The reality of the Trump Border Wall inevitably leads one to consider the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was the most important symbol of the Cold War and comparisons between the Trump Border Wall and the Berlin Wall are fitting. Both walls are bold attempts to enforce behavior through imposing physical structures. Both divide and separate families. The Berlin Wall separated families mere miles away for decades while the Trump Wall promises to separate families across the US/Mexico border. Children born to immigrant parents are allowed to stay in the US while their parents are at risk of being sent back behind the wall.
The Berlin Wall ultimately failed to achieve its political goals, and when the wall came down in 1989, it symbolically represented the failure of the Soviet system. Its erection was a symbol of Soviet force and might, and its demolition was the death rattle of the Soviet Union. Our country now considers whether to build a border wall. In that debate, we should consider the Berlin Wall and ask whether the demolition of the Trump Border Wall will inevitably occur at a future date, and if so, would such an event mark the end of US ascendancy?
My project conceives of the Trump Twitter Wall as a meditative monument to the political thoughts and ideals of Trump and the conservative movement. Although monuments convey the impression of permanence, all monuments fall victim to time. There will come a time when even the pyramids no longer stand. The fall of the Berlin Wall is a perspective of hope for those who oppose the wall and a reality check for those who support it.
From the perspective of my project, the Berlin Wall provides a rich venue to examine the use of textual elements in political and protest art. Much of the protest art on the Berlin Wall has textual elements. Although visual images can convey political ideas, these images are often paired with text to focus the viewer on the political idea. The Berlin Wall fell almost thirty years ago, but much of the text based art of the wall is timely and relevant to the debate about the Trump Border Wall. Indeed, some of the images from the Berlin Wall are used on the Mexico side of the Trump Twitter Wall in my project.
In analogizing the Trump Twitter Wall to the Berlin Wall, it is unavoidable that the US most closely correlates to East Germany and Mexico to West Germany in terms of attempts to control through physical barriers, rigid political thinking, and fear of outside influence. Although conservative political ideals in the US are not communist or Soviet, the purpose and theme of the Trump Border Wall is most closely aligned with the East German perspective–rigid control through might and political willpower.
The extensive Berlin Wall Art Website provides excellent examples of Berlin Wall art, a few which are featured in the slideshow below (copyright by Edward Murray, used under Fair Use) and used on the Mexico Side of the Trump Twitter Wall: