Last month, workers at the University of Virginia installed part of the Berlin Wall on Grounds, in celebration of artistic and political freedom.
The official unveiling of the “Kings of Freedom” graffiti artwork on panels from the wall will take place Friday at 5 p.m. in a ceremony that will include U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and Robert and MeiLi Hefner, who own the panels loaned to U.Va., as well as distinguished alumni and faculty.
The unveiling at the installation site adjacent to Alderman Library and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library marks the opening of a yearlong U.Va. celebration commemorating the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, featuring extensive supporting academic and artistic programming.
Beginning Saturday, the spray-painted “Kings of Freedom” mural by West German graffiti artist Dennis Kaun – on the west side of the four panels of the Berlin Wall – will be on public exhibition throughout 2014.
“It’s a remarkable piece of history,” said Jody Kielbasa, U.Va.’s vice provost for the arts. “In the shadow of the Rotunda and near the special collections library – which has one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence – there’s this incredible installation that commemorates freedom.”
In 1989, Robert Hefner sensed the historical enormity of the people of East and West Germany tearing down the Berlin Wall and, through a representative, secured the four complete sections of the wall now at U.Va. The panels serve as an important icon of the “power of personal freedom,” he said.
Kaun painted his art on the West German side of the wall. His images depict a brightly colored and joyful king representing freedom next to a drab blindfolded king seemingly oblivious to the wishes of his people.
Events and programs related to the Berlin Wall project will be announced throughout the year. Numerous departments and disciplines across the University will be involved, including art, music, architecture, German studies, politics, history and sociology, among others.
The programming, culminating in a Nov. 9 celebration, will also include supporting events during the Virginia Film Festival, to be held Nov. 6-9.
The Berlin Wall exhibition is being presented by the offices of the President, Executive Vice President and Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.