Statue of Liberty

Permanent installation: Statue of Liberty
at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart,
Berlin, 2019

Permanent installation: Statue of Liberty
at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für
Gegenwart, Berlin, 2019

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, on June 21, 2019, a single segment of the wall found its way back into the public sphere of the German capital. Yet this time not as a threat to the people nor as a manifestation of political power, but as a striking piece of art. Set in the courtyard of the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, this sculptural installation by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset is titled Statue of Liberty (2018); it has been donated by the collector Heiner Wemhöner to the Nationalgalerie and Stiftung des Vereins der Freunde der Nationalgalerie.

Permanent installation: Statue of Liberty at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, 2019 © Image Mathias Voeltz

The work is an everyday ATM inserted into what used to be, quite literally, the Iron Curtain, separating not only East and West Berlin from 1961–89 but two ideological systems: the capitalist West with its promise of individual freedom and the communist East which was perceived as oppressive.

© Images Elmar Vestner 

After the Wall came down and during the post-reunification period, Berlin was regarded as a city full of free space. This sense of freedom, however, is rapidly disappearing due to processes of gentrification and the free flow of capital. There is ever more commercialization and marketing aimed toward tourists, as evidenced by the many new cash machines located on the storefronts of independent traders in party districts. Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculpture serves a threefold purpose: it is a memorial to the separation of Germany pre-1989, a monument recalling the lost time of infinite possibility post-Wall, and a warning against selling off history and the city.

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in research for material in Berlin, 2018 © Images Elmgreen & Dragset

Manhattan’s Statue of Liberty once welcomed migrants arriving to the New World, it has since become one of the most popular tourist attractions. Like its namesake, Elmgreen & Dragset’s Statue of Liberty is a permanent welcome to the visitors of the Hamburger Bahnhof.

Read more about this public project here. 



Elmgreen & Dragset (Michael Elmgreen, born 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark and Ingar Dragset, born 1969 in Trondheim, Norway, live and work in Berlin) pursue questions of identity and belonging from a socio-cultural perspective in their artistic practice. Since 1995, they have been working together at the interface of art, design, and architecture with a focus on sculpture and installation. They are interested in the discourse that can arise when objects are re-contextualized and when the normal modes for presenting the art are altered. Their works often challenge the institutional context in which they are exhibited – both in a spatial ma...
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