Exberliner issue 185, September 2019

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185

SEPTEMBER 2019

E-SCOOTER RAMPAGE

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these

wheels are all the road rage.

We put them to the test.

BERLIN’S BOARDHEADS

This ain’t California but

the skateboarding scene

is alive and flip-kicking.

ELECTRIC WHEELS

How is Berlin catching up

with the e-revolution

and is it worth the cost?

BOOKED-OUT

Berlin’s literature festival

takes you on its most

diverse journey yet.

| 100% MADE IN BERLIN | PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER | €3.90 |


Bettina

Bettina Pousttchi, A3, 2019, Leitplanken, Stahl / crash barriers, steel, 221 (h) × 204 × 94 cm / 87 (h) × 80¼ × 37 in, Courtesy Buchmann Galerie und die Künstlerin, Foto: Michael Schultze

Pousttchi

In Recent Years

12.9.19 – 6.4.20

Alte Jakobstraße 124 – 128 10969 Berlin Mi – Mo 10 – 18 Uhr # BettinaPousttchi # berlinischegalerie www.berlinischegalerie.de

Die Ausstellung wird unterstützt durch

Im Rahmen der

Kooperations- und Medienpartner


CONTENTS

EXB185

September 2019

SPECIALS


E-Mobility

06

The big e-buzz

Has the sustainable revolution

reached us yet?

09

E-scooter invasion

The rules, fun facts and a test drive

Skating in Berlin

13

Where the skaters meet

From the Kulturforum to

Warschauer Straße

14

“There’s never been as

many skaters.”

A chat with

Lennie Burmeister

16

California über alles...

The story behind Berlin’s famous

fictional skating doco

REGULARS


03

Konrad Werner

What Boris Johnson’s election

teaches us about politics

04

Best of Berlin

Tierfree treats, classy cannabis, Rosa-Lux

stamps and a hippy workout

12

Rant

Time to go to German school!

46

Berlin Bites

From disappointing to

revelatory Thai

47

The Berlinoscope

What the stars hold for you

48

Save Berlin

What to make of the historicist

revival in architecture

WHAT’S ON


19

Preview: Minority report

Literature Festival goes

full-on diversity

22

Verbatim: Nicola’s fest

Berlin’s Jewish

Film Festival turns 25

Film 24

Music 28

Stage 32

Art 36

40

Events calendar

42

The Berlin Guide

45

Comic

#Instabunnies at Art Week

EXBERLINER 185

1


INTRODUCING

NASHVILLE:

Danielle Bradbery, Devin Dawson,

Travis Denning, Rachel Wammack

13.10.19 · Columbia Theater

RÜFÜS DU SOL

18.10.19 · Columbiahalle

SNARKY PUPPY

29.10.19 · Columbiahalle

THE LIBERTINES

05.11.19 · Columbiahalle

EMELI SANDÉ

06.11.19 · Verti Music Hall

A TRIBUTE TO

DAVID BOWIE

LIVE ON MARS Feat. Alex Thomas

12.11.19 · Columbia Theater

ALTER BRIDGE

+ SHINEDOWN + THE RAVEN AGE

20.11.19 · Columbiahalle

FATOUMATA

DIAWARA

22.11.19 · Huxleys

MANDO DIAO

+ TOM ALLAN & THE STRANGEST

01.12.19 · Columbiahalle

WHITE LIES

CELEBRATING THE 10th ANNIVERSARY

OF “TO LOSE MY LIFE”

03.12.19 · Tempodrom

BISHOP BRIGGS

13.12.19 · Metropol

LIAM

GALLAGHER

11.02.20 · Tempodrom

WILCO

12.09.19 · Tempodrom

TOM ROSENTHAL

06.10.19 · Heimathafen Neukölln

THE VAMPS

25.10.19 · Astra Kulturhaus

HELGI JONSSON

25.11.19 · Columbia Theater

SAY SUE ME

16.09.19 · Badehaus

MILOW

+ MARTIN & JAMES

08.10.19 · Huxleys

PALACE

27.10.19 · Lido

LOVELYTHEBAND

25.11.19 · Musik & Frieden

LINDSEY STIRLING

20.09.19 · Columbiahalle

ARCHIVE

21.09.19 · Tempodrom

JON BELLION

22.09.19 · Kesselhaus

JAMES MORRISON

09.10.19 · Kesselhaus

ALLAH-LAS

+ MAPACHE + TIM HILL

+ REVERBERATION RADIO DJ SET

10.10.19 · Kesselhaus

DURAND JONES & THE

INDICATIONS + THE DIP

11.10.19 · Lido

JULES AHOI

27.10.19 · Badehaus

THE STRUTS

27.10.19 · Columbia Theater

NIGHT MOVES

+ WOVOKA GENTLE

28.10.19 · Maze

DEVIN TOWNSEND

+ HAKEN

27.11.19 · Astra Kulturhaus

PORTICO QUARTET

27.11.19 · Heimathafen Neukölln

AJR

+ FLAWES

04.12.19 · Kesselhaus

PHELA & STRINGS

22.09.19 · Heimathafen Neukölln

HILLTOP HOODS

15.10.19 · Astra Kulturhaus

KATE TEMPEST

29.10.19 · Huxleys

AGAINST THE CURRENT

05.12.19 · Gretchen

DON FELDER

FORMERLY OF THE EAGLES

23.09.19 · Frannz

AMBER RUN

24.09.19 · Lido

SATORI & THE BAND

FROM SPACE

18.10.19 · Metropol

GOGO PENGUIN

KOYAANISQATSI - A NEW SCORE (LIVE)

22.10.19 · Huxleys

K.FLAY

31.10.19 · Astra Kulturhaus

ANNA TERNHEIM

31.10.19 · Kesselhaus

GWAR

+ VOIVOD + CHILDRAIN

08.12.19 · Festsaal Kreuzberg

AURA DIONE

12.12.19 · Lido

LITTLE HURRICANE

27.09.19 · Lido

NACHT DER GITARREN

LULO REINHARDT, DANIEL STELTER,

YULIYA LONSKAYA & ITAMAR EREZ

30.09.19 · Quasimodo

NOUVELLE VAGUE

02.10.19 · Columbia Theater

DANIEL CAESAR

22.10.19 · Metropol

THE DIVINE COMEDY

+ MAN & THE ECHO

23.10.19 · Admiralspalast

RAPHAEL SAADIQ

ONLY SHOW IN GERMANY

23.10.19 · Columbia Theater

AIRBOURNE

+ TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN

07.11.19 · Columbiahalle

CHARLI XCX

09.11.19 · Astra Kulturhaus

THRICE & REFUSED

12.11.19 · Huxleys

CLAIRO

+ LAUNDRY DAY + DREAMER BOY

17.12.19 · Lido

THE TESKEY BROTHERS

07.02.20 · Heimathafen Neukölln

THE DARKNESS

+ DZ DEATHRAYS

12.02.20 · Kesselhaus

TANITA TIKARAM

+ LUCA SESTAK

05.10.19 · Heimathafen Neukölln

LAUV

+ CHELSEA CUTLER

25.10.19 · Tempodrom

MARK LANEGAN BAND

17.11.19 · Columbia Theater

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

15.02.20 · Huxleys

Mehr Infos zu den Konzerten unter www.trinitymusic.de

Tickets unter www.dodotickets.de und an allen bekannten Vorverkaufsstellen.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these

wheels are all the road rage.

