THE LIVING CITY
THE LIVING CITY NEW YORK CITY
THE LIVING CITY BERLIN
BLUNT · DIZZY · SEXY
INDEPENDENCE · VIBRANT
BLUNT · DIZZY · SEXY
YOUNG · TRANSIENT
BLUNT · DIZZY · SEXY YOUNG · TRANSIENT
INDEPENDENCE · VIBRANT
MULTICULTURAL · FREEDOM
INDEPENDENCE · VIBRANT
MULTICULTURAL · FREEDOM
BLUNT · DIZZY · SEXY YOUNG · TRANSIENT
MULTICULTURAL · FREEDOM
INDEPENDENCE · VIBRANT
MULTICULTURAL · FREEDOM
YOUNG · TRANSIENT
How is this neighborhood cohesive diverse and how is it’s identity evolving through gentrification?
The centre of the lgbtq + cultural movement in Berlin, how are these values reflected in this area?
What happens in the centre of West Berlin and how does it still thrive so separately?
What is the ethnographic influence of history on the city? How is history still relevant to the ethos?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What exactly makes this neighborhood desirable to live in since itâ€™s rapid gentrification? How has history influenced this neighborhoodâ€™s current role in Berlin?
Prenzlauer Berg 81
How do the neighborhoods outside of the ring effect the ethos of the city?
What role does art have in the environment of this neighborhood? How does the art culture continue to influence the rest of Berlin?
How do anti-establishment values continue to power the people of Kreuzberg?
A Comparative Analysis of Identity and Dress in the Modern Metropolis
How does the identity of a post-modern city affect the manner its inhabitants (or society) self identify through dress? Through a comparative analysis between Berlin and New York City, this book looks at the relationship between the ethos of a city, and how itâ€™s inhabitants self-identify through dress within that city. The idea to study the relationship between a specific geographic area and dress came from my personal experiences living abroad and being immersed in multiple, but very different, cultural societies. Through my own observations living and traveling in Europe specifically, I recognized the differences between cities: the energy, the procedures, the people. I also noticed specifically how different people dressed, despite the fact that European cities and cultures are incredibly interconnected. Upon return, I even observed my own life in Ontario, Canada; I now could see there were differences between other cities within driving distance [to me]. These cultural observations pushed me to explore the concept of the ethos of a city, known as the characteristic spirit, identity, energyâ€Ś that indescribable quality experienced in a change of atmosphere. How does the ethos of a city effect the people who live in it? How do the people in a city build the ethos? How does the ethos of a city effect oneâ€™s dress? Through the format of a comparative analysis, this book features interviews of 22 individuals, photography editorials, illustrations, and more. This double sided coffee table book explains exactly what that relationship is between dress and geography, fashion and ethos, city and identity specific to New York City and Berlin.
uilt on sand on around the banks of the river Spree, Berlin has been one of Europe’s most influential economic, cultural and political centres - for better or worse—since it’s origins as a trading post in the 13th century. Modern Germany has only existed since 1990, after the Berlin Wall fell and East and West were reunified. The city’s tortured but rich history rules a lot of it’s modern identity. Contrasts between historical buildings and modern architecture, between the traditional and the modern are what set the city apart from the rest. The sights of Berlin–from the Brandenburg Gate to the Federal Chancellery–tell the story of an entire nation. Germany’s capital is home to all the major government buildings, most notably the historic Reichstag, seat of the German parliament. Nowadays, people look to Berlin for the latest trends in lifestyle, music and art. Inspired by this outpouring of creativity, growing numbers of artists are arriving in the city from around the world, making it one of Europe’s most exciting destinations. The economy is recording a stable trend to growth driven by innovation and creativity. The city’s population is increasing by around 50,000 every year—a indicative of Berlin’s appeal and the opportunities it has to offer. The city is pleasant to live in, and consistently records high scores in international rankings for life quality, affordable rents and costs of living. Thanks to the right balance between economic growth, liberal climate and cosmopolitan outlook, Berlin has established as one of the leading locations for the creative and digital economy worldwide. Berlin inspires. Not only has the city masterfully handled reuniﬁcation, it has also evolved into a culturally diverse, tolerant, and cosmopolitan metropolis attracting young talent as well as creative and digital companies from around the world. Berlin has become a hotspot for design, fashion, art, advertising, film, games, music and theatre. A feature of Berlin, aside from its exuberance, is the way it continuously reinvents itself. Berlin’s combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise anyone keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history.
Make Mitte yours—militaries, artists, squatters, and professionals have been doing it for generations. Diverse goals and individuals converge in Mitte, the neighbourhood known as Berlin’s beating heart. Mitte exemplifies the term “culture collision.” Its internationally renowned heritage sites, museums, memorials, and frank treatment of its storied past inspire dialogues unlike most others. Prosperity has risen out of pain, and the chic apartments that loom above Mitte’s outrageously stylish cafes and galleries prove it.
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What to Wear to Smash the State by Jenni Avins
Anti-fascist activists believe in dressing for the job they want. Right now, many think, that job is punching Nazis.
In late August, a crowd of thousands—primarily leftists and liberals—cascaded down Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley, Calif. They were marching on a spattering of right-wingers, Trump supporters and Nazis who were gathering under the mission to say “no to Marxism in America.” At the front of the march were about 100 people dressed in head-to-toe black. According to many people present, this was the largest so-called black bloc they’d seen. This medley of black-clad anarchists, anti-fascists (known as “antifa” activists) and their fellow travelers was a response to the previous week’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. There, protests ended with 19 injured and 32-year-old Heather Heyer killed when James Fields, an admirer of Hitler who demonstrated with white supremacists, drove his car into a crowd. This mass of solid black descending upon the park in Berkeley, hunting for fascists, was an intimidating aesthetic. That’s by design. “Cops wear camouflage when they arrest people in city drug raids,” said Ben, a Bay Area activist. “But they’re in a city. It doesn’t help them, but it makes them look more intimidating.” Ben says he has participated in protests since 2000, including Bush/Gore, Occupy Oakland and Black Lives Matter. (The Times agreed to use only his first name because of the threat of harassment, online or otherwise, by activists.) “A group of people all dressed in black can be intimidating,” he said. Is that intimidation the motive or just a benefit? Do black bloc practitioners dress up because, as many progressives wonder, they want to commit crimes? What do they get out of “masking up”? Where does uniform merge with tactic? By now, you know the look. Black work or military boots, pants, balaclavas or ski masks, gloves and jackets, North Face brand or otherwise. Gas masks, goggles and shields may be added as accessories, but the basics have stayed the same since the look’s inception. It’s impossible to say which anarchist street movement first donned all black. The generally agreed-upon genesis for the bloc’s current incarnation is the Autonomen movement of the 1970s, which grew out of class struggles in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and beyond. (Antifa groups, an overlapping but not at all identical set of people, trace their lineage back further, to those who fought against the rise of Hitler; generally, where there is “fa,” there’s been “antifa.”) According to a history distributed by an anarchist news service in 2001, by Daniel Dylan Young, a continuing struggle in Germany between squatters and police evictors culminated in a 1981 action in which activists dressed in “black motorcycle helmets and ski masks,” wearing “uniform black clothing.” Nearly immediately, the benefits of such a uniform were realized.
The Living City
“Everyone quickly figured out,” Mr. Young wrote, that “having a massive group of people all dressed the same with their faces covered not only helps in defending against the police, but also makes it easier for saboteurs to take the offensive against storefronts, banks and any other material symbols and power centers of capitalism and the state.” Both the ease of uniform procurement—the barrier to entry is just getting black clothes, with only your own ethical purchasing guidelines to steer you—and the aesthetic’s effectiveness allowed black blocs to spread. During Ronald Reagan’s visit to Berlin in 1986, a group of 3,000 showed up, according to Mr. Young; in 1999, a bloc of 500 was part of the “March for Mumia” in Philadelphia, protesting the imprisonment of the journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. That same year, between 100 and 300 people became the bloc at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. It was a look so successful that the bloc’s greatest enemies considered adopting it. As Mark Bray details in his incisive “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” there have been occasional attempts to co-opt the bloc look by right-wing fascist groups. That’s died down recently, with the loose overlapping affiliation of nationalists, white supremacists and Nazis instead adopting an overdressed, old-fashioned style often referred to as “dapper.” So, while they wear khakis and white polos, the black bloc are left with some particular defensive and offensive benefits of their very own. The creation of mass anonymity protects practitioners from the threat of post-action doxxing by white supremacist groups, a process by which their identities and contact information, including addresses and places of employment, are publicized. People at home can use this information to harass and threaten. Similarly, police and other agencies have staff devoted to documenting demonstrations, and they work to identify people on film and video. These are among the reasons that some anarchists and anti-fascists advocate smashing cameras at demonstrations. As surveillance techniques have advanced and proliferated the rise of the high-resolution portable phone camera along with social media means more documentation and more distribution than ever—practitioners have evolved from covering up obvious markers like tattoos, birthmarks and scars to hiding biometric indicators like ears and noses. Some in black blocs say they have heard of people placing weights in belts to alter their gaits. “I’ll often look through pictures from the demonstration and see if I can spot myself in any of them,” said Elle Armageddon, a Bay Area activist and writer. “If I can’t find any pictures of myself, I feel like I’ve done O.K.” Elle Armageddon (likely not a birth name) is the author of “The Femme’s Guide to Riot Fashion,” published at the website of CrimethInc., which describes itself as a “rebel alliance—a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action.” The guide recommends that femmes, meaning people of any gender, with long hair use tucked-in braids, and that they layer masks for full facial coverage. It also reminds us all that “shoes make or break an outfit.” There is solid beauty advice as well: “A layer of glitter or highlighter dusted over your cheeks can serve double duty, showing off your glorious bone structure while
“The creation of mass anonymity protects practitioners from the threat of post-action doxxing by white supremacist groups.”
simultaneously providing a helpful way to determine which side of your bandanna was in contact with your face and which side is saturated in tear gas particulate.” (Also, jean shorts are probably not ideal.) There is more practical advice on how to dress for a riot. One should decide on organic or synthetic gloves before participating in an action: Wool and cotton may allow chemical contaminants, like pepper spray, to absorb, while nylon can melt if you grab something hot, which historically has included some kinds of tear-gas canisters but can include various things on fire. One Antifa “fashion don’t” is carrying cellphones. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that 72 agencies in 24 states and Washington, D.C., have “simulators” that mimic cellphone towers in order to track people. These defensive methods work only if there are enough black-clad others nearby. A single person in all black and multiple face masks is an eye grabber. This effect of anonymity-by-mass has allowed for the offensive side of bloc tactics to flourish. The uniformity camouflages those who participate in illegal acts like property damage, refusing police orders or physical assault against white supremacists or Nazis. This willful protection of the group is embedded in the style’s aesthetic. “People sometimes do things that are illegal, but I think they’re ethical,” Ben said. “I’m happy to be in this mass that creates anonymity for those people, even if they’re doing things I’m not willing to do.” Tactical considerations aside, it’s this emotional connection with other members of the bloc that many practitioners highlight the most in interviews. “Uniformity of characteristics” and a visual sense of equality have a way of, as research published in 2015 put it, giving “rise to feelings of solidarity.” It’s why soldiers and police have uniforms. It’s why sports teams have apparel for themselves and their fans, why brands have logos and consistent colorways, why fascists get slightly too-short versions of David Beckham haircuts and pin frogs to their lapels. But unlike hierarchal uniforms like those of the military, say—or even the difference between worker and management clothes at somewhere such as McDonald’s—black bloc fashion allows no room for rank to enter the style. It’s all black and that’s it. (Other leftist movements use similar techniques. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas, Mexico, which rose after the 1994 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, takes the approach of cultivating equality through anonymity by wearing balaclavas or handkerchiefs over the face, but pairs them with the militant gear of armed struggle or indigenous elements.) Min, an activist who participated in the Inauguration Day actions in Washington known as J20, and who asked to be identified only by her first name, said that, because of the cold that day, many bloc practitioners were also dressed in parkas. This had the effect of erasing almost all identifying characteristics, including ethnicity and gender. “It was like a goth party,” Min said. “There were queer people, black people, white people, Asian people, and, because, we were all wearing black, there was no way to even think about the things that are often barriers to our connection.” Min said this anonymity, where she was unable to identify even people around her, had a way of purifying her actions. “There’s a difference between me helping you because I know you and care about you, and me helping you because I want you to be helped,” she said. Min is an artist. For her, this is one of the most unappreciated aspects of black bloc as a style. It’s tactical, and practical, and it’s also an art form with the effect of building solidarity long after the boots go into the closet. The experience of being enveloped in anonymity helps retain the movement’s ideology, after the balaclavas get folded up and stacked in the drawer. “In spheres where we don’t have uniforms, we really embrace individuality,” Min said. “But black bloc creates a feeling of ‘Who you are is who I am.’ Of ‘It doesn’t matter who I am when we’re fighting together.’”
“There were queer people, black people, white people, Asian people, and, because, we were all wearing black, there was no way to even think about the things that are often barriers to our connection.”
and the Reichstag
MODEL: CHARLOTTE VAN IMHOFF
Berlin has a long and tortured history, the most memorable being during and after World War II. The Reichstag, and the surrounding area tells the stories of some of those histories – specifically through the architecture and significant buildings. The Reichstag specifically, is the meeting place of the Bundestag (“Federal Assembly”), the lower house of Germany’s national legislature. The area of Mitte is where many government proceedings occurred, and still do. Most of Mitte and buildings were actually destroyed during WWII, but have since been rebuilt to carry on their stories. They signify the past of the city, this tone of remembrance portraying the dark energy that still hangs in the air.
Charlottenburg is well-suited for sophisticated evening entertainment. Filled with theatres, museums, and fine dining establishments, this west Berlin neighbourhood steps out in style. During the day, Charlottenburgâ€™s palace, gardens, and palatial gardens invite countless picture-snappers to stroll its manicured paradise. Charlottenburgâ€™s high-end shopping complexes and notable cleanliness distinguish it from many of Berlinâ€™s vintage and street art inclined neighbourhoods, although the record shops and wheat-pasted corridors of Moabit are just a neighbourhood away.
Age: 20 Identifying Gender: female Neighborhood in Berlin: Charlottenburg Ethnicity/Background: German Educational Background: Occupation: no real occupation, working sometimes in fun things Political Views/Spectrum: Let’s save our beautiful planet as long as we still can; every human has the same value and deserves respect; make love not war Religion: officially protestant but not actually religious Relational Social Roles: sister, daughter Hobbies: photography, film, art, music Originating City/Nationality: Berlin Ultimate Dream/Ambition: I’d love to be a director or play in a cool band
Appreciating Berlin’s Beauty 10
The mentality of Berlin is, “Yeah, maybe tomorrow.”
The Living City
How would you say you’ve been influenced moving back to a big city? I think it’s a lot about the feeling pressured by people in a small city like Heidelberg. You do things because you think people like them, and people care. That’s also connected with the way you dress. Heidelberg is quite a cool city [but] it’s not very interpretive. A lot of students live there so it’s nice but still I wouldn’t wear what I want to wear to school because I’m scared people might say something. In Berlin nobody gives a fuck. You can just wear anything and nobody cares. How would you describe Berlin or Berlin culture? Diverse, crazy. People are unfriendly and don’t really want to talk to you. But when you’re unfriendly [back] to them they start being friendly. How would you say that Berlin inspires you? I think I really like looking at people. In the U-bahn when you have to go a long way, where lots of people get in, get off. I like looking at people and thinking about what they do, and how they dress. Just being in big cities is always inspiring. Is there a certain other area of Berlin that really inspires you? It’s a bit standard, a bit cliché but I used to love the Mauerpark Flohmarkt, which is Sunday’s flea market in Mauerpark. It’s crowded with people but still nice. You still find Berlin people there but it’s mostly tourists now. There’s still a really good atmosphere there. Music and lots of different food and you can buy everything. You can buy chairs, and clothes, and kitchen stuff, and dead people’s attic stuff. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? I’d say there are a lot of people that seem to be really cool so they make you feel intimidated. That’s what I feel at least. They think they’re really cool and they also look really cool. It’s sometimes even more difficult to approach people here than in other cities even though you think that Berlin’s cool and open and free. Why do you think people are attracted to the city of Berlin? I think a lot of creative people are attracted to the city because it’s different to other capitals. For example, all the money is in London, England. Here, Berlin brings down the economy. It’s worse than in the rest of Germany… not all parts but Berlin is not really full of business, banking, or really rich people. The mentality of Berlin is, “Yeah, maybe tomorrow.” It’s relaxing and there are so many left-wing people ... So many vegan, animal-lovers, liberal, and politically interested people. Why did you put on that outfit today that you’re wearing? I put this on because this was the first outfit that I was wearing when I moved here. When I went out of the house I thought, “Okay, you can’t really wear this. You look like a hippie or something.” And then on the U-bahn I felt, “Today is the day where I’m the craziest [dressed] person in the U-bahn.” It’s not that crazy, but I wouldn’t be wearing this in Heidelberg. Maybe one month after moving here I [finally] felt, “Okay. Nobody cares. I can wear whatever I want.” What is your typical day-to-day dress? I wear a lot of skirts and dresses. I always wear tights, and skirts, and dresses. I used to wear a lot of black but now I like brown, white, black, and grey… neutrals. Where do you typically buy your clothing? I try to buy most things secondhand. I don’t like buying new things anymore. I love coats. All my coats are either my father’s, my grandfather’s, my mum’s, or my grandmother’s. And I really like all the second-hand shops in Berlin. The vintage shops are quite expensive, but if you go to Pick’nWeight... it’s the biggest second-hand shop in Berlin. It’s kilo price of €25 a kilo; you can get good things. But trying to find a second-hand or vintage shop in any other city [in Germany] is difficult. What do you wear to feel confident? Something that I really feel good/ comfortable in. I wouldn’t wear something too crazy because then if I’m in
Maybe one month after moving here I [finally] felt, “Okay. Nobody cares. I can wear whatever I want.”
a situation where I don’t feel comfortable, then I think, “I’m drawing so much attention to myself.” How did you dress change when you moved from Bristol to Berlin? Not too much I think. I mean—I was doing lots of different things in Bristol… I dressed more practical I think. Because I was working, then baby sitting kids; you can’t wear nice things because they’re going to dribble over your clothes. And I think also in Bristol, people would look at you if you wear too crazy outfits. Have you ever judged someone based on what they’re wearing? Yeah, I think I do that all the time, I’m afraid. Sometimes I’m judging girls that have this uniform that everyone wears: the green parka with the fur, black jeans, and some H&M jumper. You can sometimes see groups of them and they all wear the same outfit, and sneakers of course. I also feel intimidated by people that dress in a really cool way because then I think, “Okay, they must be really cool.” They probably don’t want to talk to me. Do you dress differently around your family? If I were back in Heidelberg, I wouldn’t wear the same things because I wouldn’t feel comfortable drawing attention. And then my family, I know that I’m going to get comments if I wear something that’s not completely “normal”, or my Berlin clothes... but not in a mean way. I just experienced it in Christmas when my dad or grandfather made silly commentary. How does other people’s dress inspire you if it does? Sometimes I see people and something that they do—a tiny thing. I saw a girl on the U-bahn; she was wearing boots, really tight jeans and wool socks up high. Normally that looks silly but on her it looked really good… so I thought, “Hmm, I’m going to try that.”
The Living City
by Dominic Hopkins-Powell Berlin does black as only Berlin can, obsidian prime meridian of a polychrome idiom, forged of a hundred hues of darkness, ink mingled with ash shades ebony age rings of a cityâ€™s history, a rainbow of ravens marked by coal and graffiti, kohl darkens the face of Europeâ€™s bodies, brush strokes of jet on a pockmarked slate scarred by the pitch of an episodic yesterday. Berlin is its own place, and of itself can make a spectrum of night, night of a spectrum.
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Wedding has a history of finding solutions amidst struggle. This persevering neighbourhood was the site of one of the first secret tunnels aiding East Berlin refugees during WWII, and later survived being razed in the name of urban renewal. Now, Wedding is a mix of UNESCO protected apartment blocks that recall the toil of the working class, graffiti-clad factory buildings, and a growing population of young artists attracted by Weddingâ€™s hard-knock roots and unwavering resiliency.
MODEL: NANUK KARCH
Berlin On The Streets
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The Living City
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Upholding Berlin’s world-renowned artistic eclecticism, even Moabit’s prisons serve as canvases for creativity. Surrounded by canals, this central Berlin neighbourhood boasts what you look for in a cosmopolitan core—paradigm-shifting public spaces (think transparent train stations), family-run shops that remain true to their artisanal roots, and a convenient location. In this subtly evolving neighbourhood, answering the question “What’s next?” is what’s exciting.
