Whenever a cool graffiti turns up over night inside the subway stations of the Berliner U-Bahn or even on their trains the artwork has a relatively short life because the BVG will probably remove it soon. Of course they see it as an act of vandalism on their property, even though they might recognize some of the graffitis as quite artistic, it’s still a disruption of their daily business that they need to remove. It’s a shame really, in some cases especially, because these pieces will catch the attention of so many passengers and will distract them from their daily routine of commuting, even make them think about the messages incorporated into the graffitis, just like art should: make people think about it. In the end it’s also just a nice change from all the bill boards.
For me 2016 was actually a great year, even though I almost don’t dare saying it out loud. A lot of sad and terrible things happened in 2016, yes, but there still was a lot of good stuff that I think needs some more attention: Small and big moments in Berlin that showed what a great city this is and what amazing people live here. We should focus more on these things, at least for a moment, and take these positive memories and feelings with us into the new year.
Here are the most happy moments and amazing happenings of 2016 in photos and videos.
In the last two years I have grown a bit tired of always carrying around my heavy SLR camera that I normally use to capture places and events in Berlin. I would still take pictures, but with my smartphone. I felt the quality was quite good and the convenience of it was too tempting. Also you just look less suspicious with a smartphone than with a real one.
But the fact is, I never really put it to the test how good the quality of mobile phone cameras really is compared to the big ones. A few weeks ago I joined a comprehensive workshop with famous photographer Paul Ripke who showed us some basic tricks on how to improve your photos and he also introduced one particularly interesting new development of smartphone photography which is the professional manual mode. We got to play around with the Huawei P9 and brand new Mate 9, both of which have quite remarkable cameras with a double lens by Leica. I took one of these two with me on a photowalk around Berlin and took direct comparison shots with a medium-sized SLR camera. The results will probably surprise you…
Once upon a time there was a stunningly beautiful bearded princess called Mary-Jane. Contrary to her magnificent looks she lived in a quite unglamorous place called Berlin. It was a small little town mostly inhabited by poor people and other kinds of basic bitches. But Mary-Jane loved it here anyway because it was a tranquil place without a lot of fuzz and she just loved the feeling to be the most beautiful girl in the village.
But she had one problem that gave her a lot of grief. Despite her impeccable looks and most charming wits she couldn’t for the love of god find a damn boyfriend. And it wasn’t for lack of options because Berlin was actually known to host the most attractive man-meat on the mainland. The problem was quite another: There were just too many! It was like grabbing into a bucket full of slippery fish. It’s simply impossible to hold on to one: Just a lubricated whip with the tail and they were gone.
Tucholsky, photo: Klaus Lange
The holidays are coming up and those of you who will spend them here in Berlin might wonder: What restaurants should I go to for Christmas, New Year’s Eve or other festive holidays? Because obviously your typical burger joint or sushi place does not really fit the atmosphere here. And of course: Since these are all official holidays which places are even open, or offer a special menu for those special days? We compiled a list of our favorite restaurants – newbies and classics – that will serve you delicious food in the perfect holiday spirit. (Make sure to make your reservations early though as they might be booked out soon and keep in mind that some places will have set menus and special prices during the holidays.)
photos: Andi Weiland / CC
Berlin is a city that has suffered through a lot of difficult times. Just think of all those people that starved to death in the years of World War I, the terror and loss during the Nazi regime, the devastating destruction by bombs and fire in World War II, the years of the devision, the heartbreak of separation and all those killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall. The scars of these times run deep and are still visible. When times are tough Berliners will surely complain, be grumpy, be stubborn. But they always keep on going. They stick together.
Especially the re-unification, even though it was a process that took much longer than just the fall of the Berlin Wall, created a sense of togetherness that you can feel now more than ever. No matter how different they are from each other, if it matters they stand together, strong and unapologetic.
What does it mean to become an urban observer? What makes you notice things from a distance that others won’t see even up close? With this questions in mind I was thrilled when we had the chance to join Instagrammer Liz Vega on a photo shoot on a Berlin rooftop.
Liz has a particular talent for urban exploring and observing the city from high perspectives. As if she would be able to touch the invisible texture of the atmosphere beneath our beloved city with her fingertips and slowly bring it up into the light with her photographs.
Unfortunately, one of us had to stay behind during this photo shoot because we wanted to be as few as possible on the roof to minimize the risk to get caught. But thanks to the magic of modern technology we found a way for our remaining team member to join us on the roof, virtually. We had the chance to use the new Panasonic Nubo camera as a special equipment to help us out in this particular production situation.
photos: Matthias Piket
Lately, I’ve been totally into workshops. I like the feeling of learning new crafts and perfecting already existing skills. So I was more than happy when Huawei invited me to a mobile photography workshop by Paul Ripke. If you haven’t heard of this man, you should definitely google his name. He rose to fame with his book One Night in Rio where he captured the German soccer team up-close and personal at the World Championship in Rio back in 2014. But he’s not a typical sport and event photographer. With his work he comes so close to the action and the main protagonists that it almost feels like being right there between the athletes celebrating their victory.
With someone so accomplished of course there is a lot to learn, so after he introduced himself to us I was really curious what secrets of his success and profession he would share with us during this workshop. Much to my surprise, in the end the most valuable insight that I got beside a lot of technical stuff, was something quite more personal and inconspicuous…
When you visit one of the many abandoned places of Berlin you will most likely find traces of previous visits, or even habitation there. Squatters, ravers, sprayers, vandals, urban explorers. They all left their marks on these forgotten buildings of Berlin and contribute to the decay of what these places once were. If you’re lucky you might even find some traces of creativity there.
When I first stepped into the abandoned railroad yard in Pankow last summer I was amazed by the spectacular light inside the circular building that came in through the panoramic windows in the ceiling. The place itself was completely empty and pretty much devastated by vandalism. But within all the debris and decay I found golden confetti and feathers on the floor like a little glimmer of hope and joy. It looked like someone had a good time there not too long ago. Maybe a small party, or an euphoric photo shoot. Either way it was another trace of life in an otherwise dead place.
When I stumbled about the contemporary dance video titled “Ephemeral Rooms” by Ruben Reniers and Nora Vladiguerov that was shot in this location earlier this year I was reminded of my visit. Just like whoever left the golden confetti the two choreographers and dancers breathed some life into this abandoned place with their beautiful performance.
A new, exceptionally nice speakeasy bar called ROOK opened a few weeks ago in a place where you, dear readers, would probably least expect it: in an old water tower in Cologne. Yes, you’ve read it right – it’s not about Berlin today, but about a thing that we in Berlin are especially crazy about: secret bars in hidden locations.
In a world of the Internet and smartphones, where all information is constantly accessible, the concept of speakeasy bars is more attractive than ever. It’s no wonder, since nothing tastes sweeter than a secret that you only share with a few people. We’ve known that this rule applies to the club and bar scene for ages.
That’s why it’s totally understandable that also the ROOK team decided in favor of such an idea. A few months ago, Luisa und Rike entered the Shape Your City competition organized by the international premium beer brand Heineken with their own bar concept. They managed to win over the Jury, composed of, among others, the restaurateurs Philipp Treudt and Tobias Mintert, as well as our Berlin blogger-colleagues from Dandy Diary. ROOK is the result of a cooperation with Heineken and celebrated its opening on the 18th November 2016. This coming Friday, the Dandy Diary members of the jury are going to throw a party in the location that they’ve helped to single out. More about that later in the text!