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CULTURE | 06-12-2019 20:32

‘Only love can bring down walls’: Piece of Berlin Wall given Argentine twist

Artist and artistic director for Editorial Perfil, Pablo Temes, gives a piece of the Berlin Wall a new face to mark the 30th birthday of Noticias magazine. The honour was all his, he told the Times.

A piece of wall, a piece of history. Located in the entrance of Editorial Perfíl’s offices, a 20-metre stretch of the Berlin Wall stands behind glass. This past Monday, in commemoration of the 30th birthday of Noticias magazine, a piece of the historic wall was given a new face. 

Argentine painter, artist, and Editorial Perfíl’s artistic director was asked to take on the task. Given a weekend to both prepare and execute the painting of a mural on the wall, Temes painted most of the mural in the parking lot of the media company’s offices. The finishing touches were done in front of Buenos Aires’ famous Téatro Colón, where the final work was displayed at a gala marking the magazine’s anniversary celebrations. 

“It’s a commitment, it’s a sense of pride. It’s a feeling of empowerment; it’s really important to think about how many people have touched this,” Temes told the Times

The story behind the Perfíl’s ownership of the wall traces back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 9, 1989. This same night, in Argentina, a group of 17 journalists were finishing the first edition of Noticias.

The morning of November 10, Jorge Fontevecchia, the CEO of Perfil Network, called the ambassador for the German Democratic Republic and expressed an interest in preserving part of the fallen wall as a permanent memory about the political violence that wrecked the world in the 20tth century.

When the ambassador confirmed this was a serious request and that Perfil had the financial and logistical means for transport, he promised to pass along the request onto the Ministry. 

A few weeks later, he returned with the answer: “If you donate the construction costs for a school in East Germany, the GDR will allow you to take as much of the Berlin Wall as you wish.” 

Months later, 20 metres of the Wall arrived to Buenos Aires.

It was on one of these fragments that Temes added on to history. The added mural features a sky-blue background, where two faces look at each other as a vine, which starts as the original spikes painted onto the wall, crawls up and over to the back side of the wall. Standing tall at 3.3 metres, the vines go over the top of the wall and crawl down, bright-red hearts acting as the fruit of the vine.  

“I first started toying with the idea of two people, in this case a man and a woman, facing each other,” explained Temes.

The artist knew he wanted to incorporate both sides of the wall into the mural, taking inspiration  from the original spiked wires painted at the bottom. Out of those, the green vines climbed onto the wall. “The idea was that they started to grow, and grow, and grow, and as times changed, they started transforming into sprouts, branches, greens, that grow and end on the other side.”

“The leaves growing, like green sprouts, are that which keep giving hope to humanity to not repeat these kinds of things,” he added, referring to the atrocities of the Cold War.

Inspired by the aesthetic of The Wall, by Pink Floyd, Temes cultivated the final version of the mural. Reading “only love can bring down walls,” Temes’ addition to the physical reminder of history is not lacking a political message. 

Indeed the mere imagery of the mural, that of two humans facing each other, like Temes describes, attempts to bridge the gap, the vines closing a kind of grieta ever-present in society. 

Painting from 11 am to 5.30pm Temes worked on the wall on Sunday in the parking lot at Perfil's offices, before adding the finishing touches to the mural on Monday in front of Téatro Colón. 

“Which is crazy, it’s very complicated,” Temes recounted. “It’s not about calling attention, but it can be really distracting [to paint in public] and you easily lose focus.” The finishing touches were added, and the mural was then displayed in Noticias’ anniversary celebrations later on Monday night at Téatro Colón. 

The mural is set to remain at Editorial Perfíl’s offices, but may be featured in future events.

“I’ve been here for 35 years. I’ve worked here for a long time, but I had never had to do something so tied with history,” Temes  concluded. “It was an incredibly beautiful and important experience.”

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Maria Gracia Santillana

Maria Gracia Santillana

Peruvian student of journalism and international relations at New York University. Interested in international politics and human rights.


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