The Berlin Wall Considered As A Work Of Conceptual Art

When I think of Christo and Jeanne-Claude I think of their work Running Fence, and when I think of Running Fence I think of the Berlin Wall. Christo and Jeanne-Claude began work on Running Fence in 1972. The fence was 5.5 meters high and 40 kilometres long. It was constructed in Sonoma and Marin Counties, California. It was a fabric fence, supported by steel posts and steel cables, running through the landscape and leading into the sea. Towards the end of 1973, Christo and Jeanne-Claude marked the path of the fence with wooden stakes. On 29 April 1976, the work finally began after most of the necessary permissions had been granted. Approximately 200,000 m2 of nylon fabric, 2050 steel posts and 145 km of steel cable were needed. On 10 September 1976 the work was completed and photographed.

Construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 and continued until its destruction in 1989. It was 155 kilometres long and completely encircled West Berlin. For 106 kilometres of its length, the outer wall was composed of panels of reinforced concrete 3.60 metres high – there was also an inner wall and a wide strip between the two walls, overlooked by guard towers. The Berlin Wall was frequently covered as a news story by the western media.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude claimed the purpose of their art was to create works of  joy and beauty and to unveil new ways of seeing familiar landscapes. Likewise the German Democratic Republic insisted that the Berlin Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the ‘will of the people’ in building a joyous and beautiful socialist state in East Germany. And if you believe there can be socialism in one country, then you’ll probably accept what Christo and Jeanne-Claude had to say about their art. It should go without saying that the working class have no country!

Ultimately Running Fence looks like it was inspired by the Berlin Wall, but regardless the latter is clearly superior as a work of art to the former. Art is supposed to intimidate the working class – which is why we need to tear it down!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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