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Citizens in Motion

June 6, 2011

Citizens in Motion: Monument to Freedom and Unity

Berlin, Germany (former East Berlin)

Designers Milla & Partner, Stuttgart and Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz

After 10 years in limbo, Citizens in Motion has been approved by Germany’s Culture Minister as the chosen monument to German reunification.  The kinetic monument is set in motion when the weight of visitors tip the “disc”.  It can accommodate up to 1400 people but only needs 20 people to tilt it.  Milla & Partner describe the vision as “it will be a continually changing choreographic expression of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.”  The designers hope people will discover informal uses for the disc, such as theatrical performances, the obvious skatepark, and anything else that occurs to visitors.

Since the minister’s decision, the project has drawn sharp criticism.  Is it a collective action or a gimmick?  Proponents feel it is a joyful counter to the more somber Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  In response to to the critics, I see no problem with the concept.  While the project could take on a more serious tone, it was decided that this monument in particular would celebrate those who gathered in peaceful protest.  It is a monument that can be activated for any use imagined, thus taking on two hats.  The aim is not what activities take place on the disc, but the symbolic gesture of joining together as actors in urban theater…à la the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.

We are the people. We are a people.

Milla & Partner’s website caught my eye with two appropriate quotes that continue the theme of this blog:

“The most beautiful pictures are those created in the minds of the audience.”

“It’s the right interface, the point where people and information meet, that is crucial for conveying the message.”

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