German Pop Art – Schirn Gallery – Frankfurt

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SF took a little trip out of Berlin recently and decamped to Southern Germany, and to Frankfurt, a city which is known as the financial centre of Germany, we took in the Schrin Gallery for a little bit of German Pop Art action.

A dentist's chair... of some sort

A dentist’s chair… of some sort

Pop Art, everyone likes it, everyone is familiar with it and it is probably one of the least offensive forms you are likely to find. It is always laced with a kind of humour, it feels comfortable for all walks of life to appreciate. The use of everyday well known brands, images and icons makes the experience more inclusive for the viewer and less elitist, well that’s what SF reckons.

Germany in the Pop Art era, an interesting time, known as the swinging 60’s in some places, German’s were still living somewhat under the cloud of ‘that’ war but also Berlin was divided with different nations claiming their piece of the city. One area that was growing was a Pop Art movement and this exhibition gives us a small insight into some of the work from that period, combining film, sculpture, painting and movement, the curation by Martina Weinhart is a delightful myriad of colours and forms.

Here are a few of our most favourite pictures from the exhibition…..

Pop cowboy

Pop cowboy

Lipstick bombing

Lipstick bombing

Cry baby film

Cry baby film

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The Berlin U-Bahn – A Design Masterpiece

BLN U-Bahn

BLN U-Bahn

The Berlin train system is top drawer, it is on time, it is not busy, it is clean, it doesn’t seem to get as crazy hot as in London or New York and the buskers are pretty good, comparatively.

The best thing is not actually a part of the moving object we call a train. It is actually the station themselves, they are a beautiful tiled throwbacks, featuring a myriad of colours, fonts, designs and sizes, every station is different and everyone is a work of art in its own right. Some of the stations even feature old black and white photos of the surrounding streets in their former glory.

SF has picked out a few to share, there are many more weird, wonderful and beautiful ones we will post in the coming weeks with some more info. For now… feast your eyes on these….

BLN U-Bahn

BLN U-Bahn

BLN U-Bahn

BLN U-Bahn

Urban Spree – PeachBeach

Urban Spree is no secret, it is one of the main places to visit for tourists due to it’s ease of access and the fact it is pretty much exactly what people come to Berlin for. Graffiti in a cool space, in a cool area, surrounded by interesting things and at the heart of weekly events such as flea markets, bars and the always tasty Neue Heimat.

That is not to take anything away from Urban Spree, it constantly plays host to some of the most interesting and diverse schedules of street art that you are likely to find, currently it is PeachBeach which features various artworks from the likes of DXTR, Vidam, Look, Mike Friedrich, Martin Krusche, amongst others, what is nice about this is it is German curated and full of German artists.

SF popped down to watch Vidam finish of his huge mural piece this week and threw in a bit of hipster hyper lapse for good measure. I’d suggest a lil visit before they refresh the gallery next week. Pascal and his team always have something fresh lined up….

Abandoned Schwimmbad in Pankow Berlin – Average

No heavy petting

No heavy petting

In true SF style, we got waylaid, we got lazy we simply forgot to write about anything that we have been to in recent weeks or indeed two months. There is no apology, simply a lil bit of abandoned Berlin pictures for you.

Recently we had visitors to Berlin, one of whom is a street artist and despite the frankly tear inducing weather it was only right and proper to show said guests one place of interest, something not on the usual travel guides.

So off to Pankow we went, Pankow is not exactly a pretty place, it is a bit barren and not the reason that thousands of people move to BLN each year to live, however there are a couple of gems there, we have covered one in the form of the Iraqi Embassy during the summer. The other is an abandoned Schwimmbad.

Complete with stained glass window effect

Complete with stained glass window effect

Now this one is neither difficult to find, nor is it difficult to get into, just a limp metal fence separates the avid explorer and this disused pool. It is probably best to mate it clear not that this is no Blub or Olympic pool, but it has a enough to warrant a visit.

