Remembering the Wall and Tearing It Down Again

Reenacting the destruction of the Berlin Wall

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall came crashing down. On Sunday night, the Wende Museum and history buff, Justinian Jampol, rebuilt it across Wilshire Blvd., and then tore it down again.

The reenactment of the destruction of the wall, one of the biggest happenings of the 20th Century, was streamed to Berlin live and the current Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, was to deliver a message to the crowd gathered in LA.

The festivities began at 11 p.m. with films, recorded music, and a chance to meet with each artist in front of his or her wall panel -- contributing artists include Shepard Fairley (yes, that is the Obama HOPE artist) and an original Berlin Wall artist, Thierry Noir.

A series of eight panels comprising the largest display of the former Berlin Wall is located on the south side of Wilshire and Ogden St., across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

An additional synthetic ceremonial wall was placed on Wilshire just prior to tonight's event, and will provide a small reminder of what divided Communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin for 28 years. LA Weekly described the event in the following:

This Sunday night a second synthetic wall will be temporarily installed across the boulevard, in front of Chris Burden's Urban Light at LACMA, and dubbed The Wall Across Wilshire. There, its already-muraled surface will be painted upon by the likes of Shepard Fairey, Kent Twitchell, Thierry Noir, students and faculty from local art schools and others, while those stuck in the ensuing traffic jam will shout and cheer and shoot our American peaceguns and gargle cheap lager in celebration of art, democracy, capitalism gone wild, art history gone commercial, and the price of cheap lager and cheap guns. But wait: At midnight, the porta-monument will be ceremonially re-toppled, because . . . well, it just seems like the right thing to do.

While the LA Weekly predicts a festive atmosphere, Jampol shared with the LA Times his vision for the event and why he fought to host it late in the evening.


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The time was changed for the "Wall Across Wilshire" installation because the event was beginning to take on a "block party, street event" quality rather than a historical one. "It kept getting bigger and bigger," Jampol said. "We got calls from Roger Waters and Pink Floyd." He added that the time change makes the symbolic breakdown of the wall in Los Angeles take place at 9 a.m. in Berlin, the "real anniversary" of when the wall came down.

The time change did not happen at the request of the city, Jampol said. "I think it's fair to say they are pleased with the change ... there will be less stress on traffic, but we could have left it in the afternoon if we wanted to," he said, adding that though the event is still open to the public, at night it will be "more dramatic" and will tend to draw a smaller crowd interested in Berlin Wall history. "At the end of the day, it will be a touching ceremony to be recorded by us as a documentary."

The event was free courtesy of the Wende Museum. A portion of the wall will remain on display for an additional week.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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