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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Molecule Man in the series “Berliner Truffle”: The Ringer in the Spree

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This man is actually a triumvirate. 30 meters high, 45 tons. So light-footed on the water. Thanks to its enormous dimensions, the sight of it has a metropolitan effect. But the emotions it triggers also fit the Berlin image: do they hug? Are they at each other’s throats? Is it love or repulsion or both?

Even on gray days, it doesn’t lose its silvery shine. Its perforated twill resists the worst moods of the weather. Without him, the Spree between the Oberbaum and Elsen bridges would be a pale body of water. If you are stuck in a traffic jam on the makeshift Elsenbrücke – and that happens often enough, the new bridge will not be ready for another five years – the narrow giant there in the water keeps its nerve.

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Berlin is not rich in striking sculptures in public space. He’s an exception. The “Molecule Man” was created by the now 80-year-old American artist Jonathan Borofsky and set up in 1999 in front of the Allianz AG Treptowers. The insurance company financed the work.

What shouldn’t it symbolize! This is where Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Treptow meet, east and west, water and sky. And Jonathan Borofsky wants to remind us that “it is the goal of all creative and spiritual traditions to find wholeness and unity within the world.”

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For the Documenta he designed the “Man walking to the sky” at the Kulturbahnhof Kassel. In Frankfurt am Main is the “Hammering Man” who greets his brothers in Seoul, Seattle and other cities in the USA. For Beijing he created the brightly colored “People Tower”. Borofsky’s towering metal statues have something fragile and vulnerable at the same time. Let’s call it a wonderful combination of material, dimension, locality and poetry.

Years ago, I was given a seaplane trip as a gift. We started at the port of Treptow heading north. At that time, the “Molecule Man” was still a newcomer to Berlin. The Cessna quickly gained altitude over the bridges, the giant was just a tide in the river.

I sometimes think: When will he start walking across the water? Or do the molecules dissolve and form a new shape? Until then, it remains a friendly resting place in this dreary city that is so forbidding in winter. You can rely on him.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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