50 years Axel Springer Building Berlin – Unveiling of the “Balancing Act” sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol




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25.05.09

50 years Axel Springer Building Berlin – Unveiling of the “Balancing Act” sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol

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Ceremonial address by former German President Richard von Weizsäcker /Symbol of freedom and self-determination

It was exactly 50 years ago that Axel Springer laid the foundation stone of his Berlin publishing house. 20 years ago the Berlin Wall fell. In order to celebrate these occasions today, Monday the 25th of May 2009, Friede Springer will unveil the “Balancing Act” sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol on the forecourt of the Axel Springer Building. The 5.70 m high work of art – a man balancing on a wall – is framed by eleven original pieces of the wall. In the heart of the capital of a united Germany, it symbolizes the power of freedom and self-determination.

The ceremonial address was held by former German President Richard von Weizsäcker. In his address, he paid tribute to Axel Springer’s commitment to unity and freedom: “Standing up for the overcoming of the division of Germany was a national policy objective, the preamble of the German Basic Law kept the idea in our thoughts, politicians referred to the subject in their speeches – some of these not only on Sundays. And yet Axel Springer was one of the very few who genuinely believed in reunification. How happy he would be, if he could witness the fact that today, we are not only here to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of his building, but also of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

The publisher Axel Springer erected his publishing house in 1959 directly beside the border of the Soviet occupied sector of Berlin, which later became the route of the Berlin Wall. For many people his building was a “lighthouse of the free West”. Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive Officer of Axel Springer AG: “Throughout his life he courageously and unwaveringly stood up for German unity, which 20 years ago started to become reality with the Fall of the Wall. The foundation of his publishing house directly besides the Berlin sector border 50 years ago has been a socio-political statement as well. We want to make the internal connection between the two anniversaries visible today with the inauguration of a sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol. The balancing man on the wall is on the one hand a sign of triumph over this architectural structure of division; climbing the Wall was deadly in the days of the shoot-to-kill order. At the same time the sculpture reminds us that dealing responsibly with freedom gained remains something invisible, varying – a balancing act.”

The contemporary sculptor Stephan Balkenhol created his work in 2009, 20 years after the Fall of the Wall, on the suggestion of the “Bild” newspaper. The 5.70 m high sculpture is made of painted bronze, concrete and original elements from the Berlin Wall. The sculpture of the man balancing on the Wall itself weighs approx. 740 kg.

Matthias Winzen, professor at the Saar College of Fine Arts, said: “The sculptor Stephan Balkenhol is one of the few major global artists from Germany, who are appreciated both by art experts and by the general public. His large balancing character represents the power of freedom. The man on the wall is alert, not agitated. He is about to make his next movement forwards. His expression communicates concentration, composure and openness for the next step, for the future. Behind him lie original pieces of the Berlin Wall, stone witnesses of the past which has been overcome. In Stephan Balkenhol’s creation, the act of balancing becomes an existential picture of the present. Those who are at one with themselves, composed and concentrated, can master today and widen their view to include tomorrow.”

The sculpture “Balancing Act” is freely accessible at all times in future on the forecourt of the Berlin publishing house, at Axel-Springer-Straße 65. Small 57 cm high replicas of the work of art can be purchased through the Gallery Löhrl (www.galerieloehrl.de).

Press contact: Andreas Winiarski
Tel: +49 30 2591 77621

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