First time ever being inside the Neue Nationalgalerie, and with Alison Currie who’s blasting through Berlin / Germland / the north-west Asian peninsula (aka Europe) on a dance / art trip.
One of the last artworks we saw, and the last painting I photographed before we schlepped around the gift shop. It’s supposed to be three chicks perving at a naked dude, but I think it’s three trans women showing off what the fourth could have if she just got on hormones and embraced her femme.
Me, trying to remember what I was looking at in the Neue Nationalgalerie, having forgot every artist’s name, but still, “Oh, yeah, that one, that’s one of my faves,” pointing at Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Potsdamer Platz and Rheinbrücke paintings which I’ve seen heaps of times and still very much faves, or Max Beckmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, Emil Nolde, Wassily Kandinsky … seeing all those artists in context with each other (though minus the ladies, cos … ‘reasons’) and in context geographically and historically is a trip.
Last time I blogged Otto Mueller was when I visited Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig way back in 2016, and when I used to photograph massive amounts of art and edit the fuck out of it all. Which, like everything I get enthusiastic about, became stressy and slightly too intense, whole weeks gone on doing fifty or sixty images per museum, and then a pandemic happened and I’ve been to maybe two or three exhibitions since the start of 2020.
First time ever being inside the very modern architecture, very Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, and dragging Alison Currie along, whom I haven’t seen for … fucking years. We were quite loud sozbruh. Me with my still new FujiFilm X-T4 using it for one of the reasons I bought it: photographing aaart. Sascha Wiederhold, very intense, big, detailed paintings.
On the street by the slab of Berlin Wall at the northern gates to Invalidensiedlung Frohnau is one of those orange pillars marking where someone was murdered trying to escape across the Berlin Wall from East Germany. This one is for Marienetta Jirkowsky, who was murdered in 1980 at the age of eighteen, shot in the stomach.
In ten years of Berlin, I think I’ve never intentionally taken a picture of the Berlin Wall. Other things Wall, yes, but the Wall itself still feels oppressively commodified on top of oversimplified significance. Up in Invalidensiedlung Frohnau, about to turn south for the last 40-something kilometre stretch to Neukölln, having a food stop and telling myself it’s not so far, this solitary chunk way out where no tourists would spend an hour just to get get there, it seemed appropriate on the day to take this one photo.
The farthest northern point of the Berlin Wall, the site of Invalidensiedlung Frohnau. Whether coming from the west via the Stolpe fields or east via the cobblestone tracks of Waldgelände Frohnau (and the delightfully named Jägersteig), arriving amidst the brown brick houses and tree-lined streets, like a quiet town is a calming moment and one of those uniquely Berlin creep-outs. The north gate has these parallel troughs rutted into the concrete, which confused me the first time I rode through, then realised they look like the gouges of metal tank tracks.
I rode the Berliner Mauerweg yesterday, October 3rd, also Tag der Deutschen Einheit. A non-day and the 30th anniversary. The wall opened November 9th, which should be the national holiday, except it’s also Kristallnacht, when the Nazis burned Synagogues and carried out pogroms in Germany against Jews. Germany often finds itself in a double bind like this, and often fails to resolve it.
My ride, the second full circuit of the Mauerweg was something of a personal celebration, a gift to myself, 16 weeks since surgery, as well as seeing physically (and all the rest) where I’m at after that. A need to know where I am in myself. And I live in this city, with this history, write about the place, so it seemed a good day to spend thinking about and moving through all this, all the people. The weather eased a little after the last days of constant rain, but still, 170km of wet, rainy, cold, windy of the mostly headwind type, muddy, dirty, actually quite grim and challenging, and very much at my physical and emotional limits. Mentally I seemed to be blasé, other than concerned with how close physically I was to the edge for the latter half. This, and writing apparently are my art-ing right now.
Here’s Bike, in her / their element, propped up on the bridge at Kontrollpunkt Dreilinden, another of my favourite parts of the Mauerweg, 3 kilometres of — once again — sand track through forest where the old Autobahn ran stopping dead on the south end of the bridge in a tank trap, to continue via Albrechts Teerofen along the canal like being far out in the countryside. Last time I was here was with Gala back in March, making a short film.
One of my favourite stretches along the Berliner Mauerweg. A detour through the obelisks at the south end of Drusenheimer Weg, along sandy single track and out into the fields. This would be the Inner Wall, the wall on the East German side. It’s truly beautiful and I could ride this all day. It continues for about 3 kilometres, plunges into forest, then spits out via a drainage trench into one of the most brutal cobble sections on the Mauerweg and some of the hardest in Berlin, the Petkusser Str. and Mozartstraße sections, 1200 metres of, “This is kind of a nice massage, wait, no, my hands and arse have gone numb, I have concussion.”