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09/17/2011

The Berlin Wall - A visit with artist and activist Günther Schaefer

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Contemplating the rush of humanity passing through the opened East German border.

 

On September 17 CIEE Berlin students took an excursion to the East Side Gallery, the longest existing stretch of the Berlin Wall. We also paid a visit  to the home and studio of artist Günther Schaefer.

The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km long. The continuous stretch of murals contains paintings from over 100 artists from around the world to make it the largest open-air gallery in the world.

Artist Günther Schaefer grew up in former West Germany near the eastern border. He experienced the division of his family, country, and people and was deeply impacted by the partition. After the wall fell, but before German reunification, Schaefer led a group of international artists, to East Berlin to paint a portion of the wall after the border was opened but before reunification. The artists expressed the zeitgeist of the time through their paintings. The open-air gallery developed into such a meaningful exhibit, that it recently became a protected historical monument. Schaefer’s black and white photos are also famous for capturing the ‘Friendly Revolution’ of 1989.

Artists Initiative East Side Gallery e.V. See:  http://www.eastsidegallery.com

Studio visit with Berliner artist Günther Schaefer.  See: http://wünww.berliner-mauer-kunst.net

Article from the Goethe Institute - Meet the Germans about Günther Schaefer: http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lp/prj/mtg/men/kun/sch/enindex.htm

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Walking freely where once one would be arrested for approaching The Wall.


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 Each student found interest in different murals.


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Herr Schaefer describes the opperatioins of the former death strip seen in the background.  Here CIEE students visit what was once the most deadly location in the world.  Today it is park.



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CIEE students pose with Herr Schaefer before his controversial, landmark protected and often vandalized mural, "Vaterland."

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Students talk with Herr Schaefer about his life and work in his Berlin studio.


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A moment of levity as Günther discusses a piece of art he created from the boarder control mechanisms which cut his family, their land and their lives in two.

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