We put them to the test.

This ain’t California but

the skateboarding scene

is alive and flip-kicking.

| 100% MADE IN BERLIN | PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER | €3.90 |

How is Berlin catching up

with the e-revolution

and is it worth the cost?

SEPTEMBER 2019

Berlin’s literature festival

takes you on its most

diverse journey yet.

COLUMN— Political Notebook

E-SCOOTER RAMPAGE

BERLIN’S BOARDHEADS

ELECTRIC WHEELS

185

BOOKED-OUT

Choose your own liar

How Boris Johnson’s election shows the gap between

pretend politics and actual government.

Deputy editor

Franziska Helms

Publishers

Martin Frank

Nadja Vancauwenberghe

Editorial

Editor-in-chief

Nadja Vancauwenberghe

Copy editors

Beatrix Joyce, Alex Pichaloff

Web editor

Beth Cherryman

Film

Paul O’Callaghan

Art director

Martin N. Hinze

U1 Cover 185.indd 1 22.08.19 23:07

Illustration: Aga Bartosz

Design

Music

Joey Hansom

Art

Anna Larkin

Stage

Nicholas Potter

Food

Jane Silver

Graphic design

Karen Minden

This month’s contributors

Jared Abbott, Dan Borden, René Blixer,

Kevin Caners, Walter Crasshole, Yasmin Helal,

Ellen Lang, Caleb Larson, Eve Lucas, Jacinta Nandi,

David Mouriquand, Ben Osborn, Madeleine Pollard,

Randon Rosenbohm, Ruth Schneider, Paul Sharratt,

Freya Werner, Konrad Werner

Photography: Daniel Cati, Lydia Goolia

Ad sales / Marketing

Julia Belyaeva, Frieder Schmid,

Fanny Zschau (partnerships & advertising)

Stefanie Gilissen (distribution)

To discuss advertising please contact us:

Tel 030 2576 0874, ads@exberliner.com

Subscriptions

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Iomauna Media GmbH

Max-Beer-Straße 48, 10119 Berlin-Mitte

Tel 030 2463 2563, Fax 030 4737 2963

www.exberliner.com, Issn 1610-9015

Now that Boris Johnson is the prime

minister of the United Kingdom there’s

no way of denying anymore that politics

is basically about choosing who you want to

lie to you. I think the reason that our political

debates have turned so poisonous is because

we subconsciously know that they are about

performance rather than real government.

One example: everyone, by which I mean

every single human being, including the British

people who voted to leave

the EU, as well as all the rest of

the world, which is divided into

those amused by the spectacle of

British insanity and those who

aren’t, plus the indigenous people

in what’s left of the Amazon who

may still be largely untouched

by this civilisation, in fact every

sentient animal on the planet,

knows that Johnson won’t get a

different Brexit deal out of the EU

than the one Theresa May got.

But the UK Conservative Party

voted for him anyway because

they needed someone else to tell them the story

they wanted to hear, because May no longer

had enough conviction in her voice when she

lied to them. This is what the filmmaker Adam

Curtis, following the Soviet-born anthropologist

Alexei Yurchak, called hypernormalisation:

when everyone knows the system is failing,

and the political leaders have no option left

but to insist on optimism, to pretend everything

is okay. The big difference is that it was

meant to apply to the Soviet Union, not to a

democratic country.

It’s getting harder to cover the widening

gap between political performance and what

a government actually does. This is one of the

Konrad Werner

explains German

politics

reasons why Johnson and Trump got elected

in the first place, because people have got used

to thinking of leaders as performers who are

good or bad, and people are so desperate to

make it feel like capitalism works. If capitalism

worked you wouldn’t need Trump. Maybe one

day we will think of Angela Merkel as the last

leader who tried to make it look like she was

in charge. It definitely feels that way when

you see her sitting there at press conferences

able to answer all the questions

with a command of detail that is

embarrassing to journalists. In

this last leg of her chancellorship,

she seems to have decided it’s

her mission to explain to people

that being in government isn’t

as easy as it looks. Politics is the

art of the possible – you have to

find the consensus, appeal to

the concerns of as many people

as possible, balance interests.

That’s a healthy government,

or it’s supposed to be.

The problem is that we’re now

in an ecological situation where that method creates

its own hypernormal state – not one where

the leader and the government are disconnected,

but one in which human life is disconnected

from the natural world around us. This allows

us to persevere with the illusion that we can

manage our way out of catastrophe by edging

and compromising, by Merkel-ling our way out

of climate breakdown. It won’t work, because

the non-human forces in the world don’t care

about our morals, they don’t care how much

we hate Trump or Johnson or Bolsonaro or

Merkel or Ocasio-Cortez or Thunberg. There

are underground rivers beneath the carapace,

and they are beginning to crack it. T

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Moabit: Alt-Moabit 98 (Spreebogen)

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BEST OF BERLIN

innovative baking

BEST TIERFREE

TREATS

At first glance, customers at Be Sweet

may be hard-pressed to guess that the

gorgeous Törtchen on offer aren’t French

classics concocted by some maître pâtissier, but

are instead all-vegan novelties engineered by a

trained industrial designer. After being diagnosed

as lactose intolerant, Stuttgarterin Inés Arau Mussons

became so engrossed with the challenge of

baking without the use of animal products that she

ditched her nifty engineering job and moved to the

European capital of all things vegan to bring 10

years of culinary experiments to the next stage – a

cake shop! Since June, she and her puppy Georges

have been welcoming a mixed crowd of dessertlovers

and vegan-converts to the tiny coffee-shop

on Kollwitzstraße, where the colours, textures

and flavours on offer belie traditional notions

Lydia Goolia

of vegan food. The classic Black Forest has been

reinvented as an elaborate dark-chocolate sphere enclosing layers of soy-based cream,

chocolate cake and cherries. There’s also an irresistible poppy-apricot tart mounted

with a delicious white-chocolate blob (Mohn liebt Aprikosen, €4.95) and a berry dome

(cashew-cream base, Beeren Blüte €5.50) that’s delightfully pretty with its handcrafted

rose sculpture atop, and so fruity it has to sit in its own glass case to avoid oxidising.

