A “Brave Wall” in the heart of Berlin-Kreuzberg that encourages people to stand up for human and women’s rights and is the first of its kind in Germany: Katerina Voronina’s inspiration for the design of the façade on Gitschiner Straße was the story of the Brazilian city councillor and human rights campaigner Marielle Franco, who was murdered in Rio de Janeiro on 14 March 2018. As a bisexual black woman, Marielle Franco stood up for human rights and minorities, especially for the rights of the black population and the inhabitants of the favelas where she lived herself.
When we meet Katerina Voronina, who has lived in Berlin for two years, in front of the “Brave Wall”, she tells us what inspired this theme. Long conversations with her Brazilian roommate about the fight against corruption in Brazil and in Russia were part of this. This is another reason why Katerina Voronina’s façade theme reflects Marielle Franco’s courage and unshakable stance.
What does it mean to be brave?
Katerina Voronina believes that not all courage is the same: “Those who have nothing to fear have a human duty to help those who need it. This is normal, there is nothing to discuss. But if you risk your life doing it, then it is really very courageous.” She would like it if people did not have to discuss human and women’s rights in the 21st century any more. She is all the more grateful that she can live a free life. The possibilities of different journeys through life are symbolised on the “Brave Wall”: the scientist, the student, a leader or a musician. Through her work, Katerina Voronina wants to show that the freedom to choose our own path in life is independent of age, who we love or what religion we belong to.
The first “Brave Wall” in Germany consistently ties in with the topic of “the defenders of women’s rights and human rights” as one of central themes of Amnesty International’s “Women Human Rights Defenders” (WHRD) and the “Stand Up For The Brave” campaign. Women Human Rights Defenders includes women who stand up for people of all genders, for human rights relating to women and for gender equality. The “Brave Wall” aims to enhance the visibility and recognition of human rights defenders and their work in the public arena.
Fear of heights and keep going!
Creating the “Brave Wall” was both a mental and physical challenge for Katerina Voronina. On the one hand because of the important message she wanted to convey and on the other because of her fear of heights. This made working on the “Brave Wall” a real triumph for Katerina Voronina. She was supported by her colleague, American artist Emily Eldridge, who assisted her, even though she herself is also a little afraid of heights. “Every day, Emily told me not to look down, just keep going,” laughs Katerina Voronina. That’s probably how it is with courage: just keep going. Encouragement and coffee from residents’ balconies also helped against the fear of heights.
But giving interviews is also a new experience for Katerina Voronina; she usually expresses herself with illustrations. She would like to contemplate some questions a little longer – so she takes her time: “Short, quick answers are not always the right ones when it comes to the important issues of human and women’s rights,” she believes.
Thank you for the interview, Karerina Voronina!
Photos © Nika Kramer, Amnesty International