Pictures and symbols make the most impact in public discourse. But rarely, new and strong symbols are created. Symbols that will henceforth stand for an unmistakable attitude, a clear message. In December 2014 the Semperoper established such a symbol. In fact, to put it simply, with a quick reach to the light switch.
For weeks, the Pegida movement had been occupying the Theaterplatz with their gatherings every Monday. The opera house no longer wanted to passively offer its stunning scenery for demonstrations propagating xenophobic and exclusionary paroles. Subsequently, the buildings’ lighting was turned off. Everything that lent the Theaterplatz its distinctive appearance was gone – certainly an action with profound impact.
Prior to that, acting director Wolfgang Rothe had been in touch with the Gläserne Manufaktur a glass-walled automotive factory of Volkswagen and numerous other institutions of the city and the world. Following the Semperoper’s example the Gläserne Manufaktur turned the lights off for the first time this very evening – a sign against Pegida.
Shortly after the same happened in Cologne. When Pegida – albeit quite decimated – marched up it was “Lights out for racists”: the lighting of Cologne Cathedral and other public buildings was turned off.