The Living City
Can Berlin Turn Its Fetish for Failure Into a Fashion Success Story? by Jenni Avins
ust over a hundred years ago, the art critic Karl Scheffler famously observed that Berlin was a “city forever condemned to becoming and never to being.” Even now, nothing looks quite finished and the city, again the country’s capital, sits uncomfortably between its love of freedom and failure, and its desire to be taken more seriously by the wider world. Thanks to its low cost of living, Berlin is a magnet for thousands of creatives. After the Second World War, state subsidies brought artists to West Berlin, while during the Cold War, city-wide exemption from military service attracted punks and left-wing rebels, who often squatted in empty buildings. And while the rest of Germany earned a reputation for hard-working efficiency—epitomized by the country’s large number of engineers and automobile manufacturers—Berlin became known for its art, music and clubbing scenes. In a country home to relatively few major fashion brands—save for Adidas, Puma and Hugo Boss— Berlin alone has over 2,500 fashion businesses, many born from its renegade creative scene. And yet the city’s most noteworthy labels—including GmbH,
Ottolinger, 032c, Dumitrascu, Ximon Lee and Nhu Duong—all look to more established capitals to show and make their name. “They would never show in Berlin,” says Mumi Haiati, one of Berlin’s best-connected fashion publicists. “They use Berlin as a platform and space for their own creativity.” So what’s the matter with Berlin? “The image of Berlin is what makes it and that image is that we’re poor but sexy,” says Brigitte Zypries, Angela Merkel’s federal minister for economic affairs and energy. “I think Berlin is the liveliest city in Germany these days. We have a very lively start up scene here in Berlin and a lively culture scene, not just in fashion, but also in gaming and other creative industries, too.” The start-up scene has certainly helped transform the fortunes of Berlin, attracting a digitally savvy workforce and creating new spending power within the city. Despite the city’s love for secondhand clothes, its luxury retail sector is growing. “Seven years ago, when we launched, we had way less expensive labels,” explains Herbert Hofmann, buying and creative director of Voo Store, a Kreuzberg concept store that sells a mix of established and emerging international
“The most punk thing you can do in Berlin is to be successful ... Having failures is important but in Berlin it’s a sick celebration of failure.”
labels like Raf Simons, Jil Sander and Rejina Pyo, alongside progressive local brands such as Goetze, GmbH and Reality Studio. “Our customer is now more interested in international fashion and come to our store to educate themselves.” There’s also Andreas Murkudis’ concept store in northern Schöneberg, a spacious home to brands including Céline, Maison Margiela and Dries van Noten, as well as beauty products and design objects. The trouble is that Berlin has a too-cool-for-school mentality and an unhealthy fetish for failure. “Berlin is a brand and everyone thinks it’s cooler than it is,” says Jessica Hannan, the British-born fashion director of Sleek, a Berlin-based art and style title. “Berlin capitalizes on its own brand and everyone thinks they know what it is, but the truth is that people come here and never leave the perimeters of Soho House—or Berliners are embarrassed to be in fashion because they want to be artists. The reality is that the German market is much more conservative than what people perceive to be quintessential Berlin.” For Andrea Dumitrascu, Berlin can be a graveyard of ambition. “I’ve been observing a lot of waves of people coming in, who are excited and cheerful and talented and interesting, but it’s a city that will swallow you,” says the designer, who moved to Berlin 15 years ago and joined the art group The Honeysuckle Company before becoming a fashion buyer. “There is no urge or pressure to do anything here and there’s nothing going on. You’re just creative, but then you don’t get things done. Berlin has potential, but no structure to support it.” There is no urge or pressure to do anything here and there’s nothing going on. You’re just creative, but then you don’t get things done. “Looking from the outside, a lot of people see Berlin and they see 032c and GmbH and all of that, but all of that has nothing to do with the actual fashion scene in Germany,” points out Alexandra Bondi de Antoni, editor-in-chief of i-D Germany, whose audience is 50 percent Berlin-based. “Anyway, no one really cares about what you wear in Berlin.” She agrees with Dumitrascu’s comments: “Compared to London, where you have to survive, Berlin is so cheap and a lot of designers don’t have that fight, so they don’t get that far.” Stefano Pilati, former Yves Saint Laurent and Ermenegildo Zegna Couture creative director, moved to Berlin five years ago. “It’s a city where you enjoy the lack of pressure, but what you do with this lack of pressure is very subjective,” he says cautiously. Although Pilati is said to be working on a fashion project that will launch later this year, he is keen to stress that Berlin is not a fashion capital because “no one cares” about fashion in the city. “I don’t care in the sense that I can see on the street or at the club what looks good or fashionable, but it’s not an expression of aspirational people.” Perched in their low-ceiling sitting room, which is covered from floor to concrete ceiling in violet Vorwerk carpet, Joerg and Maria Koch are surrounded by art and Supreme artefacts. The couple behind 032c, the magazine cum fashion label that recently staged its first show at Pitti Uomo, have an apartment and office space in St Agnes, a converted brutalist church in Kreuzberg. Joerg is the editor; Maria is the designer. “The most punk thing you can do in Berlin is to be successful,” says Joerg. “The whole culture of failure is a cheap exit not to go for your dreams. Having failures is important but in Berlin it’s a sick celebration of failure. You’re not allowed to talk about success. The fact that we’re successful is a poo-poo for people; it’s not expected of a cultural title. But the more successful we are, the more [creative] freedom we have.” “When we started out, fashion with a capital ‘F’ was a fantasy,” he continues. “We didn’t see stuff like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel or Dior, and that obviously was really helpful for us to develop our own identity, but we’re now at the stage where we could actually benefit from a bigger commercial structure.” Part of the problem, however, is that Germany’s biggest fashion companies are spread out across the country, which makes it difficult to create a hub in Berlin. “If you had all of the companies in one place, it would be incredible, because then avant-garde brands would have the context of how to develop,” adds Joerg. “Berlin has never had an active garment-making industry,” agrees Ximon Lee, the gender-neutral designer who shows in Milan. “Even arriving at the airport,
it feels like the ‘80s. Sometimes you arrive in the old part of the terminal and there is no elevator and you have all your samples to carry. Other times, things get stuck in customs and it takes weeks and so much paperwork to get them back.” “Berlin and its slightly anti-attitude inform everything we do, from how we cook communal lunches every day in the studio to how we design,” say Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik, the designers behind GmbH, which has been referred to as Berlin’s answer to Vetements. But their label, which earned an LVMH Prize nomination last year, is more rooted in the collision of immigrant culture and German severity (Huseby is part Pakistani, part Norwegian; Isik is part German, part Turkish) as well as Berlin’s harderfaster-louder techno clubs than the irony of elevating ordinary clothes. The most punk thing you can do in Berlin is to be successful ... Having failures is important but in Berlin it’s a sick celebration of failure. GmbH’s Paris Fashion Week shows and advertising campaigns reflect the multiculturalism of Berlin, which has long been home to a hodgepodge of Turks, Polish and Vietnamese immigrants, as well as more recent arrivals: left-wing rebels from conservative southern Germany, start-up entrepreneurs and Anglo-American creatives. But the disadvantage of being a growing brand based in Berlin, say Huseby and Isik, is that “you are somewhat disconnected to the world, and there is hardly any professional fashion network or qualified people.” “It is very important for us to show our collections during Paris Fashion Week, because the whole industry is present there these days, and some of those people might not come to Berlin. We have to go there to meet them in person. But where we work and live during the rest of the year doesn’t really matter for us at this point,” say Cosima Gadient and Christa Bösch of Ottolinger, known for its textural womenswear. Commerce is front and centre at Berlin Fashion Week, however, which was launched by IMG in 2007 and has been the subject of a much-anticipated revamp by the newly-formed Fashion Council Germany, a not-for-profit organisation with the ambition of becoming something similar to The Council of Fashion Designers of America or The British Fashion Council. Formed to provide a better support structure for German designers, the council was tasked with turning around a fashion week that had been ridiculed by fashionable Berliners for its ill-placed commercial sponsorships and lack of renowned designers. Hugo Boss and Escada, two of the schedule’s biggest names, jumped ship three years ago. Matters seemed to improve when Berlin Fashion Week sponsor Mercedes-Benz parted ways with IMG, which most local players described as an obstacle to progress. This time around, the white tents at the Brandenburg Gate were gone, and replaced by the automobile brand’s fashion and digital activation venue at E-Werk, an events venue near Checkpoint Charlie that was once a world—famous techno nightclub, and today is more discrete and less branded alternative to the previous official venues. “London, Milan and Paris have their own images, but for decades they have had council-owned fashion weeks— ours only started two years ago,” argues Caroline Pilz, head of fashion sponsorship and product placement at Mercedes-Benz . “Also, the reputation in the past was that it was too commercial, but you can’t complain about it being too commercial and then have no sponsors and support.” “I like the rawness and the ugliness of Berlin and I think it’s the perfect ground for creativity,” said Christiane Arp, the Munich-based editor-in-chief of German Vogue and president of Fashion Council Germany. “I was in New York in the ‘80s and it is the same energy. It’s also an international cosmopolitan city. I see it as [Germany’s] melting pot.” As part of Berlin Fashion Week, Arp curates an exhibition space called ‘Berliner Salon’ with up-and-coming Berlin-based designers on show. “This is a growing market that is becoming more and more interesting for international retailers. 032c and GmbH, they’re still German even though they show in Paris or Florence. If there was a wish I could make, it would be that in five years’ time, they all show in Berlin.” One of Arp’s selected designers, William Fan, does show in Berlin and hasn’t a negative word to say about the experience. Fan’s elegant ready-to-wear sits alongside Céline in KaDeWe, Germany’s biggest department store, where he has a sell-through rate of 70 percent. Based in Mitte, Fan produces his collections in Hong Kong and shows in Berlin, because his customer is “100 percent German.” He has just opened a store in his neighbourhood, which is also home to Soho House and The Store, its ground-floor boutique. “South Germany is where the money is, but they’re based everywhere—I have a customer in Cologne who is one of the biggest art collectors,” he enthuses. “I know there
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“Berlin is currently in the process of redefining itself.”
are problems [with Berlin Fashion Week] but there are a lot of people here, including important buyers in this market. I like to keep it local and get the right people.” The reputation [of Berlin Fashion Week] in the past was that it was too commercial, but you can’t complain about it being too commercial and then have no sponsors and support. Dorothee Schumacher, a fellow Berlin-based designer who has been in business since 1989, points out that showing in Berlin allows her to get a head start in the season and have more time to prepare for sales appointments in Paris. She currently has 600 retail partners in over 45 countries, and says that she is still establishing herself in the US market. Trade shows are also an integral part of Berlin Fashion Week. Bread and Butter was perhaps the city’s best-known trade fair, but in 2015 it was acquired by Zalando and turned into a public-facing “fashion festival,” losing its industry kudos. According to Anita Tillmann, managing partner of Premium Exhibitions and founding board member of Fashion Council Germany, the four trade shows that currently exist alongside Berlin Fashion Week have more than 3,000 collections and 60,000 visitors from all over the world. Tillmann rebuffed the notion that a clash with the menswear shows in Milan and Paris would deter industry professionals from Berlin Fashion Week, adding that Premium has just invested €2.5 million in a digital platform to ease communication and transaction between exhibitors and visitors. “We have to be prepared and think in a bigger perspective,” she says. “Two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have done this,” said Damir Doma during a walkthrough of his streetcast Berlin Fashion Week show, staged at Halle am Berghain, the gay sex club and iconic techno venue on the border of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain that is a concrete cathedral to Berlin’s nightlife, as part of Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Fashion HAB’ space. The designer has never showed in Berlin before and although he is from Southern Germany, his only connection to the capital is that he briefly studied there. “You can’t do it two or three seasons in a row, and we’ll be doing showroom
appointments in Paris so that we don’t miss out on reviews and crucial press. Next season, we’ll go back to showing in Milan.” What attracted him to be a part of the schedule was the venue, and the opportunity to show in an authentic space with a thumping soundtrack by Berghain’s resident DJs. Despite not wanting to participate in it beyond a one-off show, he’s positive about the future of Berlin’s fashion scene. “IMG pulling out of Berlin Fashion Week was the first positive thing and also the start of the Fashion Council Germany.” There’s certainly an air of optimism among many designers. “With new money coming into the city, startups booming and rents getting more expensive, Berlin is currently in the process of redefining itself,” says Nhu Duong, a Swedish designer based in Berlin, whose dark unisex ready-to-wear is often infused with vinyl and streetwear references. “Just look at the long lines outside of the nightclub Berghain and you can see how commercial success and cultural integrity are flirting with each other.” Later this year, Berghain will also play host to a different kind of fashion event that could become a cooler, more international alternative to Berlin Fashion Week. Reference Berlin will be a sort of festival for fashion, art and design, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and 032c. Coinciding with Berlin’s well-attended Gallery Weekend in April (which doesn’t clash with any major fashion weeks), the event is being organised by Mumi Haiati and Robert Grunenberg, a Berlin-based art historian and curator. Reference will include major international brands such as Gucci and Wales Bonner, as well as other prominent names in art, fashion and design yet to be announced. It will comprise of installations, screenings, panel discussions and a high-profile party—and its emphasis on creativity and culture aims to be something of an antidote to Berlin’s official fashion week programme. “It’s fundamentally a storytelling platform where art, fashion, commerce and technology are natural extensions of one another,” explains Haiati. “It will mirror the spirit of Berlin’s utopia, where creativity, experimentation and freedom of expression flourish.”
Schöneberg applauds urban sensibilities. Its wide boulevards and open air plazas give way to tidy outdoor markets, rolling park spaces, and cheeky bars and clubs that welcome a thriving gay community. Artfully plastered and mortared apartments perch atop Schöneberg’s provocative shops, while this neighborhood’s contemporary art galleries’ sleek stylings counter the old-world glamor of its prominent civic buildings. Even without the glitter, Schöneberg dazzles yearround—it’s the site of numerous public festivals and parades.
by John Burnside A midwinter spring, of sorts, the day you died, meltwater glazing the trees at Schöneberg, the U-Bahn hurtling beneath my feet as I crossed to Innsbrucker Straße–and Klaus said Hast du das nicht . . .? while my mind went back to Louis and Pip and Simon: ultra— white boys from the suburbs, single— mindedly unmanned, in borrowed shirts and borrowed make-up: ersatz rebels, erstwhile saints, but none of us much cop at punching; though, till then, we hadn’t guessed how weak we’d have to be for that to matter.
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In The Heart Of Berlin, A Beloved Kink Shop Is A Charming, Healing Presence by Jenni Avins
From outside, the Butcherei Lindinger looked like any of the other kink shops in Schöneberg, Berlin’s historic gay district.
ne mannequin in the window was accessorized with a ball gag; another wore what appeared to be a leather diving mask of sorts, connected to a metal leash. Inside, the store was brightly lit, its walls lined with leather jackets, vests, pants, and harnesses. Shiny steel sex toys shone on a shelf. A glass case held items I couldn’t quite identify, but which looked medical in nature. (A urine bag was apparent thanks to its label.) Collars of various colors hung from butcher’s hooks behind the checkout counter—actually a hip-high, vintage metal operating table—framed with stacks of lube carrying labels such as Slam Dunk, Elbow Grease, and oldfashioned Crisco. I had spent the previous few days covering Berlin Fashion Week, and had seen some impressive shows, to be sure. But none, I would later discover, would channel the power of fashion quite like the Butcherei Lindinger. What I didn’t realize, as I wandered under the store’s red striped awning, was that it was far more than just a selection of kinky clothes and sex toys. It was a special kind of haute-couture hotbed: a fantasy factory where artisans and technicians craft peoples’ deepest desires into clothing. Hardcore as it may have appeared, the Butcherei’s business is closer to the original notion of couture than that of any of the designers whose creations I’d seen that week on the runways. And Berlin’s tragic and beautiful history of fashion, sex, repression, and liberation is as essential to the business as London’s old-school suiting is to the tailors of Savile Row. I lowered myself onto a leather couch just inside the door with Marc Lindinger, the Butcherei’s founder and designer, and his business partner, Oliver Eiermann. With a strong jaw, narrow hazel eyes, and a thick silver ring through his septum, Lindinger resembled a human version of his store’s bull logo, which was emblazoned in red across Eiermann’s white t-shirt. Glancing up, I saw a photo that depicted three men—Lindinger among them, I would later realize—nearly life-sized, engaged in a sort of train inserting objects between one another’s buttocks in what appeared to be an operating room. My questions for the designer momentarily dissolved. Lindinger, tall and fit at 41 years old, smiled. “I can tell you how it started,” he offered.
THE POWER OF FETISH FASHION Before the industrial revolution made off-the-shelf clothing de rigueur, those who could afford new clothes typically visited a tailor and had them made to measure. Today, bespoke suiting and couture dresses are reserved for the wealthiest or most notable of clients. The average fashion designer works to a punishing schedule, creating at least four collections per year, only to be knocked off by fast-fashion imitators. By contrast, Lindinger works on a calendar dictated by his own creativity and the needs of his customers. The majority of his creations are not the ready-to-wear chaps, vests, and jackets I saw hanging in the shop, but custom designs created in a cellar atelier with painstaking attention to the highly detailed wishes of his clients. Some of those wishes are relatively mundane: leather pants made-to-measure, or in a certain combination of colors. Others— such as animal masks, restraints and harnesses, and clothes with strategically placed zippers, flaps, and straps—are pure fantasy, and frequently sexual. The power of fashion lies in the stories an item of clothing can tell—whether it’s a lucky pair of shorts a drummer wears onstage, or sharp stilettos that give a female CEO command in a boardroom. At its best, fashion can channel history, emotion, and narrative, and communicate it to others. I firmly believe in this power. For the fetishist, however, that power goes far deeper. At the very least, fetish allows its wearers to tell stories they could never tell in a conventional setting: I am dominant; I am wild; I am someone—or something—entirely other than myself. At the far end of the spectrum, the fetishist’s attraction to an item or material can result in an appreciation that is, quite literally, orgasmic. You might call Marc Lindinger a couturier of kink, but he is a couturier nonetheless. And a direct connection to his customers, the stories they want to tell, and their most intimate desires gives Lindinger a power most fashion designers can only dream of. The busiest weekends at Butcherei Lindinger are those when the Folsom and Christopher Street fairs, the two epicenters of the leather fetish scene in the US, bring events to the German capital. What many of those leather devotees may not know is that the movement for gay rights and sexual liberation—like their wristbands, motorcycle jackets, and harnesses—began right there in Berlin.
MADE IN BERLIN In 1897—half a century before the American sexologist Alfred Kinsey challenged the popular understanding of same-sex desire as a disease or disorder—Magnus Hirschfeld, a Berlin-based doctor and scientist, founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. Often heralded as the world’s first gay-rights organization, the Committee served as a research and community center in Berlin’s picturesque Tiergarten. “Through science to justice” was the Committee’s motto, and Hirschfeld, like Kinsey, fought to prove that human sexuality was far more complex and fluid than society’s binary labels allowed. A century before countries started permitting same-sex marriage, he argued that “love is as varied as people are” and that sexual preference was innate, a natural, biological truth that shouldn’t be persecuted. Berlin’s nightlife reflected similarly liberal views, as Robert Beachy documented in his book, Gay Berlin. In the late 1800s, the city was home to same-sex bars, dance halls, and costume balls. The police commissioner’s “Department of Homosexuals” kept an eye on things,but was tolerant. Gay culture flourished in the Weimar era, when Marlene Dietrich wore trousers, and the lack of censorship gave rise to nearly 30 gay publications by the 1920s. By the following decade, the city was home to nearly 100 gay bars, according to Beachy. The scene attracted and inspired artists and writers from more repressed corners of Europe, including England’s W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. The openness of sexuality in the city overwhelmed Isherwood—who would later pen the exquisite, pioneering 1964 novel, A Single Man—and he credited it with forcing him to face his own sexuality. But the revelry—and its surrounding progress—was violently silenced once Hitler came to power. The Nazis destroyed Hirschfeld’s institute and library, raided and closed gay bars (though some were reopened to appease tourists during the 1936 Olympics), and issued orders that gay men be “hunted down mercilessly.” Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis arrested around 100,000 men they suspected to be gay, and sent between 5,000 and 15,000 to concentration camps, where they marked them with pink triangles and subjected them to unspeakable horrors, including castration and murder. In the years directly after World War II, the systematic destruction of Germany’s gay community and rights movement was little discussed. The number of people the Nazis killed for their sexuality during the Holocaust is still unknown—some estimate around 6,000—and it’s only recently that their loss has been acknowledged. The first accounts of gay Holocaust survivors were published in the 1970s, and a memorial for those who perished was only raised in Berlin in 2008. (At least one survivor lived to see it.)