Just as fruity is the vegan and gluten-free Lemon Prince (€6.50), a lemon juice-and-zest

bomb containing lime-avocado cream on a date-and-almond base. The coffee is also

great and affordable (€1.90 espresso!). Final verdict? We can’t wait for the small café

to extend its opening hours! — Ellen Lang

Daniel Cati

Be Sweet, Kollwitzstr. 37, Prenzlauer Berg, Fri-Sun 12-19

Café Canna

Feminist mail

BEST ROSA-LUX STAMP

Jeanne Fredac

If the only letters you send are to the Finanzamt, you may not be up to date with the Deutsche

Post’s latest philatelic offerings - they actually produce custom-made stamps with a motif

of your choice. At €29.95 for a sheet of 20, they’re not cheap, but the more you order, the

better the price. An avid epistolarian herself, Kreuzberg-based French artist Jeanne Fredac saw

the potential to use the scheme to make a feminist statement. In honour of Rosa Luxemburg,

who died in Berlin 100 years ago, Fredac took two of her paintings of the socialist icon and, with

the help of the year-long A Stamp For Rosa crowdfunding campaign, turned them into her own

‘limited edition’ design. Based on mug shots taken in a Warsaw prison in 1906, the 60x80cm

original paintings were first shown in the Charlottenburg gallery of German-Austrian women’s

artist group GEDOK to celebrate a century of women’s suffrage. In pop art style, the stamps are

meant to highlight Luxemburg’s modern political thought and her audacity to live as an unmarried,

independent woman way ahead of her time. The crowdfunding campaign helped Fredac sell

4500 stamps by early August and order an additional 1000, which she now offers for sells at €25

a sheet of 20 – cheaper than having the Post print a set with your dog on it. And who knows, your

tax officer might appreciate the gesture. — Franziska Helms

jeannefredac.com

4

EXBERLINER 185


BEST OF BERLIN

Stress relief

BEST HIPPY DANCE

WORKOUT

| CURIOUS?

Feel like you need to “shake the paperwork off

your shoulders”? Florencia Lamarca’s improvised

movement class will have you “tasting the

floor with your feet” and “moving like an overcooked

chicken”! The technique of her own invention is called

Fluentbody, and her class, suited for people of all

ages and experience levels, is best described as Zumba

for hippies. It takes elements from contemporary

dance and combines them with her current work as

a Grinberg Method therapist, an approach that aims

to clear mental blocks by increasing patients’ body

awareness. Though you might feel self-conscious at

first, by the end of her 90-minute drop-in class at Kreuzberg dance studio motion*s (€12, €7 for first-timers)

you’ll be writhing on the floor, pounding your feet and waving your arms like a real modern dancer. However,

you may also end up meditating, stretching or holding hands with a classmate – true to Fluentbody’s

improvisational spirit, Lamarca makes every class up as she goes, preferring to read the room to see what

the participants’ spirits need. Indeed, while this is definitely a full body workout, it is also a chance to check

in with the mind, and a welcome relief from fitness classes focused on purely physical goals. Now, are you

ready to “let your ankles float”? — EL

JÜDIS CHE S FILMFESTI V A L

BERLIN | BRANDENBURG

Fluentbody through Nov 25 at motion*s, Prinzenstr. 85, Kreuzberg, Wed 10-11:30

Vegan high

BEST CLASSED-UP CANNABIS

Vegans of Prenzlauer Berg can celebrate the arrival of yet another meat-free eatery

with the recent opening of Café Canna, Berlin’s first CBD café. The debut venture of

native Berliner Nico Schack reflects his long-time interest in the versatility of hemp,

marijuana’s tamer cousin. While similar in appearance

to weed, hemp contains far less psychoactive

THC, and can instead be processed to extract CBD,

a substance enthusiasts hail for its ability to ease

anxiety, aid sleep and soothe pain. Café Canna manages

to infuse both the substance and its parent plant

into the menu, with acai and veggie bowls featuring

a sprinkling of protein-rich hemp seeds (€5.90 and

€9.80, respectively), while the café’s refreshing citrus

Hemponade (€3.20) and homemade raw-food

Happy Balls (€2.80) both incorporate CBD extracts.

While hemp sprinkles are unlikely to have much of

an effect, options in the latter category can provide

a sleepy, relaxed, weed-like sensation without any

mind-altering effects. As such, Schack anticipates a

crowd more focused on holistic health rather than

getting stoned, and the café, fitted out with wooden

tables, jute cushions and very apt plants out front,

also sells CBD oil of varying concentrations (€50

for 10 percent, €30 for five percent) and dried hemp

plants (two grams for €25) so customers can explore

the benefits of CBD at home. — EL

Café Canna, Lychener Str. 4, Prenzlauer Berg, Tue-

Thu 9-20, Fri-Sat 9-24, Sun 9-20

SEPTEMBER 2019

5


E-MOBILITY

reality check

The big e-buzz

E-scooters are everywhere and the BVG have launched

their new e-buses – but does that mean Berlin is

en route to full e-mobilisation? Kevin Caners investigates

how this car nation’s capital is doing in terms of

sustainable transportation.

country’s wider ‘Verkehrswende’, or the

big ‘mobility turn’ that calls for a switch

from fossil fuel to electricity-powered

engines and a better integration of

public and private commuting. “This

brings us closer to our goal of making

transport environmentally and climate

friendly” Federal Environment Minister

Schulze explained. “Because electric

buses have three clear advantages: they

are CO2-free, low in emissions and

significantly quieter.”

Martin N. Hinze

Like blockchain or virtual reality,

e-mobility has long been touted

as “the next big thing” and

held up as the revolution progressive

minds should embrace as we move

towards a better, emission-free future.

However, scooting-fun aside, the hype

doesn’t seem to have that much of an

impact on our day-to-day lives. But as

politicians, car manufacturers, and the

sharing-economy try to sell us the e-

revolution, is this about to change?

