November 8, 2009

tumbling down

Tonight in LA, an 80 foot wall of art was erected across Wilshire Blvd. To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was to be knocked down at Midnight and broadcast as part of the German celebration of the event. Less noticed, but actually more impressive, was a 40 foot segment of the actual wall (the largest outside of Berlin) erected nearby. Hopefully the ceremony looked good on television, because in person it was a bit of a let down. The wall turned out to be foam and plywood, and obviously so as it "fell" in an awkward and poorly choreographed event where no one seemed to know what was going on and what was supposed to happen when. The only genuine part of the celebration began soon after when the crowd started tearing pieces of the painted surface off in chunks to take as souvenirs, strangely echoing the actions 20 years ago in Berlin when people took chunks of the wall as souvenirs. But it clearly was a spontaneous and unexpected part of the event, because soon organizers brought in police form a line across the wall and block access, effectively re-blocking off the passage that had been opened by the collapse of the wall. I'm not sure that's exactly the symbolism that was intended for the evening.

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