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INTO LEATHER Nonetheless, there was an aesthetic connection between the Nazis and the gay culture they tried to destroy. The leather jackets worn by German aviators in World War I, and then by the Nazis in World War II, influenced one of the forefathers of the fetish scene: Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. The Helsinki—based artist and adman drew gay men bulging with muscle and authority, a deliberate alternative to the effeminate stereotypes of the day. “The whole Nazi philosophy, the racism and all that, is hateful to me,” Laaksonen said. “But of course I drew them anyway—they had the sexiest uniforms!” Laaksonen’s drawings of soldiers, bikers, and cops— among others—helped plant and spread the seeds for leathermen, as the subculture is still known today. (To this day, Eiermann said, about once a year Butcherei will receive a request for an item bearing a swastika, which they never produce, for both legal and ethical reasons.) In the ‘70s, artist and actor Peter Berlin perpetuated the image further with the 1973 pornographic film Nights in Black Leather, in which he played himself, a German immigrant, cruising the gay scene in San Francisco. In 1980s New York, leather was the style for activists confronting the AIDS crisis head—on: “The military leather jackets, the big Doc Martens—there was a whole paramilitary thing going on,” said Mark Schoofs, then an AIDS reporter at The Village Voice. “It was because we were, in fact, fighting.” Back in Schöneberg, Romy Haag’s drag disco, just around the corner from where Butcherei Lindinger sits today, helped the city’s sexually adventurous subculture flutter its eyelashes back to life. By the time the Berlin Wall came down, the gay rights movement—and the accompanying leatherman subculture—that arguably began in Berlin had spread worldwide. Today, Berlin is one of the world’s greatest hedonistic playgrounds. The crown jewel of its nightclubs is the techno temple Berghain, which began in the 1990s as a fetish party. But on any given night in Schöneberg, and across the city, a smorgasbord of sexual theme parties take place, and dress codes abound, from latex to leather to nothing at all. The Wednesday that I met Lindinger, an alternative monthly listed a dozen such events taking place on that night alone. “Berlin is outstanding as a city of sex,” Lindinger said. And it was the Berlin scene that brought him to the city from his home in Bavaria—where, as he said, “nothing exciting happens”—and made his business possible.
“The power of fashion lies in the stories an item of clothing allows its wearer to tell… For the fetishist, that power goes far deeper.”
IT’S PERSONAL Like many of his clients, Lindinger himself has a fetish. He doesn’t just like leather; it turns him on. “I always loved this natural feeling of the material, this heaviness, this sound of moving together, the leathers—and also the surface,” he said, gazing into the distance over my head as he spoke. “It started as I was studying… I think it started there because my master”— he made air quotes as he said this, clarifying this was a master tailor, not the dominant member of an S&M relationship—“he had always leather in his cellar.” At the time, Lindinger was in Nuremberg, studying traditional tailoring for men’s suits. But leather held a special attraction. The procedures were distinct; the machines were different; and because the material was costly and unforgiving—holes from an incorrect seam, for example, couldn’t be hidden— it presented special challenges for the beginner. After working as a men’s costume designer, making bespoke suits for opera houses in Stuttgart and Zurich, Lindinger found his way to Berlin. In the beginning, he tended bar and worked in a fetish shop, which he declined to name. “I always had to sell rubbish,” he said. When it came time to begin his own business, Lindinger knew his leather should be at the luxury level, and central to his brand. He first wanted to name it the Fleischerei, or “butcher”, but in Germany the word is reserved for actual butchers, so he settled for Butcherei—an homage to his material muse. “Yes, it started there,” he said. “It makes a little firework always, if you touch the material.”
THE COUTURIER OF KINK “Couture,” Tim Blanks wrote of Dolce & Gabbana’s fall 2015 alta moda collection, “gives [designers] an opportunity to slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the face of God, a silken, gilded, embroidered, sequined, furry God who dwells in a realm of pure indulgent luxury, outside any of the prosaic restraints that bind designers to budgets and deadlines.” This is not unlike the realm Lindinger occupies. He still constructs custom garments the way he was trained with bespoke suiting—first cutting and sewing a model of the garment in cotton, and holding an initial fitting to verify measurements and details with the customer, before cutting the piece in leather or latex. For the Butcherei’s ready—to—wear collection, he releases new styles as he sees fit and maintains his classics, such as quilted motorcycle jackets and leather pants that can be converted into chaps by pulling on the right zippers. As you might guess, Lindinger is choosy about his materials. He sources leather only from European tanneries where processing treatments are verifiable. Because many of his creations are worn tight against the skin, and often in steamy situations, he won’t tolerate harsh chemicals or unsafe dyes. He favors cow and horse leather over sheep and lambskin, which tend to be weak, and finds his personal ne plus ultra in featherweight Japanese cow leather. “It feels light and soft, like if it’s your own skin over you,” he said. “It’s really fantastic.” Lindinger pulled a pair of men’s pants in the buttery black material off a rack, where they hung with vests, shirts, and shorts of various colors. A fine, puckered ribbing covered the pants’ knees, butt, and crotch—codpiece style, with silver zippers on either side— to give the wearer ease of movement. Price tag: €1,849 ($2,104). “In the industry, this is done by machine,” said Eiermann, pointing to the ribbing. “Here, the machine is called Krzysztof.” Krzysztof is one of four employees in Lindinger’s downstairs atelier, along with an additional leather tailor (formerly of Jean—Paul Gaultier), a patternmaker, and a latex couturier Lindinger’s best customers are as particular as he is. The team had recently put the finishing touches on a pair of black custom—designed pants in heavy horse leather, which hung in wait for Peter Marino, the notable New York—based architect, art collector, and so—called “leather daddy of luxury.” Marino, who designs stores for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Christian Dior, and homes for equally posh names such as Agnelli, Graff, and Rothschild, clearly could buy his leather gear anywhere. But at least a portion of it—three binders worth of personal orders, measurements, and specifications in Lindinger’s office—comes from the Butcherei. “They love me in Berlin,” he told Architectural Digest. When a client such as Marino has a fitting at Butcherei Lindinger, at least three other people are present: Lindinger, one of the tailors, and Eiermann, who notes every detail specified, from the piping down the pant—leg to the bulge at the codpiece.
“EVERYBODY JUST WANTS TO PLAY” For someone like Marino, leather gear is part of a public persona. For others, its use is extremely private. Like any couturier, Butcherei Lindinger works with clients to fashion fabric into something to fit their fantasies, and their bodies. Some of those clients know exactly what they want; others require more consulting. In those cases, Eiermann helps counsel and coax. “We are like priests or doctors,” said Eiermann. “People after a while, they tell us their secrets.” In a small sewing room, Krzysztof sat measuring a pair of pants beside a machine, as daylight faded from the window. Next to his workstation, a long, coarse horsetail hung on the wall. The horsetail was real, and not unlike one Lindinger’s team had recently used to fashion a leather horse costume for a client—a custom job that included a full suit, harness, bit, jockey visor, and a detachable tail for about €4,000. “There’s a special scene with pony play,” said Eiermann, remembering the female client who came in with her partner. “He decided how his horse would be dressed. That happens quite often, that a couple comes in and one of them decides what the other has to wear. You can see which has some dominant behavior.” Other times, they receive requests via email: “Hi, I’m Bolt, a rubber pup,” read the beginning of one such note on a wall of works—in— progress. Another included a client’s sketch of a human face wearing a raccoon mask. The beginning of its embodiment, a cap with little peaked ears in supple grey leather, was tacked up beside it. The deeper into Lindinger’s workspace I ventured, the less threatening—and more beautiful, in its way—it became. Many of the fantasies seemed impressively childlike. Had we been discussing a troupe of kindergarteners, “pony play,” doctor’s instruments, and raccoon masks wouldn’t have struck me as strange in the slightest. That case of what appeared to be medical supplies in the store, it occurred to me in retrospect, was just for grownups who like to play doctor. “Often people come in, and they’re shy, because they think they are perverts,” said Eiermann. “But they’re not. So everybody just wants to play, and that’s what we try to assist.” After all, sex can be an intensely personal, empowering expression of one’s identity—and all the histories, insecurities, and desires that come with it. But it can also just be fun. In this respect, it is much like fashion. And in his little shop in Schöneberg, Marc Lindinger has tapped into both—and managed to build a sophisticated, devoted, global clientele that would be the envy of any couturier.
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MODEL: ESIN YILDIZ
The Living City
Berlin’s U-Bahn system lends itself to so much mystery; the yellow trains are iconic. Descending into dark tunnels, there’s no idea of what is going on outside, and who or what exactly the train drivers are honking their horns at underground. Berlin is a city where people mind their own business. The system is so iconic because it is often a source of inspiration for inhabitants of the city. Often the subway is where people express themselves, their identity, their fashion—without hesitation. The Berlin Transport Authority makes it known that whoever you are, they don’t care. The only thing they care about is that you’ve got a valid ticket to ride the train.
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Get To Know Berlin’s U-Bahn Architecture Take a trip through the city’s 7 best stations. by George Kafka Since it opened in 1902, Berlin’s U-Bahn—Untergrundbahn or underground train – and its 170 stations have been among Europe’s greatest pieces of public infrastructure. The network of stations also rank among the city’s most impressive architectural sites, spanning the styles of Art Nouveau, Modernism (and Postmodernism) – as well as Germany’s most tumultuous century. Alight here for a whistle—stop tour of the best stops for architecture buffs.
Nollendorfplatz Station Part of the first open U-Bahn line and built in 1902, Nollendorfplatzin Schöneberg was originally adorned with an Art Nouveau dome before it was destroyed during WWII. In 2002 the dome was rebuilt with rainbow coloured neon stripes (above), a nod to the area’s history as Berlin’s LGBQT hub.
Wittenbergplatz Station Another of Berlin’s oldest stations, Wittenbergplatz is the handiwork of Swedish-born architect Alfred Grenander, the city’s most prolific early 20th-century railway architect. This station features a Neoclassical facade and grand entrance hall built in 1913. It was badly damaged during WWII and later reconstructed faithfully to Grenander’s design.
Krumme Lanke Station Grenander’s work spanned decades, districts and many styles. His 1929 Streamline Moderne design for Krumme Lanke in the southwest of the city features a double-height ticket hall and a generous rounded entranceway, not dissimilar to the architecture of London’s Modernist station master, Charles Holden.
Heidelberger Platz Although the overground station was constructed here in 1883, its crowning jewel is the U3 platform designed by architect Wilhelm Leitgebel in 1913. With a groin vault ceiling and regal iron lamps, Heidelberger Platz offers a glamorous start to the morning commute.
Westhafen Station One of a handful of stations designed by mid—century Modernist Bruno Grimmek, Westhafen was built in 1961 but today is best known for its platform artworks. Created by artists Françoise Schein and Barbara Reiter in 2000, they feature quotes from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and poet Heinrich Heine, written across the station’s wall tiles in Bauhaus fonts once rejected by the Nazis.
Fehrbelliner Platz Station Rainer G. Rümmler’s U7 stations built in the 1960s and 1970s dazzle their way across West Berlin, but few catch the eye quite like Fehrbelliner Platz. Constructed in 1971, it boasts a red, round-edged entrance hall (contrasting sharply with the area’s surrounding Nazi architecture) and Pop Art platform design.
Tierpark Station The only U-Bahn station built by the GDR government, Tierpark was finished in 1971. Its gentle marine blue tiles sit somewhat incongruously with the prefab panelled security ‘tower’ at platform level. Still, it provided a suitably cool setting for the video of trance legend Paul Van Dyk’s 2000 hit, ‘We Are Alive.’
Cohesive diversity sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the unifying characteristic of Neukölln. Often referred to as “Little Istanbul,” Neukölln brims with Turkish specialities, but cumin-flavored delicacies are only part of this southeast Berlin neighborhood’s appeal. Artists congregate in Neukölln’s reimagined public parks and easy-going bars that invite fierce self-expression and late night philosophising. This progressive-leaning neighborhood’s busy streets and graffiticovered surfaces look intimidating, but underneath its brusque exterior is a community based on shared support.
by Pasc Ivrsen
Sweetie, you don’t look so good Your bottom lip is bleeding. Rolling another cigarette and doing coke from these old vinyl decks, I see the dying light in the mirror. Where did we go in this eternal dream? Where does this century end? Walking down Sonnenallee, the answers are in the eyes of empty faces passing by.
The Living City
“We’re all trying to be really different, and I think that’s pretty funny actually because we’re all a bit the same.”
Lorenzo Experiencing Berlin’s Freedom
Age: 18 Class: upper-middle class Identifying Gender: non-binary Neighborhood in Berlin: Neukölln Ethnicity/Background: Italian/Dutch Sexuality: bisexual Educational Background: Bachelor for Music Occupation: Musician Political Views/Spectrum: non-violent, extreme left Religion: I am God, you are God, we are God Relational Social Roles: son Hobbies: artist, political activist, poet, philosophist Originating City/Nationality: Dutch Ultimate Dream/Ambition: enlightenment
I’m so shocked you’re only 18… did you always want to move out right away when you turned 18? Yeah, I think so. I was just so done with the Dutch mentality; I didn’t feel at home there. And I just moved here so I can’t really say I feel at home here yet. But I feel definitely more connected to this city and the main philosophies here. I don’t even see it as Germany; Berlin is like an island. You’ve spoken about the Dutch mentality and then the spirit of Berlin. How would you compare them? The Dutch mentality is very direct. I think there are a lot of people [in Holland] who are just very closed-minded and they only think in their own world. The ‘mass’ is so big in Holland and everybody tries to be the same; normal is the most commonly used word ever. I don’t hate anything, but I feel close to hating the word normal. Berlin is very ‘be who you are’. The main philosophy for me when I’m in Berlin, as long as you don’t disturb anybody else you can do whatever you want. Nobody cares. If I want to walk around with pink pants or like I wear makeup or anything, nobody gives a shit about it. And in Holland that wasn’t; I didn’t have the courage to go with nail polish or to wear freaky stuff. And here I’ve seen a lot crazier than me. As long as nobody intentionally disturbs me or anybody else then it’s fine. In Holland people live super close together, so in Holland it’s like 17 million people and this big a country. And then of those 17 million, 9 million live in four cities. In the street everybody knows each other and talk about each other. And it’s also pretty centre right [wing]. It’s a free country and it’s great... I have rights, there’s no corruption. I just felt that I didn’t have the room to be who I really wanted to be. I don’t really identify myself as a male or a female. If you say that in Holland, they’re like, “What the fuck?” [But] we have a shitload of immigrants, which is great, and if you’re gay nobody cares. Berlin is all the opposite of what I just said. Like extreme opposite. How would you say that living in Berlin has changed you, if it has? If I would have to throw it in a poetic metaphor, I would say that—I was this guy in Holland and the door was closed for me. I knew it could be opened but I was a bit afraid. And then when I knew that I was going to move to Berlin I grabbed the door, and when I moved here I just opened it up… and the city as well. It’s not a change but I just became who I am. I always felt in a box, now I don’t. I can go anywhere I want now. If I feel like rumba dancing or going to like an art exhibition where they only use red... you can just go. It’s definitely out there. And I didn’t feel trapped anymore. I think it just made me more who I am.
How would you describe Berlin culture? Left-wing. Open-minded. Free. Like the USA, they say, “The land of opportunities”? Yeah, I think Berlin is that more. Two days ago I decided to start a kung-fu class. And now I just did it. I signed up and then I’m starting next week. Whatever you want to do, it’s possible here. How does Berlin inspire you? Are there the certain areas of Berlin that inspire you? When I came here, I saw people on the street and it inspired me to also be whoever I wanted to be. Because you see so many different individuals. You can’t really say, “He’s a realtor,” or, “he’s a businessman,” because you can’t put somebody into those concepts here. I think that inspired me to not be something, but to just be. There’s just a lot of room and a lot of knowledge about art and culture here as well. A lot of people know about art, which is sometimes hard because in Holland I was the guy who knew shitload about music. I really believe that people do their own thing here. Also you have the punks who just live on the street and they’re against everything and they’re practically homeless. The real punks, the punk movement, it’s still here, very alive and they just against everything, and then live on the street and they drink beer all day and listen to music. They know that they have the chance to change their life around if they want to but then they don’t. It’s quite overwhelming as well... there are so many things that you can do. Sometimes when I feel like doing something, not to pet my ego, I just go to a demonstration, and I see what it’s about. The first week I moved here I went to an anti-fascist riot as well. And it was okay, of course not fun. For me it was such an experience. Within 20 minutes I was walking with 3,000 people screaming words and tenses against fascism. In Holland it never happens. So now I just follow insight where all the demonstrations are, and then if I want to go to a demonstration (of course I agree with the demonstration) I just go alone. You meet people anyway because it’s a demonstration. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? I think open, blank. Everybody tries to be as least biased as possible. “Ooh, okay this guy’s wearing kimono, long hair, probably an artist.” It’s very philosophical here, because you don’t know anybody. How can you judge somebody if you don’t know them? It’s a very shared community but it’s also really individualistic—a bit ironic. “We’re all so creative and we know art and we’re Marxists and we read books and stuff.” We’re all trying to be really different [in the city] and I think that’s pretty funny actually because we’re all a bit the same. Why did you put on that outfit today? I really like working in cowl necks. It just gives me this French artistic vibe I think. The kimono is because of the flowers. For instance, the worse the weather the more sunshiny I dress, always. Because people are super down, it’s super grey [outside] and so I’ll wear crazy floral pants. [My dress] it’s always how I feel. If I wear all black, it really means that I feel like all black, very straight. I can’t imagine people just grabbing stuff and wearing it. I think, which colours go nice together? The better I’m dressed the better I feel when I leave the house.
The Living City
“In the USA, they say, “The land of opportunities”? I think Berlin is that more... Whatever you want to do, it’s possible here.” What is your typical dress? I’m a big fan of stuff that you wear on top. Vests, kimonos, jackets, ponchos. [I like garments that are] flowy. Free. You don’t feel limited in your clothes. Then I’ve got ridiculously comfortable sweaters and they’re also with crazy patterns. I buy new clothes every four days I think. Also because the vintage here is just so cheap. I spend like two hours in vintage stores. I’m not a big fan of culture in general. The thing with culture is that people are so protective about it. Like, “Why the fuck would you be appropriating if you wear a kimono?” It’s a really big and long discussion where in the end you’re not going to come with any straight answers. It’s just shitty that they have to feel like that. Because there are definitely things that have made them feel discriminated and that’s terrible. But we are not part of that. I think you really have to look at the individual, if they’re a part of it. I’m not supporting discrimination against Asian people just because I’m wearing a kimono. I mean, that’s ridiculous. What message do you send with your dress? If I’m on stage that’s a whole new world. When I’m on stage the amount of not being male or female is really high. I’m just me and me doesn’t even exist. I mostly wear a dress on the stage just because I feel very, “Oooh,” [flowy movement]. I also never wear the same clothes. So I think that’s also another message; I just keep buying new stuff because I just really don’t like wearing the same clothes again. Especially not in a same combination—I never wear anything two days in a row, not even socks or shoes. I really look for limits as well. But overall, I just wear clothes because I like it and if someone else doesn’t like it then come to me and we’ll have discussion about it. I used to wear a bit to provoke in Holland. I’ll wear stuff that’s slightly not appropriate and then people would react. Do you dress differently around your family? My parents are not super strict, but when we go out for dinner they expect me to put on a shirt and nice pants. And then I put on a shirt and nice pants and a super ridiculously big scarf over it. I used to [dress differently around them]. I know my dad doesn’t feel super comfortable when I’m wearing a skirt or something or a super funky-ass jacket. He’s just always said, “Why don’t you wear normal clothes?” So when he’s around I tend to dress a bit for him. I don’t mind. If I’m in a vintage store with my mom and I grab something and she says, “No. You’re not going to wear that.” Then I buy it and wear it—just because she said that I couldn’t. My grandma—she’s so closed-minded when it comes to boys and girls. I asked her, “Do you have any dresses that you don’t wear anymore?” I really like the old grandma flower dresses; if I wear them they’re super out of context of course. Just wear them all the way open with a big necklace on stage. But then she automatically says, “No,” just because she doesn’t want me to wear a dress. On stage especially, is [your dress] part of your identity? I just have to feel comfortable on stage; it’s just really important that I feel comfortable moving around. It’s about finding the balance [between comfort and aesthetic]. This is all women’s [pointing to clothes]. I always check the women’s department. In the men’s department you don’t have as much flexibility with pattern or textile. It’s really uniform. On stage I never wear shoes. I just always go bare feet because I have to feel the ground. I feel disconnected if I’m wearing shoes. How does other people’s dress inspire you? This sounds awfully arrogant, but rarely. In Berlin it does [sometimes] because there are a lot of people who have really funky style as well. I rarely say to somebody, “Oh that’s great what you’re wearing.” Just because not most of the time it isn’t. What is your most worn piece of clothing? I think it’s this kimono, yeah. It’s not too long. And it fits with a lot of colours. I always want to feel free.
