/ Peace Wall [Berlin 2012]

Developed and produced for Berlin Biennale 7, Site specific project exhibited at 226 Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, Germany.

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The Friedrickstrasse and the position of the Peace Wall Site Specific installation

The Peace Wall was a barrier that was 12 m long and 5.5 m. high, consisting of concrete blocks, steel frame structure, MDF panels and corrugated metal panels. It blocked the traffic on Friedrichstrasse between 02.04.2012 and 15.06.2012 and provoked reflections and discussions about socio-economical barriers within modern cities.

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The view of the Friedrichstrasse, before the Peace Wall was installed.
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Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstrasse, 200 meters from the Peace Wall site.

At the southern end of Friedrichstrasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg, London-based artist Nada Prlja erects a 因peace wall.吒 Despite its immediate associations in a formerly divided city, her public art project Peace Wall (realised within the framework of Berlin Bienalle 7, 2012) doesn’t refer to the historical Berlin Wall, but to the social segregation present in this area today. Friedrichstrasse is a major shopping street and North-South axis, which runs from Torstrasse in Mitte to Hallesches Tor in Kreuzberg; before 1989 it was also bisected by the Wall. Today a large part of the street is filled with posh boutiques and fancy restaurants, but at its southern end this gives way to a ‘problem’ neighbourhood with social housing projects (once located on the periphery of West Berlin), high unemployment rates, and a population with up to 70 percent migration backgrounds.

This ‘invisible’ partition, which exists today in the middle of the city, is marked by the construction of Prlja’s Peace Wall, which visualizes social and economic inequalities, the existence of ‘parallel societies’ in the city, and the positions of the advantaged and underprivileged. Perhaps it is no surprise that the process of getting permission to erect this work was blocked by different interest groups and community members, including school authorities and private and public bodies. The very location of Prlja’s wall represents the space where certain communities lose their ability to influence the decision-making process, and makes concrete the necessity to fight for their rights. It is also a place where one of the anti-gentrification battles in the city failed.

The project*s many references include Northern Ireland’s policy of building 因peace lines吒 to prevent conflict between the Republican and Loyalist factions, the current wall building operations in Cyprus or the West Bank, as well as the phenomenon of gated communities, which have sprung up all over the world to segregate the wealthy from the poor. With this wall, Prlja points to the realities of the existing and growing economic and social segregation lurking around the corner.

Writen by: Artur ŻmijewskiJoanna WarszaBerlin, 2012

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Installation of the work Peace Wall
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Installation of the work Peace Wall
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Peace Wall, view from the east side of Friedrichstrasse.
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Peace Wall, view from the west side of Friedrichstrasse.

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