BVG goes E

Earlier this year on March 27, at a BVG

depot in Wedding, Federal Transport

Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU)

and Federal Environmental Minister

Svenja Schulze (SPD) joined two Berlin

Senators as the public transit authority

proudly presented the first delivered

of the 30 new yellow all-electric

buses they had purchased the previous

year from Polish company Solaris and

Mercedes Benz. As of August, these 30

buses have been put into service on

the 142 and 347 lines, mixed in with the

BVG’s traditional diesel buses. Other

routes will also be e-updated, such

as the brand new 300 line, running

between the Philharmonie and the

Warschauer Straße S-Bahn station, and

the popular 200 line. By 2021, a total of

225 e-buses are expected to be gliding

around the city streets. It might not

sound like much, but these new buses

represent the first steps of an ambitious

mobility strategy, kicked off by Berlin’s

Rot-Rot-Grün coalition government last

year, to improve the city’s air quality

and climate sustainability. The city government

aims to completely electrify

the BVG’s current fleet of some 1500

buses by the year 2030, as part of the

Plugging in

As alluded to by Minister Schulze,

e-mobility promises environmental

advantages: without sputtering diesel

or petrol combustion engines around,

local air becomes cleaner. But more

significantly, with the tandem ‘Energiewende’,

which is transitioning Germany

to an electricity system based entirely

on renewable sources, e-mobility

paves the way for the complete decarbonisation

of the transportation sector.

Early this year, German media reported

that, for the first time ever, renewable

energy (solar, wind, water and biomass)

made up more than 40 percent

of the overall energy mix. What’s more,

the government has pledged to close all

coal fired plants by 2038. Transportation

makes up 18 percent of Germany’s

overall CO2 emissions, and the sector

has been responsible for similarly

high levels of emissions for the past 25

years. If Germany is going to meet its

Paris climate goals, those emissions are

going to have to sink to zero by 2050.

So decarbonisation of the transportation

sector through e-mobility is essentially

required.

But with innovation, come high

prices – the new electric buses the

BVG has purchased are two-to-three

times more expensive than traditional

diesel ones. The changeover is only

being made possible thanks to extra

funding from the German and Berlin

governments (who are providing €48

million and €58 million respectively

until 2021). And there are some technical

challenges, too. The traditional diesel

buses can travel up to 420km per

day and can be used around the clock.

The e-buses only have a range of 150 to

230km before they need to be charged

again – a procedure taking up to four

hours, which the BVG are trying to

bring down with the new ‘High Power

Charging’ technology.

6

EXBERLINER 185


E-MOBILITY

Berliner Festspiele

“We discussed this

for some time and

then the salesman

asked me where

exactly I live. I told

him Prenzlauer

Berg and he

said, ‘Oh, there

you don’t have a

charging solution.

Then I would buy

a gasoline engine

car instead!”

Christian Hochfeld, executive director

of Agora Verkehrswende, a think-tank

which deals with achieving sustainable

transport, think that, despite the challenges

e-mobility poses in general, Berlin is especially

lagging behind. “Compared to other

German cities, Berlin is okay,” he says,

“but compared to other cities across the

world, we are very slow.” He points out that

nine percent of the world’s 420,000 odd

electric buses are operated in China. The

12-million-inhabitant megacity of Shenzhen

for example has managed to electrify its

entire 17,000 bus fleet in just a few years,

making it the world’s first city with a public

transport system run entirely on electricity.

Meanwhile, according to a recent report

released by Bloomberg, all of Europe only

has 2250 electric buses in operation.

And it’s not just with buses that Germany

is behind. Ironically for a country that

prides itself on the car, Germany is also

behind on the electrification of the automobile.

Back in 2010 Angela Merkel made the

official target of having a million electric

cars on the road by the year 2020. But

with only 83,000 registered electric cars

in Germany at the start of 2019, the nation

of cars is set to miss that goal by an order

of magnitude. Here in Berlin, of the 1.2

million registered cars as of January 1, only

around 2700 are electric according to the

Kraftfahrtbundessamt, the federal office for

motor traffic. While Berlin idles, European

cities like Oslo, Amsterdam, Stockholm,

Paris and London are leading the ‘charge’.

Reaching for renewables

One of the reasons why relatively few drivers

in Berlin have been opting for electric

cars is the lack of a proper charging infrastructure.

Currently there are only about

500 public charging points in Berlin, with

around 150 charging processes per day. And

Berliners overwhelmingly live in apartments

that don’t come with garages where they can

easily charge overnight. “So instead we need

a public charging infrastructure to make

people confident that they are able to charge

their cars,” Hochfeld argues. He encountered

the charging issue first-hand, when he

went to the showroom of a car maker and

told the salesman that he was interested in

buying an electric vehicle. “We discussed

this for some time and then the salesman

asked me where exactly I live. I told him

Prenzlauer Berg and he said, ‘Oh, there you

don’t have a charging solution. Then I would

buy a gasoline engine car instead!”

On top of the lack of charging stations,

the high purchase price is also a factor.

Even with a €4000 tax rebate, electric cars

are on average still thousands of euros

more expensive than their petrol counterparts,

and for significantly less range.

German car makers have also been slow to

plan, develop and offer electric vehicles to

consumers. VW only has two electric cars

for sale, the e-golf and eup, hardly the stars

among their dozens of conventional gas

models. And BMW currently only offers

consumers the i3, which, with a range of

around 300km, will set you back €38,000.

A test by German automobile club ADAC

showed that operational prices per kilometre

are about the same as those of petrolfuelled

cars and marginally more expensive

than those of diesel ones – to say the least,

e-cars are not financially attractive.

But the paltry offering looks set to

change. At the beginning of this year, new

EU CO2 regulations were put in place which

mandated European car makers reduce

the overall emissions of the cars they sell

by 37.5 percent by 2030 (compared to 2021

emissions) – a higher target than car-happy

Germany wanted. Reducing CO2 emissions

by that much is a huge task and according

to Hochfeld car makers have understood

they will only be able to meet these regulations

if they drastically turn to electrifying

their vehicles. So far, VW announced that

by 2040, their last car with a combustion

engine will roll off the assembly line, and

that the company has committed to investing

€44 billion in electromobility. Similar

moves have also been made by Daimler,

and with a new electric-enthusiastic CEO

taking the helm this summer, BMW may

SEPTEMBER 2019

30.8.–

19.9.2019

Funded by

Berliner Philharmoniker

Peter Eötvös / Daniel Harding

Royal Concertgebouw

Orchestra Amsterdam

Tugan Sokhiev

In cooperation

with the Berliner

Philharmoniker

Foundation

London Symphony Orchestra

Sir Simon Rattle

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et

Romantique & Monteverdi Choir

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo

Orchestre Les Siècles

François-Xavier Roth

Israel Philharmonic

Orchestra

Zubin Mehta

Münchner Philharmoniker

Valery Gergiev

and many more

guest orchestras, soloists

and ensembles

7


E-MOBILITY

make comparable commitments

soon. And the private investments

are accompanied by public interest

– the Senat has pledged to tackle

the charging problem with an office

solely assigned to coordinating the

installation of Berlin’s charging

infrastructure. Then again, according

to the Senate Department for

the Environment, Transport and

Climate Protection, not more than

400 additional charging stations

will be installed by the end of 2020.