Maciej Age: 32 Identifying Gender: male Neighborhood in Berlin: Neukölln Ethnicity/Background: Polish Sexuality: Straight Educational Background: Master’s, MFA in painting Occupation: Artist Political Views/Spectrum: Left Religion: Atheist Hobbies: photography, music Originating City/Nationality: Poznan, Poland
The Living City
Why did you move to Berlin? It was like a life crisis, where things were just not working out. I just wanted a new start in a new place, and rent is very cheap here. I had a friend here that I could stay with while I was looking for an apartment and a job. I lived here 3 years ago for a summer just to check it out and I really liked it. Here’s a cultural thing about Berlin, you’re not supposed to take photos in bars I’m just saying that because these guys are and it’s really like frowned upon to take photos and bars in Germany, in Berlin yeah. In clubs definitely don’t take photos and clubs, you’ll get kicked out. It comes from the history of Communism where people are so paranoid about surveillance And they want privacy, that it’s like–especially, So it’s like public places like yeah bars and clubs, It’s really–you shouldn’t do it. And especially if you go to more of a punk rock kind of spot, they’re even more strict about it. How would you say that living in Berlin has influenced you? I listen to a lot more electronic music. I wasn’t so much into techno before, or any dance music. But living here kind it just rubs off on you. How does Berlin inspire you? This is a bit cheesy, but there’s a feeling about it. Not so much now—I’m used to it. But when I first came here, the first year, if I was kind of depressed or sad I would just go outside and the atmosphere of the city would really lift me up… The way it looks, the way it feels. There’s an energy to it. Even comparing it to San Francisco, you go outside and there’s homeless people everywhere, drug addicts, there’s human shit everywhere … it’s just really sad. Here, it’s different. Everyone’s a lot friendlier, nicer. You can go to a bar and someone (a stranger) will come up and talk to you. Also, in San Francisco, you have to like work 5 days a week, full time and you’re still broke. In Berlin, I can work 3 days a week and I’m broke but I’m okay, you know? There’s so much more free time and it’s a little bit more relaxed, similar to LA. But San Francisco and New York is just work work, money money. It’s quite easy to live on even less than minimum wage. How would you describe the attitudes of people who live in Berlin? I think they look very serious and kind of self-absorbed on the outside but everyone is so sweet and nice once you talk to them. Everyone here has this fashion thing: they’re cool, they’ll have face tattoos but they’re so nice [once you talk to them]. Going to clubs, you see the bouncer, he looks so mean and angry… and then you say hi and they’re always so sweet and nice.
You should go to Berghain while you can—it’s about when you go… Sunday at 11AM. That’s when the locals go, because most tourists are going to go Friday or Saturday night. The locals go Sunday morning and then they just stay from 11 a.m. till like 11 a.m. on Monday—24 hours. Do you have to dress up cool to get in? You have to wear all black, and sports shoes. Don’t dress the way you would go to a club in North America with a button up shirt you won’t get in, as a guy. If you wear dress shoes or high heels you won’t get in. It’s hard for girls to get in; it’s easy for guys. It originally was a gay club. I never really liked clubs my whole life, but it’s just something else, it’s really mind blowing. All the reputation is worth it. It’s also good to know who is playing that night, or that morning [laughs]. What would you say is your typical dress? All black, very Berlin. Doc Martins, black jeans, a black shirt, and a bomber jacket. Where do you normally buy your clothing? Thrift stores or… to be honest, I don’t have a lot of money right now so I try to go to some really cheap stores like H&M or UNIQLO and buy stuff that looks like it’s not from there. What do you look for when you buy clothes? I have a pretty small frame so a lot of clothes don’t fit me. But if it fits me and I’m comfortable, I wouldn’t be embarrassed wearing it. What do you wear to feel confident? I like jean shirts but black, the denim shirt. Like button up. If I’m going on a date ill usually wear a button up shirt and the rest will be the same. Do you ever use dress to ever send a message about yourself? I feel like sometimes I try to dress a little bit more techno then the actual amount of techno I listen to… a bomber jacket, and cut-off the jeans—that’s a very techno look. Have you ever judge someone based on what they are wearing? I mean it’s a cliché, but when you meet someone you’re interested in, you’re going on a Tinder date; the cliché is to look at their shoes first. Then you can ltell who the person is. It’s true, because you see someone in Converse, or Doc Martens, or someone in Nikes or in high heels, you can already assume things about them. You can also see within one look if someone is into the techno scene, or the rock scene or– this is an interesting example for you, have a look at how many people wear black North Face windbreakers. This is a Berlin thing. The punks, the Anarchists, wear North Face for some reason. The antifa. It means anti-fascist, it’s a very Left-wing protest group. It’s a really, really important culture in Berlin. They kind of dress like bike messengers do in North America—a North Face jacket, maybe
leggings with shorts on top, and then a bandana. They all wear all black and always with North Face windbreakers. During the demonstrations they all wear similar jackets with their boots on and they all look the same. [Although normally], it’s a Berlin thing that we don’t think much about brands. It’s funny though, you always see like the middle aged, middle class Suburban dad’s wearing Wolfskin jackets… you know that this guy is into climbing, camping. Do people dress according to their subculture all the time? I would say so. Techno girls shave their heads, face tattoos, and wear all black. If I’m on the train I can tell exactly who’s going to a club. But it’s nice, liberating—I can go to a club here in my underwear and feel like completely normal and safe… like no one’s going to judge. I think the people who dress well in Berlin are always expats; when you meet people from Berlin they dress terrible. How do you think others perceive your dress? Do you dress to have others perceive you in a certain light? I’ve had moments in my life where I tried to be more like extravagant or even a bit more colourful, and I felt uncomfortable. Now I just dress more generic. Do you think it’s because you grew up in like North America? It’s much more superficial. I care but I wish I didn’t. You know? Fitting in by being alternative, right. It’s a cliché; fitting into a subculture. It’s really so contradictory. You have to fit in because if you wear different clothes when you’re going to a techno club, you don’t belong to the subculture [and may not get in]. What I find most interesting about Berlin is that everyone is just trying to put on a mask; they look really intimidating but they’re really sweet people… they dress to intimidate. How would you say that other people’s dress inspires you? I feel like you try to fight it, but when you see something and at first you don’t like the way that looks. But then you see it everyday for a year and then you grow to like it. I can’t really explain it but it just happens.
“What I find most interesting about Berlin is that everyone is just trying to put on a mask; they look really intimidating but they’re really sweet people… they dress to intimidate.”
Famous as the lifeline for West Berlin during the cold war, Tempelhofâ€™s airfield had become Berlinâ€™s biggest park. Since it was turned over to the public in May 2010, the site has been immensely popular with families, joggers, rollerbladers, kite-flyers, windkarters, urban gardeners, yoga enthusiasts, hipsters and layabouts; smoke rises in summer from the abundance of barbecues. This practice of taking something old and repurposing it is common in Berlin, allowing citizens to enjoy the history of the city while creating new stories.
The Living City
Tempelhof: Abandoned and Thriving
MODEL: KARA TEN HOEVEL
The Living City
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The Living City
Age: 23 Identifying Gender: female From: Weisspann, near Frankfurt Neighborhood in Berlin: NeukĂślln Ethnicity/Background: German/Italian roots Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: Amsterdam Fashion Institute Occupation: currently interning at Andreas murkudis (creative director in Berlin) Relational Social Roles: daughter Hobbies: fitness/gym, yoga, going out with friends, traveling, music, food Originating City/nationality: Wiesbaden, Germany Ultimate dream/ambition: to live life the fullest and be happy and healthy
Berlinâ€™s New Fashionista
You were on exchange here, now you’re doing your internship. Why did you decide to stay here for your internship? Because you could’ve technically gone anywhere. Firstly there are a lot of options to work in fashion or in the creative field in Berlin... There are so many small young designers, a lot of magazines, blogs, and creative agencies. There are bigger brands of course, but for the smaller ones you can—as an intern— play an actual part in the team, and really learn something. I think it’s a really nice city for a creative person to just get to know the industry. And also, I didn’t want to move every half a year. I just really like it here and I wanted to stay. How would you say that living in Berlin has changed you, if it has at all? Has it influenced you in anyway? Living on my own of course, and then studying in a different country or in a different city changed me the most. But then when I moved here I just continued with that [journey] I guess. A few years ago, before I went studying, I wasn’t shy or anything but not very extroverted. I’m still not but I’m more confident with talking to everyone. In Berlin everyone’s really open, but in a different way than Amsterdam... [Amsterdam is] more artificial, I think. Which is not bad, but it’s not very personal. Here [in Berlin] you really get to know people. For example, when you go out and you could go partying by your own and have a really nice, deep conversation [with a stranger]. It’s more international [in Berlin] than in Amsterdam, or it’s more mixed-up. In Amsterdam the Dutch scene and the international scene are separated mostly. In Berlin every culture merges and mixes happily together. You always feel welcome. It’s a huge city of course but here I know the people from the cafe and other people next door from the Vietnamese place. That’s really nice—that you have your little home but it’s a huge city, and you can go to so many different places/ areas, which are all so different. Also because of the history of course. How would you describe Berlin or Berlin culture? The techno scene I would say is a really big part of Berlin lifestyle. Not for everyone of course. It’s really institutional. And the gay scene as well, connected to it. You can just try out everything and no one would ever judge you for doing so. Going out, for example, because there are also a lot of sex clubs. You can always go there and no one will offend you or touch you in any weird way if you don’t want it. If you want to do anything (experiment), you can do it and you will find like-minded people. I don’t know if another city has this mentality. It’s really unique I think.
How would you say that Berlin inspires you? There are some days when I’m in the subway, and you see so many people; they’re all so different. Just watching people and travelling around the city, I think is really inspiring in whatever way. You have so many different areas: you can go in a really posh area, or in a district where it’s really metropolitan with skyscrapers. You have all these different worlds, different cultures and mentalities melting together in one place. It’s really inspiring. Is there a specific place in Berlin that you really connect with? Actually, the Tempelhofer Feld. It used to be an airport, and I think 10 years ago they closed it. Now it’s a huge public area. When it’s not that cold, I just go there and walk around. Or in the summer you can have barbecues there. There are a lot of people with kites, bikes, in-line skates, and long boards. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? Most of the people are really open-minded. There are a lot of creatives here. Although in some communities I would say there is a really typical Berlin attitude… especially the people who grew up here. Probably they feel a little cooler than everyone else because they grew up here [in Berlin], while everyone was just moving here. There are just so many different mentalities so it’s not a general attitude; it really depends on the communities. Why do you think people are attracted to Berlin as a city? First of all, because of its history. A lot has happened here, and there are still so many spots where you can see the history, which was really brutal of course. I think that’s really interesting for people just to see some things and to educate themselves. It’s also a metropolis; there are so many different areas and you really still see the difference between East Berlin and West Berlin. When you go in the west, there are still really big buildings. It looks really rich, and you really see that this was the capital of Germany. There are so many different communities here, you can just find your thing. I think Berlin can be a place for everyone just because everyone’s able to express him or herself here. Why did you put on that particular outfit today? It was because I was wearing the same outfit for an interview, and I thought to wear some colour so I’m not too dark… usually I have a lot of black; it always looks good. This sweater—it’s not mine, but my friend’s. I just took it and I told her afterwards that I’m taking it… and if I can keep it for a while [laughter]. It’s a German designer.
What would you say is your typical style of dress? Either just sneakers or Doc Martens, cropped Levi’s jeans, a turtle-neck, black one: that’s usually my go-to outfit. Where do you normally buy your clothes? In Amsterdam, especially, I went vintage shopping a lot. And I think you can do that better in Amsterdam. In Berlin [vintage] is a little bit more expensive I think. And it’s harder to find really good stuff. I mean, of course I do go to Zara occasionally. Everyone does, but I really like to order stuff online from smaller brands and just pay a little bit more for good quality. What do you wear to feel confident? Something comfortable, always. I always go for comfortable because whenever I feel like something’s not fitting or something looks weird, I can’t feel comfortable. Do you ever use dress to send a message? I mean for example, for my job interview, I try to wear one piece that is more chic and one piece that is more casual... Approachable but professional. When I go out—I don’t go to house parties or anything...When I go to Berghain, I try to look really cool so I get in, which I don’t know if they have a system. Do you always get into Berghain? No no. I got rejected three times and then I got in two times. And it’s super random, because sometimes I think, “Okay, today I look really cool, they have to let me in. I know all the DJs.” And then they reject me. And there was another day where a really gay, really old, Berghain guy got rejected and I got in… and it was surprising! I think it really depends on the crowd that is already inside and then they feel like, “Hmm, we need a few more gay dudes or we need a few more girls.” It’s so random. In the end I don’t think you can do anything right or wrong with your outfit, but you can just feel more confident. Have you ever judged someone based on what they’re wearing? Probably not consciously. I think that happens if you want or not. I mean, I’m also just too old for that [laughter]. And I’m a really open person so I don’t really care. I think there are a few really open people [working ]in fashion but fashion has a huge community which just feels so much cooler than the rest of the world. Just judges everyone who isn’t wearing ‘that’ brand. So fucked up. But I try not to judge anyone. How does other people’s dress inspire you, if it does? It definitely does inspire me a lot when I see anyone with a nice style. Then I’m thinking if this could fit me and if it would look nice. If I find something similar, any piece and then I’m going to try it out. It also inspires me to try new things. That’s also what changed me in general by studying fashion, not just studying the subject fashion but just the people around me changed.
“If you want to do anything (experiment), you can do it and you will find like-minded people. I don’t know if another city has this mentality. It’s really unique I think.”
The Living City
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Contrarian ideas are born at a feverish pace in Kreuzberg. Punks, bohemians, LGBTQ individuals, and counter-culture enthusiasts have called its artfully decaying buildings home for generations. As a neighbourhood founded on antiestablishment values, Kreuzberg refuses to lose its rebellious natureâ€”graffiti covers everything, shawarma stands serve late-night revellers, and alleyways are often mistaken as washrooms. Kreuzbergâ€™s array of cafes, vintage shops, and music venues wake this brazen neighbourhood up early and keep it up late.
The Living City
Victoria A Canadian in Berlin
Age: 24 Class: middle-class Identifying Gender: female Neighborhood in Berlin: Kreuzberg Ethnicity/Background: Chinese Canadian Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: Bachelor’s of Education McMaster University Occupation: Team Lead for Customer Support Political Views/Spectrum: Left but not extreme Relational Social Roles: daughter Hobbies: Cafe and restaurant hopping, cooking, interested in the DJ/ Music (house/, disco, lofi and techno), also like to keep up to date with the clothing scene in Berlin too Originating City/Nationality: Toronto, Canada Ultimate Dream/Ambition: to have a stable career and settle down in Germany. To enjoy life as it comes and be happy in my position. If I had the chance, I would love to work with gastronomy scene more. Not as as chef, nor restauranteur but someone who manages a restaurant group or something like this.
How has living in Berlin changed you if it has? Honestly, I just don’t give a shit anymore. I wear a lot less makeup. I used to wear fake lashes all the time before going out. Even in Dusseldorf I did. It’s the influencer thing there [in Dusseldorf]… everyone wants to be an influencer there. The clubs here [in Berlin], the door policy is yes or no. They don’t care who you are. If they think you’ll fit all right, you can go in. So you don’t really know, you just dress for you I guess. Berlin isn’t a city where “I’m going to find myself.” No, you have to make it here for yourself. It’s a tough city; it’s not forgiving. How would you describe Berlin culture? Partying really is in the blood of Berlin. Partying, the arts, and music are really drawn into the culture of Berlin. I think there’s so much to do, and Berlin puts a lot of stress on the art, music, and culture… bringing it all together to elevate it. How does Berlin inspire you? I really think there’s so much to do. Like there’s a little art gallery here, there’s a food market there, and then in summer time you want to go out. For example, people can literally party from Friday to Monday non-stop. People just take stuff (drugs) and just keep going. Berlin inspires you to go out, and do things, and see things, eat things, and buy things [laughter], experience things. I think it’s cool because it has that artsy side, but also the cultural side. It’s the main city in Germany so you have tourists coming in seeing these too. Are there certain places or certain neighborhoods in Berlin that inspire you? I think Kreuzberg has a lot. I’m so happy I’m here. I’m not going to lie—everyone wants to be here. All of the bars are here and in Neukölln. People don’t really get outside of their kietz (neighborhood). But Friedrichshain sounds beautiful as well, but it has a little more of family atmosphere, more cleanly than here. I felt like there was also more of a sense of a community. Here though, there is a more multi-cultural appeal, and definitely more drug
[Living in Berlin] you kind of gain that attitude of, “Oh, they’re not a Berliner.”
What is your typical dress? Mackage leather jacket, black ripped jeans, and t-shirt, Docs, or sneakers. Docs are my go-to. When I moved to Europe, I started wearing sneakers [laughter]. I never used to wear sneakers in Canada. I always used to wear boots. What do you look for when you’re buying clothes now? I’m trying to buy less things... and focus more on things I’m going to keep a while. I think that’s another thing about living here [in Berlin]. It’s not about fast fashion. It’s about finding one thing and really working with it. I want to buy a nicer jumper again next time rather than two t-shirts, or four t-shirts. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learnt that I want to have more quality than quantity... and if it really looks cool. What do you wear to feel confident? To be fair, I used to wear heels in Canada to feel confident. I feel like I’m being stared at here, like in a bad way… because nobody wears heels here. Heels look great but they’re fucking uncomfortable. And I think that’s a big thing here, being comfortable. I really like just leather jacket and jeans—and a pair of high heels. I think that would be my most feel-good type of outfit.
dealers [laughter]. Seriously, they’re all around; I see them every day. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? There is a bit of pretentiousness, such as being cool and not having your phone on at the club. I actually hate seeing people with a phone in the club now. I went out with my friend yesterday, Matilda, she’s Finnish and I think Scandinavians are very into blogging, and social media, and stuff. She had her phone out a lot at the club, and it was pissing me off. Most you’re not even allowed to have your phone. Berghain has a sticker. Other ones just have a sign, or bartenders could tell you to put your phone away. Because no one cares about your night here. I don’t even Snapchat, I barely Instagram when I’m out now. I think it’s just focusing on you and having a good time. I heard these Americans at the bar and I’ve found I have gained this pretentious attitude against stereotypical Americans. Stereotypes as Canadians—we’re fine. Everybody loves us. People have really seen Canadians in a good light I think in Berlin. We’re just neutral and nice. Why do you think people are attracted to the city of Berlin? Well, it used to be cheap. It’s still probably cheaper than others. Start-ups. There are so many; I’m working at start-ups. I think it gives you a platform to be able to have sharing working space at lower price points. Another, the music scene is very big here. Doesn’t matter what genre you’re coming in from. Most likely electronic music though. Everybody’s coming here from techno to disco, house, even though house is bigger in London. DJs and producers can’t afford to actually live there so they come here and travel back and forth. I think art, music, and partying... that’s why people move here. Why did you put on that outfit today? Today is just a bad example [laughter]. Yesterday, I was freaking out what to wear at the club. I had this leather skirt and a shiny top which looked way too basic. And then I changed it to a t-shirt with little hearts on my nips, which I felt was better. Here, I want to look kind of cool when I go out. In Canada you want to look good or trendy. I think style icons in Canada are very celebritized. You don’t look at other people but you look at celebrities. Here [in Berlin] you look at other people. I’ve always wanted Doc Martens, and then I finally came here and decided “I’m going to get them now.” Maybe it’s kind of that psychological thing, you see one person do it and then everybody else does it, so you kind of feel included.
Have you ever judged someone based on what they’re wearing? Of course [laughter]. Again, when I saw those american girls in the club… I know if people are tourists or not from Berlin. If they’re wearing heels, and a short skirt with no tights, and then bodysuit, “You’re not from here.” Unfortunately, I think it’s almost a prejudice. [Living in Berlin] you kind of gain that attitude of, “Oh, they’re not a Berliner.” I’m not even a Berliner either. But more than them. What do you wear to work? I usually just wear jeans and a t-shirt. Because we are such a very young company, we really don’t care. We have no real formal environment. I’ve even worn lulus and a sweatshirt to work, because I also only work in the evenings so nobody sees me. My team lead wears those dropped sweatpants, the tight ones with sneakers, and a hoodie. When you go back to Canada do you dress differently? No. I think it’s a commodity that I dress a bit different than everyone else. I kind of bring this European-ness with you. How does other people’s dress inspire you? When I see people wear something that looks good on them; I think people should wear pieces that make them feel good. I have some pieces that I think I feel like I look great, and I feel good in. I’ve learned not to force something upon yourself if it doesn’t look good. Or if you’re just doing it because of trend these things. [The other day] I was organizing my bodysuits, and do you remember those Croft ones and I thought, “Uh oh, why did I buy that?” “Right, the Kardashians had it.” And I wasted my money on that. I think the more I’ve learned here is to find out what works for you.
