Sprüth Magers is possibly the fave artistic venue for SF in the whole of Berlin town, there are many others that would be worthy of this shout but today seeing Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife, a part of When Nature Runs Riot, basically was the perfect Tuesday tonic.
Berlin has some pretty amazing buildings, some pretty out there ideas have come to life, some I would bet my eye teeth on not being created anywhere else in Germany, let alone the world. Once again Berlin wins for otherworldly weirdness.
England, or more accurately London would have been quite a place to be in the 1960’s, that is no new news. It was like everyone was high as a mo of and delightfully embracing their new found open minded approach to everything. The sex, the drugs, the music, the fashion, the liberation and everyone looked unfathomably cool. England was the don when it came to all things cultural, and one area where big changes and new routes were being taken were in photography, the likes of David Bailey, Don McCullin and Terence Donovan were taking fashion photography to a new place and the world was taking note. The C/O in Berlin, a favourite photography haunt of SF has had a rather delightful exhibition called Blow-Up, from the film by Michelangelo Antonioni. Now at the time of writing SF was not totally au fait with the film but it takes the form of a photographer and his shooting of models and also everyday life in a kind of paparazzo style, the main character is loosely based on all the photographical forerunners of the day, hence the exhibition splices parts of the film with shots from this era.
Being a former Londoner…. the shots of the Eastend were the perfect tonic today on what was a god awful day of hailstones and high winds. Can we have summer soon? We have a small selection here for your viewing but get down there before it shuts on the 8th….
You should have seen the documentary on Miss Vivian Maier already, if not then do so and then you will be compelled to see the photography for yourself.
Vivian Maier was a curious character, very much a lady who pet herself to herself, a woman who looked after children as a job but according to different reports could be a rather cold character. Not a huge amount is known about Maier apart from the accounts of the families she worked for, her secret life as the most prolific street photographer perhaps of all time has only just come to light.
Maier died in 2009 and until then her huge body of work went unseen, until it was bought as a job lot by one fellow who spent hours sifting through the many boxes and realising he had hit upon gold. The exhibition has been around the world and now finds itself in Berlin for a small but perfectly formed retrospective at Will-Brandt-Haus, it is on until 12th April and is free, this is one exhibition to make sure you include in your schedule.
Maier was a curious character but also supremely adept at capturing people out of pose, in their natural environment and while they were not playing up to the camera. The subtly and lighting in her shots create a beautiful depth and story to each shot. The fact that she did not develop any of them, or name them means that these stories are somewhat lost but that adds to the beauty of the exhibition, sometimes you can have too much information.
Maier’s shots span NYC, SF, Chicago plus her travels to France and the Far East, the majority are black and white with some more recent colour versions. Maier was also the true originator of the now much maligned ‘selfie’, but in her technique it looks cool, stripped down and not showy at all. I worded how it would have sat with her to know she was the original selfie dropper…..
There are a million and one photos on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, various blogs and websites, so many that it is not an exaggeration to say this is Berlin’s very worst kept secret in the abandoned bracket. It is no secret. It is more of a secret that Kanye West has something on his mind than it is that this massively beautiful eyesore exists.
Since going to abandoned places in Berlin is pretty much in every guide and actually has become monetised fairly quickly, you can visit this one with zero issue. Basically send an email to these guys, then turn up and pay your Euros and then head in.
Little potted history, the website does it best so I’ll suggest you hit this jump to find out more…
In the beginning….
– 1915 – Bloody great big green space called Grunweld Forrest, lovely and calm, animals, walking, pretty etc.
– 1937 – That bloke Hitler, the one who was a total git, well he ignored the forrest contract from Prussian times and decided this would be a part of his master plan, he wanted this to be the gateway to his ‘New World Capital’. Basically a huge military technical facility, you can only imagine what the tiny tached one had planned.
– 1945 – Hitler gets defeated, but not before the building had started, but what to do with the partially build city….
– 1951 – Berlin had taken a bit of a flaying and there was an awful lot of rubble and debris that needed to be moved from Berlin city and burbs in order to regenerate. A solution was come up with, fill in the planned Hitler military buildings and pile the debris on top. They did so and it reached 115 metres, Basically a man made hill / mini mountain, the plan was for this to become a ski resort of sorts. That didn’t happen, as it the story of Berlin’s recent existence, things just don’t quite happen, maybe they tried to start work on a Monday.
-1963 – Instead of skiing the Americans and the Brits decided to use this as the perfect position to spy on our Ruskie brothers and sisters, to find out if they had any plans for world domination or the like brewing.
Then…. Well a company tried to turn it into a big hotel, that failed thankfully. Now it is owned privately and maintained for the general public to take their cameras to and look around.
Tour is nice, about an hour for 7 Euro with no information and 12 Euro for the more detailed version. You will get to go to the very top, where the views over the largely flat Berlin are spectacular, you can see all the way to the city and the iconic TV Tower is easily spotted on a good day. On top of this there will be a bunch of street artists adding to the array of paint you can shoot, and any budding graf artists can email to apply to paint there themselves, there is plenty of space so long as you don’t mind people shooting you doing it.
Closest station is SBahn Grunewald then you have a walk of about 25 minutes through a forrest.
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….
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’d suggest no bothering visiting but if you must then it is here
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.
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.