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East Side Gallery: Who Gets a Voice?

GERMANY | Sunday, 17 August 2014 | Views [1100]

Perhaps Thomas and Karine are both descendants of survivors, high school sweet hearts, or simply Berlin lovers. But does who they are even matter? Does their heritage, talent, or popularity deny or grant them a voice?

That was the question I asked myself as I pondered the scenes before me at the East Berlin Gallery this morning. Seeing the beautiful work of street artists juxtaposed with graffiti was a bit difficult at first. I found myself angered that such raw and sacred art had been desecrated by graffiti such as “Superchicken was here” and “Thomas+Karine 2014.” But the closer I looked, the more my vision changed.  I realized I had a very narrow vision of the purpose and point of the gallery.  For so long, the Berlin wall stood as a symbol of anger, of the brokenness of a country and people. But now that brokenness has found a voice through the people of Berlin and those who visit the gallery. 

The gallery was meant for expression, not in a specific content, form, or medium, but simply for sharing hope and the human experience. Whatever that means to the individual is what happens, and it is beautiful.  After all, who am I to say what is or is not valid content for the gallery? The East Side Gallery is an opportunity to expose your heart, not so that others can say it is right or wrong, but as an outlet for future generations.

Maybe Superchicken felt alive while writing on the remnants of the wall, and maybe Thomas and Karine achieved a lifelong dream through marker on concrete. No matter the case, each individual has as much right to expression as a famous street artist commissioned to do a particular piece. The wall, a tangible symbol of anger and war for so long, has been given the chance to represent wholeness and freedom, and that is exactly what the people of Berlin are making it to be. It is raw and gritty, and while the law does not technically allow new additions, the people have been given a voice, and they refuse to be silenced.





Tags: berlin, berlin wall, expression, hope, street art, symbolism, voice


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