In November 2019 the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall will be celebrated. During the festivities the same pictures will inevitably be bandied about depicting the enthusiastic, cheerful masses standing atop ‘that building’ which, from the eastern side, was unapproachable and impenetrable until that momentous day as the wall fell. These pictures, already emitted countless times, will doubtless and rightly stir positive emotion and moments of affection just as they have previously. But perhaps doubt or bitterness will seep in, tainting the jubilation: even after three decades of an undivided country, not everyone can self-define themselves a winner of the reunification. Not everyone was able to lay claim to the dream the new found freedom promised, of the potential which opened up before them. And today, against the stark backdrop of a global shift towards division and segregation, some people will feel reluctant to celebrate with the world itself confronted with newly erected walls and more plans for erecting yet more walls. For, while the Berlin Wall kept people from emigrating, nowadays people are being prevented from immigrating as lands are being "protected" from immigrants. Empathy appears to be a fragile state of mind by those who feel threatened in their existence or merely in their privileges, even as this perceived threat has little to do with our daily routines and is instead based on a diffuse, irrational atmosphere. Is our memory so unsteady that we’ve allowed ourselves to forget what it feels like to have no freedom in choosing where to live? The desire for demarcation or those walls inside our minds persist. Where did the initial euphoria escape to after three decades?

For choreographer Arshak Ghalumyan the combination of current global trend towards demarcation with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall compelled him to a closer look at the historical circumstances of Germany’s division using dance to express these reflections. Ghalumyan in particular focus’s on the effects of the closure of East Germany and especially of Berlin for the inhabitants of both sides: How was the life on each side of the wall? In what ways did people accept or reject this 3.60-meter high concrete monster, euphemistically referred to as the "anti-fascist wall of protection" by SED official Horst Sindermann, who himself was responsible for political propaganda. How does a life change once the individual lost its freedom? How does the perception and use of the body change when it can no longer move freely?

 

As Though Nothing Could Fall is intended to be a search for traces and attempts to shed light on the history and different stories of division, without judgment, using a kaleidoscope of individual experiences, social and political events. By looking at authentic reports, a more multifaceted impression should emerge compared with the monothematic one created by the media’s images which over the years, have been atrophied to clichés. The performance aims to push aside those shots of jubilant masses, who are being served up for public consumption on ‘repeat’, in endless loops. Ghalumyan wants to revive peoples own memories – return them to consciousness. A search for traces which attempts to rummage through the events artefacts which until now received little or only superficial public attention -- the everyday occurrences, the hidden, the secretive and the totally oblivious to the period of division.

 

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