photos: Linus Ma
Seven months in the US tore me away from the beloved city at the Spree, and showed me my very own version of the “American Dream”, although I still don’t really know what that truly means. I got dropped into the shiny swirl of the City of Angels and just thrown out again, unprepared and unarmed. Suddenly, I am back in Berlin, and what was once familiar, now seems weirdly odd. So I have to find out all over again: What makes this city desirable? Here is a story about waking up from pink dreams and falling in love with Berlin again.
photos: Ilsa Hellman
Berlin is not only your home, your playground, your friend, your lover, your nightmare. It can also your teacher, if you let it. We all came here at one point, with different backgrounds, different experiences. And unless we were born and grew up here and have never lived in another city we all made the discovery that Berlin is different, it tells you a different story, it shapes your life in a different way. We can learn so much from it, if we are smart enough to pay attention, because some lessons can only be read between the lines.
Finnish photographer Ilsa Hellman submitted her portrait project Neu in Berlin to us a while ago and beside the beautiful photos that she takes of New Berliners what fascinated me about the project were the stories that the portrayed people where sharing. Regardless if they had just arrived or lived here for many years, almost everyone seemed to have received some sort of lesson or wisdom from the city and we would like to share some of those with you along with Ilsa’s photos.
On Saturday, on a taxi ride in Buenos Aires with a few strangers, I had a conversation about my recent trip to Rio, which quickly led to the topic of the Brazilian carnival, and then over to the one in Venice and Cologne. The conversation had almost switched to another topic when it struck me: We have a carnival in Berlin too! How could I forget! And it usually takes place in… oh, it’s this weekend! In contrast to the ones in Brazil, Cologne and Venice, our Berlin carnival is not specifically about one nation, but about all of them – or at least quite a big bunch. As the title “carnival of the cultures” suggests, different countries come together here with their traditions, dance and food. It became this huge thing here over the years with a big parade and food market. People either love it or hate it, but regardless, it’s a big spectacle with a lot of fanfare and the poor streets of the city that have hardly recovered from the mayhem of May Day are again littered with the cultural confetti of the next big street fair.
Photographer Alexander Niklass captured the event through his dark, urban lens; the results present the carnival in quite different light than what we are all used to. Enjoy the amazing photo series after the jump and for more photos by Alex follow him on Instagram.
photo: Anže Kokalj
We all need a little saving sometimes. Someone to grab us by our shoulders, reassuring it’s gonna be okay. In a city like Berlin, accidents happen. With so many people living next to and with each other, bruises are inevitable. In cars, on bicycles or walking on the street, with hearts falling on the floor, shattering to pieces: Every day, someone is out there, needing a pick-me-up.
Luckily, there is almost always help just around the corner to mend that heart and come to the rescue. Just like the other day, when an ADAC (automobile club) chopper landed in the middle of the street of Kottbusser Damm. Who knows, who needed saving that day – it’s good someone was there.
Photographer Anže Kokalj captured this unusual moment of a helicopter landing in the middle of Kreuzberg. You can find more pictures on his Instagram.
photo: Jean-Baptiste Huong
For the longest time showing the beauty of the human body was a bit of a taboo in art and artistic photography. What was completely natural for the old masters is now deemed to be too commercial to count as art. Art should not be appealing, let alone be beautiful. This is something for advertising, or in the case of the human physique: erotica.
It’s a shame really, because the human body is as good of an object for art as any, and not just as something abstract or for the sake documentary. I’m glad that the art world seems to slowly but steadily overcome this prejudice. More artists experiment with nudity, sex, even pornography. Even galleries are picking up on this. Now more than ever artists who dedicate themselves to the beauty of the human body are no longer just considered photographers, but actual artists. I think this development is very positive and we should embrace this positivity.
This weekend in particular seems to celebrate the beauty of the male body as there are not one but THREE different exhibitions with over 10 participating artists opening in Berlin. We took a closer look at a selection of the artists and how each of them celebrated the beauty of men.
photos: Fredrik Altinell
Of all the big cities in the world, Berlin appears to be somehow mainly one thing: an alternative. Not just another option, an alternative. An alternative to the high-pressure in New York, to the expensive prices in Paris, to the suboptimal living conditions in London. Berlin in itself offers so many alternatives. Every culture has a counter culture here. You have the choice to go along with the mainstream, or to take an alternative route. You have the big Berlinale Film Festival with very few women directors, writers and producers taking part, and than there is the Feminist Film Week. You have all the big theater stages with your typical theater fair, and than there are all these small independent ones showing highly progressive and experimental pieces. You have heaps of conventional night clubs and bars, and you have those where you can appear naked or have sex in the middle of the dance floor.
