When The Wall Came Tumbling Down

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 09-11-2009

It’s quite a night for me to watch this twenty years since the Berlin Wall came down. I remember exactly where I was watching a younger CNN minute-by-minute, glued, because the year before I had just been there. I visited East Berlin where the group I was with were searched, when we were escorted to the places we were only meant to see. Bullet holes still embedded in old buildings were not just the remnants of the the war, but of a regime too tired to rebuild its environment or nurture its people. For me, Berlin is also the place of Bertolt Brecht, who I studied in university:

Brecht’s Marxist political convictions led him to propose an alternative direction for the theatre that would fuse the two functions of instruction and entertainment. In this way the theatre could project a picture of the world by artistic means and offer models of life that could help the spectators to understand their social environment and to master it both rationally and emotionally. The main concept of Brecht’s program was that of Verfremdungseffekt (“alienation”). In order to induce a critical frame of mind in the spectator, Brecht considered it necessary to dispense with the empathetic involvement with the stage that the illusionary theatre sought to induce. Generally, this has been understood as a deadening coldness in the productions, but such an interpretation proceeds from a general ignorance of Brecht’s own writings on the subject. Rather, he insisted, as Appia, Craig, and the Symbolists did before him, that the audience must be reminded that it is watching a play. (Stanford University website).

And it was rather like that, my visit to East Berlin — a carefully staged tour, a kind of theatre of pretense. Yet what remained hidden remained so visible in its absence.

I’ve not yet been back since the wall has come a-tumbling down, but I’m in awe of the art installation of dominoes to commemorate this important point in our history. May all walls that separate our ideals come tumbling down with this both historic and symbolic event.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.