The Wall Project
The Wall Project was a unique, multi-faceted media and public art initiative organized by The Wende Museum to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It allowed the Museum to communicate its mission to a global audience.
To mark the occasion, The Wende brought ten original Berlin Wall segments to Los Angeles, installed them at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard, one of the key East-West streets in the city, and invited established and emerging artists to reflect upon history and paint five of the ten segments. The Wende Museum organized a series of public events leading up to the main celebration of the 20th anniversary on November 8th, 2009.
The key impetus behind The Wall Project was to replicate the Berlin Wall’s function as a site for political and personal expression, through reproducing elements of the art and creativity that it once inspired. By engaging well-know and emerging artists, the initiative also aimed to further reinforce the reputation of Los Angeles as the mural capital of the world.
The original Berlin Wall segments were transported to Los Angeles and installed in mid-October 2009 on Wilshire Boulevard (watch the documentary). We recieved one piece that had already been painted by the Berlin street artist Bimer, known for his bears. Once the Wall segments arrived in Los Angeles, four artists painted five assigned segments in public view. Two of the segments were commissioned by the renowned Los Angeles-based muralist Kent Twitchell. Another segment was painted by the French-born, Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir who was one of the first artists to paint on the Berlin Wall in the early 1980s. Farrah Karapetian and Marie Astrid González, two emerging artists from Los Angeles, each painted the remaining two segments.
The Wende Museum was able to extend Thierry Noir’s stay in Los Angeles through an artist residency program during which he participated in a number of public programs. His residency was generously supported by a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.
During October and early November, 2009, another eclectic group of artists including the graphic designer and political illustrator Shepard Fairey, fresco painters, students as well as graffiti artists working with ArtStorm, were invited to paint a 60-feet long wall on the grounds of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. This painted structure eventually formed the divider that closed Wilshire Boulevard for the celebration on the night of November 8th, 2009.
On its specially designed web site, The Wende Museum also hosted an art contest. The contest invited a broad audience of all ages and backgrounds to use words, photographs, videos and documentaries to address the issue of barriers and boundaries impeding civil dialogue and cross-cultural interaction. A jury panel chose two winners, Maria Fernandez for her “Sharing the Afternoon” and Steven Steinman for his “Shroud of Berlin, Pergamon Museum I, 2007.” The Wende presented each winner with a round-trip ticket to Germany, courtesy of Lufthansa, the official sponsor of The Wall Project.
Measuring nearly forty feet long, The Wende Museum’s ten wall segments form the longest stretch of this iconic historical monument outside of Berlin. They remain in place for the foreseeable future, where it continues to attract hundreds of visitors every day.