The Wrapped Reichstag and Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe: Some Difficulties with Contemporary Monuments in Post-Reunification Berlin

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2008-05-05

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The proliferation of memory-sites following the reunification of Germany in 1990 was a testament to the great need of that nation for contextualizing and comprehending its recent traumatic histories. Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Wrapped Reichstag Project for Berlin, and Peter Eisenman's Memorial for the Murdered Jew of Europe are two monuments whose visual forms and conceptual narratives offer answers to the question of how to represent, complicate, and perpetuate memory through monument forms. Yet an analysis of the public reception and comprehension of these two works and the dialogues constructed around their realizations shows that in many ways each of these monuments falls short of its conceptual goals. In this thesis I will question whether an effective and appropriate contemporary monument to Germany's traumatic past is even possible, suggesting that often those elements that make up a successful monument are also the ones that provide for its failings.

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