Credit Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters..
Three buses stand on their heads in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in an installation that recreates a makeshift barricade erected in Aleppo, Syria, in 2015 to protect civilians against snipers during the height of the country’s civil war. The installation, “Monument,” by the Syrian-German artist Manaf Halbouni, is based on a picture of the barrier taken by the photographer Karam Al-Masri that was widely shared on the internet at the time.
The site of major political events throughout German history, the gate has a special symbolic resonance for Germans. It was where the official ceremony to mark the reunification of Germany was held in 1990. Mr. Halbouni, who was born in Damascus in 1984, told Reuters that he chose to recreate that barricade in that location because “the Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of destruction and of the end of war.”
“It was also a symbol of division, but then came to represent unity,” he continued.
“Monument,” which was presented in Dresden earlier this year, was met with protests from far-right groups there. In February, demonstrators shouted down the city’s mayor, Dirk Hilbert, at a ceremony to unveil the work, which had been installed in front of the Frauenkirche, a large church was destroyed in the Allied bombing of the city in 1945 and rebuilt after German reunification.
According to a report by The Guardian, a news statement from the far-right party Alternative for Germany called Mr. Halbouni’s work an “abuse of artistic freedom” and attacked the artist as “a rootless wanderer.”
Mr. Halbouni told the newspaper, “I am rootless, in the sense that the war has taken my childhood away from me, by killing or scattering the friends of my youth all over the globe.”
“Monument” is a part of the Berliner Herbstsalon festival, which features work by about 100 artists around the German capital. The organizers call the festival a “rebellion against attributions, generalizations and simplifications.”
On his website, Mr. Halbouni wrote that “Monument” is intended to create a link between the wartime experiences of the Middle East and Europe.