We‘re celebrating the 30th anniversary fall of the Berlin Wall (1961/1989)
In a world filled with walls - the Great Wall of China, the West Bank Wall, the initiated wall between USA and Mexico, not to mention numerous invisible walls - the latest Souvenir Official project "Bridges Over Walls" is part of a continuous effort to raise awareness and to promote alternatives for a better world. The project is a call to mind to learn from the history of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. On November 9th - in celebration and commemoration of the 30th anniversary - the project releases with an event at GATE Store on November 8th.
For Souvenir Official founder and Cold War child himself, David Mallon, the topic carries a personal story. Mallon grew up in the East and was separated early from his father Ludwig Rauch, who had fled to the West after a publication ban in 1986. The two were not reunited until 30 years after.
The longsleeve represents a reunion of father and son, creating a bridge between history and contemporary dilemmas. It features a new work by Ludwig who, as photographer, has documented much of the iron curtain history. The design reflects the contemporary design of David, and Berlin-based Souvenir Official. The photograph on the front shows a disrupted Berlin Wall, while the claim: "Bridges Over Walls" is printed on the back.
The project is contextualised within a series of opinion-wear, in line with the widespread EUnify project, working as a medium of protest and call to action. It comes with a mission of promoting peace and encouraging collaboration. The goal is to activate especially the youth on the issue - after all, the future do belong to the youth. Apparel is a tool for political activation. Seen in the public every day, it works as a chosen protest banner. Supporting movements, building bridges as well as tearing down physical and mental walls.
A bit melancholic the wall segments stand on a snowy terrain in Teltow near Berlin like aliens from a distant past. Thirty years ago, a builder merchant had secured the parts of the Berlin Wall from the wreckage of the collapsed East-German army NVA, and first used them as bulk good boxes. At the beginning of the 2000s the photographer Ludwig Rauch created the picture Snow of Yesterday,- part of his well-known series Another Life. Now that title becomes reality: Rauchs artwork is on a T-Shirt designed by David Mallon, who has made numerous editions with artists like Isa Genzken, Katharina Grosse or Daniel Richter. The fact that the pieces of the wall are still full of meaning, even though the fall of the Berlin wall is history, and also that there is a very personal father-son story behind the cooperation, the two told us in an interview.
Ludwig, your pictures usually hang in galleries and museums.
And now there is one on a t-shirt?
Of course this has to do with David, who is my son. It was David‘s idea to use „Snow of Yesterday“ for the „Bridges over Walls“ collection on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall. Because walls and borders are not water under the bridge, but still quite up to date.
David, when the GDR still existed, you were a little boy.
What are the things you remember?
I do not have many concrete memories, that‘s clear. Most of what it meant to be living in a country surrounded by walls without freedom of expression, I only found out in retrospect. My dad was a young photographer, but it was forbidden to publish his pictures. Too much reality. He left the country in the beginning of 89. My parents had split up when I was two, but if it had stayed that way, I probably would never have seen him again. In that sense, of course, the walls and the borders and their overcoming are also part of my family history.
Ludwig, can you still remember
how the 9th of November thirty years ago ran for you?
The whole day it was already clear that something would be happening. I had gone to the West in January, which was a painful process and a hard decision, leaving everything behind. When Schabowski that day read his note on travel arrangements, I realized: change is going to be starting, now. I took all the films I had out of the fridge, but there were not that many. There was a vending machine on Potsdamer Straße, where you could pull films, and then I spent all night between Checkpoint Charlie and Brandenburger Tor.
David, you have two sons, nine and six years old.
Can they still do something with the word DDR?
A little bit. They know that this land existed and that their family lived there. That it had both good and bad parts. Everything else they will find out for themselves when they are older. I hope that the freedom of thoughts, lifes and movement we enjoy today will be preserved for my sons. What I can do for that with my means I will do.
Your label is called „Souvenir“, the French word for: remember.
David: The word has many levels, quite profane, as every souvenir shop shows, but also more profound ones. And you can remember it well. My wife Karin Önder, with whom I founded the label, and I chose it very intuitively. Karin is of Aramaic origin, her parents were guest workers in Germany. Also in her family memories, stories of crossing borders and going over limits play a role.
Your Brexit hoodie „EUnify“ is simple and punchy:
European blue with the yellow stars, and one star is missing.
David: The missing star is on the back. Everyone understands the message. Many people wear it to express that they want to hold on to Europe, to freedom of movement, to peace, to seeking balance, even if not everything is perfect. Many people who wear the hoodie have told me that they are being addressed, that it promotes debates. That is what we want.
Is this still fashion or is it politics? Or something in-between?
Isn't it that fashion at its best is always political? Fashion is never just „dressing“. Fashion is current, is Zeitgeist, influenced by the thinking and feeling of a certain epoch, current trends, needs, visions. Streetwear picks up what‘s happening on the street and reflects it. We might just push it a bit further.
Ludwig, your pictures often look like paintings. Is this still photography or what is it?
It is the creation of pictures with the means of photography. It is still photography, as everything in my pictures is a photograph of something that exists. But then, in contrast to classical photography, the work only begins. I have been working for over thirty years as a documentary photographer. I was traveling for national and international magazines to many countries around the world. What moves me, what touches me, I remember with my camera. This can be a historic event like the fall of the wall or a bizarre structure in the sand of the Sahara. These pictures, structures, pieces, which are my personal visual universe I use for my work like a painter uses his color box.
Will there be another collaboration between father and son?
David: I hope so. We are in constant conversation anyway, we know what the other works on, what he thinks about, what moves him.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUDWIG RAUCH
DESIGN BY DAVID MALLON
Exactitudes 168. EUNIFY - Interview with Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek
BRIDGES OVER WALLS - Celebrating the 30th anniversary fall of the way(1961/1989 Berlin) - because the world is too small for walls!
NO SHAME IS FREEDOM - Let‘s break the vicious circle, let’s take control, let‘s not be ashamed, but be free.
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NEW ALT - A collaboration with Danish art fair ALT_CPH and a search for alternatives instead of following traditions!
SOUVENIR OFFICIAL x SELAM X - For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness, now that‘s a fact!