211th Session of German Parliament, Bonn, 25th February 1994
Wrapping of the Reichstag
Speech by Konrad Weiss
Mrs. Speaker! Ladies and gentlemen! Several commentators in the last few days have posed the question if the German Parliament had nothing more sensible to do than to consider Christo's wrapping of the Reichstag. Naturally, we have other things to do and, in point of fact, we do them.
But is it not one of the causes of general bleakness, superficiality and meaninglessness that human beings still only seldom learn to come to terms with art and to find themselves through their own creativity. Art is more than commerce and entertainment. It frees and widens views. It orients and helps us find the reason for our own life.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is no disgrace and no lost time if for once the parliamentarians in this dignified house argue over a work of art and think about it.
(Applause from the ALLIANCE 90/GREENS, the CDU/CSU, SPD and F.D.P. Mps)
Through this process, we ourselves will become part of the work of art that Christo has created for many years with admirable obstinacy and creative genius. An artist is only seldom successful in setting of such a broad discourse. Professionalism and the art of convincing of a Christo are needed anyhow. This social component of the work cannot be estimated enough. How boring is everything compared to this that does not raise contradiction or question. There is truly enough flat monotony.
The wrapping of the Reichstag my colleagues, enables us to see in another light and newly, perceptually experience this central and ambivalent place in German history. The wrapping is no debasement. It is an expression of reverence and creates room for contemplation of the essential. In the Catholic liturgy of Holy Week, the cross is wrapped so that it can be unwrapped in celebration at the high point of Good Friday. In the Jewish faith, the Torah rolls are wrapped in order to remind us of the preciousness of what they contain. The Reichstag will not be desecrated by Christo's wrapping, it will be ennobled - as strange as this may sound for a house of democracy.
It is being emphasised here as a special location, entirely unusual and incomparable. Our memory will be enlivened to that which has occurred within and with this building, the creation, the downfall and the rebirth of democracy through the wrapping. Our analysis of the history can be nothing else but that: we make a picture of that which presents itself under the maturing of time on past reality. The wrapping of the Reichstag will remind us of the limits of our perceptions and how uncertain our knowledge is. That is the vision: the stone of the Reichstag will be concealed from our views for a time. What remains is the form under soft, draping material, the transformed, alienated contours. Christo's drawings can only hint at what we will really see. But it will be new and it will be transient. It will be a cut into the history of this building and , otherwise than with the fire of over a half- century ago , it will be a peaceful, a productive turning point. The soft material which drapes the Reichstag will remind us of the flames that lashed from these walls and how vulnerable and endangered democracy is.
The unwrapping in the end is the symbol of the rebirth of democracy, of the awakening of our country that was supposed to have become a new country with reunification.
I wish for us, ladies and gentlemen, that we find the courage to face the creative provocation of this symbolic wrapping, that we show courage to the ironic distance with ourselves as part of this work of art and at the same time to the responsible integration of our history with all of its highs and lows, with all its good and evil for which this Reichstag stands.
The parliamentary representatives of the group ALLIANCE 90/GREENS want to stand up to this challenge and endorse Christo's project.
© Konrad Weiss 1994-2017
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