The Living City
Berlin is Still Divided, 25 Years After the Fall of the Wall by Joseph Pearson
n the news, there will be plenty of celebrating the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. But for many here in Berlin, not enough time has passed to heal the divisions. Many of my friends abroad ask me: hey Joseph, what do Berliners really think of the 25th anniversary? Today’s post is an insufficient reply to an enormous question. I would nonetheless like to dwell on how (dis)unified Berlin has remained over the past 25 years, and to ask whether the Fall of the Wall is as much of a watershed moment in history as we thought it was. Let’s start with my Berlin friends, sometimes stoic and slow to share, and how over the past few weeks they have suddenly begun divulging their personal stories. Did F. tell you about his ‘summer of love’ in 1990, when he left Mitte and occupied a distant relative’s flat in the West in SO36 Kreuzberg, and consumed a huge variety of drugs and pornography? Then there’s R. who crossed the border into the East and stood on top of the Wall that first night on 9 November 1989 and had his youth memorialized in photos in the international press. A ‘Wessie’ friend tells me over a glass of Berliner Pilsner how she actually lost contact with her ‘Ossie’ family after the Wall came down, because it wasn’t urgent to visit them anymore. I met a woman yesterday for whom the Fall of the Wall was transformative: one year she thought her little town in the East was the end of the line, the next year she was able to study abroad and travel the world. She never came back. And I know a number of couples whose love spans from East to West, relationships that would have never been possible had the Wall not fallen. There’s no denying the transformative power of this event on individuals’ lives. Indisputable too is the remarkable change in the East: in terms of infrastructure, services, and changes in professional life, bringing all these to a Western standard. An astonishing 1.5 trillion Euros was spent on this project. But in more subtle ways, divisions are still very much apparent. I was at a bar on Yorckstraße last night and talked to the waitress born in 1991, and I asked her whether she feels the Wall is still there in ‘people’s heads’. She replied, ‘No, I feel like a Berlinerin. I’m from the West, but I’ve even started to go to Friedrichshain [in the East] sometimes and, I was surprised, it’s actually pretty cool over there. I know most of my friends don’t think so, but I really think this city has come together’. I wonder whether she adduced from my facial expression how much I thought her show of solidarity actually reveals the basic problem. 25 years on, Berliners still strongly identify with one side of the city or another, even young people who had no experience of a divided city. Easterners still go to Müggelsee, Westerners to Schlachtensee or the Wannsee. You won’t often see them at each other’s lakes. I notice my Berlin friends mostly stick to Western or Eastern friendship circles. The Wessies stereotype the East Germans with their ‘fake tans, big dogs, full-body depilation and lack of drive’, and the Ossies to point out how ‘crudely ambitious, label-conscious, materialistic and success-oriented’ their counterparts are. I hate to say that I can spot whether a Berliner is from the former
East or West. But I can. Especially if he or she a young person and subject to peer pressure. And I can do it with about 90% accuracy in about 30 seconds flat, and I’m not even German. Maybe, like all broken relationships, the Berliners need time to adjust to each other’s company again—maybe the same amount of time as when they were separated by the Wall: but that only gives us another three years, and I’m quite convinced we will need more time than that. These examples are all atrociously anecdotal, but if you are aching for hard figures, all you need to do is look at the results of the most recent Berlin State Parliament election in 2011 and the Berlin results of the German Federal election in 2013. The successor party to the former East German Communist Party, now called Die Linke, came away with enormous gains in all the former Eastern neighborhoods. In fact, you can see precisely where the Berlin Wall used to be (and the former East German border for that matter), following the edge of the electoral districts that voted Die Linke over other parties. Die Linke campaigns on precisely those securities that disappeared with the Fall of the Wall: guaranteed housing and employment, and welfare benefits. In Thuringia, meanwhile, the Left, led by Bodo Ramelow, is set to lead the regional parliament. For many in the East, the Fall of the Wall has simply represented the conquest of one system over another. East Berliners have lived under both systems, so they are able to make an abstraction of capitalism and democracy, and think of neither as natural. Unfortunately, despite this perspicacity, the passing of time has brought a certain amount of nostalgia, orOstalgia if you will. The more unpleasant elements of life in the GDR—mass surveillance, limits on the freedoms of movement and expression—are swept aside in favor of romanticized notions of security, solidarity and community. (Oops, did I say mass surveillance? I suppose the West doesn’t have the moral prerogative of privacy it once did.)
“The city itself remains still quite divided; we are left with a final question of what the story of the Berlin Wall means for history.”
If the Wall has had a remarkable impact on the stories of individuals, but the city itself remains still quite divided, we are left with a final question of what the story of the Berlin Wall means for history. My own take is that the celebrations five years ago, for the 20th anniversary, were very triumphalist: world leaders instrumental to the end of the Soviet Union assembled to congratulate one another for the vanquishing of Communism by free-market capitalism. Now, with five years of capitalism in crisis behind us, the atmosphere is not quite so congratulatory. The death strip will be marked by thousand of illuminated balloons—a rather more subtle commemoration than the domino-facsimile Wall of 2009 and the grand political statements. Meanwhile, the vanquishing of the former superpower to the East is not seen as a fait-accompli either, as President Putin stands arms akimbo at Europe’s doorstep. For many, the greater themes of European history—balance of power, the competing spheres of influence between East and West—were only coaxed into a temporary slumber by the revolutions symbolized by the Wall’s fall. They were not, of course, resolved. It is certain that this event has transformed the lives of people who lived through ‘Die Wende’ (or ‘turning point’, as the Germans call the events of 1989 and after). These Berliners had that remarkable experience of being jolted from one political system to another. And we must commemorate the remarkable end of the Soviet system. But the Fall of the Berlin Wall has not changed everything: it has not ‘ended history’, defeated old enemies, or even brought Berliners together the way one expected. As time goes on, and these events are put in the perspective of history’s greater continuities, I believe that we will continue to see a ‘turning point’, but it might not appear as sharp a turn as we originally expected.
A Standing Reminder: the East Side Gallery
MODEL: MANU GESTER-SUAREZ
Perhaps one of the most famous architectural spaces, the Berlin Wall has informed the culture of Berlin since itâ€™s iteration... and still plays a significant role. After the wall was taken down, artists from around the world were invited to immortalize as well as to re-appropriate the wall with their colorful and inspirational renderings. The East Side Gallery is the largest open air art gallery in the world, 1316 m long. Many of itâ€™s murals are famous for their cultural impact and social significance. The East Side Gallery is understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful negotiation of borders and conventions between societies and people.
The Living City
book title goes here
Imagine an art gallery turned inside out and you’ll begin to envision Friedrichshain. Single walls aren’t canvases for creative works, entire buildings are canvases. This zealously expressive east Berlin neighbourhood forgoes social norms in favour of squatters’ rights and boisterous bars serving cheap brews. It doesn’t always go against the grain—cool bars, boutiques, and cafes fill Friedrichshain’s bustling main streets and its intimate cinemas and riverside green spaces invite visitors to get cosy.
Berlin’s Clubbing Legends Explain Why “No Photos” Makes Partying There So Special by Chandler Shortlidge
“It fosters intimate connections rarely experienced in daily life, stripping away the ego’s need for self preservation.”
t’s sometimes difficult to imagine a space still removed from the omnipresence of social media and camera phones in modern society. Where a person’s actions aren’t instantly recordable and uploadable for the world to see, left instead behind closely guarded doors, shrouded in mystery. But that’s a huge part of the allure of Berlin’s club scene, and what’s helped advance its mythos as an adult playground hidden from proper society, where people can be whoever or whatever they want to be. You can dance in Berghain to Wagnerian industrial techno while wearing latex and chains on Sunday evening, and return once again to your banking job on Monday morning. It’s an integral part of the Berlin clubbing experience. “People are here to let go, not to take selfies,” says Sascha Disselkamp, founder of Berlin’s Clubcommission, and owner of Sage Club and Fiese Remise. “Sven—the bouncer at Berghain—if he sees people looking at the phone in the line, and bragging about how close to they are to the door, and he tells them to go home to play on Facebook,” Disselkamp says. It’s not just privacy that fuels suspicion of social media and camera phones throughout Berlin’s underground scene. Phones are a vibe killer, so totally unnecessary to the clubbing experience that many Berliners simply choose not to carry them on a night out. Switch it off, disconnect yourself from the outside world, and make some new friends. It’s an ethos many hold dear outside the clubs too, favouring human contact in bars, restaurants and even the streets, where pedestrians buried in their devices are an unusually rare sight. Which of course makes enforcing the rules that much easier. “For us, it’s a choice that we’re making for the sake of our patrons,” says a club promoter that prefered to remain anonymous. “If they think that they are being photographed in here, they won’t come back. Privacy is a very important thing for us to maintain.” The decision to ban photos is an easy one for this promoter. His club’s reputation depends the trust he shares with his patrons. And while he admits a few mid—party photos would probably entice more customers, the control over who shows up would be out of his hands. “It would be a different atmosphere and mood,” he says. “It would bring people with other worldviews.” Namely, the type of people intent on experiencing their night through a small plastic screen, something Disselkamp has no time for. “It makes no fucking sense,” he says. “Why
would I watch my phone when I could listen to the band? Who even looks at these terrible, low quality videos after the fact?” High quality posterity is a hallmark of Berlin—based website Be—At.TV, a company that records and live— streams clubs and festivals around the world. Though as COO Ed Hill says, the city’s anti—photography stance doesn’t exactly make things easier for him. Hill moved the company here about 16 months ago from London, where very few clubs have a no camera policy. His initial inroad to streaming in Berlin was in 2012, filming with local labels like mobilee and Upon You with little resistance. “But we hadn’t really tried in many of the clubs,” he says. Since relocating, clubs like Watergate, OHM, and Tresor have all said no to streams. “Berghain, we didn’t even try,” he chuckles. Though they’ve also had plenty of successes, filming at venues like IPSE and Arena Club with outside promoters or while throwing their own events. More venues are beginning to warm to the idea of streaming, Hill says, but not during regular weekend parties that tend to carry on well into the next day. “They’re very protective of their clientele.” Ultimately, the fierce protection by promoters and punters of what’s considered sacred is exactly what makes Berlin one of the most renowned clubbing cities in the world. It fosters intimate connections rarely experienced in daily life, stripping away the ego’s need for self preservation. “Clubs that protect guests’ privacy by means of a strict photography prohibition ensure that the participants of the events show more openness and act without a façade,” says Lutz Leichsenring, spokesman for the Clubcommission and founder of Creative Footprint. “Thus, the musical experience and the personal interaction with like—minded people is at the forefront.” Despite the ubiquity of Berlin club culture’s anti— photography ethos, it’s remains difficult to pinpoint its history; why Berliners have always been so guarded against the influence of the outside world, and in some sense, technology. But there’s certainty in the results, which are undeniable: Partying is just more fun when nobody’s watching.
The Living City
Brooke Cool, Creative, Eclectic
Age: 35 Class: lower-middle class, chaotic neutral Identifying Gender: female Neighborhood in Berlin: Friedrichshain Ethnicity/Background: Caucasian Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: bachelorâ€™s degree Occupation: graphic designer Political Views/Spectrum: pro-science, social progressive Relational Social Roles: weird auntie Hobbies: Hosts a small communal sci-fi book club, Very social with friend groups in the evenings Originating City/Nationality: Melbourne, Australia Ultimate Dream/Ambition: Financial Independence, includes apartment ownership, ability to split time between bases in Melbourne, Tokyo and Berlin (I have affinity for and friends in each city)
The Living City
“You need to make Berlin work for you, but you don’t have to do something fancy to be part it. Just go up to somebody and say here’s this weird idea and usually people are cool with it.”
How would you say that living in Berlin has changed you? Berlin is an interesting place, one of the first things I noticed in coming to Berlin is if you’re talking, people listen. Where as previously, I was used to not being taken to seriously or heard. In Berlin, people will look at you straight in the eye and will ask you questions… while both frightening and really great at the same time. I don’t adore Berlin in the same way I do other cities I’ve lived in (Toyko, Melbourne) but I like what I can do in Berlin.
How would you describe Berlin culture? There’s a subsection for every culture here. Generally if you’re doing a thing, people are interested and they’re going to help out. You need to make Berlin work for you, but you don’t have to do something fancy to be part it. Just go up to somebody and say here’s this weird idea and usually people are cool with it. That’s actually how you make friends and how you develop here. Why do you think people are attracted to the city of berlin? It has this cosmopolitan ethos about it… especially if you really like music. The city is a lot more international and a lot looser than other European cities, thus always has people moving here. Have you found that you’ve acclimated to some of the subcultures that are here and specific to the city? I was lucky enough to find a group of people doing stuff that I was interested in, which I hadn’t found in Australia. I’m actually a part of the creative coding scene; there are people who write coding platforms they make specifically for artists, and they also use code and data for creative projects. Berlin is probably the best place in the world for this kind of weird little subcategory of art, tech nerds. There’s this idea that Berliners aren’t friendly, while actually Berliners are super friendly. They’re just not going to put up with your bullshit. But they are way more helpful then pretty much anyone else on the planet. Why did you put on this outfit today? A couple of things… I wear these black every single effing day. Something that makes me feel good are jackets like this… I really like a fitted, tailored look. I don’t have that many shoes but I wear boots a lot. When I bought these boots I had to learn how to do a reef knot; it came with instructions to be tied specifically with a reef knot. They are super comfortable so I wear them all the time. They are of a German designer (Trippen)—really local. You’ll find that every German clothing or apparel brand will have some overarching philosophy to what they do. Is that specific to German designers or just stores in general? I find it more apparent with German culture; it’s not really a consumerist culture. You’ll notice here people don’t wear labels and if you did, at least in Berlin, people would be like “ahhh ew dude what?” In other areas of Germany like Koln you can get away with it. But here if someone’s going to make clothes, make something that you can go to Humana (thrift store) and get second hand, there’s usually some maybe ethical philosophical reason that they’re doing it. I mean this coat I wear everyday this jacket is something I got made in Thailand 10 years ago I still wear. I don’t have that many clothes, but I have my staples. I’m kind of a cheapskate in a way, but I’m a cheapskate with expensive taste [laughs]. Did you find that you’re style changed when you moved to Berlin? There are a couple things that have changed but I’m not quite sure if it’s a German thing. I have always had coloured hair like if you look through my Facebook feed. That’s how people know me though… they’ll come up to me and say, “hey oh I haven’t seen you in so long; last time I saw you, you had blue hair”. Okay… what was I doing when I had blue hair? [Laughter]. It defines that period of your life—it’s really useful! And if you’re meeting someone at a cafe or something that you hadn’t met before you just say, “I’m the one sitting down with the green hair”. But now I just turned 35 and I’m wondering how long I can actually get away with this while still looking good. Everybody knows what he or she was like when they were 20 looking at someone who is 35 with green hair. I’m doing a lot of job interviews and I’m up—scaling my position. In Australia a lot of people have coloured hair so it’s not a big deal but here nobody does. I expected berlin to be a lot more colourful. It’s also odd because I wear lipstick,
not every day, but I have a collection of ostentatious blues and bright reds… people don’t really wear that here either. I have noticed that it’s a more ‘no makeup’ aesthetic. It’s more than no makeup, makeup look. That’s also not to say that people don’t express themselves though. I’ve got a good friend Nina in Berlin. She’s got this Beauty Spot by her eye and one day I noticed it wasn’t there. It turns out every morning she draws this spot in. I had known her for ages and didn’t realize this… it moves! She draws it on every day! That’s the kind of expression that you’ll get here more than somebody who wears green eyeliner. How do you use dress to send a message? I think about this [what message I’m sending] and I kind of just decide to do it, to dress like this anyway. It’s like modern dating, and dating is notoriously tough in Berlin. If I find someone who talks to me, they’re either going to like who I am or not… even if they see me on the days I’m not wearing any makeup, which is most days, or hanging around wearing my Batman t—shirt, which I wear a lot also; they’re going to encounter both types of me anyway. What do you wear to work? At work I dress differently, I’ll still wear maybe this big coat, but I won’t wear this top; this is kind of a nicer top, a going—out top. I did make an effort this year to change the way I dress because at work anyway, [to dress] more professionally. When I was in my late teens, I wore button—up dress shirts all the time… you know with the loose—collar. I didn’t mean for it to become my thing but the people around me, my friends, would call them Brooke shirts, so obviously it became a thing. Coming back to my working environment, I didn’t want to wear t-shirts anymore so I went out and started buying these button—up shirts again, and it’s like time has stopped—my style hasn’t changed. Nowadays when I go to work I’ve got a variety of button up shirts that I wear with a simple V-neck
sweater. When I used to work my street food business though I looked very different because I dressed for that. I was wearing men’s jeans because they were cheaper more comfortable you could bend in them and you can use the pockets and they were thicker too. So I would have that and I would have on my men’s jeans, my docks, and a few layers of long sleeve top. How does other people’s dress inspire you? I remember, this week I think, I was wearing an outfit kind of like this coming to work, catching the train to work actually I was waiting for the train and I was feeling like a pretty fucking badass. I sat down and there’s this guy sitting on the train and he was totally from an amazing cyberpunk future, like he just walked out of the novel Snow Crash. [His outfit] was very Berlin-y—Layers and layers of coats and jeans that looked like they were motorcycle jeans, but overtop there were these really tall boots. He was black and the top of his hair was in a ponytail with dreads and at the sides at the back of his scalp he had his hair bleached White but also shaved… I’ve got nothing; I’ve got absolutely nothing. It was incredible.
The Living City
Berlin Street Art
It is often said that the history of graffiti is as old as the history of humanity itself. Scribbles on the walls were the first form of artistic expression, the first evidence of human creativity, which survived in its various forms until the present day. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the 20th century that wall inscriptions became a cultural phenomenon in their own right.
he beginnings of modern day graffiti are often traced back to late 1970s New York, a city that gave birth to a lively new movement originating from various subcultural backgrounds. However, it is important to note the difference between contemporary street art and graffiti at the very beginning. They can be both described as nontraditional forms of artistic and cultural expression that share territorial affiliation, using public spaces as their media of choice. Street art and graffiti originated as a way of expressing discontents and creating awareness of socio—political issues on a local, communal level, ultimately becoming an essential part of the global visual culture. Even though these two disciplines are inextricably linked, the history of street art is a story that goes beyond aerosol graffiti and can’t be explored without a wider local context in mind.
EVOLUTION OF STREET ART – LOCAL HISTORIES The term street art gained popularity during the graffiti boom in the late 1970s and 1980s, which is one of the main reasons why many experts connect the beginnings of the movement to the United States. Although, graffiti had an essential role in making of the modern street art history the evolution of street art is more complex than it seems. Street art, as the most versatile global art movement of today, owes its glory to the intersection of numerous local forms of public expressions, born in different parts of the world. The art of stenciling, poster art, and wheat pasting, now some of the most common and popular street art techniques, developed from European revolutionary politics and were used by those in power to communicate political propaganda, as well as those who resisted, spreading the opposite ideas. In Mexico, South America, and Latino neighborhoods in the US, sociopolitical messaging gained shape of the large—scale public murals, drawing from the rich artistic heritage and centuries—long tradition of mural painting. All those techniques and styles that gave birth to global street art culture were born in relation to local socio—political contexts, exploring the complex ides of identity in relation to public spaces. The socio—political setting is an inevitable reference when it comes to understanding street art in its local context, and it is the idea that had to be introduced before we move to our story – the evolution of street art scene in Berlin.
THE BERLIN WALL – BIRTHPLACE OF LOCAL GRAFFITI CULTURE One of the common places in many texts that deal with the evolution of Berlin street art scene is that it began on the west side of the Berlin Wall. The initial barbed wire fence introduced in the 1960s grew into a sophisticated security system of concrete walls, electric fences and guard towers, separating the East side from the West, embodying all the anxieties of the Cold War in the most concrete of senses. During the eighties, the wall was reconstructed and raised 14 feet tall, which made it a perfect message board, a blank canvas for artists and dissatisfied individuals of West Berlin to express their opinions and affiliations. As many commentators note, the initial impulse to paint on the Wall came not from the Berliners, but early settlers in American—occupied sector consisting of draft resisters, anarchist punks, and Turkish migrants, who used the wall to express their thoughts and beliefs. French artist Thierry Noir who was at the time living in one of the squats near the Berlin Wall, is claimed to be one of the first artists to paint on the Wall and his initiative was followed by many acclaimed and unknown art practitioners, as well as multitude of visitors. The Berlin Wall also became the meeting point for the first generation of graffiti writers, some of them being the children of US servicemen, who brought the booming spirit of their local graffiti culture to West Berlin. It is one of the main reasons why initial graffiti writings were heavily influenced by the New York graffiti scene. As the paintings on the west side of the Wall flourished, the east side was left with the blank, sterile wall surface, where free artistic expression on the one side became a marker of social and cultural differences of separate societies. All this changed after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989, when the city as a whole became playground for artists of both sides and street art scene thrived in the atmosphere of newly found freedom.
