The Berlin photographer Dietmar Eckell has set himself the task to discover abandoned places all around the world. Places that might be long forgotten but each of them has a unique story to tell. In his photo book “Restwert” he showcases these lost places and stories that we could rarely discover on our own. Cuba, Vietnam, Ukraine, very remote travel locations were on his list for 2017. But, he has also spent some time in his hometown Berlin, to capture a few more of it’s forgotten sites.
One year after the burning down of the Blub, the coolest water park Berlin ever had that was shut down in 2005, this cute music video, “The Ballad of Shelley and Hamza”, is bound to bring back memories both to those who used to have fun at the water slides in the 80s and 90s, as well as to us who visited it when it was already abandoned. “The Ballad of Shelley and Hamza” tells the story of two people, who, on their way to find themselves, they found each other; It is an entirely imagined, unconventional cross-continental love song about 2 friends from university, performed by James McBreen and recorded on a boat on the River Spree. In the music video, the two performers dance all over the abandoned place and through their moves they bring it back to life. Coincidentally, it was filmed only 2 weeks before Blub was burnt down last July. It’s a collaborative project between Overland Originals and Kopper Kollektiv, both Berlin-based creative production companies. The dancers, Berlin-based Samuel Olatidoye from Italy and Natalie Deryn Johnson from New York, met only 10 minutes before they started filming, James told us, but looks like they managed to find their common rhythm pretty fast.
When you visit one of the many abandoned places of Berlin you will most likely find traces of previous visits, or even habitation there. Squatters, ravers, sprayers, vandals, urban explorers. They all left their marks on these forgotten buildings of Berlin and contribute to the decay of what these places once were. If you’re lucky you might even find some traces of creativity there.
When I first stepped into the abandoned railroad yard in Pankow last summer I was amazed by the spectacular light inside the circular building that came in through the panoramic windows in the ceiling. The place itself was completely empty and pretty much devastated by vandalism. But within all the debris and decay I found golden confetti and feathers on the floor like a little glimmer of hope and joy. It looked like someone had a good time there not too long ago. Maybe a small party, or an euphoric photo shoot. Either way it was another trace of life in an otherwise dead place.
When I stumbled about the contemporary dance video titled “Ephemeral Rooms” by Ruben Reniers and Nora Vladiguerov that was shot in this location earlier this year I was reminded of my visit. Just like whoever left the golden confetti the two choreographers and dancers breathed some life into this abandoned place with their beautiful performance.
photos: Alexander Steffen
Should you ever talk to people who have lived in Berlin for decades, there is no chance that they won’t underscore how much the city has changed through time. Unfortunately, they are not pleased with what Berlin has turned into and while each of them might have a different account of what exactly the core of the problem is and who is to blame, they would all agree that gentrification has exacerbate the situation. Without intending to initiate another debate on how to tackle this alarming phenomenon, I would like to raise awareness for a beautiful photo project by Alexander Steffen. Having grown up in West Berlin, he started the project Vanishing Berlin in 2009 by taking pictures of transient landmarks all over the city. Wastelands, storefronts and brick walls are central elements of his work. While some of the photographs seem to have been captured decades ago, they were all taken in the last seven years. Alexander’s focus doesn’t lie on the past, but on the process of change instead. In October 2016 the book was officially released and can be ordered online here. On September 8th 2017 Alex will open his new exhibition revisiting his Vanishing Berlin series.
photos: Ania Banaszek
During my first walk outside after Christmas I noticed a beautiful, big, perfectly shaped Christmas tree just lying around on the sidewalk. Thrown away one day after Christmas. One day! I thought that’s a pretty tough timing. Maybe it was due to my post-Christmas melancholy or the winterish lack of sun (or both) but I could not help thinking how sad and absurd it looks like. During the next days I noticed how the streets and sidewalks of Berlin got flooded by the suddenly homeless Christmas trees of all kinds: big, small, still ‘fluffy’ or completely abandoned of needles. Something I’ve never seen with such a density anywhere outside of Berlin. And something I found a great metaphor of Winter time melancholy. So I took a camera out and off I went, to photograph this (for me) typical Berlin curiosity.
photos: Dietmar Eckell
I know you guys have loved our features about the abandoned places in and around Berlin including the Beelitz Asylum, the airport Finowfurt, the Teufelsberg spie station and the Blub swimming pool. Now we want to show you something even more haunting and exciting. The German photographer Dietmar Eckell is specialized in lost and forgotten objects and buildings that he finds all over the world in the most secluded and isolated places. He has a fantastic series called happy end that is about crashed planes where all the passengers survived but the plane still remains in the place it landed. These photos are also available as a book. RIP is another series that documents relics of the war, deserted military compounds and vehicles. He also photographed old olympic sites, discontinued train tracks and abandoned churches, all of which have been overgrown by nature. Eckell’s photos are so adventurous and mysterious that they will make your phantasies go wild thinking about the stories that are attached to these abandoned places and man-made objects.
In late summer of 2015 there was also an impressive exhibition with huge prints of his works. If you missed that we do have some of his photos after the jump.