It was an assignment for German class, to wander from the Goethe Institut to Hackescher Markt and then across the bridge to Museuminsel and so to arrive at the Lustgarten. I thought it had a better name than appearance. I mean to say, for a garden of lust I expected somehow a walled palace enclosure with paths and almost forests, maybe like Schloss Belvedere in Vienna. Here was bounded on the north by the neo-classical Altes Museum, pretending towards height but actually it’s rows of vertical columns, like a curtain demonstrate both more its width and solid foundation.
We were standing under the entrance to the Berliner Dom, all peppermint green copper roofing and baroque ostentation. Hard to say much of an edifice when it is within you stand, and not in any within that a spectacle is designed to be seen from and awed by. The grass of the Lustgarten was sublimely green, as if sprayed, or perhaps from the memory of the park’s imperial past, more regal than ordinary lawn grass.
And to the south, occluded by the pillars, columns, plinths and so on of the Dom, the last remainders of the Palast der Republic. The first building I truly noticed in Berlin, my first week here, walking to Kreuzberg with no idea of how to get there and the beauty of it, concrete and steel girders, a monster of its own imperial design, I couldn’t be sure if it was being assembled or pulled apart. I think maybe even in its demolition it resisted being reduced.
And I never saw it complete except for in pictures, and a video of artists and performers, autonom, occupying it a few years ago and making for its last days something I think Berlin inadvertently excels at. I’m not sure of words that won’t sound needlessly dramatic, but perhaps to say this and the squats and wagenburgs and all… together somehow make for a city that is living for people, or maybe for people who find home where they make it.
So I took photos with my venerable and too often dropped phone and kept going in a circle. I was supposed to sketch this for class tomorrow, but stopped after I completed the first quarter, from the Palast to the Alte Museum, a view, eine aussicht. Closeups of pillars and steps and the back of someone’s head appeal only to me in my private musings.