EAST SIDE GALLERY – A FREEDOM MEMORIAL The street art movement continued to develop after the Wall collapsed, with artists marching into Eastern neighborhoods like Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg and turning the gray areas of the city into vibrant art districts. Parallel to the spontaneous forms of artistic expression, which started developing in the city, one of the most significant mural projects was initiated on the remains of the Wall construction. In 1990, artists from all over the world were invited to paint on the Wall’s empty east side, celebrating reunification and expressing hopes for brighter future. The remains of the Wall, with over one hundred murals became known as the East Side Gallery, one of the largest open—air galleries in the world and the biggest memorial to the world piece. Not to mention one of the most important tourist attractions in Berlin. The preservation and restoration of East Side murals defaced by illicit artworks and graffiti tags also raised some important questions about the nature of street art, its legality and cultural significance, questions that came to define Berlin’s street art scene in the years to come.
FROM SPONTANEOUS DEVELOPMENTS TO TOURIST ATTRACTION – BERLIN AS STREET ART CAPITAL In street art community, Berlin is often referred to as “the graffiti Mecca”, “street art capital” and “most bombed city in Europe.” Considering that graffiti are illegal in Berlin, one has to ask how did the city earn its title, which again takes us back to the social and cultural contextualization. The rich and versatile street art scene in Berlin is a result of various paradoxes that followed the evolution of the movement. Graffiti and street art had an essential role in shaping the identity of the city and when UNESCO proclaimed Berlin the City of Design in 2006, there were no doubts that vibrant street art scene partially influenced the decision. On the one hand, illicit street art is seen as vandalism by the authorities, on the other the perception of Berlin as “the graffiti Mecca” attracts millions of tourists a year, contributing to the city’s debt—riddled economy. Illegal street art is punishable by law, yet the city officials weren’t particularly eager in their efforts to address the issue or initiate graffiti removal projects. This all lead to the paradoxical situation in which street art and graffiti thrived, using the gray legal area as their foundation. In addition, in the time of globally shared enthusiasm regarding street and urban art, as byproduct came the effort to turn the city’s street art scene into the industry and institutionalize what was once known as a free—spirited movement.
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Lichtenberg is an up-and-coming borough, with young families moving to the area around the Rummelsburger Bucht bay and creatives living the dream in charming old industrial buildings. The residents in this former working-class district are hearty and down-to-earth, real Berlin characters. Lichtenberg rapidly grew in the late nineteenth century, attracting new industries to the location and creating a building boom to house the workers and their families. The borough not only still has many traces of that industrial development, but also sites from Lichtenbergâ€™s different eras â€“ from Berlinâ€™s only remaining row of loam-and-brick houses in the former Falkenberg village to the charming Friedrichsfelde Palace, modernist architecture, and the Stasi complex and remand prison.
Berlin From The Eighties Till Today Mark Reeder Talks About The Music Scene In The City. by Indie Mag
hen Mark Reeder left his hometown Manchester in 1978 to come to legendary West—Berlin, he was attracted by the freedom, the uniqueness, the audacity. However, first and foremost he was coming because of the music. It was the new home of David Bowie, the playground for the first German electronic bands like Tangerine Dream or Edgar Froese. The spirit of the city was different from anywhere else. He didn’t really have a plan, but somehow it worked out pretty well for him. He was working as a mixer, musician, concert organizer, actor, presenter. Mark brought Joy Division for their first and only concert to West—Berlin, smuggled Die Toten Hosen to Communist East Germany and accomodated Nick Cave. The story of his wild life was portrayed in the film “B Movie: Lust & Sound einer Stadt 1979 – 1989”. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the creative scene changed to another direction. Techno conquered the city and so did Reeder’s back then newly founded Trance label MFS. INDIE had the pleasure to talk to this interesting man. Why did you come to Berlin? I was inquisitive. Berlin was enigmatic and historical. It had a mystique about it. I didn’t know much about it. It wasn’t known as a musical city though, more of a political flash point. However, Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream were from Berlin and Bowie had recorded Iggy’s The Idiot and Low there, and that album sounded otherworldly. Then it was announced that he’d moved there and recorded Heroes. I was fascinated by this album too, it was like none of his others and it was even more electronic. In Britain, no one could tell me anything about Berlin. Most people even had no idea it was far in the East of Germany and imagined it was slap in the middle of the dividing borderline between East and West Germany. I certainly had never met anyone who had ever been there. All I knew was that the war had ended there, that it was walled in and that Rudolf Hess was imprisoned there and it was the focal point of the cold war, but other than that, nothing. The only Berlin I knew was from books and the one I had seen in war films, cold— war spy thrillers and Cabaret. In the 70s, I travelled around West—Germany, but when I asked people about Berlin, they were generally quite dismissive. This fueled my curiosity even more. A few hippy students once told me you could escape national service in the German army if you lived in Berlin. I didn’t really understand what that actually meant. Berlin was deep inside the Eastern Block, which was unknown territory and by all accounts, it took ages to get there, so tourists simply didn’t go, but if Bowie was influenced by the city and this was reflected in his music, then it must have something. I thought, if people don’t usually go there, perhaps I might find record shops crammed with old, rare and unknown electronic krautrock records. What was your first impression when you arrived? Do you have a certain formative memory? My first thought was that it reminded me of Manchester. I arrived on a drizzly night. Somehow, I felt instantly at home, although I had never been there before. Everything seemed so familiar. It was thrilling to be in Berlin. My first encounter with a Berliner was early the next day, after my arrival. I needed some small—change to make a telephone call and I walked into a small kneipe at the end of the street, the Winterfeldstrasse. A few elderly patrons were sitting about drinking schnapps, this was about nine in the morning. The barmaid was bent over, stocking the fridges. I enquired in my best Germanese if she spoke English, she turned and stood up. Then I saw it was a six foot transvestite in a yellow polka—dot top, with wild bright orange hair and
horror show make up. She leaned on the bar and purred deeply in a broad Berlin dialect “jaaaa, schaeztschen wat willste?” For a moment, I was totally awed and completely taken aback but realized, this is Berlin. This is normality. I guess it was just as I had imagined it. I thought “wow! this is Berlin, I am here”. How could one imagine West Berlin’s vibe back in the days? Well, in the circles I inhabited, quite anarchic. No one gave a fuck. You could do whatever you liked and be whoever you wanted to be. Berlin gave you the freedom to discover yourself, because you didn’t have to hide. Everything was acceptable. We could all be a bit nutty in a sense because we didn’t adhere to any rules. You had to look pretty radical to be considered weird or be seen as strange in West-Berlin. Visually, the city was and still is, very seasonal. In the winter we all froze in our crappy coal oven—heated apartments, mostly, because it was a chore to buy 20kg of coal and lug it upstairs, so most of our time was spent in bars, cafés and clubs where it was warm. Then the city stank of coal fumes in winter too, it was a derelict city and looked pretty grey and dismal, especially at night, with it’s jack—the—ripper gas lanterns. I loved it. The spring brought with it hope and the promise of good weather. The city looks lovely in spring. Summer meant open air events and outside cafés. The packed live venues would be dripping with sweat all year round. Back then you could smoke everywhere too, so clubs and bars were always very smoky and all venues sold beer in cans too, which were used as ammunition to be thrown at any band that was considered to be sheer rubbish. This was more of a fun thing, than real hostility. At the end of the gigs, I remember the sound of hundreds of crunching cans, as the audience trawled out. When did you realize that you really want to stay in Berlin? Almost immediately. The moment I returned from my first visit to East-Berlin (at that point I had only been in Berlin for two days). What was the night life like back in the 80s? Smoky, wild, excessive and unbridled, I guess quite a bit like today but with more unconventional music and different drugs. Cocaine was virtually non—existent, because it was very expensive (about 500DM a gram) and no one I knew could afford it. Most people smoked or took LSD and Speed because it was quite cheap and if you fell into its trap, Heroin too. MJ & Hashish were probably the most popular and Heroin became easily available thanks to the boys of the Soviet Army’s Camping Afghanistan. As our so—called scene was quite small, you always met the same people around town. I always had my self—baked hash biscuits and so don’t think I ever paid for a drink, at least i would always end up with a drink in my hand, in fact come to think of it, the others didn’t either. I remember one night after playing a gig with Malaria! in SO36, the girls wanted to go to Exil in Kreuzberg for a after—gig drink. Our singer, Alistair and our mate Dave Rimmer thought all the drinks were for free and kept ordering bottle after bottle of champagne. When by chance, they discovered the drinks were not provided for, they hastily slipped out unnoticed, leaving the girls to discuss at the end who would foot their hefty bill. The girls claimed they didn’t know the two English freeloaders and they got away with it. That’s probably why many bars went bust. We got fucked up virtually every night. On a typical night out, I would usually start my evening with a Reeder’s Digestive Biscuit and then have a few drinks in Leydicke’s just to warm up and then move up the gears with whatever was on offer, then on to a gig, and then to a bar or club, then another bar or club, then … errr… fuck knows… You’ve met so many incredibly creative people in the 80s – was there a certain musician that particularly influenced you in your work? Well no not really, at least not many of those I met. I admired them for sure and I’m very proud to know them and pleased for them that they managed to make it. I was never really so ambitious. I didn’t play music to escape to a desert island, because I had already escaped and found my desert island in West—Berlin. I made music to the best of my ability – I am, by a long shot, no virtuoso. I did what I could and as far as I’ve
“It never occurred to me that I was a part of any kind of movement until I made The Tube–Berlin Special TV programme. Then I realized that I was living in another world.”
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been told, it ended up sounding a bit like my mates from Joy Division, who also did what they could, although they were a little bit better. I was also really into electronic disco music and that proved much more difficult to make. With my band Die Unbekannten we wanted to make electronic disco too, but we neither had the right kind of equipment or knowledge, it ended up sounding just depressive. I have had a lot of different influences over the decades, from artists like The Beatles, to Kraftwerk, Bowie, TG, Klaus Schulze or Giorgio Moroder, or Francois Kevorkian, Larry Levan and Shep Pettibone, but also Jimi Hendrix, Bernard Herrmann, Morricone, as well as The Buzzcocks, or The Stooges and many others. All have made a lasting impression upon me. Did you ever have the feeling to be part of an underground movement? Or was being member of a subculture almost normal in West Berlin? It was all very normal for us, but we knew we didn’t represent the so—called norm. Being in Berlin, I had immersed myself in it, so it never occurred to me that I was a part of any kind of movement until I made The Tube – Berlin Special TV programme. Then I realized that I was living in another world. Sometimes I have the feeling that people of my age kind of glamorize the glorious West Berlin with its infamous scene – there must have been some negative aspects!? Yes of course, on a personal level I’m sure there were loads. It wasn’t all fun, but you don’t really dwell on the negatives as they are happening. Hard drug addiction became a big problem. Most people lived on a diet of drugs and alcohol. Even mundane things like the shops shutting at 6pm and at 2pm on Saturdays, made life difficult, especially for the night owls. We had almost no luxuries apart from a TV, we had coal ovens in most flats, which gave out minimal heat in the winter and stank of coal dust fumes in the summer and having to share a toilet with your neighbour was also no treat. But if things got rough or boring, I always had East—Berlin as my refuge. It was never boring over there. How was your relation to the German Democratic Republic (Communist East Germany)? Being a fan or George Orwell’s 1984, I loved it. From the very first moment I was enthralled. It was a real, living version of the Orwellian nightmare. It was like travelling back in time to a parallel world. There were practically no adverts, only those for a forthcoming Free German Youth event, or proclamations declaring such absurdities as solidarity with their Klassenbruder the Soviet Union or forward towards the next party congress. Ok, the food was very poor but I loved sitting in their cafes drinking esatzkaffe. There was a certain quaintness to
the GDR that fascinated me. Once I made friends over there, I was introduced to the East German alternative music scene, but I always had a very interesting time over there, even if it was just as simple as going shopping for records or agitation & propaganda materials like a bust of Lenin. I met some fantastic people, all living on the edge of this so—called socialist society, trying their best to resist. All they really wanted to do was to be able to buy and listen to the music I could. Being a Punk in East Germany was to be very daring indeed, as punk didn’t officially exist. I discovered this was a much more serious affair than being a punk in the West. You could be a punk in the West and no one really cared. It was accepted and tolerated. But being a Punk in the East was much more dangerous. You were considered a Staatsfeind – an enemy of the state. The East German authorities were worried, because punk was something that couldn’t be controlled, that didn’t want to be controlled, and that terrified them. So it put everyone under surveillance. It was as if their leaders treated the population like little children. Forbidding almost everything and what wasn’t forbidden was controlled, especially the arts. I took it upon myself to help my friends over there obtain the music that I liked and they wanted. So I smuggled. Crossing the border was so thrilling and very scary at the same time. After the first time I smuggled something illegal into East Berlin, I became addicted, addicted to the adrenaline rush. I was entering real— life enemy territory and if I was caught in this unknown world, anything could happen and no one would ever know. Often I believed I might end up in a Siberian Salt—mine one day, especially after helping to organize the first concert in the East by Die Toten Hosen. What I didn’t know was that I was under the scrutiny of the STASI and my safety and freedom of movement was actually ensured, as they wanted to know who I knew and who I was going to meet and intrigued as to what my agenda was. So much so, they finally invited me into the GDR to produce an album, Torture by East German “indie” band Die Vision. As it turned out, it would be the last album of the GDR. In retrospect, I feel very privileged, as I was able to experience both worlds. How did Berlin’s music scene change since then? What did change after the fall of the Berlin wall in regard of the music? Everything. The Berlin music scene became dominated by techno and house. Without the fall of the Berlin wall there would have been no techno scene as we know it. After the collapse of communism, the small fledgling techno scene was able to spread and expand. The fall of the wall opened the floodgates for all those Eastie kids dying to dance to a new tune, one that promised to open their minds and free them
The Living City
“Without the fall of the Berlin wall there would have been no techno scene as we know it.” from the restrictions of the past. Techno was perfect, as it was modern, groovy, hard and had no difficult—to—understand lyrics, and it was the first time they had been able to choose what they wanted to listen to since the end of the Weimar Republic. They chose techno. You’re a pioneer in the field of electronic music – why do you think was (and still is) this genre so popular in Berlin? What’s the connection between the city and that kind of music? This is where Techno became a musical trend. Possibly, the last trend of the 20th century and the first of the 21st. Techno was the club sound of the future and as it develops further it still is in some ways. Apart from that, Berlin still has so many unexplored locations just waiting to be turned into a club or venue and it already offers an uninhibited clubbing experience. As for electronic music, the creativity you can unleash within the genre of electronic music is absolutely limitless. In my opinion, the brilliant programmers behind the modern music making computer software are the real pioneers of today. They are the ones who make it all possible. Their companies are in Berlin, because Berlin is Techno—Mecca. Sure, musicians have to be creative too and be constantly out there pushing the boundaries with it. What do you think of today’s electronic music scene? I think it is quite exciting. I was recently at a music school giving a talk and saw what the students there were doing. It was very impressive indeed. Although, they just have to remember it’s ok to make mistakes. We no longer have just one kind of techno music. The genres of what can be considered electronic have been blurred. You have 80s retro—modern sounding electronic and experimental avant—garde electronic, as well as club driven electronics and all kinds of mixtures in between. People consume music differently today and as artists they are obviously inspired by this eclectic mixture which fuses two or three totally different styles of music together to make something new. Combine that with new computer software and retro synths and a daring artist and we have fascinating times ahead. Do you think Berlin still is an attractive city for young musicians? Would you move here again under the current circumstances? Yes, of course, absolutely! For me, Berlin is like paradise. For certain, it is still much cheaper and affordable when compared to other major cities. It’s still a cool, relaxed and open minded city and you can get everything you need to make life a pleasant experience, besides, you can drink the water straight from the tap! now THAT is a luxury we all take for granted. In reality, Berlin still attracts the same kind of people as before and it is also a great platform for all kinds of modern, creative industries too not just music and nightlife. Are there certain musicians from Berlin we should have an eye on? Some of the Berlin bands and musicians that have recently caught my eye are Liste Noir, Jesus Sahara, Dear Strange, Lone Taxidermist and dj Ron Wilson, but there are so many more out there making great music (I just can’t remember all their names), I’m very sure of that there’s plenty of new talent coming to Berlin too. We just have to be open minded. Your message to Berlin: The thing that makes Berlin so very special is its open mindedness. We have freedom of thought and expression here unlike anywhere else. We have created this lifestyle for ourselves and made Berlin one of the World’s most attractive cities. It is essential that we maintain it, even if we have to strive very hard. So don’t let anyone take this away from Berlin, because it is what made you come here in the first place. Just remember, you have got to fight for your right, to party!
Berlin Through the Eyes of a French Poet Age: 22 Identifying Gender: male From: Normandy, France Neighborhood in Berlin: Ethnicity/Background: European Sexuality: heterosexual Occupation: Barman at Das Kapital, writing and painting Hobbies: reading, clubbing, going out for a drink Originating City/Nationality: Paris, France Ultimate Dream/Ambition: Launching a new poetry movement. (And collecting one by one the best memories of my life)
What do you like about Berlin? I compare Berlin to Paris a lot, but it’s normal because I was living there. There is a sense of freedom you don’t have in another city... And nobody gives a shit about what you’re doing because everybody is doing something. Of course it’s still cheap life. I consider myself a gentrificateur in a way because there are a lot of people who are really not participating into the German economy. But maybe in 10 years Berlin will be finished like Paris... Paris is really dying in a way. And I think it’s a moment to go in Berlin and just to see the last sparkling of it. More people are [still] moving to Berlin because of it’s lifestyle, but one day it will just burst... It’s a bubble. How would you say living in Berlin has changed you, if it has at all? How has it influenced you? I know it’s only eight months that I’ve been here, but I know why I moved here actually. Berlin means something. It’s all about understanding the time we are living. And I think the best city to understand the time you are living it’s Berlin actually. I don’t know what has changed in me. I don’t know how the city will affect me but I think I will know in some years it will affect me. But for the moment, eight months, is too short. But this is all about understanding the city, and understanding the time you’re living, and Berlin is the best city to do that actually. All the techno stuff, I’m really interested into techno stuff. Were you interested in it before you came to Berlin or is this a new passion? I loved techno when I was in Paris. But since I’ve been in Berlin, I’m more interested... You start really understanding how the city is living. Because everything is around this party, or techno club. How does Berlin inspire you? When I get creative block, the first thing I do is walk... in Berlin, it’s all about architecture. When you walking in Paris everything’s super nice, flat at every corner. And Berlin, in some neighborhoods, it’s kind of ugly. There’s not too much to see [at first] but at the same time you see all the traces of the past on the walls. You see the tags, but you see also the stigma of the World War II. I think about this relationship between the past of the city and my world. In my art, there’s a relationship between the past Berlin and the new Berlin. And where are you? You are standing there between these two because the time we are living [in], it’s a shift. Berlin’s not about competitivety. Paris is about competitivety in a way. [Paris wants] to build the next great and beautiful thing. But when you’re in Berlin you don’t have the same feeling. It’s all about this relationship between the past and the present, and how as a living person you are dealing with the stuff of the deceased. How you can deal with what they give you? Do you want to understand it, do you want to just demolish it or do you want to just continue with it? How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? No one gives a shit about you and that’s really great in a way. [Berliners] they won’t judge you— they will listen to you, and give advice. “It’s cool, it’s not cool, but that’s okay.” That’s not as hypocritical like it can be in Paris. When I was working in my publishing house in Paris, it was so much about contacts and relationships and blah, blah. The Paris journalists are a very smaller conglomerate of people who just like masturbating themselves. And in Berlin, actually I have a different job so maybe it’s also different. But there is this freedom of, “Whatever you do man, it’s okay.” Why do you think people are attracted to Berlin as a city? For me, and for a lot of people like me, it’s not a stressful life we are living. We are just dealing with the city. But this is also a problem, because you’ve maybe seen these guys in the metro or in the subway or wandering in the street and in their life, it’s about clubbing every weekend and being a bartender, somewhere clubbing, taking drugs and then they wake up at like 40, 50 years old having done nothing. Of course, life here is like way more slower than anything in other capital cities. Especially in Paris,everybody is very stressed. And of course, groups of creative people... You can still do something in Berlin without having troubles; When you do something in Paris there are cops or administration [to answer to]. You’ve got a project, you can come to Berlin. There’s not too much administration paper and you can really find people who are like you or who are dealing with the same kinds of ideas.
