A LIGHTING CONCEPT FOR THE BERLIN WALL
Workshop program of the Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin
Today, the Berlin Wall, as a building that once so violently burned itself into the city, is hardly recognizable and comprehensible to passers-by. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remember the historical, social, and global political dimensions of this building and to pass it on to future generations.
The “Berlin Wall Project” marks the course of the former Berlin Wall with blue light stones. The light stones are lined up within sight of each other, form identification marks, and are synonymous with the Berlin Wall.
On the 155 km long stretch of the Wall, a red point of light moves at the speed of a pedestrian along with the blue light stones and continuously circles the former western sectors. The red dot of light is the main feature of the concept. Its endless circling makes the unity of the former border system clear. The time period of a complete circumambulation is two weeks.
On its way, the red light point relates to historical places and events connected with the Berlin Wall. When it reaches a place steeped in history – border crossings, memorials, or remains of the Wall – it triggers a theme-based light show for the duration of its stay.
For example, at Checkpoint Charlie, the incoming red light spot immerses the surroundings in increasingly intense red light – creating visual tension. Finally, projections of writing with quotations on the Cold War on Friedrichstrasse breakthrough and mark the scenery: “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free”, John F. Kennedy 1963 (quotation example). For passers-by, the historical events are thus briefly brought into consciousness. After a few minutes the staging goes out and the red light spot continues its orbit.
In addition to Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the “White Crosses” memorial are also staged using lighting technology – other places that are important for the history of the Berlin Wall, that are being rediscovered or reassessed, can be integrated into the lighting concept at any time.
The position of the moving red light spot can be localized via a website. This enables interested parties to visit and experience the red light point and the temporary lighting scenes in the urban space.
The “Berlin Wall Project” marks the course of the former Berlin Wall at night and thus opens up a new dimension of perception. It complements the Berlin Wall History Mile and the Berlin Wall Trail, which are primarily limited to daytime perception. Light played a decisive role in securing the border installations.
… Light lines illuminated the death strip as bright as in the day so that favorable visibility conditions prevailed at night as well. In addition to barriers that were difficult to overcome and closely spaced border posts, the use of firearms was the third and decisive element of GDR border security … (Source: Overall Concept for the Memory of the Berlin Wall, ed.: Senate of Berlin, 2006)
The transparency of the Berlin light strip symbolizes the freedom gained at the same time the contours remind us of the past at night. The former course of the Wall becomes legible at night and forms an unmistakable identity of the city for the passer-by.