• ArtistElmgreen&Dragset
  • TitleStatue of Liberty
  • Year of Origin2018
  • GenreSculpture
  • Technique and DimensionOriginal piece of the Berlin Wall, ATM, steel, 298 x 149 x 148 cm
  • Erwerbungsjahr2019
  • Erwerbung der StiftungYes

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, 2019 Schenkung von Heiner Wemhöner, Herford an die Stiftung des Vereins der Freunde der Nationalgalerie / die Künstler / Elmar Vestner

The Statue of Liberty in front of Manhattan is considered a symbol of boundless freedom. The monumental sculpture once greeted the immigrants arriving on ships in the New World and quickly became a landmark of New York. The installation by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset refers to its status as a popular tourist attraction. Their “Statue of Liberty” (2018), however, consists of a concrete segment of the Berlin Wall and an ATM machine, now removed from its function. As a gift from the collector Heiner Wemhöner, the sculpture “Statue of Liberty” by the Danish-Norwegian artist duo will welcome visitors to Hamburger Bahnhof from June 21, 2019.

At first, the sculpture creates an absurdly pointed picture: In an opening of the “Iron Curtain” that once separated East and West Berlin, a device for collecting cash was inserted. The paradoxical fusion of two objects representing two systems – capitalist West and communist East – raises questions about the current state of the city of Berlin and its development since the fall of the Wall.

The still standing parts of the Berlin Wall, once a symbol of the Cold War and the restriction of individual freedom, today often serve only as a backdrop for vacation snapshots. While Berlin was considered an unfinished city full of open spaces in the post-reunification period, this process is increasingly coming to an end due to gentrification. In addition, a marketing and commercialization process is taking place that focuses on the money of the international visitors, which can be seen in the many new cash machines that have been integrated into the facades of the scene districts by independent operators. “Statue of Liberty” is three things: a monument to the German-German division, a monument to the memory of a vanished time full of possibilities immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and a memorial to the sell-out of history and the city.

Kristina Schrei