photos: Alexander Steffen
Should you ever talk to people who have lived in Berlin for decades, there is no chance that they won’t underscore how much the city has changed through time. Unfortunately, they are not pleased with what Berlin has turned into and while each of them might have a different account of what exactly the core of the problem is and who is to blame, they would all agree that gentrification has exacerbate the situation. Without intending to initiate another debate on how to tackle this alarming phenomenon, I would like to raise awareness for a beautiful photo project by Alexander Steffen. Having grown up in West Berlin, he started the project Vanishing Berlin in 2009 by taking pictures of transient landmarks all over the city. Wastelands, storefronts and brick walls are central elements of his work. While some of the photographs seem to have been captured decades ago, they were all taken in the last seven years. Alexander’s focus doesn’t lie on the past, but on the process of change instead. His next goal through the crowdfunding campaign of Vanishing Berlin is to publish this wonderful series as a photo book.
photos: Thai Hoang
Over the weekend I stumbled across an awesome photo series by Thai Hoang that I want to share with you today. Some of you might also know the young photographer from his Instagram account loewe7 that was also part of our #berlin exhibition last year. As part of the monthly Instameet #CamerasAndDancers organized by Jacob Jonas The Company Thai had the opportunity to follow a group of five dancers through Berlin and capture them in stunning formations in various iconic Berlin backgrounds. I love the idea of this Instameet, I love the guys from the group and I love the results of this photo shoot!
photos: Stas / CC
Being superficial isn’t normally something to be proud of. Walking the streets of Berlin, it can make sense though, since the architectural surfaces of the urban space can be fascinating. Even the most banal things can be inspiring and beautiful, if seen from the right perspective. Someone, who has an eye for beautiful details is photographer Stas. Under this nickname, he shares his pictures of Berlin. We are especially fond of his series of doors of Berlin, because you never know, what awaits you behind them. Those ugly and pretty doors also tell a lot about the history of the city, about long gone trends in architecture, design and art. Have a look!
Sad news for urban explorers of Berlin. One of the most beloved abandoned places of the city has vanished. In the night of July 22nd 2016 the former public swimming pool and water park Blub in Neukölln burned down. The place was a popular spot for explorers, photographers and Instagrammers alike for years now, especially since it was one of the more easier ones to get into. Many abandoned places are heavily sealed off, or guarded by righteous neighbors or even security. But here you could basically just stroll in through an open fence.
I went there last year with a friend who is a born and raised Berliner and he still remembers going there to have some fun in the water as a kid. He was shocked to see the place abandoned, so vandalized and full of graffiti. Of course places that are so easily accessible also attract all kinds of shady people that want to let out some steam. There had been several fires over the past year, but the last one took down the main wooden constructions and tower which makes the place completely inaccessible and unsafe. It’s probably going to be torn down entirely soon now and new buildings are already planned to be constructed in its place. Such a shame, not just that this fun water park had to shut down business many years ago, but also that this amazing ruin is also vanishing now. Of course with the development of Berlin there is a lack of space, so all of our beloved abandoned places are endangered to but torn down for new constructions. Let’s hope we can keep a few of them as our urban playgrounds.
photos: Chris Phillips for Pornceptual
Pornceptual – “That’s a party? With that kinda name? In Berlin? – Oh Gosh!” – I know plenty of people who would already pass just knowing these banal facts; driven by an opinion, formed by nothing more but hearsay. Fetish, leather, sex, queers, techno, darkness; the associations are clear. I, on the other hand, seem to be constantly driven by an insatiable fascination for everything that’s outrageous. So, I went, more spontaneous, than elaborately planned. Well, I got everything mentioned above – yet still, my first Pornceptual was far from what I expected. One night in between naked skin, electronic beats and sexual liberation made me philosophize about what’s queer, what’s compliant and that weird thing called “normal”.
“And what piece of clothing are you gonna take off today?”, the skinny bouncer asked, a crooked smile on his face. His outfit consisted of an old Soviet uniform – without anything down below, of course, just tight leather hot pants. I looked around; the line behind me appeared like a collection of bizarre characters. I already felt very entertained by this; Berlin, just like you’d imagine it. Admittedly, at first I had to realize that I was not truly a newbie to this world. I am queer, I have been to many queer parties – but a party that is this kinky and sex oriented was still on the to-do-list. The facial expression of one of my friends reminded me of how deeply this Berlin party scene has already influenced me. While I was showing a broad smile, her face said something like: “What the fuck am I getting myself into?”
It does not take a lot of imagination to think of Berlin as a giant playground. In times of Pokemon Go and other augmented reality games, the street-running movement and immersive theater experiences, everything – and everybody – seems ready to play.
But I don’t think that the origin of Berlin playfulness is based on technology, fitness or even cultural trends. I remember vividly how years ago I met on a subway ride a young dude that outed himself as a philosophy professor. (The combination of young dude and philosophy professor was a surprise at that time. Nowadays I am not as easily surprised ) He told me that he is part of a creative project called invisible playground. In this project, he told me they tried to research and examine how a daily portion of playfulness can affect your overall happiness.
