“Übergang zur Untergrundbahn” (U-Bahn Transition), Susanne Ahner, 1999

Künstlerprojekt Übergang zur Untergrundbahn

The GDR leadership also brought Berlin’s entire public transportation system to a standstill in August 1961. A few S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations stayed closed until 1990, and the trains that ran through these stations did not stop. They connected the northern and southern neighborhoods of West Berlin, crossing under the heart of the old city – now in East Berlin – without stopping, except at the Friedrichstrasse station.

“Today signs in four different spots in the tunnels of the U6 and U8 underground railway lines remind travelers of the U-Bahn’s paradoxical situation in the divided city, when these western lines ran through the eastern part of the city without stopping.

Words now appear, like flashes of inspiration, next to the simple white line that marked the border inside the tunnel. They all begin with the preposition ‘über’ (over, above, about, via). They create mental images associated with the Wall (überall [everywhere], überwacht [under surveillance]), reunification (überholt [outdated, overtaken], überlebt [survived, outlived]), the opening of the checkpoints (überirdisch [celestial, aboveground], überflügelt [outstripped, surpassed]), and current developments (überlegen [superior, reflect], überschlagen [overturned, head over heels]). Sixty-six signs are mounted on the wall of the tunnel at train-window level.” (Excerpt from the artist’s explanation of her project.)

You can find Susanne Ahner’s markings not only in the tunnel of the U8 between the stations Moritzplatz and Heinrich-Heine-Strasse, but also wherever West Berlin’s U-Bahn trains crossed the border: on the U8 between the stations Bernauer Strasse (east) and Voltastrasse (west), as well as on the U6 between Kochstrasse (west) and Stadtmitte (east) in the south and between Schwartzkopffstrasse (east) and Reinickendorfer Strasse (west) in northern Berlin.

Susanne Ahner
  • 1960: Born in Bremen
  • 1979-1985: Studied sculpture at Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste (University of the Arts); master student
  • 1993-1999: Taught at Hochschule der Künste Berlin
  • 2000-2002: Guest lecturer in sculpture/three-dimensional design at Hochschule der Künste Berlin
  • From 1976: Many exhibitions, works for public spaces, site-specific works, works dealing with remembrance and memorials, participative projects and activities in public spaces; lives and works in Berlin

Kunst im Stadtraum (Art in urban spaces). 21 Kunstprojekte im Berliner Stadtraum, Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung, Kunst im Stadtraum, Berlin 2002