Checkpoint Liberty Berlin
Installation and Exhibition, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Checkpoint Liberty Berlin12 carried forward a series of my art projects based on the themes of place and transformation. My works produce public space, and are done in the public and for the public. My creative expressions change the everyday public environment with the intention of asking people, at least for the moment, to reflect on and to consider differing perspectives. My pieces point people to particular spaces and ask questions concerning that space, i.e.; the aesthetic, historical and contemporary significance of that social space.

The piece entitled “CHECKPOINT LIBERTY” continued this series. The place was and continues to be pregnant with historical and social significance. This Checkpoint Charlie, as everyone is aware, was the place where East and West met during the almost 50 years of Cold War.

With increasing international interdependence and cooperation between nations the symbolic importance of Checkpoint Charlie increased following the opening of the wall.  The juxtaposition and tensions one could observe by looking around this public square and the complex temporal spatial representations in the mid 1990’s inspired the site-specific artwork. Looking at the wall of the former Stasi building one saw the monumental letters of the G.D.R. newspaper „NEUE ZEIT” (New Times) bringing to mind the magnitude of changes expressed in this transformative place. In front of the square to the south one saw the words “YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR” written in English, Russian, French and German. The original sign gave one last warning to those passing as to the significance of the boarder they were transversing. The open square itself was a reminder of the no-man’s-lands, which separated two political and ideological systems and the actual guard-tower a site of repression and terror or defense depending on ideological point of view. With this piece I called people’s attention and focus to this transformation of space with all of its historical, social, emotional, political, aesthetic and economic memories, tensions and contrasts.

Recognizing and experiencing the East German guard tower both symbolically and physically, during the Cold War I decided to juxtapose the guard tower to The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope and freedom and welcoming for peoples of all places. The students in Tienamen Square in their heroic stand for political freedom had also used it recently. By placing this symbol of hope, international cooperation, and freedom on top of what the feared Guard-tower I created a complex image of past and future, repression and freedom, despair and hope. I had asked the people to hold these contrasts in mind and reflect on the host of diverse emotions that arise from the aspirations we all have, set against the many agents of repression that limit our imagination and it embodied reality.

  • 1 Sponsored by the American Business Center through CEDC (Central European Development Corporation), founded by Ronald S. Lauder.
  • 2 Redman, Charles [Ambassador of the United States to Germany] in: Catalogue "John Powers, Berlin Events: Transformations, 1987-1996",
    Kunsthalle Checkpoint Charlie , Berlin, May 5 – July 12, 1996;
    Kinzer, Stephen "Checkpoint Charlie, Meets Lady Liberty" in: New York Times, New York,  May 26, 1996;
    Asahi Television "Checkpoint Liberty Berlin" [Television broadcast], Japan, May, 1996;
    Der Spiegel, "Event in der Baugrube" 47/1995; Kremeir, Karl "Checkpoint Liberty Berlin",
    Wirtschafts-Initiativen für Deutschland e. V. ed., Jahresbericht 1996, Berlin 1996, pp. 20-21.