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Usually we would go in to some detail about the place and attempt to wax lyrical about it’s beauty, quirky features, the amazing artwork or something of this ilk. I am afraid this time it is tricky to do any of the above so we will keep it brief and factual.

Dry

Dry

Built in 1971 complete with a long 25m swimming pool, a sit around and do not a lot pool and a sauna, German’s indeed like a sauna or two. It had floor to ceiling glass windows to let the light in but alas it seemed to not really capture the locals imagination. In 2001 it was renovated in the hope it would get a little more love from the locals. It din’t. It shut in 2002 and has remained that way since.

As always smashed windows and paint are the key features here but in all honesty the quality of the window smashing is lackadaisical at best and the graffiti looks to have been done by a lazy teen with home-made spray paint. In short a bit crap. Ordinarily I would say that these kind of places would be great for an illegal party but it is on a sleepy street and it would likely be shutdown, not by angered neighbours but by those attending as it is just too drab.

Expectations should be kept low

Expectations should be kept low

I’d suggest no bothering visiting but if you must then it is here

Honor 6 – NKOTB

Looks good in the dark blue light

Looks good in the dark blue light

Just over a week ago SF was invited to the launch of a shiny new mobile phone, something new to shoot on the go with, talk to friends with, blog with, waste hours on games on, surf the web on and even maybe do useful stuff should the need arise. This is the first big offering to Europe from Honor, a new brand launched by Huawei. The launch of a mobile phone is as you would expect it, pretty much geared for the tech heads, they even had beatboxers and a DJ, playing with a drummer, I know, gnarly.

Ice launch Honor

Ice launch Honor

These things are not really for your mere mortals however the presentation did highlight a few things which will be interesting to casual bloggers and joe public alike. We were given a Honor 6 to test out. Eagerly we got down to it…. A few headlines 1. It is significantly cheaper than an iPhone, pretty much the cheapest around 2. The camera is very good, 13 megapixel back camera and for those losers into selfies a 5 megapixel front camera. That is pretty clear FYI 3. It is easy to navigate, nothing new, they all are really 4. Battery life. If there is one thing that highlights how miserably reliant on technology we are it is the flap we are sent into when the battery on our Smartphone dies. This one has the best on the market 5. It is light, nice to have but we are hardly talking about the ‘loads-money’ days of the past 6. It has a big memory too, useful as we take a million pictures and films and never delete. A massive 16GB storage to be exact We are a week on trying it and to be honest it seems pretty good, it has cute functions with the camera around stills and filming, as it stands it looks like this might be replacing the iPhone in our affections for the time being. Maybe forever if the battery keeps lasting like it does.

Something from the Old Country – Solarbox

British icon

British icon

Nice little idea to turn something so very iconically British, but that had maybe outstayed it’s welcome. The world famous red telephone box is now largely used for one of the following: 1. Pissing in. 2. Smashing up. 3. Taking drugs in 4. Making a call. It was time for a revamp.

We all love the red phone box as much as the old routemaster red bus and the red postbox, they are design classics, they are something to behold and be proud of. They have also been under threat for one reason or another. While designs hold keep rampaging forwards it is ok to keep some of the classics in place.

Even the 'Old Bill' are impressed

Even the ‘Old Bill’ are impressed

Solarbox, a clever idea thought up by two LSE students will be popping up across the capital in the coming months, the first is on Tottenham Court Road, it simply means you can go in and plug in your phone and charge for free when you are out and about, the energy comes (as the name suggests) from solar power and did we mention it is free. Well it is paid for by advertisers, so you will have to watch a few ads while you charge, but that is life. Get over it, we are advertised to 24/7, it ain’t going anywhere.

The simplest ideas are always the best, if they can benefit the environ then even better, if they mean that those useless smartphones do not end up with zero battery by noon on a day out, then this is a bonus.

