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Plans to rebuild Berlin Wall for art project blocked

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Plans to rebuild Berlin Wall for art project blocked
Tourists at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA
12:09 CEST+02:00
German authorities said Friday they were blocking a proposal to rebuild part of the Berlin Wall for a massive film-art project in the German capital.

Citing security concerns and fire risks, Berlin city authorities said they would not grant a building permit to the "DAU" project by Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, DPA reported.

The plan had been to erect 900 concrete wall slabs, each 3.6 metres tall at a city block on Unter den Linden boulevard, for the €6.6 million event.

The walled-in "city within a city" was meant to have its own visa checks, and visitors to the parallel world have had to apply online for entrance permits.

But the project sparked controversy, with critics labelling it a stunt hurtful to people who lived in communist East Germany.

Sabine Weissler, the councillor in charge of the Berlin district concerned, said there had not been sufficient time to obtain views from residents who could be affected by the project.

"It has not been possible for the organization to guarantee that the event would be carried out safely," she added. Building applications for such a major undertaking should be filed a year before construction is due to begin, she noted.

The organizers had only put in their application at the beginning of August for a project to be launched on October 12th before ending with a ritualistic tearing down of the wall on November 9th, the day of the historic event in 1989.

As we reported in August, the aim was not to create "a Disney GDR" (German Democratic Republic), according to Thomas Oberender, director of culture festival Berliner Festspiele which was to host the mega-event.

"It is not a film premiere but a mixture of social experiment, artistic experiment and... an impressive form of world-building," he had told a Berlin press conference.

The aim, said organizers, is to spark "a political and social debate about freedom and totalitarianism, surveillance, co-existence and national identity".

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