Freedom for the Baltic States: Baltic Graffiti on the Berlin Wall

2015-09-23 latvia
Author: Kārlis Dambītis, Exposition Curator of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
Freedom for the Baltic States: Baltic Graffiti on the Berlin Wall

The exhibition “Freedom of the Baltic States: Baltic Graffiti on the Berlin Wall” is open to visitors at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia permanent location at Latviešu strēlnieku laukums 1. The exhibition contains more than 100 photos of the Berlin Wall from the last years of its existence when it was regularly visited by the Latvian youth living in exile to leave their messages demanding the independence for the Baltic States. Latvian diplomat Pēteris Kārlis Elferts, the initiator of this exhibition was also among those young people who had launched the Berlin Wall graffiti drawing campaign.

The Berlin Wall existed from 1961 till 1989 and became one of the symbols of divided Germany and also of totalitarianism. During almost 30 years of its existence it was reconstructed and modified several times; its last reconstruction took place from 1975 to 1980 when the walls and the so-called “death strip” behind the Wall was considerably reinforced. The Wall’s external part facing the West Berlin was built from 45,000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, each 3.6 metres (12 ft) high and 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) wide; it become the most visible part of the Wall over the years and people were using it for various inscriptions, messages and drawings. It was also exploited by the students from the Munster Latvian Gymnasium that had visited the West Berlin several times and had left their inscriptions demanding Latvia’s independence. The locations for their graffiti drawings were not at all accidental – they deliberately had chosen places of tourist attraction where their messages would reach the widest possible public – their graffiti were painted at the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie etc. All the graffiti were created illegally because the Wall was built in East Germany and one could face severe consequences for illegal border crossing.

The exhibition displays unique photos from personal archives of Mr Elferts and others who had participated in the Berlin Wall graffiti drawing campaign as well as Ēriks Caune graffiti and Arnis Stasaitis video projection. The artist of this exhibition is Ieva Nagliņa. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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