Follow the Solar revolution here

Blub – Top Abandoned Berlin Sight Seeing in Neukolln

Blub wave machine

Blub wave machine

The SF team have been all over the Abandoned Berlin vibes this summer, the sunshine in this city is to be taken advantage of and these are not places so easy to access when the dead of winter kicks in. We might have been getting to the point of saturation, they’re cool and all that but there is only so much smashed glass, tags, graf and general mess that you can see before you need to go to a nice sanitary gallery where they have electricity and the glass is fully formed.

Blub skate park

Blub skate park

A change to this is a much less well known place in Neukölln, one that is relatively new and one which is a sight to behold in the later summer sunshine. Blub (Berliner Luft und Badeparadies) situated just off of Buschkrugalle was first opened in 1984 at a cost of over 44 million Marks, and over the years was added to and changed around, but the main gist of it is an indoors (and a little outdoors) aqua land. It boasted huge swimming pools, a wave machine, water slides, fountains, steam rooms, saunas, water dooms and much more besides.

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SF can only imagine what this water world would have been like in its pomp for a kid of 14 years of age. It was taking over 600,000 visitors a year at one point, but then the tide turned. It begs the question as to why it is not still open today? Well according to my research (limited to Wiki and a bit of random blog searching) it was down to two things.

Former waterslide

Former waterslide

A turf war between local youths. Imagine, like being in the London Fields Estate and the kids battling over C*nts Corner or who ran the gate at the lido.

Rats, apparently it became unsanitary and overrun by the little disease carrying fuzz balls. SF is guessing that neither are conducive to a nice family day out.

Wooden walkways

Wooden walkways

Blub is hidden nicely off the road, the wooden elevated walkway entrances look like something from Hook, you expect Rufio to swing in at any minute.

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All around the building is covered with greenery, tress, plants and bushes that hide the building, so on arrival you would be forgiven for thinking it was a bit piss-poor-small. Guess again this thing is huge and once inside you can get an image in your head of what pandemonium went on. It is also right by Teltow canal, there lies the problem, those pesky rats venturing away from their water and taking over the human space. By 2003 some parts had to be closed because of the infestation. The places is getting a little less attractive now.

Added to this the kiddie turf war, bombing and aggressive splashing (assumption) was rife, some kids even resorting to water bombs (probably). Shit had got real and the only solution was to bring in security, yup water henchmen. Big dudes in black wraparound glasses, goatees and living on a diet of roods and Red Bull, patrolling the pool to keep the warning mini factions apart.

Skate channels

Skate channels

From 2002, slowly but surely areas were closed until in 2012 everything was shut. Apparently the area has been sold for flat redevelopment but until then it is worth a visit, it is certainly getting better known now, on our second visit there were hoards of Turkish kids running riot and skaters from 14 to 40 dropping in to the swimming pools.

Sauna graffiti

Sauna graffiti

Some of the artwork adorning the walls is pretty impressive and you will likely see some artists underway if you visit. It is as always a little bashed up, but not totally…. yet.

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SF even managed to get a souvenir. The original price board which had not been tagged or smashed, well we figured we might as well save something from the looters.

Original price board, in Deutsch Marks

Original price board, in Deutsch Marks

Picture(s) of the Day – Kein Schwimmen!

For the high board

For the high board

While the weather is holding out, before the onset of deep cold winters that render a cycle around Berlin as a crazy nightmare. SF have got the old pedlo out and made a list of a few more abandoned delights. Today BVB Schwimmbad at the site of the new / old BVG Stadion on Siegfreidstrasse.

Tiles and railings

Tiles and railings

Keeping it short and sweet today. Formally used as an Olympic training pool back in the day. Much loved during the summer by families to spend the day in the sun and water. A high board for bombing of course. Now the water in there is rain water, it is beyond dirty but the beautiful tile work remains. Easy to access, if a bit of a bitch to get to in terms of distance.

