When the word “wall” comes up in any other city in the world it doesn’t really stand out. When it comes up here in Berlin it suddenly gets this super heavy meaning. Yes, the Berlin Wall will forever be a scar that the city is wearing across its heart, in some places more visible than in others. But Berlin has so many more walls than just THE wall. I’m talking about the so-called firewalls or “Brandwand” in German, the walls on the sides of the typical townhouses. Not that they are something specific only to Berlin, but due to the destruction of the city so many of them are visible because houses are missing in the row.
At first site these walls look raw and unintentional, but if you look closely you can see that they sometimes have a kind of footprint that was left by the house that used to be in front of it. It’s like a shadow of the past that won’t go away. Many fire walls look really run down, some have graffiti and tags, others more elaborate and commissioned murals. Some are just painted and clean, and others have received some windows (something that is actually illegal because it defeats the purpose of the fire security).
The German photographer Harf Zimmermann, one of the founders of the famous Ostkreuz photo agency, has dedicated a whole photo book to the most charismatic walls of the city. It’s a beautiful Berlin documentary piece about this lonely and often neglected part of the city. It was released by Steidl last month. After the jump we have a little preview for you.
How far would you go for the best shot? I’ve seen people crawl on the floor, bend over backwards and climb up lamp posts to take the most impressive photo possible. But there are some people who go much further: Stand on the edge of a skyscraper, climb onto a crane or sneak into the restricted areas of subway stations, constructions sites and abandoned ruins.
Young Berlin-based photographer Jeisson Martin is one of those crazy people that won’t be held back by a “Do Not Enter” sign to make an amazing photo. For him the extreme situation that he puts himself into at times have become part of the fun of taking photos. In a world where almost everyone who has a smartphone and the VSCO cam app can take cool pictures it has become more of a challenge to really stand out, and what better way to stand out than to stand in a position where most people don’t dare to go.
And Jeisson’s work definitely stands out as he manages to show Berlin from angles that you haven’t seen before because they are mostly taken from restricted areas and dizzying heights. We would like to show you some of his amazing shots that he made in the underground of Berlin, abandoned places and from the rooftops of Berlin. Enjoy his photos and if you want to see more you should follow him here.
photos: Gerrit Engel, courtesy of Sexauer Gallery
The latest exhibition opening by photographer Gerrit Engel at Sexauer Gallery had me thinking of my early days in Berlin back in the beginning of the 2000s. I call myself lucky that I have been in Berlin long enough to have had the possibility to enter the former Palace of the Republic, the once glamorous Chamber of the People and cultural meeting point of former East Germany. In my early days of Berlin the place stood there grey and silently at the riverside of the Spree like a big headstone to the grave of the GDR. The space was mostly abandoned and shut down for public access. The shiny copper plates of the facade that made the building look quite impressive back in the day were long removed and a concrete block remained obstructing the view to any of the beautiful historic buildings around it, no matter from which angle you looked.
But all of a sudden the place was opened again for temporary use. I don’t remember exactly if this happened at the same time, but there was also the announcement that the building would get taken down soon, so maybe this was the reason for the city to sublet it for cultural events so they could collect some money for the expensive demolition. I remember being in there for a couple of big parties and one really magnificent big exhibitions called Fraktale IV: Tod in 2005. It was awesome to see the space from the inside used by artists for huge elaborate exhibits, but without all the glamorous lamps that I knew from photos and that gave the place the nickname “Erich’s lamp shop” it kind of just looked like any other abandoned industrial building that Berlin has so many of. Well, none of them have had such a magnificent location and such a controversial history…
In terms of exhibitions Berlin seems to be on fire right now. Recently I have been to so many exhibitions in a row that my head is still spinning from all the impressions and inspiration I got from it. I love that Berlin never seizes to amaze me with the art that is being shown here. And yes, maybe sometimes there are a lot of bad exhibitions here, but let’s focus on the good and at the moment there is quite a lot of good in town. To give you something to do for the next couple of weeks I compiled a list of 7 big exhibition that I think you shouldn’t miss. Enjoy the art after the jump.
Berlin-based photographer Yuto Yamada has two favorite objects for his camera: Berlin and the city where he comes from: Tokyo. For his ongoing series Berlin Raw he is taking us on a journey to the dirty and abandoned side of Berlin with all its graffitis, decay and destruction. It’s a total contrast to his otherwise very futuristic and shiny photos of Tokyo’s illuminated skyscrapers. It’s exactly this contrast that is the appeal for Yamada. Get an impression of some his Berlin rawness after the jump.
Berlin-based photo artist Jan Herdlicka who we previously featured with his mysterious and dark photo series and who was also one of the artists of our WE ARE BERLIN photo exhibition just came out with a stunning new project! We already discovered his new series RE: KUNSTRUKT yesterday on Finding Berlin and now we are happy to be able to present it to you here as well.
His five beautiful collages show iconic architectural elements of Berlin reshaped and compiled together like abstract tree sculptures. They show the contrast of the human-made urban concrete structures that we surround ourselves with in our city lives and natural forms that might be completely forgotten in future generations. In a way this is a vision of how humanity might imagine “nature” in a time where they don’t have a chance to actually see it for real anymore. The retro-futuristic aesthetic of the pieces makes it even more haunting. These would make such brilliant additions to the current Radikal Modern exhibition about Berlin’s architectural boom in the 50-90s at Berlinische Galerie. Enjoy the series RE: KONSTRUKT after the jump.
