Newspaper article China Post

Station Sign as Important Relic or Urban Eyesore?

Newspaper article China Post

Station Sign as Important Relic or Urban Eyesore?

Article excerpt

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Part of the Berlin Wall on Muhlenstrasse has become a world-famous open air gallery after artists from all over the world painted a total of 105 pieces of artwork on it in 1990. A piece of graffiti depicting the mouth-to-mouth kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart, Erich Honecker, on the East Side Gallery, as the section is known, is one of the most iconic images of Berlin.

The East Side Gallery, however, is not without its problems. By 2000, the majority of the artwork had been damaged, covered by other graffiti and vandalized. Some of the artwork remains in a damaged state now but a restoration project has helped renovate the gallery. To prevent further vandalism and graffiti-damage, crowd-control barriers have been erected in front of some of the paintings. The barriers disrupt the view of the artwork. The sight of barriers in front of artwork symbolizing the age of freedom after the fall of the Berlin Wall is ironic to say the least.

The balance between preserving beauty and imposing order in a public space while maintaining functionality and freedom is hard to strike. Sealing off commissioned graffiti artwork from unsanctioned graffiti artists seems paradoxical but the artistic - and tourism - value of the original works is worth some kind of protection. The question is how to find the balanced approach.

Taipei City is facing a similar problem in the renovation of its main railway station. The railway administration has decided to make permanent the removal of four giant Chinese characters [...]("Taipei Railway Station") alongside the logo of the Taiwan Railway Administration from the roof of the building. The characters were temporarily taken down during renovation but recently the Taipei City Government suggested that the railway authorities do without them in order to "conform" to urban aesthetics. The decision was greeted with controversy. …

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