A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
25 years ago the “two Germanys”, namely the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic merged into one unified state after many years of separation due to the Berlin Wall, built in 1961. This anniversary was celebrated with a big light act in the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels. For this event the Dutch video and light-artist Martijn Adema created a fascinating light show event, using the most powerful projectors in Europe to beam a video on theTriumphal Arch.
Waiting for it to get dark…
From 19:00 to 24:00 the Arch in the park was illuminated by an impressing light and video show. At 20:00 Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament gave a short but very touching speech about the the German reunification and Europe´s past and possible future.
Before the first video presentation, the speeches were held
Every full hour, the 8 min video mapping was presented, which created a “unique vision of the European story: from divided Europe, to the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe, German reunification and the process of European integration. Moreover, with powerful images it showed how Germany and its European partners are committed to working closely together to make Europe fit for the future.“ (event page)
Colorful light show
The video installation was very sweeping but also highly debated the next day. The main point of criticism was that the film showed pictures of the Second World War, including images of swastikas and Adolf Hitler. Many people found it wrong to show such pictures in the presentation.
Beaming Hitler and the horrors of the Second World War on the arch in Brussels “was daring, but necessary“ commented the artistic director of the project Matthias Zeckert. The Second World War was shown as a starting point to the division of Germany and introduced the historical timeline,it was followed by pictures from the Cold War, as well as Churchill, Kennedy and Gorbachev. Finally the Berlin Wall fell and not only a unified Germany but also a united Europe was shown in the light installation. The message behind it however was not uncritical. Problems and crises Europe is facing, such as the Finance Crisis, the current situation with the influx of refugees and dramatizing climate change were also depicted.
High standard, a lot of meaning in pictures from past and present and that all in form of a video installation – in my opinion very well done.
Projection of the European values on the Triumphal Arch
If you want to get your own impression, there are a few videos online that show the light show and bits oft he speech held before. You can find them if you type in “lights and sounds of unity” on Youtube.