Probably all the fashion enthusiast of Berlin have already paid a visit to the Mario Testino Exhibition at Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz. Nonetheless we thought it would be still worth to review this unique exhibition because it’s not only relevant to people interested in fashion or advertisement, but it also gives a very critical perspective on the reality and surreality of images and beauty standards of our society therefore its thought provoking to both the haters and the fans of the fashion world.
Mario Testino is a Peruvian photographer who became successful in the 80s in London. I have to admit that for many years I always thought he was Italian because of his name, but he is actually from South America. For the fashion world he is probably one of the most iconic photographers and his imagery ranges from super artificial perfection to blurry authenticity. But he is not only known for the incredibly sexual imagery capable of projecting erotic fantasies on men and women alike. While visiting a panel this January I could experience how his incredible charm and sweet and creative personality is part of his artistic genius. Otherwise I don’t think that famous people such as Jennifer Lopez, Kate Winslet, Madonna and Kate Moss and many more would choose him over other photographers for unique and sometimes very intimate photography.
The exhibition “In Your Face” which is traveling around the world since 2012 is a tribute to his most famous photos from the different decades of his work. The photography itself is provocative, luscious and often very surreal. Watching famous ads or fashion shoots of magazines in big format and with perfect lightning will make enjoy the pictures on a different level. You also realize how much photoshopping and retouching is involved in creating the “perfect” images of beauty of our times. This becomes so evident while visiting this exhibition that it is somehow a relief. A relief from the pressure of society that always wants you to look better, thinner and younger everyday of your existence. Realizing that even the most famous people of our society have to be optimized so strongly to fulfill an unrealistic ideal that from up close its not even beautiful anymore makes you feel better about yourself. Or at least it did with me. The exhibition is still open until the 26 of July 2015. We are giving aways 2×2 tickets for the exhibition! More pictures and details after the jump.
For a couple of years now photographer Diane Vincent has been climbing up to the rooftops of Berlin and taking photos up there. She finds a lot of peace and tranquility on these urban and empty deserts, capturing a view of Berlin that is for many of us invisible otherwise. I have been fascinated with rooftops too, but more because I think it’s completely wasted urban living space. I think all of the rooftops would be amazing living space to enjoy the sun and to drown out the noise of the streets while still being outdoors. But sadly most rooftops are forbidden to enter because the roofs are not built in a way that they are safe to walk on. Shame really.
With her collection of rooftop photos piling up Diane has now compiled a selection of them into a cute self-published book titled “Oben” (up) which you can order now on her website. After the jump you can see some of our favorite rooftop photos.
photos: Matt Lambert
We’ve had talented photographer and filmmaker Matt Lambert on our radar since his short film project with Dazed&Confused and his involvement in the amazing participative theater production MEAT. Since then we’ve seen his sexually provocative work also in several amazing editorials and films including a recent music video for iconic German singer Marius Müller Westernhagen.
Matt is giving us a pretty good reflection of the current youth culture with its rebellious and overly sexualized forms of expression. In his photos and videos we see young people exploring themselves and their sexuality with a strong impulse to be as progressive and aggressive as possible, bending the rules and the social norms of what is appropriate. They glorify non-conformance, sexualize violence, and experiment with different sexual orientations and polygamy. From a superficial point of view it looks a bit like they have an inflated sense of self-importance. But my interpretation is, that they are simply confused, scared and lost in the strange times we live in. It’s a world that’s caught in a limbo between luxury, gluttony and safety on the one side and complete and utter chaos on the other. They are looking into a future that is uncertain in many ways because our past generations are leaving them a world that’s a complete mess.
Matt’s first photo book titled Keim is being released by Pogo Books today and features a good chunk of his mostly homoerotic work. Tonight (May 13) the release is being celebrated with an exhibition opening at Iconoclast and an afterparty at Ballhaus Mitte. Enjoy some of Matt Lambert’s photographs after the jump.
I think it’s pretty obvious that you have to speak German when you want to live in Germany. But Berlin is not Germany. Berlin is a state of mind. And in this state of mind of total freedom people often think that they don’t need to speak German when they start living and working here. I know quite some people who are annoyed by the English speaking expats, but for me as a German I find it actually pretty great that I can practice my English with a lot of native speakers without even leaving my neighborhood. But for the new people who arrive in Berlin and who try learning German it’s really difficult to practice because everybody automatically switches to English as soon they hear a foreign accent.
I know for a fact that without a certain knowledge of German (and an understanding of the culture and mentality of the Germans) some doors (business and private ones) will never open for the new Berliners who plan to make a life here. That sounds a bit dramatic, but I just wish that new Berliners have less fear of the German language and maybe a bit more enthusiasm for learning it.
While I just typed the word “enthusiasm” I had to imagine the shocked faces of several of my non-German speaking friends. And probably quite a lot of my non-German speaking readers think that I have gone insane right now. But honestly: German is a beautiful and precise language with a lot of creative freedom and abundance of neologism that makes the language alive. I don’t want to bother you much more with my love for the German. That’s why I would like to let this photography project convince you to at least try to spark your enthusiasm. The amazing photo tumblr Days of Deutsch that I discovered a couple of days ago, helps you to learn German with photographs of Berlin. More about this beautiful project after the jump.