Gallery

köpenickenstr wagenburg

I’ll try and remember where I began. It was last night. Was I searching for something for someone? Was I searching for someone? I am with someone in Berlin who is not here, yet follows with me, my aimless trails, and leads me also, because… what do you say of a home you decided to leave? And then through another, newly discovering, find it again?

I have walked up a street towards a bar that leads to Kottbussertor U-bahn often enough, maybe three times, for it to bear the resemblance of known. Each time until today I missed entirely the gallery. I decided after ballet, and having some spare time, and deeply anxious about my dwindling savings, to do mostly walking and looking, anonymous, and from the studio explore a little Köpenickerstr, which I saw through the windows across the Spree, warming up to dance another day in the past. And from there up this street with the amusing-to-me name to the gallery. In the streets are wagenburgs and in the exhibition, a small history of wagenburgs in Berlin.

I had to retrace my steps as Schwarzer Kanal was over this street I must turn down, mmm… what to say of old buildings left as they were abandoned, made into homes with flowers in window boxes, a certain kind of detritus and wilderness that is distinctly a squat. Fences I can peek through and like a magic garden of giant mushrooms, old wagens, trucks, delivery vans, even perhaps ancient train carriages all cluster, a herd come together. Also though I feel embarrassed to peer into someone’s home like this, as much as it does instill a feeling of home in me.

Up the street with the funny name, I mean Adalbertstr over the damms, Engeldamm and, I forget the other, past on one side a quite beautiful and empty building of red brick and white windows, the small oval leaves bright greys and oranges on the soft oh-so-European green. On the other more wagenplatz, and a kinder, I forget again how to say, a childrens’ farm, an old, thin but perhaps not unhappy horse and sway-backed black donkey, another horse lying in the stable, all munching on straw, horse wanders over, takes a shit, wanders back.

I reach the exhibition, Wagenburg – Leben in Berlin at the Kreuzburg Museum up many flights of stairs, oh is something special. I will take Daniel to it when he returns, and perhaps buy the exhibition catalogue… One video was of Schwarzer Kanal, women talking about the place, location, tenuousness of its existence, the bicycle workshop, and one woman, short hair, maybe a leather jacket, I can see her in my thoughts but describing evades me, she says about addressing sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and I thought oh… maybe coming to Berlin to find somewhere I feel is home, hoping that there is difference in places enough to make livable, all these thoughts, it is the right decision.

Later, in the rain and darkness, I move to Schönhauserallee, look from the balcony at the city in night.

Gallery

revalerstr 99

This week a haze has descended on me, it is easier to stay in bed safe in the folds of my duvet, light diffused by clouds and screens, maybe to… give in. I took this haze to Alexanderplatz and then on the S7 to Warschauerstr, punks with face piercings begging for change, always with a schön tag for any coins, politeness and a smile. Was I ever that?

I meant to visit Revalerstr for weeks, Der Kegel having the cheapest climbing and bouldering I’ve yet discovered, and knowing how much I shall suffer, still I miss that exhilaration. I wandered the street until it became grasslands, abandoned and fenced, then fenceless, almost like me, giving up, the road a suggestion of direction, though it couldn’t care less. Where had the city gone? Oh, what does it matter? Here you can collapse into the long, long grass and embraced, become a banquet. If I kept going, just past that slight curve which eats the edge of the road I shall be vanished. It is the end of the world somewhere near here.

So I turn. Always too shy to go a little further, where the openness closes down to one door, a single entrance, here I find my carelessness, my delicious need for losing myself is overtaken. And here is a whole part of Berlin yet unknown, RAW Tempel, and then I wonder of everything from here to Frankfurter Allee. Instead I take the U line across the bridge, suspended between windows and trees, coiling though where? I have no names, I remember an apartment stacked like an artist’s studio, I see someone through the glass, or imagine remembering I do. I keep going, I want this line to be endless. Near Orainenstr again I disembark, searching for bread, coffee, books, things, making tangible something I can’t describe. i have moments of such contentment, as if Berlin is cradling me.

small adventures in the black canal

I keep hitting my head on this when I stand up, so I had to move the chair. mmm… comfortable chair, big and sinky, says, don’t leave, stay, forget your bed…

I am rather tired, caused mostly from doing technique class, profitraining that is, after some weeks of slobbery and, well ballet causes pain. I seem to sweat an awful lot here too. Oh also the bike I have a mobile, two-wheeled wobbling death-trap-machine with a seat like someone trying to insert a dildo sideways, oh yes, the bike also is responsible for soreness.

Which led me to some hours on the internet trying to find a bike workshop co-op like the Nunnery in Sydney or at CERES in Melbourne. Finally, and coincidently I found Schwarzer Kanal. Which led me to Les Lanterns Rouge, and much queerness, wherein earlier I’d been following Daniel’s rumour of a queer squat in Kastanienallee and so upon finding that stumbled into bikes and queerness.

Today was the afternoon for bikes and nervousness. And sleepy I wandered to the Bauwagenplatz near the canal on Michelkirchstr, finding a sign… “Queers and Rebel”, so you know, I guessed I was in the right place, but there was no doorbell, so I figured just to wander in, past an empty lot towards the brick kiln chimney bearing some holes and dents in one side, and through the wagens and trucks, carriages, painted and yes certainly looking like a squat. And so many bikes.

“Are you a tourist or do you live here?” “Umm… well, I just moved here…” Lots of women greasy hands working on bikes, and so I find a nice frame, metallic green and with some help get my own hands greasy, building a bike. It will take another half day, I think. First stripping stuff off the frame, then finding a wheel and… the bottom bracket needs some love (grease), girls and boys and… queers with bikes, smiles too.

Sleepy on the U-bahn coming home. Home is Schwelle7 in Wedding, central north from Prinzlauerberg, which I think will become in memory where I began to discover Berlin. a vast four-storey Fabrik mostly converted it seems to artists spaces, living in studios, here one whole floor is a performance, rehearsal, other, place for Felix Ruckert, whom in some way is responsible for me being in this city, after a chance conversation led to me spending a day reading his website early last year.

Tanz im August begins tomorrow night, perhaps I will be writing on what I see, or maybe stalk some dancers and choreographers at the sommer.bar.

Time now for essen.

taipei art-punk squats

One of my favourite blogs from Taiwan is Anarchy in Taiwan or gotmahmojo who recently wrote a big piece on a new squat in Ximen, and the artists, musicians and others who are turning an abandoned building into something beautiful in The Taiwan DIY Ethic. I have a real soft spot for artist squats, having spent a particularly memorable time of my life living in warehouses across Wellington and Auckland, and especially going through an anarchist phase again now.

I was really excited to see something positive and creative going on in the city, since its been years since the “renaissance” of underground music and art that took hold in Taipei during the post-martial law 90s. I’ve often heard kids lament that they hadn’t come of age during that time when the local art scene was young and exciting (now it’s still young and about as exciting as a turnip). It was during the 90’s that the first livehouses opened (and were shortly shut-down) and art bands like LTK and Clippers first started playing wild shows filled with lovely displays of destructive performance art. One show which has become a sort of legend in the indie scene was the “Broken Life” festival held out at a condemned Taiwan Beer brewery in Banchiao back in 1995. As the story goes, LTK set fire to the stage during their set before tossing their instruments on the blaze. The noise band, Zero and the Sound Liberty Organization, ended their set with a spectacular finale – throwing a vial concoction of what was reported to be vomit, spit and piss, on the audience. The appalled crowd promptly attacked the band with chairs

— gotmahmojo


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