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Two artists used 8,000 lights to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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Tobias Schwarz / AFP / Getty Images
Berliners wandered among the lights, contemplating the changes their city has experienced in the past 25 years.
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Maja Hitij / dpa / Corbis
Wall of Lights in Germany
Artists mark the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall with an installation of lights

By Noor Brara | for Scholastic Art

From November 7 to 9, 8,000 lights illuminated more than 8 miles of streets in Berlin. The lights followed the route of the Berlin Wall, a barrier that once partitioned the German city into East Berlin and West Berlin.

German artists Christopher and Marc Bauder created the installation, titled Lichtgrenze, or “Border of Light,” to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. The artists created the lights from LED-lit helium balloons and mounted them on 11-foot posts.

The brothers wanted to commemorate the anniversary by paying homage to the thousands of East German demonstrators who lit candles in a 1989 protest for peace and unity. “The wall was heavy, was big, was dark,” Christopher Bauder said. “We wanted to contrast it with something ephemeral, light, and potentially beautiful.”

WHY WAS THE WALL BUILT?

After World War II, politicians divided Germany into two countries. While leaders governed West Germany as a democratic nation aligned with France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, East German leaders ruled under the Communist influence of the Soviet Union.

In 1961, the Communist government of East Berlin decided to construct the wall as a way of protecting Communist rule and preventing people from fleeing to West Germany. In 1989 protests led to the wall’s destruction and the reunification of Germany.

25 YEARS LATER

Beneath the lights on November 9, Berliners commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall with a celebration that brought the whole city together. For many, the 25 years since the wall came down have been a time of healing and growth. “The once-divided city presents itself today as a liberal and open-minded metropolis,” said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit. “We place ourselves in solidarity with those who have raised their voices for freedom, democracy, and human rights back then as well as now. Berlin, after 25 years, has become a place of creativity, openness to the future, and internationality.”

With this future in mind, the balloons, which the artists made with environmentally friendly materials, were released into the air at the culmination of the event. The symbolic gesture represented the release from a painful part of Germany’s past.