there. The Western side of the Wall had always been decorated with drawings and graffiti, but these forms of art could not reach the other side. So painting the murals on the Wall’s Eastern side means A LOT. It means freedom. It is the appropriation of the Eastern side of the Wall by artists and it represents the peaceful revolution of the German people that led to the fall of the dictatorship.

It is amazing. Think about that next time you go check the East Side Gallery’s murals. There is much more value there than just a nice background for your next Facebook pictures. To know more about the murals and the differences between street art and graffiti, check out this talk:

Photo and episode: Roberta Caldas

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