Dani Karavan

Dani Karavan: Basic Law 49

Dani Karavan: "Basic Law 49" (German Bundestag/studio kohlmeier)

Basic Law 49 (Grundgesetz 49)

Born 1930 in Tel Aviv, died there 2021

The distinctive appearance of the Jakob Kaiser Building on the side facing the River Spree has been shaped by the crea­tive design concept of Israeli artist Dani Karavan. In one of the courtyards that borders on the riverside promenade he has linked the two areas by placing an apparent boundary between them, however this ‘boundary fence’ is made of metre-high panels of glass rather than railings or balus­trades. Beneath these glass panels, alter­nating radial strips of vegetation and metal lead almost to the river’s edge.

The sugges­tive formal arrangement of the work echoes its content: on each of the 19 glass panels one of the fundamental rights out­lined in the original version of the German Basic Law from 1949 has been inscribed. Located directly by the River Spree, which used to separate East and West Berlin, these 19 articles from the Basic Law recall the difficult years when the young German democracy was established in Bonn and the Parliamentary Council (Parlamentarischer Rat) subsequently met there.

As such Kara­van’s artwork in Berlin forges a historical and geographical link between the Spree and the Rhine. At the same time, the essence of the Constitution and the basic rights of all Germans is emphasised by the clear wording of the 1949 version, free from all riders and amendments.