"Could you tell me where The Berlin Wall used to be?"
This is a often raised question in contemporary Berlin, a city with a turbulent past as no other European city, where the influences of history have left their mark. This history is legible on almost every street corner and the remains of the past define Berlin even today.
The border which formed a barrier between East and West for twenty-eight years forms an important part of Berlin's history. The remnants of The Berlin Wall are the witnesses, not only of a divided city but also of a divided Europe, of the divided world. But for how long?
After the Wall fell, almost no traces are left from the border, the fortifications or the watchtowers. The demolition of the physical barrier started on November 9th 1989, the day the Wall fell. First with the hammers and chisels of the 'Wallpeckers', followed by heavy machinery removing almost all the fortifications.
Today the former borderstrip is hardly recognisable. However more and more people realise the historical value of the Wall-traces, as the last remaining fragments disappear rapidly from the quickly changing Berlin's urban scene.
The Dutch visual artist Ronald klein Tank has initiated the project 'Berliner Mauerspuren' (Berlin-Wall-Trace) in which he wants to record the last remaining traces of the Berlin Wall.
Ronald klein Tank has been working since 1992 on art projects in which past, present and future, presence and absence, recollection and remembrance play an essential role. Fascinated as he is in subjects which balance on the edge of extinction, he researches historical events and places. In his site-specific installations and photography, Ronald klein Tank connects history's past with today's present.
'Berliner Mauerspuren' started in 2001, when he started to investigate the vestiges and the earlier locations of the Wall. With the aid of GPS-equipment he has traced the former border, registering the vestiges and remains with still-photography, videoclips and 360-panoramas. The photoworks together with the geographical data form a 'time-document' of these rapidly disappearing Wall-traces.
For Ronald klein Tank is it of the utmost importance to preserve these historical remains as witnesses of the past. He contributes to this by making his growing archive accessible through the internet. The worldwide accessible source of information and gives an answer to the question; "Could you tell me please where The Berlin Wall used to be?" and shows what's left of it today.