The dark side

of e-power

Ironically, electromobility doesn’t

come without an impact on the

environment either. One of the

challenges posed by the production

of the latest generation of

lithium ion batteries is the mining

of cobalt. Currently, cobalt

is imported from places like the Congo,

where mines often operate under gross

human rights and appalling environmental

conditions, poisoning land and air around

them. The other problem is energy. The

manufacturing of the batteries requires

significant amounts of energy, and therefore

CO2 emissions, to the extent that, if you

were to just consider the merits of a car in

the showroom, petrol cars look quite good

by comparison. But despite the footprint

needed to produce their batteries initially,

electric cars are, over the course of their

average lifetimes, already more sustainable

than their combustion equivalents.

That being said, achieving the ‘Verkehrswende’

is not as easy as just switching

everything to electric cars. “We should be

careful in thinking that e-mobility is an

easy solution to our big and complex traffic

problems” cautions Janna Aljets, an expert

in sustainable transportation at the Rosa-

Luxemburg-Stiftung in Brussels. “When we

look at our current traffic system, we’re not

only talking about emissions, we are also

talking about space – in general, we have

too many cars!” Christian Hochfeld agrees.

“Changing to e-cars will help us bring down

the CO2 emissions from the transportation

sector. But it won’t solve the larger problems

we have, such as the resources and raw

materials needed for the batteries... Instead,

transport needs to be shifted away from

the private car and to more climate friendly

transport modes like public transport and

railway” – a proposal with which Janna Aljets

readily agrees. But how is this transition

in car-loving Germany to be brought about?

Martin N. Hinze

“Changing to e-cars

will help us

bring down the CO2

emissions from

the transportation

sector. But it

won’t solve the larger

problems we

have, such as the

resources and

raw materials needed

for the batteries...”

“In order to push the car out of

our city, we need push and pull

factors,” explains Janna Aljet. “We

need to provide a good cycling

infrastructure, improve public

transport and make it free or very

affordable. These are the things

which convince people to actually

change their habits. You basically

need to make a really good offer.”

Bright alternatives

In that respect there are a few

bright spots. Michael Müller,

the mayor of Berlin, has at least

floated the idea of making an annual

BVG pass available for just

€1 per day, and BVG passes for

school kids are free as of this year.

And as anyone who has recently

biked down Karl-Marx-Straße will

have noticed, the Berlin Senate’s

mobility strategy includes brand

new bike lanes. Also, the German railway,

Deutsche Bahn, fames itself as the world

leader in sustainable e-mobility, with nearly

two thirds of its track network electrified.

Fifty-seven percent of all of that electricity

propelling trains across the country comes

from renewable energy, and Deutsche Bahn

has set the goal for that number to climb to

80 percent by 2030 and for their operations

to be completely carbon neutral by 2050.

There’s also been increasing talk across

party lines of lowering the VAT on train

travel, and increasing the taxes on jet fuel,

as a way of nudging behaviour towards more

climate-friendly city-hopping.

Meanwhile in Berlin – as anyone who has

almost tripped over a scooter in Mitte this

summer knows – the ways to get from point

A to B have exploded with new forms of

mobility. There are currently 10 car-sharing

services in the city, close to that many bikesharing

services, two electric sitting scooters

sharing-services, four standing scooter

services, plus the two popular car-sharing

services offered by Clevershuttle (whose

electric vehicles run with 100 percent renewable

electricity) and BVG’s BerlKönig. As

for the U-Bahn and tram lines, they’ve been

running on renewable energy since 2014.

All that put together, and it seems like the

mobility revolution is not far off, making

it easier than ever to get around without a

privately-owned car. So next time you’re

about to board the noisy M41 bus, or grab a

diesel-powered taxi, just think twice – there

might be an impressively quiet and entirely

carbon-neutral vehicle waiting for you – just

around the corner! T

8

EXBERLINER 185


E-MOBILITY

TIER The local ‘animal’ Scooting on home

turf, Berlin start-up Tier (literally “animal”)

was founded in 2018 by a collection

of serial entrepreneurs behind startups

like e-commerce outfit reBuy, road scooter

company Coup and food delivery service

Lieferando. Funding came from British

venture capital investor Northzone and

retired German Formula 1 race driver Nico

Rosberg. Granted, Rosberg only bought

0.07 percent of the shares, but Tier likes

to show him off in ads anyway (“World

champion approved!”). By late August,

2300 e-scooter ‘animals’ were scattered

around Berlin, making Tier the biggest

provider in town – even though distribution

seems to be focused in Mitte. While

the scooters are made in China, and the

company has branched out into a number

of European countries, the local ethos

shines through in the maintenance department:

the charging, repairing and distrie-scooters

All the road rage

Enjoyed by many, despised by more and vilified by local

media, e-scooters were the topic that dominated politics,

news and Späti discussions this summer. But before you

decide to hate them or love them, get up to speed with

some facts. By Freya Werner, Yasmin Helal and René Blixer

The back story

Well before they captured Berliners’ passions

and hijacked the news, e-scooters

were the subject of intense political debate.

Landing on the Bundestag’s agenda in

March last year, they pitted pro-pedestrian

safety voices against those supporting all

things ‘e’-related (think conservative AFD

vs libertarian FDP). Germany’s lawmakers

eventually agreed on a compromise: yes to

e-scooters, but not on the sidewalks.

On June 14, e-scooters were officially

legalised. Within two weeks, four companies

jumped on the new ‘market’, with the

gradual invasion into Berlin seeing hundreds

of e-vehicles dropped on virtually

every street within the S-Bahn ring each

night. Local papers were quick to pick up

on the new reality, reporting on accidents

and running polls that led to expected conclusions:

‘Berliners hate the scooters with

a passion’. The hatred even morphed into

calls for sabotage! Meanwhile, tourists and

visitors seem to have embraced the gadgets

with oblivious enthusiasm. And why not,

it’s fun and relatively simple: if you’ve got a

smartphone and a credit card (or PayPal account),

all you need to do is download one

of the four apps available, scan the barcode

on the nearest scooter (triggering the €1

unlocking fee) and you’ll be on your way –

at the speed of up to 20 km/h and 15 to 20

cents per minute.

