Malte Kebbel - Monoliths - Marlene Dietrich Platz - Potsdamer Platz - Berlin Leuchtet - Light Festival / Foto: Studio Malte Kebbel


Consisting of four original segments of the Berlin Wall*, Monoliths opens up an unlimited space creating a place of assembly and contemplation instead of the original purpose of linear separaton.

Through the combinaton of light and colors, the monolithic concrete mass is withdrawn from its natural heaviness, creating an energetic field that allows both the contradictory delimitaton of real territories and infinite mind spaces.

The pieces of the wall are huge — 3.6 meters tall, made of poured concrete and rebar. Arranged in an elementary stone circle, the light-sensitve installation is illuminated by a programmed light show of ultraviolet rays and atmospheric light.

Visitors are also invited to use laser pens to write there messages or trace outlines on them with light — a heart, a star, a sun and moon, as if the wall is being tickled by the visitor. After a few minutes the traces of light disappear magical again. Photochromic and luminescent layers of paint make this effect possible.

The artist Malte Kebbel, has painted over them, a glittering gold on the inside of the circle, and primary colors on the outside. In the center of the outer-facing surfaces are large, light-sensitive shapes. The shapes are vaguely humanoid.

The figures, though, are one-dimensional, almost like shadows cast on the pieces of the Wall, and reminiscent one hand of the shadows of humans left behind on the city walls of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, souls trapped inside these remnants of past fascism, the ugly stains of brutal technology, like eternal flames to remind us how this all started.

Walls — city walls, border walls — are such puny structures compared to our determination to get around them, over them, under them, or through them. Because really, what’s the point of building walls except to break through them? And the stronger the wall, the more advanced the technology becomes to tear them down.

The space the Monoliths create, their simple circle, is meant to invite viewers in, to gather, talk, contemplate, commune — the direct opposite of their original purpose of division and disconnection. And the humanoid shapes on the outside are also reminiscent of the rounded, fluid figures of Matisse, the joyful circle of dancers celebrating in primary colors.

These Monoliths do the same, as though the glowing figures on the outward facing side are there to protect you while you stand in the center, dancing around you like Druids while you think about, talk about, walls. And wars. And women and men and the future, all that we were and all that we can be. It’s like a Stargate, a portal to the cosmos in each of us.

Kebbel’s plans for the Monoliths are to travel the world, install them in cities across the globe and encourage interaction. They are meant to act as reminders, of the aftermath and outcome of war. After all, it was a world war — everybody was involved, and everybody was affected, not just the Germans.

3D relief print, photochromic, luminescent & refectve exposy resin & lacquer on original Berlin Wall segments & light installaton; each object: 120 x 220 x 360 cm, 2.8 tons; installaton: 800 x 800 x 360 cm, 11.2 tons

*During the division of Germany, the Berlin Wall was a hermetically sealed border system of the German Democratc Republic (GDR) that existed for over 28 years, from August 13th, 1961 to November 9th, 1989.

Text by: Susie Kahlich / extracts from the article: There and Back Again : An Art Odyssey. Artipoeus visits Malte Kebbel’s MONOLITHS in Potsdam, Germany. Medium, 1. Februar 2018 /