Trabi – Test the Best

Trabi - Test the Best

The end of the Cold War. - <em>by SL Wong</em>
The end of the Cold War.

We didn’t really get into Ostalgie, nostalgia for the former East Germany that is largely manifested today as tourist-targeted consumer ware. But we ended up collecting souvenirs anyway.

This toy Trabant (iconic East German car) was a gift for my auto-expert brother-in-law, and it was so cute, we decided to get one for ourselves. The piece of the Berlin Wall it rested on was ‘given’ to me while I was photographing the East Side Gallery‘s rennovation (story coming soon).

I positioned the two items thus as a tribute to ‘Trabi – Test the Best’, Birgit Kinder’s famous 1989 East Side Gallery painting of a Trabant bursting through the Berlin Wall.

That artwork has since evolved, as is visually documented by Kinder on her website. The evolution involved battling graffiti, threats of the Gallery’s demolition and copyright theft.

It made me wonder if that was partially why she renamed the work ‘Test the Rest’ when she restored it on the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. (Her website hints at frustration at the lack of care taken to conserve the work.)

But she was probably referring to the larger theme of needing to break through walls elsewhere.

Come to think of it, I’m not quite sure what the artwork’s original title means. That the best of the East was what broke through the Wall? Whatever the case, the image has certainly withstood the test of time as – if not the best – an enduring symbol of the end of the Cold War. ω

Experienced: 19.12.2009 || Recounted: 21.01.2015

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