Visiting the East Side Gallery was one of the highlights of our trip to Berlin. The visual representation of what the end of the Cold War meant to artists from around the world is incredibly powerful.
Scottish painter Margaret Hunter was one of 109 artists from 21 countries who created the East Side Gallery. Her work "Joint Venture" was one of the paintings that particularly caught my eye. Hunter graciously responded to my email asking about her involvement in the project. She also directed me to her website, which includes three fascinating blog posts about her East Side Gallery experience. (Click here to read the posts.)
|"Joint Venture" by Margaret Hunter|
Hunter's "Joint Venture" is full of meaning. Her original concept was two stylized head with lines crisscrossing to suggest "the idea of communication, exchange and partnership." When laid on their side, Hunter says the heads reminded her of the strange bedfellows that the East and West Germans were to become.
|Hunter at work|
Even with the modified design, "Joint Venture" didn't cover all of Hunter's allotted space. She partnered with another Scottish artist to create "Hands" on the remaining panel. Hunter says her inspiration was the upraised hands of demonstrators during peaceful protests against the Wall in East Berlin and Leipzig.
"Hands" was chosen for a renovation project by students from Berlin's Potsdam University sometime in the 1990s. The work was renovated again when the wholescale conservation of the East Side Gallery took place in 2009. In the 2009 renovation, the Wall was repaired and whitewashed, with the artists then recreating their work. Due to the prior conservation of "Hands," its renovation was made without destruction of the original "canvas." It is now the only painting in the East Side Gallery which has not been repainted in its entirety.
In the time between 1990 and 2009, graffiti artists had made their presence known on the East Side Gallery. "Joint Venture" was not exempt from this treatment, which Hunter refers to as a dialogue. Interestingly, she says no large marks had been made on the heads themselves. "It seemed that they [the graffiti artists] wanted to participate in the work but not destroy it," she said.
|"Joint Venture (Restatement)" in a gallery setting|
If you happen to be in Berlin in September, Hunter will have an exhibit at Galerie Listros entitled "Dialogue." The show will include a version of "Joint Venture" on which people can provide their thoughts. I wish I could be there to participate.