Berlin Wall 1989: Celebrating Freedom and Friendship
While teaching in London in 1989 the Berlin Wall was opened. This happened November 9, 1989. I had lived in Hamburg, Germany and taught for the German government in 1973 and was aware of the significance of this act and felt compelled to be part of the historical event. I immediately tried to fly to Berlin and photograph but due to the popularity of people wanting to go to the wall it took me a month to be able to get a flight. December 9, 1989, I flew into Berlin in the early morning and had to fly out late that evening. Photographing was a challenge since my cameras had been stolen and I borrowed a camera and a tape recorder from my students to use to record. During the twelve-hour period in Berlin it rained, the sun shined, snow fell, and darkness came quickly.
After returning to California Celebrating Friendship and Freedom became an art installation and I obtained a grant from the city of San Diego to complete the project. Upon entering the installation room you encountered 30 hammers hanging by monofilament line above your head. This was to allow you to feel the danger often felt when you entered into Communist East Berlin. There was a tape playing with continual sounds of the hammers, chisels, and voices in German, English, Russian, and other languages that had been recorded at the Wall.
In the center of the room was a large pile of broken cement and rubble. I painted the ton of rubble with graffiti to look like pieces of the actual wall. On the wall hung 25 colored photographs and there were narratives written under the images explaining the photographs. In the corner on the floor was the hammer and chisel I had brought from Berlin.
People had continually gathered at the wall to celebrate their new found freedom and friendship and I created and recorded this installation to remind us of how precious freedom and friendship is to all.