Exhibition Daniel Boulogne

Daniel Boulogne
" The Berlin Wall "

Caen Memorial - DHM

I - From Paris
II - Through East border
III - "Rabbit For Ever"
IV - Just in front the Wall

 

IV - Just in front of the Wall

On that historic Tuesday, in the Potsdamerplatz, before taking up my paintbrushes, one man put a white bandanna on his forehead on which he had written: No violence.

He was expressing what everyone wanted. Each person had chosen a corner for themselves, working as they felt like it. There were about thirty artists.

Some of them had brought their wives and children along to share this unique moment with them: their first contact with the killer monster, the dragon they were going to tame with paintbrushes and colours. It was a relaxed family atmosphere.

  
    
The People's Police just looked on impassibly, if not benevolently. An agreement had been reached with their superiors. It was OK to paint and draw, so long as there were no slogans. The trouble started when the work was already well advanced, and the artists were beginning to pack up their things.

The cause of the dispute was a quotation decorating a drawing by a woman artist which included the word "blood". It came from a poem that had suddenly come back to her. But for the officer who gave orders for everything to stop immediately, the allusion to the blood spilt owing to the presence of the Wall was not in doubt.

 
The artists wanted to avoid any fighting. They attempted to discuss the matter calmly.

- Museums are the place for art, real art, said the officer, who did not much like what he saw. One artist in particular had done an obscene drawing.

- Art is also what you see in the street, argued Leo Wolf, who invited him and the others along to take part in a discussion on censorship at the Artists' Union.

- This is not censorship, it's a personal opinion, replied the officer.

- We have been under the yoke of the personal opinions of a few people for forty years. That's why so many people have fled this country. But that's all finished now, isn't it? said Leo Wolf, smiling all the time.

That evening, the Vopos painted over the frescoes the artists had begun with grey paint.

  
    
What a tremendous turnaround that was! Here were artists no longing in hiding, while the military were stealing back in the depth of night to efface their work. This was a long way from the quarrels over the place of art, on living street art as opposed to the fossilized art of the museums. This war of paintbrushes marked the swing of the pendulum, with power passing into new hands. The Vopos no longer even bothered to claim to be democrats representing the power of the people. Their nasty grey paint was a confession, the harmless daub of a régime in its death throes, one which never again would stop little rabbits from running about, artists from painting, and the people from freely choosing their leaders.

The night the Vopos painted over the frescoes, it rained. As their paint had not had time to dry and was poor quality stuff, it did not stick and the frescoes reappeared through it – they were as it were walled in alive between the reinforced concrete and the Vopos' whitewash. The Wall of silence was broken for ever.

 
Later on, further along, more sections of the Wall were painted and the police turned a blind eye. Then on the western side, it was breached in more places. Riddled with holes, the Wall began to show its innards of steel reinforcement that had not even had time to rust. These were sawn off and whole sections began to fall away under the hammering of the people on the western side standing elbow to elbow, or on their knees, and wearing gloves to keep out the cold. Some had protective goggles and were using electric drills. Most were not really demolishing anything. They wee carefully removing fragments of wall painting, a monster Cyclop's head or a seven-fingered hand. Trade was soon brisk. Laid out on tea towels or newspapers or wrapped in plastic bags with a certificate stating: Original Berliner Mauer, you could buy pieces ranging from tiny splinters carrying traces of colour to more imposing chunks.

In February 1991, I found out that there were bits of Wall up for sale. The world was losing interest in Berlin and they were going cheap. I bought up two tonnes for 750 francs: it cost me more than that to ship them. I had no idea what I had bought. But when I discovered, I cried like a kid: the lorry had brought me Manfred Butzmann's frolicking rabbits. Rabbit for Ever!

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