The Movie Chasing Paper Birds premieres on the 17th of September and is going to trigger a nostalgic feeling in many of us. It is a film that gives a raw and beautiful insight into Berlin’s soul in the decade of the 2010s, with the focus on Friedrichshain and all the different characters that made this Kiez so special.
As a former director of music videos and image films, Mariana Jukica has made it possible to perceive Berlin’s spirit and captured every spark. She awakens memories of a lived madness, in a time before touristy hooligans took over the city.
The movie is narrated from three perspectives. Mia, Keks and Ian, who are in their late twenties to early thirties, are all on the run from reality and on the hunt for their own personal happiness.
photos: Eylül Aslan.
Berlin’s dating scene is shaped by three important factors. First of all, mostly thanks to its kinky parties, Berlin is a city commonly characterized by a spirit of sexual liberation. Secondly, while it’s a popular choice for international expatriates, some see it as an ultimate destination, and others as a temporary stop. And finally, the notion of “finding yourself” in Berlin is used equally often as a synonym for deep soul-searching and as an excuse for flaky behavior.
The clubs of Berlin have reopened with new, Corona-friendly daytime concepts but one key element is missing: dancing. This has forced Berliners to deconstruct the idea of clubbing and ask themselves what they were searching for in clubs before and where they can find it now.
At the risk of stating the obvious, dancing is a big part of club culture. It is fun, it is a way to enjoy the music, and it is refreshing not to sit straight and hold a conversation all the time while being intoxicated. Consequently, the lockdown gave new life to the recently somewhat neglected illegal rave culture. The second part of this series investigates the illegal, private, and spontaneous dance parties that have been popping up all over the city and the controversies surrounding them.
Halle, photo: Roman März.
There are many other reasons to come to Berlin apart from the clubs but they are definitely among the most popular ones. Techno has its roots in Detroit and the Afrofuturism movement but both the name and the current widespread popularity have to do with what it evolved into in Berlin.
While these parties are still relatively underground in many cities, Berlin has embraced rave culture and built a special relationship with its clubs and their audience. Berghain has already secured legal status as a cultural institution, and other clubs are fighting for the same. Club tourists are also valued by the city’s government as a major contribution to the economy.
Wilden Renate’s Overmorrow is an immersive walkthrough art experience created by over 40 artists, from well-known collectives like Bad Bruises and TrashEra to newcomers. The installations, performances, and exhibitions occupy most of the indoor spaces of Wilde Renate, and offer about 1 hour of exploration in dark, morphing spaces.
The audience enters in groups of two, with 5-minute intervals, which is about the time allocated to each room, and makes their way through the 17 interwoven “Positions.” The Positions range from exhibitions of oil paintings through interactive installations to performances, and are loosely tied together by the themes of isolation and future. They often overlap, reflect on each other, and can be seen or heard in advance, which adds to the dreamlike nature of the journey.
photos: Roger Sabaté.
Close your eyes for a second.
Imagine a 28-year-old who just moved to Berlin. She lived here a while ago, but was unable to find a proper job and returned to the country of origin. She promised herself that one day she will be back and conquer the city.
Five years later, she’s here again, this time not as a cleaner but as a project manager. She feels immune to any job market crisis, she has a strong game plan and some money to spend. New shoes? Sure! Techno party every weekend? Bam! Eating outside all week? No problem!
Now pause for a minute. Or maybe pause forever. Can you? Can you pause it forever for me, please? Cause what’s coming next is the infamous “Contagion” reenactment which washed away all my dreams and hopes. Yes, this careless adult was me, stuck so much in my capitalist privileges, that being laid off completely crushed my world.
And here I am, locked in the humiliation and ostentatious luxury of purchasing a beer for €3.25 whilst the overlords of the aviation inferno smirk on for my predictable avarice and sloppy living. “Yes, go towards the pilsner, you wretched tart, go and bathe yourself in our wheaty piss water, heh heh heh, and you’ve got toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Did you know? Course you didn’t, you fucking lush.”
The general mood is one of lethargy and arid existing, with a sheen of sweat, much like a saucy currywurst. The only animation comes from an intensely annoying British couple who look like they’ve wandered out of a B-list perfume advert and are looking for the nearest poppy field to resume their pasty, whimpering, lovemaking. They exuberantly sweep around in silken shirts which I presume are the same sort Daisy Buchanan was wailing about. Damn, I’ve made myself angry again. Fucking hated that paisley bitch.
photos: Beth James.
When I think about Berlin I imagine the U-Bahn rattling on the overhead tracks, pigeons flapping above rooftops and the faint sound of techno in the distance. Berlin is graffiti, sweaty nightclubs, beers on the canal, weird art exhibitions, midnight bike rides, sticky summer days that wrap around you like a blanket and icy, grey winters that make you forget what summer feels like. Berlin is late nights and early mornings, lake swims, laughter on rooftops, marathon dance sessions and afternoons in the park, shoes off, lying on your back under a hazy sun. It‘s a place that tempts you and taunts you, that lifts you up and tears you down. Where freedom reigns and no-one gives a shit. It gets under your skin, and the longer you stay the harder it is to leave.
Berlin is also an identity, and many wear it as a badge of honour. That’s why you see people with Instagram accounts that say their name and “Berlin”. Because it’s a vibe, it stands for something. Being associated with it explains who you are. I’m finding it hard to untangle myself from this identity I have been wrapped in for the better part of a decade. It has taken a lot of soul-searching to make the decision to leave my long-time lover, with its dark heart and endless thrills. Over the years, whenever I felt it could be the right moment to go I would be sucked back in, somehow pulled by an invisible current. I would come up with a million reasons why this was the place for me, and why I could never find anything like what I had here.
Normally, he is the gardener of the house. I watched him year after year, half paying attention. Seeds, coconut-husk soil; add water and in a few months boom… Chilis. Too many to consume. Habaneros, Thai, Jalapenos, Scotch Bonnets. The heat lamp has been set for a few hours in the evenings, on an automatic timer. Every day it clicks on and off. I think maybe I will go mad. I think maybe this is a gift. In our apartment, I set up to work at our dining room table. It’s not the most comfortable set up. The hard chair cuts the blood flow, just above my knees.
One conference call has ended and tasks have been assigned. We have no idea when we will meet in the office again as a team. The dates keep changing. The company provides status updates, the chains of command feign bold ignorance. We’re never quite sure of what is happening at the top, that’s just how it is. They leave that part out of the marketing campaigns and new hire information packets. We are the masses, with seemingly no control. I look over at the seedlings. If I don’t water them, they will surely die, but how much water is too much? I have no direction and no green thumb. Instead, I have an internal lie detector, razor-sharp detachment skills, and Google.
There I was, in my Berlin kitchen, minding my own business. Preparing a salad at a leisurely pace when I noticed a round, gooey, grey, slimy, blob on one of the bio salad leaves (has anyone else noticed bio supermarkets are less hit by the panic shoppers?). On closer inspection, the blob turned out to be a very small, dare I say cute, slug. What to do? I considered putting it on my balcony but quickly thought otherwise as I didn’t want to put my darling plants, and recently sole companions, at risk. Perhaps I would wrap it in a small piece of lettuce and throw it out the window. No. Living on the 5th floor, that would be an unnecessary risk and irresponsible (like those teenagers throwing a Corona -no, not the beer- party at Pankow this week).