Memoria Urbana Berlin
|Type||Square section steel tube and LED illumination system|
|Dimensions||31 m (101 ft)|
|Location||Bethlehemkirchplatz (Bethlehem Square), Berlin, Germany|
Memoria Urbana Berlin (also known as Reconstruction Bohemian Bethlehem Church) is a public sculpture by Spanish artist Juan Garaizabal that stands in the middle of the Bethlehemkirchplatz, Mitte district, Berlin, Germany. It was constructed in June 2012 on the mosaic marking the exact site and size of the original Bohemian or Bethlehem Church (German: Böhmische Kirche, Bethlehemskirche), which was destroyed in the war. The sculpture is made up of 800 meters (2,600 feet) of square section (12x12 cm/4.7 in) steel tube and 300 meters (984 feet) of LED illumination system. Its structure draws in the air the lines of the silhouette of the lost construction, recreating its volume in the form of a sketch. It measures 25 x 15 x 31 metres (82 x 49 x 101 feet) in height and weighs 44 short tons (40 metric tons).
Construction and Maintenance
Originally planned as a temporary installation, as of December 2013 the district and municipal authorities have decreed permanent status for the work. Administrative proceedings for the permanent allocation on public grounds are currently ongoing. The Lux-Bethlehem e.V. cultural trust, representing twenty of the public and private institutions that promoted the permanent installation, has been formally created to guarantee the maintenance of the sculpture.
The original Bohemian Church otherwise Bethlehem Church was built between 1733 and 1735 in the middle of the Friedrichstadt (now the Mitte district) of Berlin, representing one of the most positive chapters of relations between Germany and Bohemia. Thanks to King Frederick William I of Prussia, Czech refugees leaving their homeland for religious reasons were admitted to the Friedrichstadt district of Berlin. It was a monument to the tolerance pervading the foundation of the Prussian State.
In 1943, it was badly damaged by bombing. Later, in 1963, the church was demolished and the site incorporated into the facilities of Checkpoint Charlie.
Juan Garaizabal proclaims himself a Spanish immigrant in Berlin where he considers he has attained his artistic freedom. His "Urban Memory Berlin" is a tribute to both the integrity of the Bohemian settler and to Prussian enlightenment. With this intervention the artist aims to reflect the ability of Berlin and its inhabitants to re-grow by extracting a positive essence of the past and transplanting it to the present/future. Thus, the Bethlehemskirche regains its presence to the senses, framing with precision in empty air the memory of the intact element, and thus enabling its use as a place of meeting, reflection and reconciliation. "To understand and feel my work there is no need for genius. However, once you are in contact with it the urge to delve into history is irrepressible" (Juan Garaizabal).
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