Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies in Culture

Reader 1

Marc Katz

Reader 2

George Gorse

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Rights Information

© 2012 Emma Camille Scheidt


After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city of Berlin was faced with the challenge to reunify in both political and cultural realms. Berlin is noted throughout history as a metropolis that is characterized by flux; the Post-Wende [Post-Wall] era is another remarkable transitional phase in Berlin’s history. During this era, the city was extremely porous and susceptible to cultural forces that could easily define the city’s malleable future. This essay discusses such forces and events that were planned by the city government, as well as an organic grassroots force that was especially significant in the cultural reunification. This force is the squatting culture that was spurred by the excess of unused and unclaimed buildings in the center of Berlin. Many of the squatters are coalitions of artists who embody the renitente Kultur [unruly culture] that characterizes Berlin.

Analyzed in this essay is a group of squatting artists, known as “Gruppe Tacheles das Kunsthaus” who inhabited the ruins of a historical building in the Mitte neighborhood located in the center of Berlin. The creators of Tacheles breathed life back into the ruins by establishing ateliers, a restaurant, a club, a movie theatre, a sculpture garden, and a bar in the building that became an artists’ haven with international fame. Artists, both residential and visiting, have treated the crumbling building like a makeshift giant canvas and it is now covered in layers of graffiti and stands as the Gesamtkunstwerk [total and universal ideal work of art] of the reunifying Berlin that has become an international hub for artists.

Due to escalation in property value, an effective owner of the property on which Tacheles stands has stepped forward and taken actions to evict the artists and demolish the building in order to build luxury offices. Most of the artists have left the site, leaving it as a ghostly shell of the bustling community it once was. Near twenty artists remain and protest the actions to destroy their work of art that had come to live symbiotically with the city. At this point, there is one appropriate event to occur next in the lifeline of the site: the building must be demolished in a ceremonious explosion to mark the passing of its vitality, so that its legacy can live on untainted in the future phases of Berlin’s culture.