Cheers sent 8,000 balloons flying last night in Berlin. The illuminated orbs, part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, evoked the border that once divided the city, the country, the world.
“The wall was heavy, was big, was dark,” said Berlin-based lighting designer Christopher Bauder, who conceived of the three-day installation with his brother, Marc. “We wanted to contrast it with something ephemeral, light and potentially beautiful.”
Lichtgrenze, or Border of Light, retraced eight miles of the former fortification in a glowing dotted line. Suspended from poles, each balloon bore a message of hope or congratulations, sourced on social media, echoing the heroic smuggling of messages across the border by East Germans.
“We wanted people to be able to participate, for it effectively to come from the people, as it did back then,” said Moritz van Dülmen, director of Kulturprojekte Berlin, the organizer of the anniversary event. “Back then it was the people who freed themselves.”
“Remembrance belongs to the people,” Marc Bauder said. “We want to offer an individual access instead of a central commemoration.”
On Sunday night, Border of Light dissolved into the night sky, as one by one the biodegradable balloons were released, signaling the end to the memorial weekend. In a city where roughly half of its residents did not directly experience the Berlin Wall, the light installation served as a beacon of freedom – its legacy and responsibility. Those who endured the brutality looked on with heavy memory. Berliner Tina Krone observed in The Guardian: “I haven’t seen that many people on the streets for 25 years.”