There are four companies currently on

the local market – Lime, Tier, Circ and Voi

– with some 5000 vehicles scattered around

Berlin’s streets. We decided to give them a

try and can confirm upfront – no reporters

were harmed while conducting this report.

The test drive

LIME Sturdy scooting The Californian

mobility behemoth (bikes, e-bikes, carsharing),

known to Berliners for their

lemon-green hire bikes, is back, full e-

steam. Within a month of their mid-June

launch, Lime had 1781 e-scooters out on

Berlin’s streets. They’re not the prettiest

of the bunch, but their wide boards make

for sturdy driving. On the plus side, ‘limes’

are basically everywhere within the S-Bahn

ring, and come with a display showing the

battery status and how fast you’re going.

In addition, the app tells you the distance

you’ve travelled and how many calories

you’ve burnt (in our experience, a disappointing

0 calories for 15 minutes). But at

a cost of €0.20 per minute on top of the

€1 base rate, Lime is the most expensive

option. The app also encourages you to

sign up to become a “juicer”, in case you’d

be tempted to make some cash charging

the scooters overnight (up to €100 a day).

Our verdict: All in all, with its Unicorn

Capitalism creds (they hit the $1bn-mark

last year) and un-stylish looks, Lime won’t

increase your coolness factor, but its

robustness and accessibility make it a sure

bet for a quick emergency ride at night.

Price: €0.20/min. Fleet: up to 1800

Juicing the Limes

Ever considered getting cash

out of charging e-scooters?

Uli (38) tells us about his 19

days’ experience.

I liked the idea of e-scooters

from the beginning – I am

usually around Mitte and

they’re a great way to get around fast.

When I saw that Lime was offering people

to become chargers, or ‘juicers’ as

they call it, I was curious. I wanted to be

part of the e-mobility revolution! And

it’s all pretty easy: after you’ve registered

online they invite you to a training

workshop for a 30-minute Power

Point presentation about the Dos and

Dont’s of the job – for example you

cannot drop the scooters anywhere,

there are assigned points. That’s when

you get the chargers, too. Then you

sign a very lengthy contract, with more

things you’re not supposed to do –

like taking scooters apart or leaking

information to the competition. It’s all

ultra top secret! And there are serious

penalties – €5000 for this, €1000 for

that, and if a scooter gets lost while in

your hands you have to pay for it. It’s all

done on contractual gig basis, so you

have to register yourself as a business

to do the job, or at least as a freelancer.

I already have a property business, so

that was easy. At the end, they send you

receipts and you have to claim this as an

income. With €4 to €4.60 per charge, if

you want to make a living, you’ll have

to charge 25 pieces per night! With my

full-time job, I’m not so fussed about

the cash. When I’m on my way home

from the U-Bahn I just check if there

are any scooters around; you’re allowed

to take them from 9pm onwards, or at

any time if the batteries are dead. I’ve

found a way to stack two on top of the

one I’m riding, as the Limes have a very

broad board. You’re not supposed to do

that of course... But this way I can ride

with three at a time without having to

use a car! That earns me about €15 per

day – if I make it on time. If you don’t

manage to deliver them back by the

drop-off time in the morning, they cut

the fee in half. And they recently moved

the deadline to 7am! That definitely

makes me reconsider.” — Ellen Lang

SEPTEMBER 2019

9


Berliner Festspiele

#immersion

Z —MARIANNENPLATZ —MARIANNENPLATZ —MARI-

IMMERSION — MOBILE DOME 2

The

5.–22.9.

2019

NEW

ART FOR

NEW

INFINITY

PLANETARIUMS

Agnieszka Polska, Metahaven,

Robert Lippok & Lucas Gutierrez

Mobile Dome

Mariannenplatz,

10997 Berlin

Dasha Rush

Free admission

bution are all handled by Tier employees.

Unfortunately, this means that the scooters

are mostly off the streets between 10pm

and 7am – not an alternative late-night cab!

Bonus points go to the sleek app, which

provides pop-up instructions for anything

from unlocking the scooter to parking (leave

2.4 metres sidewalk space for pedestrians,

everyone!). Our verdict: a stylish option for

the glocally-minded, but failing night-owls.

Price: €0.15/min. Fleet: up to 2300

CIRC Berlin ‘deluxe’ Formerly known as

Flash, this is another Berlin-based venture

founded by local start-up veteran Lukasz

Gadowski (of Mister Spex and Lieferheld

fame). In less than a year since launching,

Circ has already put its Roller out in 12 European

countries – and, since June 17, “more

than 1000” are finally stationed in Berlin.

What makes these orange two-wheelers

stand out are their convenient add-ons: a cup

holder and smart phone mount so you can

use your phone while on the roll (otherwise

forbidden). As with Tier, the Chinese-made

scooters are charged and maintained by the

company’s own employees. The bulk of this

happens at night, but operating hours are

less rigid than with Tier, allowing you to

scoot around the clock, or at least until you

E-MOBILITY

How-to

run out of battery – up to 45km. Our verdict:

With only a small amount released into the

wild, they might be hard to find, but if you’re

looking for that little bit ‘extra’ for your 15

cents, Circ’s where it’s at. Price: €0.15/min.

Fleet: 1000+

VOI The sleek Scandinavian At 6 million

rides and with 500 employees spread across

32 cities in 10 countries, the Swedes are

the leaders in the European market (and

soon to be rolling out their e-bikes, too!). In

Berlin they have a fleet of 1000, but aren’t

as spread out as some of their competitors,

with the scooters mostly available in Mitte,

Prenzlauer Berg, and parts of Kreuzberg and

Schöneberg. The peach-coloured ‘Voiager

1’ is a sleek, light model that comes with

a well-designed, easy-to-use app. As you’d

expect from a European-wide venture, the

app is available in a number of languages,

which, aside from German and English,

include Portuguese, Spanish, Danish and

French. Once you’ve finished your ride, Voi –

like Lime – encourages you to take a picture

of the parked scooter, their way to make you

take a look at where and how you’re leaving

it behind. Our verdict: This is a simple, easyto-use

option, perfect for a short ‘voiage’.

Price: €0.20/min. Fleet: 1000

Scoot by the rules

Hopping on a scooter is bound to attract you a good deal of

hatred no matter what you do, but for the sake of safety and

avoiding fines, here are the five golden rules to scoot by.

Visual: Makusu Matsutake

1 What would a list of German

rules be without at least

one ridiculously long word?

