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Giant seesaw to honour German reunification

The Local · 14 Apr 2011, 11:30

Published: 14 Apr 2011 11:30 GMT+02:00

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Culture Minister Bernd Neumann announced late on Wednesday that officials were backing a proposal to build a 50-metre-wide tilting structure near the German capital’s Museum Island.

Proposed by Stuttgart designer Johannes Milla und Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz, the memorial will allow the public to walk onto the huge seesaw, which will tip back and forth. The movement of the bowl-like structure is meant to demonstrate how people can change the world, as East Germans did when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.

The glass and metal structure will be built on the foundation of where a statue honouring Kaiser Wilhelm once stood on Schlossplatz. The top of the memorial will be emblazoned with slogans of the peaceful revolution in communist East Germany that paved the way for reunification. The golden bottom of the bowl will show iconic images from 1989.

The design beat out two other proposals including a five-metre-high bronze statue and canopy covering the foundation of the kaiser statue.

The decision ends a long-running debate about how best to remember the momentous events of two decades ago.

A first competition with 533 entries was broken off after none were found satisfactory. The three finalists were pulled from a pool of 386 entries in a second round.

Story continues below…

The winning memorial is expected to be built in the next two to three years.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:20 April 14, 2011 by Butterstulle
Well, I guess it would be fun to go on it and move it with a crowd. Besides I expact the other proposals to be to bizzare or strange as someone could get satisfaction of it. Also I would be ok if they just rebuilt the statue of Kaiser Wilhelm; maybe not the creativest idea but better than some of the modern trash you meet here.
13:13 April 14, 2011 by trash head
Pointless building. The problem exist in the ppls head in other federal states then Berlin.
13:59 April 14, 2011 by Celeon
Its hideous, sports a cheesy slogan boulevard press style slogan and is perfect for Flashmob abuse of all kinds.

Exactly what one would expect from a design that was created by an event-company. And exactly the tasteless stuff which german politicians favor as they themselves have little knowledge about taste.
14:05 April 14, 2011 by Wobinidan
Maybe they should build a giant job centre, to honour all the Ossi's sitting on park benches in Friedrichshain, drinking Sternberg and waxing nostalgic about how they had a job before the wall fell.
14:20 April 14, 2011 by auniquecorn

Quote:design that was created by an event-company.

You forgot the part, which german politicians have relatives at.
14:35 April 14, 2011 by trash head
> Sternberg

*Sternburger ;-)
17:14 April 14, 2011 by Dashcroft
Obviously, it's not enough that this city has already wasted a ridiculous amount of money which it doesn't have on the gigantic monstrosity that is the Holocaust Memorial. It also has to infantilize the Germans by installing a seesaw. I wish this country would grow up.
17:31 April 14, 2011 by Landmine
It is pretty ugly...
20:44 April 14, 2011 by beatriceco
This is typical of modern German memorial designs. No regards for classical historical monuments or ideas, and instead, German politicians elect to hire ultra-modern artists to design and erect worthless monuments that in the end will never stand the test of time. Germany still has beautiful classical monuments, i.e. Hohenzollernbrücke (with the four equestrian statues) , and the Kyffhäuserdenkmal, among others. I have to agree with Butterstulle, that the rebuilding of the "Nationaldenkmal Kaiser Wilhelm I" in the original spot would have been the honorable course of action. Though not all may agree with my personal position, but historically, Chancellor Bismarck and Wilhelm I are very much responsible for uniting (Old) Germany, and should be given some credit and not relegated to the socialist garbage heap the way the communists thugs of the DDR did to the original Schloss and adjoining Nationaldenkmal in 1950.
21:32 April 14, 2011 by wood artist
It's difficult for me to judge the German response to this, however, I think there are parallels in the US that might provide a glimpse of how people see things.

When the Vietnam memorial Wall was built, thousands of people panned the idea, saying it was "non-traditional," "strange," and even "bizarre."

When the belated World War II memorial was built, people said it was "traditional."

Today, when you visit those two places, which one is more positively received? Hands down, it's the wall.

While it's true that most of the World War II generation has passed on, there are still many children of those folks, and they seem to find small comfort in a bunch of "roman columns" and a few quotations from "famous people."

On the other hand, people who come to the wall, even those too young to remember, are still moved by that simple structure.

Tradition is wonderful, and I love every minute I spend in Berlin and Germany, seeking out tradition and history. However, 1990 is far removed from the days when the Stadschloss stood on this site. I think it's appropriate to build something contemporary. I'm not sure this is exactly what I'd do, but...that's fine. I think reunification deserves something.
21:57 April 14, 2011 by lordkorner
I'm a bit up in the air about this one...
22:31 April 14, 2011 by George 5
I agree that this is a basic, predictable event-company design, very recognizable from the commercial "interactive public games" direction, and something a science museum would have if they had the land. But then again, Berlin is a tourist-first town, only populated by some contemporary culture due to the fact it's cheap. This is a monument for the tourist-families to collectively giggle and play at "see-sawing" on the grounds remaining after some of the deepest historical shifts. That really says it all. An interactive "ride" to understand how "change" felt...

That's what happens when you give the topic of a memorial to a performance/dance artist and a commercial designer. There is no reference to something more profound than making us "feel" by moving (and slogans on the top and some photos by the side are just sadder examples of BAD event architecture being dressed up as "memorial".)

It isn't about being modern and therefore people might not like it at first. When it comes to the idea of culture Berlin is at best a rented-out town, full of slackers until the price goes too high, and that won't be for a long time. The contemporary meets with history here only in a lazy way. Berlin has no ability to lead any focused discussion on precisely their identity in history and in future. Partly because they aren't economically viable. There's no dynamic to do so. That's why you find a glut of subsidized private collector's vanity museums sprouting up here, rather than any actual contemporary/modern art space equal to the stature of a German capital - one that has to defend an institutional program, a voice.

And then there is a mayor who could care less on that point.
23:31 April 14, 2011 by iammucow
I'm just picturing a political cartoon of a fat and happy West German man sitting at one end of the seesaw while a scared and anemic East German man is stuck high up in the air at the other end, unable to get down.
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