Wrapping The Reichstag / by Geoff Harrison

Twenty years have elapsed since the artists Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric drapery.  Apart from the result being visually stunning, the artwork had a powerful symbolic importance according to a recent article in The Book Of Life.

The history of the Reichstag, built in the 19th century, is tarnished due to it being the seat of Nazi government from 1933.  It's a painful fact for many Germans that this regime was popularly elected but as The Book Of Life points out, a vote cast in 1933 does not sanction every element of party policy up to 1945, including the concentration camps and atrocities committed by it's armies on the eastern front.

"Jeanne-Claude and Christo did not change the Reichstag; but by covering and then unveiling it, they set up a grand public opportunity for renewal of the nation’s relationship to its foremost political building. It allowed Germany to give its parliament back to itself."   The argument is that political art can help by giving expression to a collective experience of confession, grief, atonement and renewed good will.