One of the more recognisable sights in Berlin stands in the middle of the Spree river, which divides the city in two. The Molecule Men is an art piece by American artist Jonathan Borofsky which was installed in 1999. This is one of many pieces by Borofsky around the globe, but all with a similar meaning behind them; of unity.
Berlin’s Molecule Men is placed on the site where three districts of Berlin meet, but also where the city was divided into two during the Cold War. A contrast of uses, with the Spree river being an area that was heavily militarised during the height of the East-West conflict. Many sea mines were placed in the river along with constant military surveillance among many other offensive strategies to keep citizens of the east in the east. This completely contradicts the current use of bringing people together through an interesting sight floating on the water.
Reflected not just through the location but also in its appearance, the 30m tall structure represents the coming together of molecules of all humans. A message that is now highly engrained in Berlin is shown here; acceptance. One of the most important factors in Berlin is the culture that everyone is welcome. That you can choose to live how you want to. That Berlin is a truly culturally progressive city.
Saying that Berlin is a progressive city may not come without criticism through the recent developments around right wing politics taking a hold across Western Europe. I have seen how a progressive culture mixes with a restrictive culture multiple times in Berlin, one in particular showing a thoughtful but practical method.
A right wing protest began outside the Humboldt university, and instead of creating a counter protest, opponents to the right-wingers encircled them. The media could not see through to the original protesters and instead broadcasted around an ‘acceptance’ march. Without using violence, the anti-right wing protest took over through a sheer amount of numbers. This level of acceptance but also an appreciation of other people’s wellbeing made a democratic cover.
The Molecule Men sculpture has massively contrasted a destructive and restrictive history which centred around Berlin’s capital, and has now brought an era of acceptance and progression for the lives of those who were oppressively forced to stay in Berlin.