Belfast will be the only UK city to host interactive art installation

NEXT month will see Northern Ireland join a number of European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Greece to host The Disappearing Wall, an interactive art installation that celebrates Europe’s diversity of languages and ideas.

Belfast is the only city within the UK to host the installation which is based on an idea proposed by Maria Jablonina in a workshop carried out by the architect and engineer Werner Sobek and initiated by the Goethe-Institut.

The Disappearing Wall, which will be on display on the roof of Castlecourt Shopping Centre from October 1-12, consists of a plexiglas frame which will host 6,000 wooden blocks showing original and translated quotes collected by the Goethe-Institut earlier this year via local contests across Europe.

Visitors to the Wall are invited to take home a block which will contain one of a wide range of quotes, from the likes of Albert Einstein, Adorno, Rosa Luxemburg, Sartre and Jonas Mekas, to Beatles’ lyrics and lines from Winnie the Pooh or the film Amélie.  

As more and more blocks are removed, the Wall will ‘disappear’ with only the clear Plexiglas grid that held them remaining.

Other cities to host the The Disappearing Wall include Antwerp, Barcelona, Brussels, Gdansk, The Hague, Madrid, Milan, Namur, Nicosia, Poznan, Segovia, Thessaloniki, Turin, Vilnius and Warsaw.

Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Director of the Goethe-Institut London, commented: “We are delighted to bring the Disappearing Wall to Belfast. This installation will not only celebrate Northern Ireland’s diversity but also the potential to symbolically overcome borders visible and tangible.”

Goethe-Institut London has commissioned Belfast-based Urban Scale interventions (USI) to bring The Disappearing Wall to life in Belfast with Claire Hall, USI Projects Producer, commenting: “We are proud to help bring The Disappearing Wall to Belfast as it is an important project for NI as we celebrate our country’s diversity. Encouraging visitors to take away inspirational and thought-provoking quotes and therefore destroying the wall to leave a clear view across the city symbolises how we can come together to destroy any barriers that are holding us back.” 

Mirroring the project’s aims of celebrating the diversity of Belfast and Northern Ireland, Belfast arts collective Catalyst Arts is running a programme of workshops that will engage with the community through sharing stories, experiences and history.

Thomas Wells of Catalyst Arts said: “Over the next couple of months, Catalyst Arts will develop and present a series of engagement events looking at a re-mapping of the city beyond geography by inviting participants to share lived experiences of Belfast. The outcome of which will be shown as part of an ongoing engagement with the installation of the Wall in Castle Court Shopping Centre kicking it off”.

The Disappearing Wall is one of several projects that the Goethe-Institut is carrying out for Germany’s EU Council Presidency and as part of the Federal government’s cultural programme in Europe.  With different topics and target groups, the projects are devoted to the overarching question of what will constitute Europe in future and how the European community and cohesion can be strengthened.

The Disappearing Wall is backed by the Federal Foreign Office with special funds for the German EU Council Presidency 2020.  In Northern Ireland, the installation is supported by Catalyst Arts and Urban Scale Interventions.

More information on The Disappearing Wall with dates and locations can be found at



About the Disappearing Wall

Whether it’s a quote from Hannah Arendt, a lyric from a Beatles tune, a line from the film Amélie, or a statement by the Hungarian Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész, in local competitions, the Goethe-Institut asked people in ten European countries for their favourite quote from European high and pop culture. The quotes submitted, which reflect the linguistic and intellectual diversity of Europe, are now being engraved in the original language and in translation on 6,000 wooden blocks and made visible as an installation called “Disappearing Walls.” From September 2020, these installations have been set up in central, public locations in the participating countries Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus. But the diverse ideas of Europe are not only visible in this project, but also tangible – and lasting. After the unveiling, all passers-by will have the opportunity to take blocks with quotes home with them. All that remains is the clear Plexiglas grid: The wall will disappear.


About the Goethe-Institut

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. With 157 institutes in 98 countries, we promote the study of German abroad, encourage international cultural exchange and convey a contemporary image of Germany. Through partnerships with institutions in numerous other locations, the Goethe-Institut has about 1,000 contact points worldwide. As a national and European cultural institute, the Goethe-Institut is committed to the vision of progressive European integration and with its activities continuously advocates further strengthening the values of the European Union: liberty, equality, and openness. It operates 52 institutes in Europe.


About Catalyst Arts

Catalyst Arts is an artist led gallery founded in 1993 in Belfast in response to what was seen as a cultural vacuum. Catalyst Arts is formed of a rotating voluntary board of directors working for a period of two years. The gallery in Belfast city centre has shown works of David Shrigley, Ross Sinclair, Susan Phillipz, Phil Collins, Michelle D Hannah, Roddy Buchanan, Simon Starling, Bill Drummond to name a few, and has turned the gallery into a sauna with Joanna Karolini.


About Urban Scale Interventions

USI support public and private organisations in people centred design innovation taking a holistic and challenge-led approach to tackling issues in the places we live, work and play.