„Unser Leben“ is a mosaic at Haus des Lehrers by Walter Womacka.
“Our Life” is a mosaic at “House of the Teacher” by Walter Womacka at Alexanderplatz, Berlin.
With 7 meters in height and a length of 127 meters, it is one of the largest artworks in Europe.
So on a bright and sunny day, I headed over to Alexanderplatz to take a few photos.
This work consists of 800.000 pieces and shows great influences of Muralismo. The Spanish word murale describes wall art in public space and has been influential since the 1920s. (Think Diego Rivera)
Walter Womacka and his Mosaic at Haus des Lehrers
Walter Womacka is a very interesting figure in the world of GDR art. Criticized by many for his conformist style but loved by others. Yet, it was not unusual for the authorities to call Womacka back to change his artwork to satisfy ideas of the party. The term green elephant describes a practice in art and music, that allowed artists to say something between the lines. Often, a rather prominent feature was cancelled out, which allowed less obvious elements to slip and stay. If you look at the eyes of the protagonists, removed from Socialist realism, some of the figures may tell different stories. Unusual for the time, Womacka enjoyed numerous study trips, not only to Bulgaria or Russia, but also to Greece or Indonesia.
By the time I reached the back (the mural on the east side), some security guy was tailing me. So, there will be no pictures from the famous South, as I had been shooed away like wasps in summer. By that time, we’re talking 3 security guys, excuse me, security people, that explained to me, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos unless I showed my press card. Now, with all due respect, if I had one, I wouldn’t’ve presented it anyways just out of principle. And what difference does it make? Please explain to me why it is not allowed to take a photo of a Berlin landmark? The artwork had been finished in 1962 and enjoys monument protection since 1990. Plus, visit a stock site of your choice and you’ll find many-a pictures of this building. You would’ve been allowed to photograph it under a Socialist regime. Well, I suppose…
Ah, side stories…here’s one more:
While Womacka’s work was full of symbolism for progrees and peace, of course, it was a child of its time. We, too, are influenced by different frameworks and ideas while looking at the mosaic today. Artist Tyrz Kongo created a modern version of the artwork. Unfortunately, he may have failed to understand the beauty of the original work. You can look at his digital mosaic “Berlin Mosaic” here. He is juxtaposing his new spin on the artwork with the original mosaic by Walter Womacka, which does not really serve him too well. Hey, if you ask me, but judge for yourself.
Maybe both works are just satire?
In a time where our news is full of Russian or American propaganda, the Mosiac at Haus des Lehrers seems strangely relevant.
Did I find more mosaics in the last weeks? Absolutely! I’m excited. People need hobbies. Have a lovely Hump Day! Be nice and kitschy.