By DeeDee Hughes, Staff Writer
Imagine if the Mona Lisa were to be torn to shreds. The entire world would be up in arms, right? Even the most disinterested people would recognize that it is not only a masterful work of art but also a tangible piece of the world’s history that would be lost forever.
Two of Berlin’s most famous murals, located on Curvystraße in the city’s Kreuzberg district, currently face an unknown fate. The buildings upon which the murals were painted are to be bulldozed. Investor Artur Süsskind and the architectural firm, Langhof, intend to build apartments, a kindergarten, a grocery store and a terrace in the murals’ place.
An Italian street artist called Blu painted the murals in 2007 and 2008. The short lifespan of the murals is one of the reasons why the movement to stop the construction plan, created by Jascha Herr, is faltering. Germany has a monument protection statute, but the works must be of historical, cultural or urban significance in order to be saved, and the murals do not fit clearly into any of the categories.
And there is a valid argument in favor of the new construction. The buildings and spaces that the architectural firm creates are just as much art as the murals are. Furthermore, the spaces are functional and benefit the public in a way that the murals do not.
However, the murals function in the same way the Mona Lisa does; they are a tangible and valuable piece of history with artistic and conceptual merit.
While the new construction may be necessary, it is not vital that it be built on an already established work of art. The murals serve as a way of maintaining and improving Berlin’s artistic cultural identity.