A few months ago I published a story about how the lockdown has seemed to have created a new dogma of system relevance that discriminates against arts and culture workers. This was a story very close to my heart and close to what matters to all of us at iHeartBerlin.
While some cultural institutions were able to re-open since then, although under challenging circumstances, the overall situation has not improved for the majority of the scene. Especially in the alternative and underground scenes, it’s still quite dramatic. While publicly funded institutions don’t really have to worry about going under, it’s those independent arts and culture makers that really have to fear for their livelihoods. Rents and bills still need to be paid, but to produce shows and events is still often not possible, and support programs by the government have so many blind spots and leave a lot of people behind or are simply not enough. For many, the situation is really serious. And considering we are only at the beginning of the second (most likely bigger) wave that will bring new challenges and restrictions you don’t even want to begin to imagine how much worse it could get.
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.
photo: Jubal Battisti.
At the end of August, the operas and theaters of Berlin will be able to reopen again after the lockdown. We are really happy about this but it’s not going to be the same with a lot of restrictions on stage and behind the scenes, as well as way fewer seats in the audience room. A lot of the new productions we were looking forward to were scrapped because they either didn’t comply with distance rules or could simply not be rehearsed due to the restrictions.
For a few months now the dancers of Staatsballett Berlin were not able to perform nor practice together. In an earlier stage of the lockdown, we already shared a really wonderful video initiated and edited by Principal Dancer Ksenia Ovsyanick that showed the dancers performing in their homes and gardens during self-isolation. Now, a few months later, the dancers were able to leave their houses and practice again, but still not together like they were used to. Following the big success of the first video, they now released two more videos that we want to share with you here.
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: 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.
With literally every single queer bar, club and venue closed until further notice and all Pride parades and other queer festivals canceled this year, it looks pretty dim on the queer visibility front right now. But all clubs and bars are closed and festival canceled – what difference does it make, you might wonder? Of course, every nightlife and cultural space has its importance – but for the queer community these places and events are not just for fun and socializing, they are important platforms for activism and for the fight for acceptance and equality. There is still a lot of homophobia and transphobia in the world, even here in Berlin. Queer visibility is an important act against those nasty phobias – and for queers to disappear into quarantine behind locked doors and behind anonymous masks is quite the setback.
Musician, stage performer, editor, and Berlin’s only real Diva Kaey has come up with a clever plan on how queer visibility can continue in a creative way in times of Corona. For over a month now, she has taken the time during the quarantine to sew hundreds of colorful facemasks with rainbows, sequins, and Tom of Finland prints for the queer community. This way we can be out and proud every day when we’re complying with the new face mask rules in the city.
photo: SCANROULETTE @herpeslabial_
The lockdown has really put a damper on the sexual expression of Berliners in a major way. Unless you are lucky to live with your partner or with a flatmate with benefits your sex life most likely had to take a back seat in the last weeks. No Tinder or Grindr dates, no hooking up in bars, no kinky adventures in Berlin’s nightclubs. You really have to get creative to get your sexual kicks these days.
Our friends from Pornceptual were struck really badly by the pandemic. Their parties are on hold until further notice, and the WHOLE festival which they co-organize has been canceled for this year. But like many creative people in the city the quarantine has also created new ideas and opportunities for them to make the best of the situation. One of those ideas that recently saw the light of day is their new platform Isolation Porn which is an extension to their Pornceptual blog dedicated to artworks and creations that have been produced in response to the lockdown.
Sassy Berlin stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding has really lifted our spirits during the last weeks of the quarantine as he has been coming up with new hilarious videos on a daily basis about all things corona. You would think this would quickly grow old but in fact, he’s been continuously serving some of his best comedy videos ever. Who would have thought it would get better than his “It’s Berlin” videos that put him on the map in the first place (at least for audiences here).
In his videos, Daniel’s character “Da’Niel” has been mostly sulking and passive-aggressively commenting on the lockdown and all lack of nightlife and sex club activity that he so dearly misses right now. Most notably you could see him throw a tantrum in front of Berghain when it closed down, crawling somewhere through the bushes of Hasenheide to announce the comeback of cruising, or how he fantasized a huge gay orgy in Mauerpark by disobedient horny gay guys who wouldn’t stay in quarantine.
photos: Lovis Ostenrik.
These last couple of weeks it became almost a mantra: Stay at home! Angela Merkel said it, viral expert Drosten said it, your mom said it, we said it. It’s in everyone’s ears, and in everyone’s mouths.
But what does “staying at home” mean for everybody? It’s certainly not the same for everyone. If you’re living alone in a dark studio apartment in the backyard it can certainly start to feel claustrophobic at some point. But if you’re lucky to live in a big bright Altbau with balcony (or even better: a garden) together with loved ones, it can also be pretty ok in the end. No matter if it’s a big sacrifice or just a small one, the importance as one of the most significant measures to battle this pandemic cannot be denied.
photo: Sasha Waltz & Guests.
It’s been just two weeks since we showed you the cute video of the Staatsballett Berlin dancing from their home. You guys really loved this video, so we thought we could give you a bit of an encore today. In the past couple of weeks, the ballet dancers were not the only once who kept dancing while all shows are canceled and theaters closed. In fact, a lot of contemporary dancers also used the offtime to record some small performances and improvisations.
It’s been quite the adjustment for all of us to suddenly experience things only through our computer stream. It feels like a restriction at first, but as with any new circumstance, people will get used to it and adapt and find new ways to express themselves. Especially for those of us who are used to working in teams, such as dancers who perform with an ensemble, suddenly finding themselves without their teammates might be a challenge. But again, a new experience doesn’t have to be a bad one.