Building a Drawing: The Berlin Wall as History, Art, and Commodity

Carolyn Master Rickett, University of Texas - Arlington

This paper is a collection of personal experiences, interviews, photography, and conversations while traveling through West and East Germany to the city of Berlin. It covers a period of time from the Berlin Wall construction to its deconstruction. The city of Berlin itself was divided by the wall, isolating East from West Berlin. First research began in 1988, when the two parts of Berlin represented the sleek modern West in contrast to the old, traditional, industrial world. The author's exploratory travels by rail across Germany to Berlin are a record of early predictions, by local travelers, of the fall of 'The Wall.' Individual accounts ranging from Potsdam to Berlin describe how pre/post wall conditions effected changing values of the city. This Culture History paper includes eyewitness reports described by friends, fellow travelers, newspaper and other documented accounts. The tape recordings are accounts by customers present in the La Belle Disco when that Berlin nightclub was bombed. They also describe the deaths of the two American soldiers and the following Berlin funeral march; personal photographs of the following wall paintings accompany the tape. Interviews with Americans describe their personal contact with the wall as pieces sold in American department stores.

NOTE: [If time allows, the presentation could be extended to include a short description of Poland and Russia after the dismantling of the Soviet Union.] The author's personal research can be extended into a table discussion for those who are interested in advancing social science beyond the rational argument by including total body intuition in the artistic, exploratory stages of research. An example of the process is described in the "Graduate table" proposition. However that table should include application for other social sciences, as well. This paper includes a slide show of photographs described above.

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Updated 05/20/2006