Radwegbenutzungspflicht

means scooters have to use

bike lanes wherever available.

Otherwise, you’re expected

to share streets with cars, not

with pedestrians. In short,

sidewalks are off limits, as

well as bus lanes (technically

also true for bikes). Get

caught on either and you’ll

be fined €15-30.

2 There’s plenty of tandem

scooting going on, but that,

too, is illegal. Give your friend

a lift and the two of you

might end up having to split

an – arguably mild – €10

fine. The message is: scooting

is a solitary pleasure, so

don’t even think of scooting

side by side with said friend

because that will cost you

up to €30.

3 The legal minimum age for

riding a scooter is technically

14 (and practically 18 because

the apps won’t accept underage

users). If you let your

6-year-old scoot away, be

prepared to cough up €10.

4 Wanna head home after a

boozy night out? Think twice

before unlocking that e-ride:

the fine for driving with a

EXBERLINER 185

blood alcohol level above

0.5 (or above zero for under

20s) is €500. Your licence

will also be confiscated for

a month and you’ll get two

of the precious Flensburg

points (collect eight and lose

your permit for good). Other

drugs are equally verboten,

and scooting under the influence

could even land you

in court.

5 Finally, if something’s not

legal for drivers or cyclists,

it’s also off-limits for scooters.

So using your phone

or ignoring traffic lights will

cost you anywhere between

€100-180!


E-MOBILITY

Berliner Festspiele

#immersion

HAUS DER BERLINER FESTSPIELE

IMMERSION – PERFORMING ARTS 6

A 24-DECADE

HISTORY

OF POPULAR

MUSIC

10. –

20.10.19

Europapremiere /

European premiere

No way!

Six e-facts that might make you rethink

your stance on scooters.

1 Pioneered by the Germans

The first motorised scooters in Europe were

produced by German company Krupp in 1919,

four years after the invention of the “Autoped”

in Long Island, New York. The Motorläufer had

a saddle and could go 35km per hour.

2 A vehicle of women’s emancipation

Krupp’s cutting-edge vehicles were embraced

by some seriously pioneering characters. Among

them was suffragette Lady Florence Priscilla

Norman, CBE, who would ride them to her office

in central London. For anyone who’s ever tried

to cycle in a maxi skirt, the appeal is obvious!

3 Safer than bikes? The facts!

Despite the fear-mongering news reports on

how “E-Xtrem” (Bild) dangerous e-scooters are,

statistically, your chances of getting injured by

an e-scooter are much smaller than getting

run over by a bike. Official figures collected by

the police show e-scooters were involved in

21 accidents in the first month following their

legalisation (one-third of which didn’t involve

anyone but the scooters themselves). Meanwhile,

stats show that bikes are routinely involved in

22 accidents… a day!

4 Sabotage-worthy?

In a July edition of his podcast, German comedian

Jan Böhmermann expressed his anti-scooter

sentiments: “It would only take a little push to

dump them in the Spree”, he gleefully hinted.

Meanwhile, some angry Kreuzbergers have found

a more eco-friendly method to rid their lives of

the e-devices: spray-painting their QR-codes,

rendering them useless.

5 Born to die young

Hate them, but too lazy to take action? The good

news is that the motorised scooter species is

ephemeral from an evolutionary perspective.

Keeping in mind that the Krupp model’s heyday

lasted a mere three years, if historical precedent

is anything to be stand by, it’s all bound to be a

mere fad! (Our personal bet is that they might

go out of fashion by winter time: who wants to

ride e-scooters in sub-zero temps!)

6 Electro-unsustainability

Probably the one good reason to hate e-scooters

is their sheer wastefulness. The life expectancy

of your average free-floating scooter is only

three to 12 months. What’s more, the huge

environmental cost for the countries where

the lithium for battery production is sourced,

the electricity needed to charge them as well

as the vans that pick them up each night mean

they aren’t as eco-friendly as you might think.

It may be a step up from fossil fuel engines, but

no need to ask Greta, the power of your own

legs is surely the most sustainable vehicle to

transport yourself around town – be it on two

wheels or on foot!

Taylor Mac, with costumes by Machine Dazzle

© Photo: Little Fang Photography at the Curran

SEPTEMBER 2019

11


Time to get

yourself back

to school?

Jacinta Nandi on why it might be

worth learning German in

Germany’s capital.

My friend Tanya and I are eating dinner in

Neukölln with an American friend of hers who

has a PhD from a renowned US university.

We know he has a PhD because he mentions this fact

every 7.4 seconds, and we know the uni he went to is

well-renowned because he mentions that fact every

23.5 seconds. Approximately. Tanya and I both went to

bog-standard comprehensives and then studied German

at non-renowned British universities.

Modern Languages are taught at such

a basic level in Britain that I sometimes

feel my Bachelor’s degree is almost of as

much value as a Seepferdchen certificate.

“I like your girlfriend, Paul,” I tell him.

He has a younger Polish girlfriend who

is funnier and sexier than him. At the

very least he should be aware, right?

“Yeah?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say. “She’s great, articulate,

smart...”

“She’s not that articulate,” he says. “Her

English isn’t that great, to be honest. My

cousin was over from the States the other

week and he said he couldn’t understand

everything she was saying.” I take a breath.

“I wouldn’t know,” I say icily. “I speak to

her in German.”

Maybe I am too petty for words, but I sit there,

fuming. The arrogance of English speakers in general

– and Americans in particular! It drives me mad!

Shortly afterwards the waitress arrives and Paul, of

course, orders in English. Why wouldn’t he? We’re in

Neukölln, after all.

“How long have you lived here, Paul?” I ask him innocently.

“Seven years,” he says.

“Maybe in another seven you’ll be able to order your drinks

in German,” I say.

“Oh, I could order in German if I wanted to,” he answers.

“It’s just easier to be understood in English.”


Look, I get it. You couldn’t have much more Germanspeaking

privilege than me: 11 years old when I started

learning the language (Und wie geht’s Ihnen, Frau

Patel?), 12 when I visited Limburg for the first time (I

saw Pretty Woman dubbed in German and understood

everything because I knew it off by heart) and 20 when

I moved here.

“Are you going to pack your Oxford Duden dictionary?”

my mum asked worriedly.

“Mum, I’m practically fluent!” I yelled confidently. Then

COLUMN— Rant

“It is not okay to

judge non-native

speakers whose

English isn’t perfect

when you’ve been

living in the country

for seven years and

still can’t order

yourself a fucking

Orangensaft.”

I arrived here and tried to order a Currywurst –

“Ich spreche kein Englisch!” the guy screamed in my face.

