Nik on a Trip, p. 8
More than any other city I’ve been to, Berlin is covered in paint —it’s a fantastic graffiti culture. It’s not just simplistic single-stroke textual design though; the graffiti here is colorful, large, expressive. Actual drawings are as common as textual designs, and stencils and paper cutouts are everywhere. In some sections, this art defines the mood of the city, with colorful walls covered in paint, ink, and paper visible in every direction.
The pictures above are the Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Designed by Peter Eisenman, the memorial consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying sizes and shapes, arranged over a 4.7 acre field. The blocks on the outside are small, just a foot or two tall, and appear to rise to perhaps 5 or 6 feet in the middle. However, the ground also slopes down as one walks into the field, so once you are in the center, the blocks around you rise up more than 15 feet. The paths between the blocks, as well as the blocks themselves, are slightly uneven — some blocks seem to tilt inward, others away, while the path itself undulates up and down. The effect is subtly disconcerting — something just doesn’t feel right. While the monument has generated a fair amount of controversy and discussion, I think the abstract sense of unease it creates is very powerful.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a fun fact about the memorial: during construction, it was discovered that Degussa, the company paid to manufacture an anti-graffiti covering for the blocks, was in fact the same company that had manufactured Zyklon B during World War Two. Ooops! This, of course, created a huge amount of controversy. After lots of arguing, they eventually continued with the construction, although I heard that Degussa ended up donating the coating.
Are YOU a typical Berlin tourist?