Northern Ireland has joined a select number of European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Greece as The Disappearing Wall was unveiled at a small ceremony at Belfast’s Titanic Slipways on October 21.
The interactive art installation that celebrates Europe’s diversity of languages and ideas 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 is now on display at the famous Titanic Slipways in front of the iconic museum, Titanic Belfast, until November 11 and passers-by are invited to visit at any time.
The Wall consists of a plexiglas frame which hosts 6,000 wooden blocks shows original and translated quotes collected by the Goethe-Institut earlier this year via local contests across Europe.
Visitors to the Wall are encouraged 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.
Health and safety is of upmost priority and sanitising units, directional signage and a QR track and trace coding system are of prominence at the sculpture so people are asked to adhere to the safety guidelines before continuing their walk along the eye-catching Slipways and Maritime Mile.
Those who cannot travel to Belfast to visit The Disappearing Wall have the chance to receive a block of history by registering their interest at www.facebook.com/TheDisappearingWallBelfast where wooden blocks will be set aside for this purpose.
Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Director of the Goethe-Institut London, commented: “We are so proud to see The Disappearing Wall being unveiled to the public in Belfast. This installation celebrates Northern Ireland’s diversity and seeing people from all walks of life visit and take joy in reading the beautifully inscribed blocks shows how some happiness can come at a time of difficulty.”
Goethe-Institut London commissioned Belfast-based Urban Scale interventions (USI) to bring The Disappearing Wall to life in Belfast with Jak Spencer, USI CEO, commenting: “It is so exciting to see The Disappearing Wall take pride of place at Titanic Slipways, Titanic Belfast, after many months of careful planning. NI now has the privilege of joining other European countries hosting The Wall. Experience it yourself as we invite everyone to help make this iconic wall disappear by taking home an historical quote to keep for posterity.”
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: “Catalyst Arts is thrilled to invite the public to visit The Wall. Working with artists and musicians from Belfast in the run up to this installation, we engaged communities across the city to explore stories and experiences that connect us. Our reach across the four quarters of the city explored the Irish language through arts and craft with Aoife O’Reilly, tales of lived experience through the medium of bingo in North Belfast with Janie Doherty, how we hear with our bodies with John D’Arcy and HIVE choir and the intimate relationship between foraging, fermentation and South Belfast’s Queer history. By working within our community through this platform we now have the possibility to reach out to our European Neighbours though a common language and ideas.
To find out more about the engagement projects and the artists and musicians visit https://www.catalystarts.org.uk”.
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, Urban Scale Interventions, and the Titanic Foundation.
More information on The Disappearing Wall can be found at www.goethe.de/disappearingwall and The Disappearing Wall Belfast on Facebook.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
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 (CA) is an artist-led organisation based in Belfast. Established in 1993 it has built a reputation as an innovative and experimental space for contemporary art, through its gallery programme, public projects, artists commissions and pioneering Live Art Biennale. The organisation has consistently attracted high calibre artists, curators and producers from across NI and internationally. Their mission is to promote the production of works by emerging, mid-career and established artists through the provision of resources, exhibitions, residencies, and events. In addition, they aim to advance the training of cultural practitioners in NI through critical dialogue and mentoring within our programme.
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.