Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-12737 / CC-BY-SA 3.0.
We can’t quite get over how amazing Berlin looks right now all covered in snow. This has been really uplifting in the last days, especially when the sun threw itself in the mix. We really needed that. It made us realize how long it has been since Berlin was covered in snow like that. I certainly don’t remember when the last time was it feels like ages.
But if we go way way back, we’ll find that snow in Berlin used to be more common. Scrolling through historic photos we found quite a lot of beautifully captured moments of Berliners in the snow. As you know we love to also include Berlin’s history on the blog, may it be about the divided city in 1981, Berlin’s naughty nightlife in the 1920s, or this very iconic colorized post-war video. There’s something about having an eye on the past that lets you appreciate the present that much more as well as look forward to a possible future of our beloved city.
With scenes of snowmen building, sled riding, snow shoveling and just frolicking through the beautiful white wonderland we feel all giddy to get out there and capture as much fun as we can have. We all know it can melt away at any moment. Enjoy the snow!
photos: Maarten van den Berg.
With this post, we would like to share a very special gem with you that was submitted to us by our reader Maarten from the Netherlands. We are particularly excited about what he sent to us as we haven’t really had anything from that part of the history of Berlin on the blog – at least not specifically that decade. The story he shared with us is about his visit to Berlin in 1981 – a time when the reunification wasn’t even on the horizon, a time when Berlin was still a divided city with the wounds of this division still raw and open. During his visit, he took street photos of both the West and the East of Berlin, and of course plenty of impressions from the Wall that seemed to be some kind of tourist attraction at the time. It’s impressive to see the city that we are so used to today in this condition. So many of these former dead areas of Berlin are now integrated into the city life and filled with new places and buildings that make us forget the scars that they used to be.
Maarten has self-published a photo book of this stunning series which you can order here. He also shared some words about the visit and the photos he took that were long lost and just recently resurfaced. We hope you enjoy these images!
With the new social distancing measures during the extended second lockdown, the idea of meeting a stranger is pretty much a contradiction. But how come the craving for social interactions is so big right now? Is it the season, is it the allure of something forbidden, or a simple case of “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”?
Visual artist Tanya Sharapova has decided to explore this idea as a reaction to the second lockdown which has proven to be such an odd and testing time. The first lockdown already prompted a string of artists to come out with wonderful photo series such as the window photos from Lovis Ostenrik, the daytime/nighttime outfits by Kseniya Apresyan, the nude social distancing portrait by Aja Jacques, and the Together A Part series by AnaHell and Nathalie Dreier. But the second lockdown has been quieter in terms of creative output – even for ourselves. So we are glad to be able to share Tanya’s series “Strangers” here with you.
This year was quite different, wasn’t it? There was a lot of crazy stuff happening, but we can all agree on what the most significant thing was: the pandemic. If you would have told me a year ago that this would happen, I probably would not have believed you. But here we are, 9 months into a global outbreak of an airborne viral disease that has turned the world upside down.
Of course, this pandemic brought us a lot of negative things, but I don’t want to focus on those – you can simply turn on the news for that. I want to focus on the things that were good, specifically on how people responded to the crisis in positive ways. While a lot of us were struggling with our lives, our work, and our mental health, some people gathered their creative energies to come up with great things to brighten the days of everyone else and show some optimistic spirit.
Last week, we had the absolute pleasure to co-present the first IRL Voguing Ball in Berlin since the lockdown. It was hosted by the charming David Milan who already gave us the big Pride Ball and Ocean Ball last year that we also covered. The venue was once again the Säälchen at Holzmarkt – it’s just the perfect venue for a ball of this size!
The theme of this ball was Superheroes which was without a doubt the most specific and playful theme of the series. Of course there were a lot of classic superheroes and villains such as Spiderman and Catwoman. But the call for participation asked people to be creative, so you could also see everyday heroes such as nurses, single moms, activists – we even saw the first trans presidential candidate there.
As we are still living in a pandemic the circumstance for the event was quite different: Usually, over 1000 people show up for these balls, but to comply with the current legal safety measures this time only the participants and a few fellow house members were allowed into the venue. The usual spectators were able to watch a professional live stream of the ball either from the comfort of their homes or at the public viewing at Neuzeit Ost in collaboration with Mobile Kino. The required distancing and face mask rules also had to be respected, which was hard during the performances when the energy of the voguers was taking over, but I think the crowd did a fairly good job at complying.
It was a great ball, with a lot of stunning performances, great international participants, and a powerful audience. Of course, we took some impressions for you which you can enjoy below!
A luscious jungle without any tourists in it? An empty underground train wagon and a super high up rooftop without any spectators? Yes, these places really are in Berlin and not part of a dystopian fantasy. And they are waiting for you to take your picture with them!
Leipziger Platz, the little brother of Potsdamer Platz, now has a new attraction to show off – the Studio of Wonders. The Selfie Paradise follows in the footsteps of a new wave of Selfie Galleries that have emerged as an ongoing trend worldwide. Born from Instagram’s ideal to constantly deliver new exciting photographs to show off to an online audience, the Studio of Wonders helps his curious visitors to create new content with 20 different dreamy and unusual scenes on 500 spacious square meters.
photos: Red Rubber Road.
Today we want to share a photo series with you, that is a bit of the opposite of our Finally Together Again series from yesterday that celebrated a physical togetherness and how meaningful it can be in these trying times. What was possible for our team where all members live in Berlin, is not the same for those collaborators, friends, families, lovers that don’t live in the same country during the pandemic. The artist duo AnaHell and Nathalie Dreier where one of those that were separated by the quarantine measures of different countries. We published their Quarantine series at the beginning of the lockdown and it really hit a nerve. That series was actually produced way before in another context, but it perfectly captured the bizarre atmosphere of the early stages of the pandemic measures.
photos: Lovis Ostenrik.
What an unusual time it has been. I feel excited and uneasy, that we can with absolute certainty say, that this year has truly not been like any other year of our lives. Staying inside and not being able to see our friends and family for an uncertain amount of time was a tough new challenge.
Never before have I missed human connection as deeply as I have during these past months. I can’t imagine the consequences this will have on human interaction for years to come. To now be able to finally meet people again actually brings my heart rate up. It made me realize how important a sense of togetherness is, more than I ever thought possible.
photos: Aja Jacques.
While the pandemic and the lockdown have been pretty devastating for artists and creative professionals economically, they certainly have not been lacking in being an inspiration. In the last weeks, we received quite wonderful submissions from photographers and artists all dealing with the different aspects of the pandemic and how they influence our life, among them the Stay At Home series, the corona comics, and a curious techno song. The latest project we want to introduce you to today is dealing specifically with one of the measures to contain the spread of the virus: social distancing.
Aja Jacques is one of the artists from our Uncensored Berlin exhibition that we hosted back in 2018 and that dealt with censorship of artists through social media platforms. Aja was not only one of our muses acting as a model for several of our photographers, but she also exhibited her own photos. Her new project “At A Distance” is a series of analog nude self-portraits she took with several fellow Berliners in prominent public places – at a safe distance of two meters. We talked with her about the series and about how the quarantine has been for her so far.
photos: Kseniya Apresyan.
This photography series by Kseniya Apresyan showcases one characteristic Berlin is a paragon of – the freedom that for many is almost synonymous with the city’s kinky nightlife. But don’t expect sneaky snapshots from the dancefloor – this project brings the partygoers back into reality, creating intriguing images of their respective lifestyles.