“I think about this relationship between the past of the city and my world. In my art, there’s a relationship between the past Berlin and the new Berlin. And where are you? You are standing there between these two because the time we are living [in], it’s a shift.”
The Living City
Why did you put on that outfit today? First, I don’t have so many outfits. And I like a lot this one. I actually always raise my pants a bit, because it’s my Parisian culture... Even if I’m in Berlin. There is this Berlin outfit, which is a cap with a long coat and sneakers. I hate sneakers. You know, the Adidas, which are green and white. Everybody has got this. I still like wearing this Parisian style. The first thing I said to myself when I arrived in Berlin is [the fashion] is quite dumb. It’s dumb. They dress so bad in Berlin, because I was used to Paris and everybody’s specific about dressing. I’m also a Parisian so I was used to that. But at the same time, after few days, after few weeks, [in Berlin] I just say, “They just don’t give a shit.” I only have three outfits. Where do you shop in Berlin? I don’t shop. I always like buying my stuff in Paris. Is it because you want to kind of maintain your Parisian identity? There is something about maintaining this French outfit and French identity in Berlin. Because it’s a way of standing out from this Berliners style. Maintaining my first identity, but in Berlin. Maybe in few months I will be dressed [more] like a Berliner. But I have had some adjustments actually, when I moved to Berlin. When you’re trying to dress actually in Berlin, having a dress is a lifestyle. There is a lifestyle you want to inform—this spirit of freelancing, of being part of the use of Berlin and what you want to incur in the collective unconscious. For me, it’s a point of being French in the collective unconscious. But actually, I moved here just because it was becoming unbearable in Paris. [When I moved here] I decided to have way more—not today—but way more punk/rock attitude. This is the unconscious archetype I want to do develop. For example, you see someone with a really cool leather jacket that really fits him. And you think about music, “Okay, this guy must be working in music. He’s maybe a musician,” just by seeing a leather jacket. And what does it mean when we see a hipster in a way? It’s been okay, just a guy freelancing, maybe going into techno clubs. And it’s the same way with streetwear. It’s all about which tribes do you want to join. Do you want to stand out or do you want to join a tribe? People really just gravitate towards their cultures because it’s so multi-cultural; they just try to find a sense of community there. People talk about a lot of vintage cultures in Berlin. It’s crazy, that stuff. It’s all about remembering the past because this is a difficult thing about our time. And when I think about that, we are just recycling over and over because the past is so present in the present. In the 70’s, the 60’s, they were just a bit aware of what was going on before [their time]. Just a bit of music, some old photography of the grandparents. They were not thinking about doing something new. They were just doing something ... and actually that was something new. We don’t have anymore— but we need to go back to that, to this creative process. Everybody’s
doing collage... Just but a mix a 70’s album with some old photography from the 19th century and you’ve got something “new”. Does other people’s dress inspire you? I’m really inspired by the techno tribes. I don’t wear streetstyle. I have a problem with this word streetwear. Fanny packs, in Berlin this is super trendy. Everybody’s wearing them, especially in clubs because it’s super busy and convenient. I find it fascinating because actually in France they’d ask, “what the fuck you wearing?” But whose dress inspires me? Not a lot. I dress the same. I really try to have my look, but maybe I’m sure in my unconscious I’m copying someone. But if I meet him I will say, “Hi.” Of course, “Hey, you’ve got the same outfit as me.”
The Living City
MODEL: LARISSA PUETZ
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The Living City
A Perspective from A Member of the Drag Community What is your relation to the drag community? I’ve only just sort of started to identify within this community. Obviously I would take what I say with a grain of salt because I’m pretty new and I’ve not done performance. But I’m gradually working my way up and sort of making more friends within the scene. I’m relatively new. When I go to a drag show, I’ll wear some makeup but it won’t be drag makeup. There’s quite a specific difference between standard, what someone might wear on a night out versus what a queen wears. Did you participate in the queer/drag community within Bristol, where you lived prior? There kind of is one but it’s not really very big. I went to maybe a drag show or two when I was there at Pride. I mean I was a part of the queer community but I wasn’t really in the drag/queer [community]. The way I got into it was when I came here, I started going to these shows that my girlfriend was already going to. And then I gradually got to know the people that are there every week.
How would you say that living in Berlin has changed you? It definitely has. I think it’s made me a bit more willing to do my own thing and not really worry about what friends or other people might think of it. I feel—it’s such a cliché—but I feel like a bit more like myself here, or that I can at least explore that is in a bit more of a supportive place. The people here are very chilled. But it obviously depends what kind of friends you make. I could say it’s a city where age isn’t really a factor between certain brackets. So my friends range from 16 to early 40s, and I don’t really think of any of them as being different but it’s all just about where you are in terms of you’re sort of life generally. How would you describe Berlin culture? Vibrant but dizzy, I guess. Or poor and sexy. No one really has money for all the good people that have any money. But people still find ways of being creative; the culture is very creative—based. People can have these office jobs but then in the night and at the weekends, they’ll just go mingle at clubs. Do you find that you kind of identify within one of these sub—cultures or counter— cultures? Yeah. I would say with the more queer/fetish. Within that [subculture] are different communities. We go to Kit Kat a lot on Saturdays which is the fetish night and we really enjoy it. There seems to be people that go there a lot. And you start seeing the same faces. But we met someone through drag and she’s sort of in this poly BDSM community. They overlap quite a bit. I mean, Kit Kat is more BDSM than queer. But there are parties at Kit Kat like Gegen, where it is queer performance, tangled with sex,
PHOTOGRAPHER: GILI SHANI
Age: 21 Class: middle class Identifying Gender: male Neighborhood in Berlin: Lichtenberg Ethnicity/Background: Caucasian, British Sexuality: queer, polyamorous Educational Background: bachelor in mechanical engineering Occupation: student/café barista Political Views/Spectrum: Marxist Communist and Intersectional Feminist Religion: Agnostic Relational Social Roles: son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew Hobbies: pole dancing, sewing, make-up, ice skating, bouldering, cooking, listening to music, clubbing Abilities: able-bodied, short stretch of mild depression during university Originating City/Nationality: Sheffield, England Ultimate Dream/Ambition: Have a job I enjoy that pays me enough for a modest apartment and that leaves me enough time to spend with the people I love and pursue my hobbies
When you moved to Berlin was drag a draw for you? It wasn’t a draw specifically, but I think the whole general vibe of the city that allows this community to happen and thrive was one of the big reasons. The fact that if you’re a creative, you can basically do whatever the hell you want and no one’s going to give a shit. And so, it is all very— it fits in with the vibe really well, I think. So in Sheffield if you were to go out, not even in full drag makeup but just wearing a bit of lipstick or a little eye shadow, you’d get shouted at on the streets. Not though here in Berlin… people don’t even see you. You feel pretty safe generally.
The Living City
and drugs. So you have places like Kit Kat where all these different groups come your way. We’re relatively new, but there are people that have just been meeting people at these clubs for years they’ll all come together and see each other at Kit Kat. Berlin’s famous for the crazy party culture. Is there a party culture within each subculture? They probably each have their own way of doing it. Like if you’re into sort of voyeurism and more certain fetishes you’re going to want to go to Kit Kat rather than some other club. But then I think the places that they [members of the subculture] go can overlap. Each club has a different flavor. I mean, that’s another thing, no one really has to take drugs. A lot of people do but it’s not like, “Oh you’re not taking drugs? That’s so uncool.” People are fine with people generally [living their life]. How would you say that Berlin inspires you? I think it inspires me to be a bit more bold with my creativity and not be worrying about someone might have done this before; to just do what I want and not worry about what people will think. You see so many people out and about wearing these amazing outfits, but that is just their daily outfit, doing their own thing and not really giving a crap. [In Berlin] you meet people who have just practice loads, and doing it till they’re confident in their own abilities—working on their art.
“It’s such a cliché—but I feel like a bit more like myself here, or that I can at least explore that in a bit more of a supportive place.”
What defines a real Berliner? Someone who’s grown up here, within the party culture and the counter—culture. Punk’s a big one here. We get all the old punks and they all don’t give a crap. But then the newer people who are sort of just in it for the drugs and the partying and they’re kind of just going out every weekend getting fucked up. I don’t know. But on the whole, their attitudes are like, “You do your own thing and you leave other people alone.” Why do you think people are attracted to the city of Berlin? I think it’s a place where the system is going on. I think Berlin’s just got something for everyone. And no matter what you want to do—even if you want to settle down in the country, there are places that are still technically Berlin though way out. It’s just so varied. It’s just got all these amazing attributes but then combined with this culture of ‘being’. It’s politically quite left—wing and that means it’s quite accepting of all different kinds of people and all different kinds of sort of sexualities, genders, and expressions. It’s inviting for some people because they’ve grown up in some crappy village where they’ve done something and then someone’s like shouted at them for it all their life. So they’ve had the family not accepting of it but then you can find your own community and your own niche. Why did you put on that outfit today? This particular outfit was because I stayed over at my girlfriend’s house and I didn’t have any other clothes. But yesterday I put it on because I work in a cafe so I need to be at least somewhat presentable. But my outfit for the last like five years has been jeans, shirt and a t—shirt so I’m only just starting to sort of work my way into different sort of styles. Has that changed because you moved to Berlin, do you think? Yeah. I think in summer when people have these amazing outfits. If you’re just wearing the same thing everyday, it’s a bit like letting the team down. When I’m out and about, I do not want to attract too much attention generally. Thus I wear stuff that’s considered normal, whatever that means. But then I’ll go to Kit Kat or somewhere. Kit Kat’s a specific one because I’ll be wearing some leather boxers and like a crop—top, or corsets. If I go to a drag show, it’s more like fetish so I would wear maybe jeans and a crop—top. Which is unusual enough for me to feel sort of comfortable. It’s weird, I would feel looked at if it was wearing a crop—top in public. But if I was in a drag show I am more comfortable when I’m wearing something a little bit different or sexy rather than just wearing a “regular” shirt. Because of social norms if you wear something that looks good people are going to say it looks good there [at a drag show]. But anywhere else it may not be the case. When you go out to clubs, are they places where you can express yourself or are you wearing those things because it’s expected that you dress sexier? For Kit Kat there’s a dress code. So that’s part of the reason I started dressing that way. But now I would say it’s mainly to express myself. Do you find you’re dressing for yourself or dressing for the people who are going to see you? It feels like a combination. I feel pressure from other people to look good because everyone else looks so good. But it’s not that I’m not doing it for myself, it’s just the push that I needed.
Would you feel out of place if you were to wear something “normal” to a show or work? I have and I do. I always try to do something that’s a bit different. The hostess, she’ll heckle you if you look straight. It’s just better if you look a bit more drag I guess. It’s also more fun. I start feeling a bit self—conscious when I’m just wearing a shirt and jeans. Where do you typically buy all your clothing? There are one or two charity shops or vintage shops. But on the whole, I go to really cheap places and try and find something that’s a bit more unusual. I don’t massively like spending huge amounts on clothes. But also, this is a consumption problem generally and I think more people should go to charity shops because there are enough clothes. Do you find that when dressing for each of these different events you’re expressing two different versions of your identity or are they just the same one just in different forms? Yeah. I think I am in a way, but it’s more of a spectrum. Sometimes I’ll go out in a corset and lots of bold makeup. But then, other times I won’t have as much time or not be as into it and I’ll wear a bit of eyeliner and wear a red lipstick and a crop—top. It’s all just me. I find that I dance differently as well. Like if I’m wearing one sort of garment, I’m not going to be easing my hips and dance as much and I’m just going to be careful. I guess it’s when I’m wearing more sort of sexy clothing; I’m going to be dancing, feeling sexier. It’s like a different expression [of self] but I wouldn’t define it as a sort of a different version of myself, it’s just kind of like different parts of self. It’s like when you’re at work and you’re being formal; it’s not a different person to when you’re with your friends. It’s just different kind of interactions. Living in a city that is based in this idea that no one gives a fuck and everyone can do what they want, do you judge people based on their dress? No one gives a fuck unless for one you’re being intolerant. I mean that’s a pretty standard one. If I see someone wearing a really eye—catching or bold look, even if I don’t think that looks good, I admire his or her boldness. In clubs if I see someone and they’re just wearing jeans and top I think, “You’ve put no effort into this.”… And I’ve just spent hours doing my makeup. I would say that I’m not judging them sort of as much as a person, I’m more judging that outfit. Like I’m not thinking, “Oh, that means that they’re like this.” I’m more inclined to talk to someone that’s wearing something a bit more interesting. A lot of people I know, when you’re out and about you’re not necessarily looking to get attention. But if you’re at a club, it’s a relatively safe space where you’re going to be able to express yourself more freely. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are into club culture where they go clubbing from like Friday night to Monday morning. Is that a thing within the queer party culture also? No. People do that but that is not really related to culture. There’ll be people within drag that don’t like going into clubs. They just don’t enjoy it. But it’s not like an exclusive, “Oh you don’t go to clubs then you can’t be part of our community.” When you’re in Berlin there’s an amount of clubbing that you like to do because it’s so good or because it’s a certain niche. Do you dress differently around your family? Well, I used to more so than I do now. My family’s changed quite a bit in the last two to three years. I feel a bit more comfortable; that relationship has sort of changed in similar ways that I have. I was at my dad’s wedding a few months ago and my step—mom— I was joking about wearing makeup and she said, “No, please do that.” So I wore eye shadow at my dad’s wedding and I met all of his family friends and it was really good. It was sort of interesting to be with these people that I had grown up with but they hadn’t seen or known about that side of me. Do you think that is because of the city of Berlin? Potentially. But also, at home our household is relatively recently becoming a lot more open to that sort of thing. My mom died about three years ago and my dad wasn’t dating lots of people. And now he’s married to my step—mom, and she’s very open and kind of she knows a lot of people who are sort of— one of her sort of I guess ex step—daughter’s is this trans woman and stuff like that. And she’s sort of— she knows about this kind of thing. She’s very accepting of it generally. How does other people’s dress inspire you? I think because when I’m seeing someone with an extremely bold outfit even if I’m not sure thinking it looks necessarily good, I’m always a bit jealous because they’re doing their thing and I’m just basing what I wear on probably on what other people think of it. And they just don’t care. Or maybe they do care but they sort of are still more willing to have people dislike it. I think that’s a big thing. If you’re generally producing good art in my opinion, whether you’re expressing that through outfits or whatever your art form is performance, it’s going to be divisive. I’m inspired to take up more risks in sort of my outfit. In order to do stuff for yourself you need to be very in—tune with what you like, otherwise it’s going to be tricky for you to think. Otherwise, you are just going to wear what other people think is okay. That inspires me to take more risks and be more self—defining.
The Living City
Snuggled between Berlinâ€™s contemporary glass towers and austere concrete slabs, Prenzlauer Berg exudes a wholesome atmosphere comprised of tree-lined streets, colourful boutiques, and a sprightly mix of new parents and university students. The artists and alternative individuals who populated Prenzlauer Berg in the 1990s have grown up. Now, the babies of these once-upona-time bohemians clamour for organic soy ice cream while young scholars pass hookah hoses, exemplifying a dynamic fusion of multiple generations.
A French Mother in Prenzlauer Berg
Why did you decide to move back [to Berlin]? I moved to Thailand when I was 27 and when you’re young in Thailand, your first job you don’t get well paid. First to start my career, and as a city Berlin had a lot to offer for children too. How would you say that living in Berlin has changed you? Even compared to France, Berlin is more open—minded… you don’t need to worry about how you dress here. You will see rich people wearing cheap things. Even getting dressed for a club or exhibition/event you don’t need to dress up. In Paris people really expect you to look feminine with a dress and maybe high heels… it’s the same in Thailand. Here you never see people in high heels or makeup. Here, if I would put on some lipstick and people would look at me… “Where is she going?” Also, in Berlin men act a lot more respectful. There’s no catcalling; men are not aggressive. You can really dress as you want because you know nothing will happen. How would you describe Berlin culture? Berlin is not German. If you walk around in the street or take the U—Bahn you will here like five different languages. That’s what makes Berlin very nice city to live in because it’s influenced by many cultures.
Age: 28 Class: middle class Identifying Gender: female Neighborhood in Berlin: Prenzlauer Berg Ethnicity/Background: Caucasian/Asian Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: masters of arts Occupation: business owner, fashion app start-up Political Views/Spectrum: green Religion: none Relational Social Roles: wife, mother Hobbies: time in the nature, going to flea markets, cooking, eating Abilities: able-bodied Originating City/Nationality: Paris, France Ultimate Dream/Ambition: grow my business further (a curated vintage eshop), move to the countryside with my family and have a small farm
How does Berlin inspire you? I also went to University in Thailand (I started a PhD there), you have lot of pressure to look like a good girl. You have uniform until your master’s degree… a long dress, a thick white shirt. People there really condition, the way they dress and the way they act. Berlin is the contrary. Berlin pushes you; you feel like you can be anyone you want to be – you don’t need to fit to a mould. In Berlin you also don’t need consumption, in Thailand it’s clothes even cheaper than H&M, so people shop almost everyday. Are there any specific places in Berlin that inspire you? My favourite place, it’s not a gallery, but a cafe called Cafe Bravo… it’s really beautiful and it’s all made of glass. Sometimes they have exhibitions. I took my son here because it’s really quiet and beautiful; they always have lots of art and fashion magazines. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? Independent of age… but I would say like people over 60 are all grumpy [laughs]. Berliners will always speak their mind aggressively. I don’t go out much now but if I go to a house party, people are really open—minded and easy to talk to… even though they are all like still unmarried, [in a different phase of life].
The Living City
“In Berlin men act a lot more respectful. There’s no catcalling; men are not aggressive. You can really dress as you want because you know nothing will happen.” Why do you think people are attracted to the city of Berlin? Before, because it was really cheap—you could stay in a place for 200 Euros or something. A lot of artists thought, “I can live on my art and have a nice life here.” Now it’s getting expensive, so it’s a different scene coming to Berlin. There are so many start—ups now. People are highly educated now… I feel like everyone I meet has a master degree at least. My husband yesterday said in Germany the average of educated people is 30% of the population… in Berlin, where we live it’s 75% or something crazy. What would you say is your typical dress? Most of the time jeans, I have like four pairs I alternate with. Almost everyday, my uniform would be dark blue or black jeans, and a grey cotton sweater. What do you wear to work? I work from home, but when I go to meetings I wear that kind of outfit. If I were to go [to meetings] with a short dress, people will look at me because the start—up scene is also really masculine… they all dressed really casual with sneakers and jeans. What do you look for when you buy clothing? Sustainability now… since I moved to Berlin I mostly by second—hand clothes because it’s really easy to do. You don’t even need to go to Humana – there are many apps! It’s really nice because you don’t need to buy new, you can find things you really like and you can browse from your phone. What do you wear to feel confident? When I really want to feel more confident, I will wear a skirt or a dress… but always sneakers. How do you use dress to send a message? Because my son is going to school here [in Prenzlauer Berg], most of the parents have good job. All of the mums, they go to the office, and are dressed up really nice. At some point, I said I would invest in a good coat, not to impress but to look proper when dropping my son off. Otherwise, if I dress comfortably, I will be myself. Have you ever judge someone based on what they’re wearing? Sometimes in Berlin I have to, because people wear funny things – like all 90’s with a funny hat. But I think like people don’t judge me here, so I don’t feel like I should judge other people. How do you think others perceive your style of dress? I think in Berlin think I’m just like normal, it’s not something. But when I go back to France, I have a twin brother and he said, “you need to dress like an adult now,” because he thought I looked like a teenager you know. I look at all the people my age in Paris; they dress more like a woman. How does other people’s dress inspire you? Instagram, bloggers and so on… but I don’t think I want to look like them because most of their clothes don’t even look like nice in real life.