But invisible playground is not the only creative project celebrating the idea of a playful city. The Berlin-based artist duo 44Flavours have already left their footmark in the local creative scene. Experimenting with all kind of art forms, from murals to posters, and painting to sculpture, the two friends Sebastian Bagge and Julio Rölle, have worked together since they were students. Their success formula is a vibrant combination of teamwork and creative chaos. For the #LiveThere exhibition by Airbnb they created an interactive playground where you can tell your personal Berlin story. There you can listen to murmuring teapots, talk to enchanted mirrors and have fun with all kinds of everyday objects transformed into a creative installation. The idea behind this project is to share different stories about Berlin and to emphasize how with a spark of creative inventiveness and playfulness every trip to Berlin can become a one of a kind experience.
Inspired by that idea, I thought of how we could be more active in experiencing our city as a playful place. I started thinking about the rules and I realized that the games you decide to play on your personal urban playground don’t have to follow any rules or even the norms of standard morality. Between lust and pain is the instinct to play. Therefore I dove deeply into my own imagination and created a set of Berlin-specific mind games. Follow my colorful, funny but sometimes also sensual and dark inspirations to transform your everyday life in Berlin into a crazy game-like experience.
I’m standing in front of the tallest, most powerful water fountain I have ever seen. Water shoots into the sky like some sort of glorious tower of refreshment. I’m in Geneva, Switzerland – Germany’s neighbor to the south – at the southwestern tip of Lake Geneva. This is practically France, but more expensive. Some Italian friends drive up from nearby Milan and Turin, pick me up and we drive along the northern side of this lake through Lausanne to a lovely little town on the lake’s eastern end. A historic week of music happens here every year: the Montreux Jazz Festival. Invited by Jeep, I had the chance to get out of Berlin for a bit and explore this beautiful hotspot for music. Follow the jump for more about this unique escape from Berlin.
photo: Sascha Kohlmann / CC
Berlin is full of kisses these days. A kiss on the cheek to the friends you are meeting. A kiss on the head to your kid when you bring it to school. A kiss on the lips of your partner that just made you so happy on this sunny day. Many kisses over the hot body of your new lover that you just met at the clubs on the weekend. There are so many reasons to kiss, so many people to be kissed and so much happy hormones flowing through our bodies while doing so.
To spread a bit of happiness today I collected a couple of “kiss moments” that street photographer Sascha Kohlmann captured here in Berlin. Enjoy and try to give a kiss to someone today
photos: Katja Hentschel
There was a time when street style was totally a thing. Every major city had a street style blog (or many) and of course also Berlin. But the trend had faded over the years a bit and many blogs stopped posting or changed their editorial concepts. Thanks to Instagram and success projects such as Humans of New York (and other cities that followed) street portraits totally had a comeback!
Glamcanyon used to be one of the major street style blogs (and to me personally the most beautiful one) in the early days of fashion blogs in Germany, but the flow of new styles dried up a bit a few years ago. Back then the blogger behind it, photographer Katja Hentschel, shifted her focus to other projects such as her follow-up blogs Travelettes and Glowbus. But a few months ago her passion for street portraits came back to life and she decided to revitalize Glamcanyon. Now you can again regularly find her beautiful photos of beautiful people from Berlin and other cities that she comes to. But with the new photos you can see how the eye of the photographer has developed over the years. Now it’s not anymore purely about the looks, it’s also about the personality of the portrayed person and the moment they had with the photographer. Absolutely charming! We selected some of our favorites from Berlin for you today.
photo: Andi Weiland:
It was one of the quietest Saturday nights of my past 12 years in Berlin. Without any particular expectations a friend and I drove with the bikes from Kreuzberg to Brandenburger Tor while the sun light slowly started to decrease as the evening went on. As soon as we were there I felt my heart change in speed. The whole place was packed with men, women and kids. Some faces seemed familiar from late nights, parties and bars spend in the queer scene. Others I recognized from my everyday life in offices, cafes, bakeries or pharmacies. Does it matter who the people are who mourn for the victims in Orlando? Does is matter if they are young, old, gay, straight, black, white, trans or cis? For me it didn’t. I saw a place filled with heartfelt sorrow. With tears and cries and shattered minds, not able to understand and not able to forget the latest attack.
Nightclubs are a special place in the LGBTI world. On the first look they just seem to be a place for easy flirts, pumped bodies and shallow excitement. An arena of hedonism and a vanity fair. Where broken hearts and sucked dicks exchange numbers just to never actually call each other. But beyond the surface you might find out that nightclubs are a unique place for self exploration. Where first kisses are exchanged and drag stars are born. They offer safety and comfort under the shine of the disco lights to the ones who get discriminated and mistreated in their daily life just for not fitting in.
The shooting in Orlando hit the LGBT communities all around the world by attacking this safe haven. As Berliners we know the power and magic of nightclubs and could feel the horror on our skins, while reading the news about the deaths of the Orlando victims who just wanted to spend a night out with their friends or lovers.
On Saturday night the Brandenburger Tor for the first time in history was illuminated in the colors of the rainbow. But what matters where the radiant hearts of the Berliners that came. Under the collective mourn I felt a community that was not necessarily connected by the same experiences of discrimination or shared sex preferences. Berlin showed the world that its inhabitants are out and proud. Not afraid of hate and not afraid to love.
As the gathering slowly dissolved I felt so happy to be part of this community and at the same time so sad that it took such horrible event to bring us all together. Our impressions of the memorial after the jump.