Propaganda Parody

Artist Takes on Iconic East German Mosaic

Haus des Lehrers michael waeser tagesspiegel
How times have changed – through the lens of a mosaic.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Enormous mosaics portraying former East Germany’s ideals in central Berlin remain as political symbols of communist propaganda.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Built by the communist East German government in 1964, Berlin’s House of Teachers features a massive mosaic that wraps around the entire structure.
    • The iconic artwork by the late Walter Womacka, called “Our Life,” is a series of idealized scenes meant to portray East Germany as superior to the West.
    • Mr. Womacka, who said in 2004 that the work was infused with “naivety,” created a number of other protected artworks throughout Berlin.
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  • Audio

    Audio

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For over half a century, an enormous mosaic portraying former East Germany’s ideals has been a beloved landmark in central Berlin.

Overlooking the famous Alexander Platz, the colorful frieze on the “Haus des Lehrers,” or House of Teachers, shows flag-waving laborers, happy farmers and engineers with calculators overseeing the construction of nuclear power plants.

The dramatic, two-story tall communist fantasy that spans the high-rise building is called “Our Life.” It was created in the 1960s by late artist Walter Womacka, who became known in that era for his state-commissioned work. His work was meant to show the German Democratic Republic as superior to the West; the mosaic on the iconic cultural center for teachers was no exception.

Although history has shown otherwise, contemporary Berlin artist Michael Wäser wondered what such a mosaic would look like through a modern lens – without the influence of political propaganda.

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