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.
And while everyone is busy with their own struggles and fears about the pandemic, it’s the independent arts and culture makers that are completely overlooked and forgotten. The short film UNSCENE by cray cray productions and Sonder addresses this very issue with beautiful images of some of the artists from Berlin that represent the independent scene. In poetic words, the film spells out some of the harsh and unfair assessments that are currently being battled in a pandemic-ridden society: “We are divided between worth and worthless, between art that’s important and art that’s a mess. And dreams don’t seem to matter anymore.”
These words really break my heart because what they imply is that the current situation has amplified a class system that already existed but that no longer enables independent artists to at least have a modest life – no, now they are faced with poverty and social welfare. But the film doesn’t dwell on these issues alone. It emphasizes the importance of the arts and culture for our society in general, but of the underground in particular, because any artistic impulse for movement, change, progress is created here. So if we as a society neglect and overlook this section of the art world, this breeding ground for new ideas and talents, we contribute to the slow collapse of the entire system. I couldn’t be any more serious with you. No culture. No future.
Dunja von K
Julietta la Doll
Liliana Velasquez M.
Miss Popalina & Wasted Wayne