Iconic Berlin Wall kiss to smack again

5th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

The crumbling East Side Gallery was whitewashed in April in restoration efforts. Over 100 artists first painted the wall after its fall in 1989.

Berlin -- Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's passionate kiss with East Germany's Eric Honecker is to be repainted on the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall later this month, organisers told AFP on Thursday.

The mural and more than 100 others were whitewashed in April in restoration efforts on the crumbling, 1.3 kilometre (three-quarter mile) East Side Gallery painted by 118 artists in the months following the fall of the wall in 1989.

Many of the painters from around the world have returned, or plan to do so, to redo their works in the open-air space along the Spree River.

But the Russian artist behind Brezhnev's kiss, Dmitry Vrubel, reportedly only found out via press reports that his mural had been erased and was angrily refusing to come and reproduce his.

"He spoke to me the day before yesterday and told me he would be working on it again from June 15," Kani Alavi, head of the East Side Gallery artists' group, told AFP. "In fact he was never not going to come back and do it. He was just engaged in doing a little self-publicity."

Organisers aim to have the gallery fully restored in time for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, with 20 of the murals already completed and 15 artists currently at work, Alavi said.

A group of three or four artists are demanding 15,000 euros (21,000 dollars) in compensation instead of the 3,000 euros on offer, he added.

Of the 155 kilometres of grey concrete that cut off West Berlin from its hinterland for 28 years and made East Germans prisoners of their own country, only about three kilometres in total is still standing.

What Honecker's communist East Germany called an "anti-fascist barrier" was chiselled apart by Germans from East and West euphoric over the opening of the border in 1989 and large slabs were sold off to foreign buyers.

Two decades on, visitors to the city centre often search in vain for the Wall and can rarely differentiate between the former East and West, both of which have seen a dramatic construction boom since the barrier was torn down.


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