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Artists to Resurrect Berlin Wall for Epic Film-Art Installation

The mysterious project, which has signed up Marina Abramović and Massive Attack, will create a ‘city within a city’

Juggling on the Berlin Wall, 16 November 1989. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Juggling on the Berlin Wall, 16 November 1989. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Juggling on the Berlin Wall, 16 November 1989. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

More details have been released of the Berlin Wall set to be ‘rebuilt’ as part of an epic film-art installation set in the German capital, which looks to trigger debate around issues of surveillance, co-existence and nationalism. Led by Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, the experience will seek to create a ‘city within a city’ – it will include the premiere of Khrzhanovsky’s mysterious DAU film project, and has also signed up performance icon Marina Abramović, street artist Banksy and the band Massive Attack to take part.

Organizers say that if they are granted the final go-ahead from local authorities, they will install 900 concrete slabs in the city’s central Unter den Linden boulevard to create the immersive environment. Complete with its own entrance ‘visas’, the time-capsule installation will open on 12 October, and then be symbolically torn down on 9 November – marking the anniversary of the Wall’s fall in 1989.

The temporary resurrection of the Berlin Wall will be hosted by arts festival Berliner Festspiele. Although organizers have variously described the project as ‘a special experiential space’, a ‘historical echo chamber’, and ‘the impression of a journey in a foreign country’, they have been keen to stress that they are aware of its sensitivity. Festival director Thomas Oberender said that the experience would not be ‘a Disney GDR’ but instead ‘a mixture of social experiment, artistic experiment and […] an impressive form of world-building.’

Nevertheless, the project is not without its detractors, who have called it out as disrespectful. Green party politician Sabina Bangert told Tagesspiegel Daily: ‘Out of respect for the victims who really experienced such situations, we should step away from this.’ However the country’s minister of culture Monika Gruetters has said that she is ‘absolutely convinced this will be a world event’.

Khrzhanovsky has gained a cultish following for his mysterious DAU project (2005–ongoing), the bulk of which was recorded on a specially made set in the city of Kharkov, Ukraine between 2009 and 20011. The filmmaker recreated a Stalinist society, with participants spending two years in an artificial city – 14 children are said to have been conceived on set, which was eventually destroyed by neo-Nazis hired by the director. Hundreds of hours of footage were collected, but it has not yet been screened – the results are set to be shown for the first time as part of the Berlin installation. You can view the trailer here.

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