Shallow end

Shallow end

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The not so hidden Berlin bunker – Hochbunker Pallasstrasse

Paint and moss on the bunker

Paint and moss on the bunker

Since relocating SF to Berlin, the summer has been one big discovery, this city has something new to see every day. Some things are easy to access and some are a little harder, one of these is Hochbunker on Pallasstraße in Schönenberg.

Resident and bunker

Resident and bunker

The Hochbunker is not one of the well known Abandoned Berlin hotspots but for those few who have managed to get in to see it, it is certainly one of the most impressive. The bunker is only opened up to the public once a year and only to a limited number of people. Our tour guide confirmed that there have been 19 guided tours conducted over 19 years and no more than 40 people in each group, that makes the Hochbunker one of the hardest to visit landmarks in Berlin.

To enter the bunker

To enter the bunker

The building is on Pallasstraße, if you travel down the street you will see that there is a huge ugly concrete block set into everyday flats that stretch up over eight stories high, but you should look closer. This is one of the most beautiful sites in Berlin, the flats all have their own satellite dish fastened to the wall, but what creates such a striking scene is that every dish tells a story. Every dish has a sign or a tribute to the inhabitant’s own history and story. There are flags, pictures of babies and families, club crests from Galatasaray or Fenerbahce, or there are sunsets or just simple paintings. Each and every one brings a poignant insight to the everyday life of the.

Satellite signs

Satellite signs

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These apartments were built in the 1970’s around the huge Hochbunker, without touching the original structure, due to a lack of space for housing in this part of Berlin. The bunker is now a part of the Sophie-Scholl-Schule and has a rather interesting history.

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The bunker was built by prisoners and slaves that the Nazis had captured from across Europe, mostly made up of women and children, they were fed sparsely on just water and bread and sometimes a little sugar and expected to work long hours to create the bunker. These workers were housed in the former Augusta High School, which is now the Sophie-Scholl-Schule, named after a famous lady who opposed the Nazis and stood against them in the face of torture and punishment.

Bunker room

Bunker room

The bunker was not intended for humans to take shelter in but rather for machinery and supplies, this is reflected in the fact that the place is not very well ventilated, it was said that it has space for well over 150 people to stay in their comfortably but only for 24 hours as they would run out of oxygen.

Like every other outdoor space in Berlin, the walls are adorned with graffiti, messages and tags, but due to the fact that there is such limited access and only through a special guided tour, inside this piece of history there is no graffiti or tags or paste-ups.

You enter at ground level through gates and two huge and thick steel doors. The bunker is on four levels, each floor almost identical to the one above, huge white and cream walled rooms with unkind lighting and harsh finishes, the space would make an amazing gallery (shame about the damp) or a ridiculous venue for a rave (shame about the lack of oxygen). As it stands it is kept for limited viewings until a long term use can be found.

This way out

This way out

The building is all concrete, each external wall is 3 metres thick, there was talk of trying to knock it down after the war but this never happened, indeed the bunker was not finished before the war ended, but it must have been something of great importance to the Nazis as concrete in those days was expensive and hard to come by, so to set aside so much for the build of this bunker gives indication to it’s importance.

Concrete climb

Concrete climb

The space is sparse however there are two things to note, the school has used this space to create a small artistic installation, including a copper box with a rose inside, the lights shining through give the piece an eerie feel.

Emergency escape route

Emergency escape route

84 blocks

84 blocks

The most interesting part to the entire building was the escape route, on the 4th floor there is a door, but unlike any you might have seen before. This is the escape route to a bigger steel door behind in case of attack. The walled door is made up of 84 blocks which are 3 metres long each and have a steel handle on each block. In order to make it through to the exit door.

Imposing exterior

Imposing exterior

The tour is conducted by a professor who has lectured at the school and is a well of information, but ensure you take a German speaker as this is a visit conducted only in German. In order to book a place you have to show patience and determination to book a spot and wait for the date.