| The Wall in View; the
Wall Itself page
The Wall was not only a frontier and an expansive enclosure of space; it was constructed in the collective experiences of those who encountered it. The sum of impressions on the individual would leave the sense of having lived through a series of impositions. Living in Berlin you had to butt your head up against the Wall countless times. Even if you avoided seeing it and confronting its gaze upon you, you knew how it enclosed you, how much you were forced and constricted by its presence. You kept the watchtowers and border controls in mind.
The dialogue between the Wall itself and the Wall within you was an ongoing one and remains so for those who experienced it. The experience remains dialogical. Memory is carved into the Wall, which is now history. Deep impressions persist in a way that cannot be communicated through stones set upright, through fragments of barbed wire, transposed towers, remnant graffiti, or museal environs. Is it at all possible to approximate having lived through a period defined by the Wall?
I think one affirmative answer to this question lies
in somehow suggesting the spatial experience of enclosure and exclusion
posed by the Berlin Wall itself. By doing this it would be possible to
at least intimate some sense of the confinement and uneasiness. Such a
simulation would also have to be dynamic, transmutable (for the experience
was never the same), and would have to lend some sense of the temporal
experience. Time at the Wall was indefinite. The spaces there were indeterminate.
Legal and political transformations and the changing moods of border officials
made the Wall always something different to overcome each time it was
approached. Such variability was part of the imposition. One did not know
what to expect. Any retrospective consideration of the experience needs
to incorporate this dynamic. Taken into the mind's eye and contemplated,
the Wall can only be approached through a series of spaces presented over
time and left as an unpredictable imposition.
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