Vernissage at the ZEW - Murals on Berlin Wall were Colourful

Dates and News

The Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim pays tribute to the Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. Until 22 Dezember 2009, the ZEW exhibits wall photographs by artist Piet Joehnk, who is living in Dresden. The vernissage with the artist and 170 invited guests on 9 November 2009, the anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, is the highlight of the exhibition. Joehnk captured the situation of the wall in West Berlin in 1986 in his photograph. Among many unknown graffiti, there are also pictures of paintings by the French artists Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet and Thierry Noir.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Franz opened the vernissage with a speech acknowledging the Fall of the Berlin Wall as one of the great moments in German history. Franz went on with a short excursion about the German reunification. The ZEW president said that from an economic perspective the unification was indeed a success. There are no blooming landscapes but the prediction that the new German states would become a German Mezzogiorno did not come true either. East Germany has caught up with West Germany, a fact which should not be forgotten. At the time of the German reunification, the labour productivity in East Germany was 30 percent of West Germany. Today it is 70 percent, a huge success.

Professor Henry Keazor analysed the wall photographs by Piet Joehnk and the graffiti, slogans and scenes seen in these pictures. The professor for Art history at the University of the Saarland drew a bow from façade painting in Renaissance to the wall pictures. According to Keazor, many of these pictures are a protest against the German separation. Beside displaying political, social and contemporary topics, the wall paintings were also an attempt to create a “space” out of the inhospitable ugly concrete in the city. The inhospitable status was not simply to be accepted. Many original graffiti and slogans were lost when the wall fell. Piet Joehnk has captured part of this unique contemporary document in his photographs.


Piet Joehnk, who concluded the official part of the vernissage, thanked ZEW president Franz for his opening speech and Henry Keazor for his excellent analysis. Joehnk said that Keazor disclosed a partly new perspective of his own work.

The music group SERENITY with Matthias Coenen, Stefan Boeters and Günther Schmitz created the musical background during the vernissage.


Interesting facts about the topic