And of course you have the official Berlin Fashion Week with celebrity craze and commercial labels, with its counter part being the Berlin Alternative Fashion Week that brings young, eccentric and creative designers into the limelight. Exactly this BAFW stands as a perfect example for the parallel worlds inside Berlins fashion scene. I have personally been to both, and I can tell you the audiences they attract couldn’t be further apart from each other. If you don’t believe me, believe your eyes this coming Friday and Saturday when their runway shows dedicated to recycled and avant-garde fashion, respectively, take place.
photos: Malte Brandenburg
What to do when you miss your hometown? Right – you just take it with you, piece by piece!
I always liked Berlin’s post-war buildings, the so-called “Plattenbau”. I spent my fair share in and around them as a kid when playing with my friends who lived there. I think they are a very interesting part of Berlin – they hold a lot of history, the foundation of what makes Berlin a very special place. And I am happy to see that the city is able to re-create itself, that these buildings might be ugly, but people have started to like them again.
With my photo series “Stacked” I simply wanted to be able to see these buildings next to each other, see how similar they are and how nice they look on a bright and sunny day. And by isolating them, I wanted to touch upon this particular concept of urban life, vertical density instead of horizontal density, and how society around these buildings evolves.
Can a city have imaginary secret friends? Maybe not every city, but Berlin is different in my opinion. Our dear Berlin gets run over by so many kooky inhabitants – why shouldn’t it have some nice imaginary friends to cope with all the mess going on? At least that was the idea of multimedia artist and photographer AnaHell when she came to our beloved city. In her childhood she invented weird but lovely friends to spend her time with and play. Imaginary creatures with little secret stories to live all kind of adventures with. Fortunately for us, AnaHell did not forget about her childhood fantasy and recreated it with the photo series Secret Friends, a playful narration of this story. Documenting a parallel reality of bent-over humans, which form a new creature that share our world but cannot be seen by us ordinary humans. With the Berlin series of Secret Friends she wants to show different aspects of life in a our city, from the clichés to real people in their homes doing what they normally do.
I am totally in love with the concept and the realization of this playful idea. I guess we should all search once in a while after our imaginary secret friends from our childhood. Maybe they are just sitting next to you in the U-Bahn or waiting in line with you at Berghain. What I want to say is that we should be open for the wonder and for the surprise that can come by reactivating our childhood fantasy. Berlin especially is a place that rewards this kind of openness with a charming magic, you won’t find anywhere else. More Secret Friends by AnaHell after the jump.
photos: Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert
Gender, identity and self-expression are very delicate, intimate subjects to address.
The true kaleidoscope of human identities, facets and preferences is as diverse as there are people on this planet. Beyond a world of black and white, there is a whole range of color, which makes life interesting. Yet we all want the same thing: recognition for who we are and what we feel.
And to get said recognition, visibility is crucial.
“Gender concerns anybody and is part of every identity,” says Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert, author of the new book ‘Gender as a Spectrum’.
The photographer teamed up with entertainer, artist and Transgender activist Kaey, and portrayed people from Berlin and various places on the planet. All of them are a facet of the kaleidoscope, moving between the polarity of gender. For over two years Ohlert worked on this book with Kaey, capturing people in an authentic, emotional way that is both raw and rare. While Ohlert took the photographs, Kaey interviewed the portrayed people, so the reader gets to know the personalities behind the picture even better, learning about their personal self-concepts, self-definitions, views and wishes.
And maybe the reader starts asking himself these questions, finding answers about himself, or maybe just learning about the people that are all with him on the kaleidoscope of being a person.
photo: Our Food Stories
Fashion changes and beauty fades, but one thing that will always play an important role in our everyday life is food! No surprise that food blogs are on the rise, and my Instagram feed is full of amazing food creators. Yes, food photography, food styling, food art and #foodporn: we just can’t get enough of it. Maybe because pictures of food inspire us in the kitchen, encourage us to change up the menu and discover new, interesting and healthy recipes. It’s something that seems beneficial for our own heart, body and soul.
Becoming a food blogger might seem easy because, well, we all know how to make pancakes and a quiche. But that’s not completely right – there is a big difference between cooking for yourself and cooking for a bigger audience, like for the eyes of a thousand followers. Food blogging is a new form of art, and only true creators of real foodporn know: there is a lot of work and practice behind creating a meal that does not only taste good, but also visually appeals to the world on Facebook and Instagram. We asked three specialists of the German food blog community about their secret ingredients of foodporn. The answers and amazing photos after the jump…