Day 3 in Berlin focused on the role of art as propaganda and art for social change. We started at Checkpoint Charlie learning about the history and ultimate fall of the Berlin Wall. Beyond the complex series of events that led to the Wall's construction, and the stories of harrowing escape, I was interested in the way that artists such as Keith Haring had used the wall as a surface for creative expression and political commentary of the East German government as well as the Wall itself.
Near Checkpoint Charlie we came upon another art display where artist had been asked to paint on a section of the wall. One artist had created a series of cartoon portraits of dictators around the world. This is another great contemporary example of the power of political commentary through art.
The second half of the day was spent at the incredibly powerful Topography of Terror museum. Built on the site of the destroyed Gestapo building, this museum looks at the rise of Hitler's 'Third Reich' with detailed accounts and primary documentation of the major events leading up to and following his ascension to power. I was particularly interested in the propaganda posters used to influence and control the German people. One peice stands out in my mind. It deals with the Nazi propagated idea of "racial doctrine" by contrasting healthy, 'racial pure' Germans with those who are sick and disabled that 'act as a financial burden on society'. There were many, many more examples in this exhibit, and I found myself struggling to process the horror of it all in.
What was constant throughout the day was the clear power that visual imagery can have in shaping people's ideas and opinions, for good or for evil.