photo: Isabel Vollrath.
I’m well aware that there is a certain controversy about self-made or non-medical face masks. The German government has so far been shy about ordering the people to wear face protection, mostly because of the extreme shortage of available certified masks but also because the effectiveness of masks is still debated. One thing is certain though: Those few countries that have a mask policy in place seem to have much flatter curves. This can, of course, have various reasons. But then again, if you just think about it. The more people wearing masks, the less those will accidentally cough or sneeze out into the open in the early stages of infection when they are the most contagious and the least likely to show symptoms yet.
While a few weeks ago the Germans seemed to be quite reluctant to wear masks, in the last week it has dramatically changed and I see a lot of people with self-made or other fabric masks out in the streets. And I do admit it does make me feel a little more safe seeing more people around wearing masks and consciously protecting others from being accidentally infected by them.
It’s Sunday, we got nothing much to do, we’ve been stuck at home for weeks, we’re bored, and to be honest, we’re kinda horny. So we thought it might be about time to give you something juicy to occupy your mind (and potentially other parts). We haven’t had a lot of kinky blog posts in a while, and you know we’re quite sex-positive here at iHeartBerlin, so we wanna offer you a bit of entertainment here, and possibly on the following Sundays. The “Short Sunday” used to be a category on iHeartBerlin many many years ago where we presented short films and video clips we found extra cute, so now might be a good time to get back to this tradition.
We wanna start something with a little bit more depth, we thought. A friend of ours sent us a relatively new short film about the obsession of a certain type of masculinity. The film is not really related to Berlin, but it’s an interesting watch nonetheless. We did a bit of research and found four more short films (some of which are actually related to Berlin) that all deal with the topic of complex sexuality in different ways and we thought this would make a great little short film program. To our delight, these five films even cover a wide spectrum of sexual orientations, from straight to gay, lesbian and bi. Hurrah! So without further ado, we let you dive right into it:
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.
We’ve already showcased some of Guen Douglas’s tattoo designs in a blog post last year. But recently, this prolific Berlin-based artist has gone public with another form of creative expression: an Instagram account filled with unique comics. Guen Douglas told us more about her affinity for Gary Larson, the intersections of tattoo and comic designs, and what it feels like to make art in times of a global pandemic.
The Instagram account tolarsonwithlove doesn’t have many entries yet, but each of them presents an extremely imaginative take on a particular aspect of reality. Whether it’s a blissful illustration of an intimate self-care moment, or a visual satire referencing present crisis, the comics by Guen Douglas grab one’s attention with their narrative and, not unlike her tattoo designs, invite one to admire the details.
photos: Roger Sabaté.
What a fucking rollercoaster ride. I’m sure most of you will agree that the last 3 weeks have been some of the most intense ones we’ve all lived through. It’s hardly an exaggeration that what’s happening right now is the biggest shared global experience since… ever? I don’t even think the world wars actually immediately effected every single country in the world as this pandemic does. And I guess even previous outbreaks didn’t reach as far and as fast because back then the world was just much less connected than it is now.
But while it’s crazy outside in the world, what most people are really experiencing right now is actually happening on a much smaller landscape. For us, everything’s going down now in our own four walls. And unless you are still working and have not been confined to the home office, the longest way you walk from there is probably the small number of blocks you have to pass to reach your nearest supermarket. Our world feels like it shrunk remarkably.
photos: Robert Kleinfeld.
Berlin is a city, that is always busy, day and night. Usually. Of course, right now is an exception. These are unusual times. Even though most of us are confined to our homes, some of us still have a duty to keep on going outside to work.
Photojournalist Robert Kleinfeld is one of them. On the height of the Berliner’s discipline to stay insight he took to the streets to capture an empty city, empty subways, empty streets. It looks pretty much like the set for a dystopian movie where most of humankind has vanished. Only a few lonely souls left. It has such an eerie vibe that we never would have expected to see our beloved colorful Berlin in.
We don’t want to dwell too much on the situation. I think the last couple of weeks have given us plenty to worry and think about. But things will improve, we know it. Maybe not as soon as we hope, maybe not within a day. But soon enough. Let these captured moments of a deserted Berlin be a reminder of how fragile our world actually is, and that we can’t take the smallest things for granted.
photos: Kinga Cichewicz.
Just when I thought that being single in Berlin couldn’t possibly get any harder, the level of difficulty has skyrocketed because of the pandemic. It feels like suddenly, one is basically stripped of all the cool Berlin single life privileges but has to carry all of its burdens. Ironically, in pre-Corona times, singles would sometimes get annoyed by some of the very things that actually can bring us solace in the current circumstances of isolation.
As you probably know we’re big fans of the Staatsballett Berlin here at iHeartBerlin. So naturally, this new video really warmed our hearts when we first saw it: Initiated and edited by Principal Dancer Ksenia Ovsyanick, 45 of the dancers recorded themself at their homes or wherever they spent their quarantine giving a little performance that seamlessly blends over from one dancer to the next as if they all danced together in unison. The result is a cute little collage of all the dancers that give us some positive vibes and smiles in these strange times. Thank you guys for that, we can’t wait to see you back on stage, hopefully soon!
Since Dark, the German TV show productions of Netflix have unfortunately not really been my cup of tea. This changes with the new mini-series Unorthodox created by Anna Winger and Alexa Karolinski and directed by the wonderful Maria Schrader (also known as an actress from Deutschland 83/86 and the film classic Aimée & Jaguar). I just finished the entire 4 episodes in one evening and really warmly recommend it to everyone, especially since it does a good job at making Berlin look incredible.
The show is based on the autobiographical book by Deborah Feldmans by the same name and tells the story of 19-year-old Esty who grows up in the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community of Brooklyn – or as another Jewish character from the show describes it: the “lunatic fringe”. During her arranged marriage Esty realizes that she can’t imagine living her life under such strict rules, so she escapes to Berlin where she gets drawn into the scene of young aspiring musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic. Both timelines, her final year in Brooklyn and her first days in Berlin, are told in parallel which creates an impressive contrast between the strict community and the liberal life in Berlin.
Visual arts have lived through quite the revolution since the digital age. The possibilities to bend images to your will by changing a few numbers in a computer are practically infinite. Today, we don’t even have to use a computer anymore, as we can create stunning artworks with the help of apps on our phones.
One of the most curious developments of digital art, though, comes from artificial intelligence. Artworks done by AIs have been around for some years but really started to become a thing back in 2018 when auction house Christie’s in New York sold a piece for almost half a million by an AI called “Obvious” that was programmed by a collective from Paris. It’s an exciting concept, trusting programs and algorithms to create something that we humans can emotionally connect to.