Daniela An Original Goth/Punk from Berlin, Now Living in Toronto Why did you leave Berlin? Because mostly I’ve been there for quite a while. I needed a break but mostly because my parents are here and they’re not getting any younger and I don’t have siblings. When you moved to Berlin in the beginning, how did it change you? How did it influence you? I think lifestyle mostly. It’s very different there than anywhere else. Especially coming from the south of Germany it’s a lot more student oriented and quiet. And it was the early 2000’s so Berlin was very wild still. How would you describe Berlin culture? It’s a bit of everything really. There’s a lot going on culturally... Everyday there’s something new. That’s the difference. Basically you can do anything, and you don’t have to have a lot of money to go out. But the culture has a lot to do with the former wall obviously—you don’t really see it anymore but you still feel it among people. Especially if you run into people that lived there before. And apparently, when it was up, it used to be like a small village
Class: middle class Identifying Gender: female Neighborhood in Berlin: Prenzlauer Berg Ethnicity/Background: Caucasian/European Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: University (Honours B.A.) Occupation: Translator/Media Analyst (now Booking Agent) Political Views/Spectrum: liberal Religion: Agnostic Hobbies: walk Abilities: able-bodied Originating City/Nationality: Hamilton, Canada Ultimate Dream/Ambition: To find a place I love to live in and get to spend most of my time there
The Living City
because you had West Berlin and East Berlin; you couldn’t just go from one to the other. But the wall wasn’t up anymore by the time I got to Berlin. Berlin is known as an epicenter of counter-culture. Which counterculture movements were you a part of? Well, the Goth/industrial music culture. And moving there, were you interested in that already? Is that what drew you to Berlin? I was always a little interested in it, but I really got interested in it there [in Berlin] because there was so much going on in every music direction [unlike other cities]; it’s not a place that’s mainstream. It’s very alternative. But that has its negatives too... It’s so alternative that people have always gone there to avoid reality. It’s quite transient. It’s really the best place to be based. If you’re there all the time though, it’s a bit of a heavy atmosphere. How did living in Berlin help to kind of define your identity and who you were for those 14 years? I mean, I had a lot of free time there. And even after you’ve worked you’re not tired like here. It’s just different, and so you’re always doing something. You meet one person that totally snowballs. And so, I knew a lot of people there and then it kind of shaped me in the way of who I am, and who I got to know... People that I never would’ve met here in Toronto. The multi-cultural thing here and in Berlin, they’re very different. In Toronto, it’s more heavily represented by one or two groups. And in Berlin it’s basically everyone. I mean, obviously you have proportionally more Turkish people from the immigration in the 60’s. But you’ll still always have people coming there from other parts of Europe. How does Berlin inspire you? It makes you want to take an interest in cultural things and motivates you to actually go out even if it’s cold. I was there for so long, the city didn’t inspire me too much anymore. That’s also part of why I left. You were living there for 14 years. As the city changed, how did that change you? The thing is, by the time I left, it wasn’t as much of change. If you mean the refugees coming in that was literally the same week that I left, all of that influx started coincidentally. Otherwise, I guess it was gentrification but that’s anywhere, quite a lot of it. It didn’t affect me. I was lucky with my timing as I found my apartment in 2003 before all that started. How would you describe the attitudes of the people who live in Berlin? Very laid-back for the most part. I don’t know. I mean, people who are actually from there and who are older, I didn’t have too much to do with them. But even they seemed quite nice, I mean, the ones that lived in my building or next to me.
Why do you think people are attracted to the city of Berlin? It has that reputation, right of being so alternative and laid-back. It’s always been like this. In the 80’s, instead of being drafted, peeople could go to Berlin and basically avoid the German draft. So you had a lot of people from Bavaria who are in their 50s. They never left. If you go to Munich or something, it’s a total opposite. Touching back on kind of the cultural movements, what would you say are the main counter-cultures that are really important to the identity of Berlin? There’s the old punk culture, there’s still quite of that in Kreuzberg. Artists have always been there because it is cheaper. And that’s actually really good because they always have a chance to do something. It’s not like the artists in New York or London for that matter, who have to have a full-time job. [I have] a lot of friends who are DJ’s... that culture is always going on because there are so many [genres]; you have any kind of music you want to hear. It’s not very underground in Berlin. There are underground places, a lot of them but it’s not like you don’t know. That’s a big difference, right? It’s totally out there and well known—you just have to look for it. How is your dress influenced by living in Berlin? I dress more or less the same because I just don’t care about people here [in Toronto]. They have no taste. That’s the problem. Why did you put on that outfit today? This is from a Berlin designer who’s actually Czech; I met her and she had tailor-made it near Hackescher Markt. I wore a lot of things like this in Berlin, that are dresses but also stuff that I could wear out. I worked in an embassy in Berlin; I had to be fairly professional. Would you wear this out at night? Depending on where, yes, to like a club or bar, no. But to an art event, definitely, yeah. What do you look for when you’re purchasing clothing? The type of material. And something that you’re not going to see 100 other people trying to wear. The cut of it, the colour (dark). I had really nice things that I didn’t wear when I would go out because of smoke. I was paranoid especially if it was expensive, that somebody would put a hole in it. So that limited it a bit. I didn’t necessarily look for practicality there because it didn’t matter. I mean, there was the work wardrobe and the other wardrobe. Where did you normally buy your clothing [in Berlin]? I would order it but most of it I would just find there like in the shops downtown, more the alternative places which are in Friedrichshain. They have a lot of Goth stores, but now a lot of these places are online. What do you wear to feel confident? Black.
How do you use dress to send a message? I’m not trying to [send a message]. I mean, I just wear what I like to and it tends to usually be sort of black and gothy... but there’s gothy and there’s gothy. It’s not heavily over-the-top goth, certainly not when I worked. I wore a lot of Wilfred to work. When I would go out, like I said, a lot of black and silver.
How would you describe the industrial-gothic scene? It’s all around the music. Do you know Leipzig, right outside of Berlin? They have the biggest gothic festival in the world every May. Wave-Gotik-Treffen. Thousands of people go from everywhere, even from New Zealand. Yeah, so that’s like something that a lot of those people dress like that all the time. Like Victorian Goth. I didn’t go to that extreme, but more like corporate goth. How did you become a part of that community? I always liked it. I mean, there was just a lot of it going on, and some of the people I met were also into it and it kind of snowballed from there. What would be your wildest outfit if you were to describe it? I have a few PVC garments. It’s mostly gothy things that are really quite short and have a stirrup. But that’s the kind of garment that I could get a lot more use of in Berlin than here. How did your wardrobe change when you moved back to Toronto? I have a lot of hats. I brought them all over, but I very rarely wear them. It’s the combination of the wind and just that nobody really wears them here. And I’m like, “You know what? Screw this. I’m going to wear them anyway.” You can’t shape what you’re going to do based on society, but at the same time I couldn’t live in a place like where my parents live (in Hamilon/Dundas). It’s the mentality. How does other people’s dress inspire you? In Toronto, it doesn’t at all. In Berlin, there would be pop-up stores and the designers that I knew. I do know quite a few designers and I was in their fashion shows a while ago. One of my friends’ works in Mitte at the Vivienne Westwood store. Her stuff is out there, but you can find a happy medium. And I was making good money so I could afford it. What do you miss about Berlin? There are several things. I mean, one is this lifestyle that I mentioned and mostly the cultural aspect. People just—they always are somehow inspired, they want to do something. You’re jumping from sort of vernissage to gallery to whereever. I find if it (inspiring art events) happen here, they are very rare... then it’s pretentious, and they charge you to get in which is the most ridiculous thing that I’ve heard of. I don’t understand this concept at all. Including like when they want you to buy things, they charge admission. It doesn’t make sense. Although like any place, it can be very stifling though. If you find a job that you can be based somewhere and go away for a few months that would help. A lot of people are based in Berlin but they’re not there all the time. From an observational standpoint, the difference in the people who grew up in Berlin versus the people who came there, how did they connect to the city? They’re very different people, right. But the ones who had been there since the early ‘90s, they see it completely differently because they came basically just after the wall fell, and they be from the east themselves or from elsewhere. They just got used to it and they really liked it. I didn’t actually ever meet anyone who said, “I hate this. I’m leaving after two weeks or a month.” I really didn’t. Eventually people tend to maybe get sick of it and go somewhere else for a while but then they say that they miss it or they feel like it was their home. I’ll move back one day.
“The ones who had been there since the early ‘90s, they see it completely differently because they came basically just after the wall fell.”
How did your wardrobe or your dress evolve as you became more ingrained in the Berlin culture? I don’t think that it really did. It’s just as I got more into this industrial-gothic scene and I wore more of that kind of thing.
The Living City
Berlin’s Underground Punk Culture by Alice Dundon
Well before techno and Berghain, Berlin’s hedonistic culture was carved out by its counter-culture punk scene. In a city that was divided by a wall, the punk movement, born out of Britain and America, made its way to the ideologically divided Berlin. Here’s everything you need to know.
Early punk culture in Germany was heavily influenced by bands coming out of the UK, until the Neue Welle Deutsche, or German New Wave, became popular across Germany, bringing a post-punk sound to the country. By the late 1970s to early 1980s, lots of new punk bands were becoming popular in the country’s diverse scene and developing a ‘Deutschpunk’ style. This unique style of punk music included primitive songwriting, very fast rhythms and radically left—wing and politically charged lyrics, mostly influenced by the Cold War. Deutschpunk signified the ever-present struggle in a divided city, and East and West Berlin punk culture shaped the rhetoric of the capital during this time, creating sweeping change. Kreuzberg in the late 1970s and 80s became a stomping ground for counterculture in Berlin. Famous artists like David Bowie, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop, frequented the area, performing, partying and thriving in the legendary SO36 club, which acted as a hotspot for punk culture and hedonism in the city.
Punk subculture rises in Berlin
An Inspiring Avant-Garde Art Scene
By 1981, West Germany’s disaffected youth were starting to truly embrace the punk movement. During this time they descended on Tempodrom Berlin for an unofficial music and art festival to celebrate the alternative, counter—cultural scenes that were rising up in the city. In the middle of a subcultural revolution, ‘Geniale Dilletanten’ (‘Brilliant Dilettantes’ in English) became a symbol of Germany’s artistic awakening and a period of pure punk energy that was weaving itself into Berlin’s culture. The night was where the city lived, as music, clubs and politics all intersected to help shape an anti—establishment ideology bubble in German society. From the East to the West, punk culture was rising and taking hold of the discourse in Germany.
Bringing Down The Wall
Around this time punk culture managed to make it over the Iron Curtain and found its way to the East. At first, the punk kids in the East weren’t particularly political, opting for an alternative style, rebelling against society but remaining sober and wishing they were experiencing the punk scene in London. However, as the youthful rebellion spiralled out of state control, and after a number of public anti—establishment concerts, the punks were banished into the church and harassed by East German secret police, the Stasi. The pressure from the state had the reverse effect; punk culture grew stronger and more political in the East, with some claiming that its rising prominence and anti—authoritarian messages helped mobilize people to protest against the GDR, ultimately contributing to the fall of the Wall.
Remaining Punk Energy In Berlin
The signature nihilistic energy of Berlin was born out of the city’s early punk movement and remains a part of the capital today, with several squats still dotted around the city, and a handful of punks lining the streets of Friedrichshain—Kreuzberg. While it remains an ever—present undertone to an evolving Berlin, the punk ethos can best be felt in the city on May 1, during the city’s annual May Day protests and parties, when locals and tourists take to the streets for a day of political demonstrations, drinking and basking in their right to fight against the establishment.
The Living City
Age: 43 Class: upper-middle class Identifying Gender: male Neighborhood in Berlin: Prenzlauer Berg Ethnicity/Background: German Sexuality: heterosexual Educational Background: university engineering Occupation: IT team lead Political Views/Spectrum: left oriented Religion: none Relational Social Roles: father Hobbies: visiting rock/punk/metal concerts and festivals; meeting with friends; going to the gym Abilities: healthy Originating City/Nationality: Saarlouis, Germany Living in Berlin: since 2002 Ultimate Dream/Ambition: Having fun in my life, not the feeling of missed something when I die; giving my knowledge and support to my children
Former Navy Officer Dressing for Only Himself
“If you see yourself as a kind of lone-wolf then Berlin is perfect [for you]!”
doing my thing; I think that also is a characteristic of the people that live here. A lot of the people do not want to hide themselves behind masks. At work I’m the team lead and will go out with Thor’s hammer (necklace), my metal t—shirts or some stupid IT t—shirts. That’s my way of living here. You can do it here. Especially if you work in a small company. Of course, if you work in consulting you have to wear suits... or in a bank. You would also get problems with a nose piercing if you work in a bank. Is there a certain place or area in Berlin that you really connect with or that inspires you? The areas Kreuzburg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshein . . that’s more of the young area in Berlin where a lot of students live there. Younger people, alternative people... and rockers, metal, punks. I also have this rocker viking pub where I often go and meet with my friends. I drink coke, they drink viking beer. How would you describe the attitudes of the people that live in Berlin? “Fuck you, I do what I want.” More or less, that’s the attitude... which brings problems. Sometimes you hear in the newspaper that people don’t help each other because everyone is living their own movie with headphones. That it is me, my city, and my way. I don’t know the people in the apartment next to me.
How would you say that living in Berlin has changed/influenced you at all? There are a lot of things that you like if you live in a city. You don’t need a car; you can go out in the evening and you have the public transportation system which is brilliant. For me especially, you have a lot of bands that play concerts and gigs here in Berlin. All the large or even smaller ones [bands] will come to Berlin. It’s a kind of... lifestyle. When I visit by my friends at home where I come from, you take a look outside at 7 o’clock in the evening and there is nothing! No cars, driving, no people walking outside. At 8 o’clock all the shops close. Going to a club during the week, no chance! If you go to a pub during the week there might be 3 or 4 people sitting in. You take a look out of my window here at 4 o’clock in the morning and you see 10 people sitting at the streetcar. [laughter] You never feel alone!
Was that difficult to adapt to moving here? Is that all of Germany or specific to Berlin? That’s specific to Berlin. Where I come from, there is a large cycle of meetings with people from your family (your aunts, uncles, cousins). If your cousin is building a house, you go there and help carry the stuff or help do the electrical work (I’m an electrical engineer). And then sometimes you lose people because they have a new boyfriend or girlfriend. If you see yourself as a kind of lone-wolf then Berlin is perfect [for you]! Why did you put on that outfit today? Always after the shower I take a quick look in my black t shirts and choose... is it more of an IT day? Or is it more metal day?
How would you describe Berlin or Berlin culture? It’s international; you have experts or other art people coming from the US or from Britain... you will not have this in other parts of Germany. Also, Berlin is kind of a magnet for people coming from abroad, wanting to come to Europe and to our Mittel Kapitel (Berlin chapter of community formed for startups). If you compare it [Berlin] to Paris or London... it’s easier to live. The money, the prices of the apartment, the cost of food. You will see that Europe—wide, Germany has the lowest prices for food. It’s not only when you go out to eat a restaurant but also when you got the supermarket; the prices for really anything are very cheap. We have a lot of art I think, especially compared to Hamburg where I studied and lived for 4 years. Berlin has an art scene here with a lot of photographers. Music, also a lot! I like internationalization. I use Meetup, it’s an app for bringing people together and I go to meetings or events. I’m also in this expat group on Facebook to help people out if they have questions. How would you say Berlin inspires you? Of course, you change your way of living if you can. Until March, I was living with my family and then of course I tried to be more normally dressed. No more metal t—shirts... my ex—wife would have killed me. Then we split, I moved out, and got this apartment. Since then I’ve been
MODEL: MELANIE PALLIN
Even though the early days of German punk were heavily intertwined with the work of their British neighbors, by the late â€™70s and â€™80s, the music began to take on a life of its own with the growth of what is often termed Neue Deutsche Welle (New Wave German) or post-punk. By the time the 1980s rolled around, punk music was a huge deal in West Germany. Deutschpunk, the genre, arose as a counter to the various events of the Cold War. Following the fall of the Wall, the punk music scene changed substantially in the face of the emerging presence of neo-Nazi groups around the country. It caused a resurgence in more political punk music in opposition to the rise of Nazism. Even if its heyday is over, the legacy of German punk can still be felt today. Many festivals are devoted to the genre, and the grungy fashion aesthetic has continued to permeate street style and the underground clubbing scenes in Berlin.
The Living City
book chapter goes here
The Living City
A CITY OF FRE EDOM by Marko Ayling
t’s nearly four PM on a hazy Sunday afternoon as Alex and I walk past one of the top clubs in Berlin. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much – a dilapidated factory, one of many former industrial buildings that birthed Berlin’s underground rave scene in the early 90’s. The party was still going from the night before, as black-clad gothic types stumbled from the club into the hazy afternoon light, their eyes either squinting from the sun or glazed from the club drugs. Even more were lined up to go inside, waiting to get past the notoriously selective bouncer. “Day-walkers,” joked Alex. Neither of us have ever been into the EDM scene–and certainly not Berlin’s hardcore expression of it. “Not quite carpe diem,” I added. It was nearly my 29th birthday and I was feeling more mature, as if my years of all-night partying were surely behind me. By contrast, the scene before us seemed post-apocalyptic. In an overgrown lot, small groups of people sunned themselves on concrete ruins. Down the road, a young guy dangled his feet from the window of his apartment, high on something, blasting Janis Joplin, and smiling blissfully into the sun. It was hard not to judge it as excessively hedonistic–even nihilistic–as if they were partying like there really was no tomorrow. Berlin is a hard nut to crack for many first time visitors. At first glance, it seems dirty, run down, and gritty. In short, it’s completely unlike any other major European capital. In place of the skyscrapers are Soviet-style architecture from the 1950s. Squatters live in abandoned buildings five minutes from Parliament. Stickers and posters call for political asylum for Edward Snowden. Middle-aged men ride the subway dressed in drag. And a Sunday walk through Friedrichshain reveals said partiers, as well as hundreds more. But this is what makes Berlin Berlin. It’s a city of freedom. And the key to understanding why Berliners value their freedom lies in the city’s recent history. So in our recent episode, instead of diving straight into where to go and what to do, Alex and I decided to create some context around the Berlin during the Cold War. After WWII, Germany was occupied and partitioned by the Allied and Soviet Armies. East Germany was communist, occupied by Russians, and part of the Eastern Bloc, while West Germany was capitalistic and part of NATO. This conflict came to a point in Berlin in 1961, when these ideological divisions manifested in a physical wall dividing the city in half. Its East German builders claimed it was to keep out foreign “fascists” from the west. In reality, it was built to keep it’s subjects in, to prevent them from entering West Berlin’s airport, from where they could fly to the west.
If the wall squeezed East Germans physically, then the secret police (known as STASI) applied the pressure mentally – spying on their citizens, torturing dissents, and encouraging families to betray their kin. They ruled through fear, like a real-life version of an Orwellian distopia. That Sunday, I walked along the Berlin Wall, trying to imagine how it would have been to live during those times. We traced the wall’s 140km long footprint through Mauer Park, once divided and now one of the city’s largest gathering places. Only 5 of the 302 guard towers remain, standing incongruously against the modern cityscape, like an airport control tower dropped randomly onto a city corner. Without the wall, they make no sense. The same could be said for Berlin today–without knowing its history of oppression, it’s hard to grasp Berlin’s love of freedom. Tolerance replaces the bigotry of National Socialism. Street art brings life and community to a wall that once brought only death and division. Snowden’s struggle makes him a hero to those who remember life under the STASI. And all-night partying sure beats having a curfew. Alex and I didn’t have time to dive into the party scene, partly because filming is strictly prohibited inside. What happened inside remained a mystery to me. I’d only heard wild rumors–most of them revolving around huge orgies happening in the dark corners of the clubs. So on my last night, I decided not to judge. I met a local girl (thanks Tinder) who invited me to meet her at midnight in a club housed in what seemed like rickety shacks squeezed between dilapidated factories and a bridge. It felt like place where vampires would hang out, and admittedly lot of people were dressed in black. It wasn’t my scene, and for a moment I decided to leave. Then I saw her wave to me from across the room–even cuter than her profile pictures. I bought us a round of drinks and commented that there were a lot of people here for a Sunday night. “This is nothing. It’s early. You should see it on the weekend – people come Friday and don’t leave until Sunday afternoon.” I stifled a yawn and asked her how late she was staying. “Noon,” she said, I told her I normally don’t stay out that late, that I had a plane to catch the following day so I couldn’t be out until dawn. “Suit yourself,” she said, snapping her clutch closed and leading me out on the dance floor, where I found myself surrounded by the same crowd that I’d seen earlier that day. Earlier, I’d judged them for wasting their day. My early rising gave me a sense of superiority, as if I were getting more done. Accomplishing more. Making more progress. Now I was among them, trying not to look like a total douche as I attempted to adapt my American bump-and-grind dance moves to the scene. My date noticed, and we both laughed. I changed the subject, and asked her why they didn’t allow filming in the clubs. “Because here it doesn’t matter what you believe, how you dress, who you love–anyone is free to be who they are, to live how they wish. It’s a place of freedom, and recording would take away from that.” I checked the time. My flight was leaving in 12 hours. If I left now I could get my eight hours, maybe even send off a few important emails before I left. But what would that really accomplish? “Still thinking about leaving?” “No,” I said, putting away my phone. “I can stay longer. I’m free.”
A Comparative Analysis of Identity and Dress in the Modern Metropolis This capstone project aims to answer the question: how does the ident...
Published on Apr 18, 2018
A Comparative Analysis of Identity and Dress in the Modern Metropolis This capstone project aims to answer the question: how does the ident...