The mayor of Germany’s once-divided capital, Berlin, Michael Mueller, offered some advice to Donald Trump on Friday: “Don’t build this wall!”
The US president, holding true to his campaign promise, this week ordered US officials to begin to design and construct a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometre) US-Mexico border.
While the White House has also threatened to tax Mexican imports to cover its cost, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a planned Washington protest.
Berlin’s mayor said his city – which was split by the Berlin Wall during the cold war from 1961-89 – “cannot look on without comment when a country plans to build a new wall”.
“We Berliners know best how much suffering was caused by the division of an entire continent with barbed wire and concrete,” he said in a statement, referring to Europe’s “Iron Curtain” division.
In the early 21st century, he said, “We can’t just accept it if our historical experience is disregarded by those to whom we largely owe our freedom, the Americans.”
Pointing to the continuing division of the Korean peninsula and the island of Cyprus, the Social Democrat urged Trump “not to go down this wrong path of isolation and exclusion”.
Mueller also recalled former US president Ronald Reagan’s famous 1987 challenge to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”, and said in his message to Trump: “Dear Mr President, don’t build this wall!”
Keith Haring painting a mural on The Berlin Wall. October 23, 1986. Photos by Tseng Kwong Chi.
Keith Haring had been invited
the Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum to paint the mural. He began shortly after 10 A.M., Since the first six feet of land on the Western side belong to the East, he was not just defacing property of the East German Government, he was entering that country without a visa. A West Berlin policeman used a megaphone to warn him of the fact. But Haring continued, sporadically leaping back onto Western soil when East German border guards looked as if they were about to arrest him.
After 90 minutes, he had completed a third of his mural. He painted an interlocking chain of red and black human forms on a bright yellow background. The colors were those of the East and West German flags.
The artist gave interviews to West German television and radio reporters as he worked and signed autographs. “It’s a humanistic gesture, more than anything else,” said Haring, who called his work “a political and subversive act - an attempt to psychologically destroy the wall by painting it.’‘Asked whether the event was merely a publicity stunt to draw attention to himself, he said, ’'The main objective here is that it is not an insignificant act that goes unnoticed. The entire world should know that it happened, reinforcing its political significance.”
Haring completed the mural shortly after 4 P.M., He denied that it was aimed specifically against East Germany. “It’s for people and it doesn’t matter which side of the wall they’re on. It’s about both sides coming together.”
By the next day, however, someone painted large sections of the mural grey and quickly, other artists painted graffiti on the hundred-metre section that Haring had used. Within months there was very little left to see.
Having heard about the opening of the border control points on the West German news, more and more West Berliners arrived at the Brandenburg Gate. At some point they started climbing the Wall, which was about 3 m broad in this place. They couldn’t be sure how the East German border guards would react, but nothing happened. More and more people climbed the Wall, started dancing and celebrating. After a while people started jumping down on the Eastern side of the Wall, thus entering another country without any passport or permission. Still, the East German officers didn’t do anything to stop them. After 40 years, people were strolling through the Brandenburg Gate again. (x)
Chiharu Shiota 塩田千春 (Japanese, b. 1972, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, based Berlin, Germany) - 1: Storage Room, 2009, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa The Room Of 5 2,3:
His Chair, 2008 (MART-Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Trento/Rovereto) 4,5:
A Room of Memory, 2009 (21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa) 6,7: His Chair, 2005 (ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus) 8: From - Into, 2004 (International Biennal of Contemporary Art of Seville)