What was the title of the exhibition/show?
I saw many exhibitions in Berlin:
1.I stayed in The Art Hotel, full of art work.
2.I visited the Käthe Kollwitz Museum and saw exhibitions of her sculptures and graphic designs.
3.I went on the guided Street Art Tour around Berlin.
4.I went on a guided tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and although not strictly an art exhibition, there were many photographic exhibitions and stone memorials.
5.I walked along the East Side Gallery, a 1316m long remnant of the Berlin wall covered in murals.
6.I visited the Holocaust Memorial.
Why did you choose to attend this exhibition/show?
I mainly choose to go because the whole 5 days would be an adventure for me. Seeing art with people who are passionate about it and who could discuss it with me was an amazing opportunity that I could not have missed. I was also really keen on seeing how artists dealt with the difficult subjects of the Holocaust and Berlin Wall.
What did you see?
I saw an eclectic mix of art from many different artists using different mediums to convey their message. For example, some used photographs others used sculpture, graffiti, woodcuts and prints.
Who were the artists and what do they create?
Käthe Kollwitz created many drawings, prints, posters and sculptures. She also created a series of self-portraits and woodcuts.
Many local artists displayed work at the hotel which was really interesting as they often were so jarringly different.
The Street Art Tour took us around Berlin and showed us the work of a number of different artists who all had their own individual style. They even varied in the medium they used, I expected them all to use spray paint but many used paint and brushes.
The exhibitions at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp were mainly photographic although there was a large memorial obelisk in the centre. These exhibitions were powerful and emotional.
The East Side Gallery had murals painted by many artists including INDIANO, Dimitri Vrubel, Siegfrid Santoni… all concerned with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the political issues of the time. There was also a lot of ‘graffiti art’ on the wall which is controversial. Some people like the graffiti and the evolving artwork but others want to preserve what was there.
The Holocaust Memorial was a massive complex of stones, cut and placed at regular intervals.
What were your first impressions?
My first impression was of a vibrant, noisy city with lots of cars! The Käthe Kollowitz exhibition was in a very huge and impressive building, everything in the foyer was expensive which made me think that this would not be an exhibition that I would enjoy, in-fact it was ok. I much preferred the Street Art Tour which started outside the Brandenburg Gate. It was good to be outside and I immediately felt that this was going to be interesting.
The tour guide at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was very friendly and engaging and I was keen to see what he wanted to show us. The atmosphere of the site was respectful and fairly quiet except for one particular group of tourists.
When we arrived at the section of Berlin wall I was amazed and a bit surprised by what I saw but the work was colourful and engaging and the day was sunny and bright.
The Holocaust Memorial made me think ‘who thought to put this here?’, it was in an unexpected setting, overlooked by apartments and buildings. Suddenly we were faced by large, grey, rectangular blocks all placed in a regular fashion. I was bemused as to what I was looking at.
Did you find anything particularly interesting to your personally?
I found the Berlin Wall exhibition really interesting. At a time when one of the most powerful countries is talking about building its’ own wall seeing the opinions and emotions expressed in the art work really made me consider whether we ever truly learn from our mistakes? The painting that sticks in my head the most, is the Wall Jumper which shows a West German man jumping over to East Germany (that is the opposite to what was normal). This made me think about America and how building a wall affects both sides negatively, one day Americans may want to escape America!
What did you learn? Did it make you think about any art form differently?
I learnt that art is powerful not just something nice to look at. It is a really good way to communicate ideas, feeling and concepts that can not always be spoken or expressed well enough in speech. I have always enjoyed visiting art galleries filled with historic work but this 5 day experience opened my eyes to meaningful art, art that has a purpose. I think people find meaning in Monet's or Van Gogh's but the work I saw in Berlin was different, apart from that of Käthe Kollowitz, which was good but not inspiring in the same way. It was mostly a collective activity, where more than one person contributed to the work or the design of the exhibition. It was a production, sometimes across time. I think I have mentioned before that I am creative but not in the traditional sense and this was the first time that painted art had ever really moved me, made me feel something or think something.
Did you enjoy the experience overall? Why?
Yes I did. It was a very educational experience where I was able to really engage in the art, this was partly due to being there with enthusiastic people who knew about the exhibitions.