Friday, October 1, 2010

Ich bin ein Berliner

Berlin is quite the historical hot spot. The city throughout the 20th century was almost a microcosm of Europe - the destruction, division, reconstruction, and eventual fall of Communism all came to a head in this city (not to mention the rise of techno and round-the-clock raves...). To say that Berlin has a few scars would be a gross understatement.

Coming from Copenhagen, Berlin isn't exactly the most welcoming place. When I checked into the hostel, the conversation with the attendent went a little like this:

Me: Hello!

Guy: (no answer -just looks at me for a while)

Guy: Is that it? You just came to say hello? Or you want something else? Mind reading doesn't start until tomorrow.

(Turns out that he manages the New York hardcore band Agnostic Front - not representative of all Berlin residents)

Over the week I hit up a number of the touristy spots, as well as some of the not-so-touristy-but-kinda-badass ones. A wonderland of a place called Kunsthaus Tacheles falls into the latter category.

Tacheles was about a block from my hostel, Instantly recognizable from the large "How Long is Now?" mural on the side. The building is a partially bombed-out structure that the East Germans never bothered or couldn't afford to rebuild after the war. For artists looking for studio space with little (or nonexistent) rent, it was a perfect place to set up shop.

Today it's still a thriving community. Graffiti covers every square inch - every wall, banister, window... the building has about as much paint in it as it does concrete. This makes quite an interesting backdrop for displaying work, especially if it's as complex as Alexander Rodin who was having a gallery showing on the top floor (really great work - check out his stuff).

But all is not well in the happy land of Tacheles. The powers that be want to shut it down and put up some apartments. This cannot be! Support Tacheles! Join the fight and stop the dreded powers of gentrification before it is too late!