Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Berliner

Just back from four days in the hipster haven of Berlin. For some time now I have been curious and intrigued to visit this city so frequently praised and cited in terms of art/fashion/cutting edge bars and so on. With all the hype I was bound to be somewhat disappointed by the real thing, but I wasn't. I was surprised by how large of a city it was and realized 4 days is too short-though I did get a flavor for it. W

We arrived late afternoon on Tuesday and M went off to finish his installation at Art Forum Berlin- so I was left to wander for a few hours by myself. I was psyched to hit the Berlin pavement, but it was already pitch black at 5:30, so I kept my stroll to a small circumference around our groovy pension, the Weltempfaenger. (Carry the card with you should you need a taxi to take you back as there is no way of trying to pronounce this if not German). This small pension is located a little up from the Mitte. Rooms are sparse and concierge type service basically nil, but the bar/resto is a great hangout with good food. I was immediately enamored with the Mitte--i felt like I kept hitting cool, little galleries followed by young designer shops-often with workshops onsite. It was exactly what I imagined. Some cool highlights from this were Fiona, a fabulous hat shop; JA, whose konzepte is vintage and new fabrics transformed into beautiful scarves/eye shades/pillows/decorative items, etc.; Wolfen-, a lovely boutique, simple clothing, but simple in the sense of elegant designs done just right. kind of like APC does it; and Swert,, another fabric based concept store tho this time with an architectural//kind of retro look to the designed fabrics used as curtains, pillows, and also on clothing.

We ate (too) well in Berlin. I love the German or Dutch style cafe with the big bar, soft lighting and great coffee served with cookies. In the cold/wet weather we had for a couple of days this is essential to keep up tourist stamina. One night we had Russian food at Gorki Park and another night ate at an old-school restaurant called Einstein’s that had big, high ceilings and kind of a German-1920s vibe to it. We also had the requisite hotdogs or currywurst-(hotdog with curry spices) which left me semi-nauseous but satisfied. The weirdest thing about Berlin is how fast it can change to become a wasteland of strange (bad) architecture and void of sentiment. At the same time this also reminds one of the newness of this city and the scars that are still apparent.

Art highlights were seeing the Neue Nationalgalerie (a Mies van der Rohe building)at night; KW Institute of Contemporary Art; the Casper David Friedrich paintings on the top floor of the Alte Pinacotheque, the new Capitain Petzel Galerie located on Karl-Marx Allee-which was the long route to Moscow out of East Berlin, once upon a time, and of course, M's installation at Artforum Berlin.

Here are some pics. M took better one's so I have to wait until gets around to downloading....



I spent a good part of the summer in Berlin, shuttling back and forth from Paris to an exhibition I had at Rossella Junck on Augustrasse. I was always happy to be in Berlin because the people, the open intellect of its inhabitants and the energy of its tourists. Did you check out the beaches along the Spree? The flea market on Sundays on the Museum Island? The dense green (probably orange and red) park in Charlottenberg, The Tiergarten? (I saw Obama's speech there in July).

Its Mayor calls Berlin, sexy but poor. True, but still very inviting. I'll be going back in December for another exhibition at a new gallery on Brunnestrasse, The Wall Gallery, for a show called After Taste. Looking forward to it, even if the weather will be right out of a John LeCarre novel : cold.

Red Bridge Studio said...

Hello I came across your blog while searching for a current link for j-a-design konzepte. I saw some of their work while in Berlin. Brooklyn native currently in Paris.