Musical Mauers

Very minimialist. Initially it doesn’t look that exciting. The two metal walls which make up the memorial sculpture “Berlin Junction” by Richard Serra are dwarfed by the grandeur of the Berliner Philharmonie. The golden walls practically shine down on the two dark metal walls. However, get a bit closer, take a walk through the walls and you will see why this is such an interesting piece of outside art work… and even more: it’s one of Berlin’s top memorials and very symbolic.

Interestingly enough this scultpure was first unveiled in 1987 in front of Martin-Gropius-Bau and later moved to the Philharmonie. One thing I particularly liked about the sculpture is that the angles and materials of the sculpture combine to create a truly unexpected acoustic experience, reflecting the musicality of the Philharmonie.

Serious Songs

The sculpture is actually not intended to have primarily a musical meaning. Rather it is a memorial for the mentally ill and physically disabled people who were victims of the Nazi  “Aktion T4″ euthanasia program. The dark metal doesn’t glitter or shine, it is even quite spooky when you walk through the sculpture. Although the echoes of history resound from the walls, they do not sing a sombre song and it does not feel like a genocide memorial. You can always see the sky and make new noises and rythms and the tunnel is open-ended. Although the walls may represent boundaries, the light shining at the end of the tunnel has somehow a hopeful feel.

berlin, art, berliner philharmonie, richard serra, berlin junction, outside art, sculpture
A light at the end of the tunnel. Photographer: Francis Cragg

* EDITOR’S NOTE: The claim that the Berlin Junction sculpture is a Holocaust memorial has been clarified in this article, as it is important to note that this particular memorial, due to it’s proximity to the headquarters of the Aktion T4 program, is intended to honor and remember the 200,000 victims under the Nazi euthanasia campaign.