Constanza Macras is one of the creative souls of Berlin, who enriches our favorite city through her ideas and impulses. Born in Buenos Aires, she studied dance and fashion design before a good mix of coincidence and purpose led her to Amsterdam, New York and, finally, to Berlin. In 2003 she founded the DorkyPark Company, an interdisciplinary ensemble that works with dance, text, live music, and film. In their latest piece DRAMA, which celebrated its premiere in January, a group of performers explores the possibilities of stage space in the post-pandemic age, probing the relationship between real stage space and virtual networks.
I had the chance to ask Constanza a few questions for iHeartBerlin about her new piece, her life, and her perspectives on the arts scene.
This week you can watch both DRAMA and their previous production The Future at Volksbühne on June 22 and 23.
photo: Outsiders, directed by Hannah Cauhépé.
Berlin is known around the world for its big movie festival Berlinale, but there are other great initiatives that promote less mainstream movies and amplify important voices. One of such events is the Soura Film Festival, the third edition of which will happen at the end of this month. Taking place at Oyoun from the 21st until the 24th of October, Soura Film Festival presents a daring selection of films by queer artists from the SWANA (South West Asia & North Africa) region.
“I love the Südländer men” was one of the most common messages I would receive when I was still on dating apps, oftentimes as the cherry on top to complete the recipe. Apparently, it was deemed to be a compliment for some but to me, it was downright offensive. It only showed how the lack of race talk in Germany failed to educate people that racial fetishization was not a suave thing and it was blatant objectification. I was never part of the macho and aggressive Südländer stereotype they had in their fantasies and I was never willing to be, to the much disappointment of my suitors.
Conversations about race can be very difficult in Germany, even in our city that people regard as one of the most open-minded and equal places in the world. Self-defensive reactions to race talks and complete rejection of the conversation led our society to define racism differently from other parts of the world, creating multiple misconceptions about it. Some of these experiences of racism in Berlin are narrated by a series of short video portraits called DIRE-Logues by BlackBrownBerlin co-founder Chanel Knight. Established in 2018, BlackBrownBerlin aims to empower POC communities in Berlin and beyond, and speak up about discrimination and misrepresentation. You can read our previous interview with them here to learn about their story, mission, and activities.
photos: Roger Sabaté.
In 2020 –– despite all its setbacks –– the Black Lives Matter Movement and its fight for justice and equality for BIPOC* has gained new momentum, not only in the US but in Europe as well. Yet, while education and awareness around colonial crimes, racism, and xenophobia are a global affair, change begins right in front of our doorstep.
So –– do black lives matter in Berlin? Do black/brown people, and any other marginalized group in Berlin –– no matter its identity, sex, or ethnic background –– get the representation, recognition, and protection they deserve? In a post-Hanau Germany, our eyes need to be wide-open to the realities of racism today, and the rise of new fascism presenting itself as an electable “Alternative”. In recent polls the “AfD” passed 10 percent even in Berlin; that is Europe’s self-proclaimed capital of freedom and excess.
One of the major highlights for me this year was watching our good friend Esther Perbandt, the iconic Berlin fashion designer, succeed on the new designer competition show Making the Cut by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. It was the first time for me to see someone I personally know on a hit TV show and it was such a thrill to follow her through the lens of American reality TV.
Those of you who have been following us now for a long time, know that Esther is very closely connected to us as we organized one of her early runway shows with our sister project Designer Scouts back in 2010 and co-hosted the two aftershow parties of her spectacular Volksbühne fashion shows in 2014 and 2017. She also curated one of our city guides for us showing her favorite places in Berlin. It is always so amazing for us to become part of her black avantgarde universe and we feel so proud of all of her accomplishments as a designer in all those years.
photo: Ferdinand von Schwilden.
Who wouldn’t like to be told by famous German TV host and producer Frank Elstner how to shape a career like him? Or how to learn to have an answer ready for every situation by iconic talk show host Anne Will? Or how to become as free and unbiased as former MTV host and writer Charlotte Roche. Matze Hielscher, co-founder of the digital city magazine “Mit Vergnügen” and host of the popular interview podcast “Hotel Matze” has written a wonderful book in which he has captured the wisdom of impressive people. For whom this book is made? “For all people who find themselves standing at the edge of the pool and don’t quite dare to jump in. Because most of the people in the book felt the same way at some point.”
photos: Roger Sabaté.
One of the most rewarding parts of running iHeartBerlin is getting to know some of the most interesting people in Berlin. Throughout the years I was able to connect and make friends with talented designers, musicians, artists, as well as entrepreneurs, event makers and creative people with fantastic projects. They all contributed greatly to what makes iHeartBerlin unique and inspiring to so many others. And I am glad to be able to support them with my platform and connect them with collaborators and audiences.
For our interview series iHeartBerliner we sat together with one of those inspiring people of Berlin: Shani Ahiel, owner of Shishi and Yafo. We talked with her about running two restaurants in a male-dominated gastronomic scene, about life in Berlin as an Israeli and so much more. Shani shared with us her experience of building up a business in a foreign city, how life here feels like compared to Tel Aviv and what interesting encounters she made because of her restaurants. Enjoy the video below!
photos: Roger Sabaté.
Hannah Joy Graves has a magnetic presence which I have first registered when I showed up for a tattoo appointment at AKA, a Neukölln studio that she managed at the time. With Berlin being more of a village than its map might suggest, our paths crossed again when I found out that Hannah, introducing herself to the world as Cult Mother, began offering tarot readings – a practice that can only grow more relevant as reality becomes increasingly uncertain. As Cult Mother put it: “People are feeling disconnected and disorientated and are discovering that tarot is a great tool for navigating confusion and uncertainty.”
But there’s more to this interview than cards. Hannah told us about finding her way into spirituality, how she envisions tarot as part of Berlin’s nightlife, and why the city continues to inspire her after she got sober.
photo: Nathan Thomas.
What does it take to step into the art world of a city intimidatingly overflowing with non-appreciated creative potential?
iHeartBerlin writer Andy sat down with his friend Qeas Pirzad—scene-beloved socialite, out-and-proud Sagittarius, every dance floor’s favorite disco queen, and up-and-coming contemporary artist—to find out what that challenging path can be like.
The result is an intimate conversation—laying open the artist’s personal creative journey, venturing into the consequences of following your dreams, and the revelation that doing something out of the ‘Berlin box’, makes you even more ‘Berlin’ in the end.
photos: Andrea Lavezzaro.
One thing we can easily agree on: Brexit fucking sucks. The idea to separate from a union like the EU in times of global uncertainty is just… well: a bad one! Especially considering the way it went. Of all the things that have gone wrong in the EU, this is certainly the most tragic one to date.
We are still not sure if anything is going to happen. With all the delays it feels like a bit of an irony that Brits can vote for European Parlament this week, not even sure if they will be part of it much longer. But what is also uncertain, and this is the biggest sting for us as such a multicultural platform, is the future of all these non-British people living in Britain and all the British ones living in other EU countries. When Brexit goes through, it seems like the days of free movement within Europe are over when it comes to Britain. It feels like a massive set-back.
Andrea Lavezzaro is a Brasilian photographer specialized in street and documentary photography who lives and works in Berlin, but often also in London. For her Brexit means traveling and working in London will become more complicated. This circumstance prompted the idea to talk with other people who will be affected by Britain leaving the European Union. For her new portrait series “Brexit in Berlin” she talked to Brits living in Berlin who voted to remain in the EU about how the change will affect their lives. To bring the whole political debacle into a more personal perspective we want to share their stories with you here.