I was crestfallen – that wasn’t English but practically

fluent German, right? What was wrong with him? At

Warschauer Straße I bought a Motz off a homeless guy

and he wished me a nice day like an American. “Even the

homeless speak English,” I whispered to myself forlornly

as I suddenly realised that I wasn’t brilliant at German.

I wasn’t even that good at it – I could just speak a tiny,

basic bit of it. (Entschuldigung, Frau Patel!) So, I’m

not about to judge anyone for not being able to speak

this horrifically difficult language. And I know how

judgy Germans can be: after 19 years here I basically

am fluent – but because of my non-white appearance

and terrible accent, there’s a certain type of German

(racist) who doesn’t notice.

Not being able to speak German isn’t, in my eyes,

something to be smug about. It makes life harder –

sometimes it could even be dangerous.


I remember after giving birth in 2004 in

Urban Krankenhaus. It was the first time

I had to pee after having my catheter

out, and it felt like I was being sliced

open by a blade.

“Mein Pinkel, mein Pinkel!” I called.

“What’s wrong, what’s wrong?” gasped

the nurses. “Mein Pinkel ist ein Messer!”

I announced as they burst out laughing.

“Wir wissen genau, was Sie meinen,” they

said, and reassured me it was normal.

But the last time I went to my family

doctor in Neukölln, the doctor got me

to speak to the receptionist, showing

me off like I was a dog who’d learnt to

curtsey or do a Hitlergruß.

“Listen to this,” the doctor said. “It’s

amazing. She can say anything she wants

to. She’s talking in full sentences,” he went on.

“I’ve been here 19 years,” I protested weakly.


I think it’s okay to live here for 19 years and still not

know your adjectival endings – in fact I think it’s a bit

unsolidarisch with people who work in Dönerläden to get

too good at German grammar. And I think it’s absolutely

okay to watch all your Netflix shows in English. I also

think it’s okay to become demotivated and lazy when

speaking to those German friends whose English is

practically perfect and who, let’s face it, just want to

use you as a free English teacher (hello, Claudius!).

But it is not okay to judge non-native speakers

whose English isn’t perfect when you’ve been living

in the country for seven years and still can’t order

yourself a fucking Orangensaft. Come on, man. And

now that everyone’s streaming all their favourite

shows in English, you’re not going to teach yourself

German through daytime TV or by watching the same

episode of Friends dubbed into German one million

times. The only thing you can do is get yourself back

to school – and I don’t mean an Ivy League one. The

Volkshochschule will do. T

12

EXBERLINER 185


SKATING IN BERLIN

reportage

From California

to Berlin

A Monday afternoon

at Tempelhofer Feld’s

Vogelfreiheit Skatepark

Skateboarding tends to conjure up images of palm trees,

empty pools and winterless California skies... But

Berlin boasts a vibrant scene of its own that’s been around

since the 1980s on both sides of the Wall – and now

it’s exploding. René Blixer talks to scene veterans and

assesses the distance... With additional research by Caleb Larson

Lydia Goolia

wants to buy a board that costs €59 and he

only has €55 and a couple of buttons in his

pockets, we make concessions. You don’t get

that elsewhere.” He also recalls opening the

shop on a Sunday when a customer he knew

called him because he urgently needed a set

of wheels.

Off-white polyurethane wheels spin in

a tight circle and bite into the ground,

screeching loudly across smooth grey

concrete. The skateboard jolts against the

surface of the ground and rises into the air.

Half a second later, the deck lands with a satisfying

clop, like the noise of horse hooves on

cobblestones. Another board is perched precariously

on the edge of a ramp. It is anchored

firmly by its tail to the concrete surface by a

black and white chequered Vans shoe. This is

a Friday afternoon at Hasenheide Skatepark

in Neukölln. California’s palm trees may be

far away, but over the past four decades Berlin

has developed a skating scene with its own

hotspots, heroes and history.

Kreuzberg is home to one institution that

has been shaping the local skateboarding culture

pretty much from the beginning: skate

shop Search and Destroy on the corner of

Oranienstraße and Mariannenstraße. When

exactly this temple of boards first opened

its doors is lost memory. “We’ve been trying

to find out when it all started because we

ourselves would like to be able to mark anniversaries...

but nobody knows,” says Twigga

a 39-year-old artist and skater who came to

Berlin from Bremerhaven in 2009 and has

been working here ever since. What’s pretty

clear is that “Search” as insiders call it is the

oldest shop of its kind in Berlin, and one

that’s tried to hold on to the non-conformist

credentials of Berlin skating’s beginnings

which lie somewhere in the 1980s. Here skaters

of all stripes and colours shop for decks

from local brands such as Radio Skateboards,

as well as fashion from California label

Emerica or Hamburg-born Cleptomanicx,

from a weekly changing selection. “Skating

has become more commercial in the last

decade, it’s not as punk rock any more,” says

Twigga, dressed in black from head-to-toe,

his arms covered in sun-faded skater tattoos.

He’s nostalgic for the days when all you

needed to belong was a board – “Now people

check out what brand of shoes you’re wearing”--

and skaters still were rebels. When he

first arrived he was all about sticking it to

the man, crossing red lights out of principle,

smoking weed on the street, and skating

was part of it. Ten years down the road, he’s

running the show for a mysterious owner

who prefers to remain unknown. “We’re a bit

like family and if a regular comes here and

The 2000s boys

One of Search’s loyal regulars is German

skating star Lennie Burmeister who picked

up the board at the tender age of 10 to

become once of Germany’s first skating pros

(see next page). When he came to Kreuzberg

in 1999, the shop was one of the places where

he’d meet what he calls “the Berlin boys”.

“With a shop like that it’s about knowing the

people, having a local community. Search

especially has always helped consolidate the

scene. You’d meet there for a chat before

going skating.” Burmeister also worked here

between 2005 and 2007 and says he cannot

remember how many days, weeks and

months he spent there, even after working

the till. Now mostly based in the Lower

Saxony countryside, he still stops by to say hi

to Twigga and the ‘boys’ whenever in town,

each time marvelling at the resilience of the

small business: “It’s completely crazy, I’m

sure you can’t really make money with it!”

Another local institution did not hold out

as long: Anzeige Berlin, a free zine started

by Hamburg-born Free University student

Adam Sello. In 2004, Sello released

SEPTEMBER 2019

13


SKATING IN BERLIN

a skating video he’d been working on for

three years. Panorama Berlin was a featurelength

compilation of clips of local talents

showing off their tricks – at Kulturforum

but also on Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer

Platz train station, urban playgrounds and

other more grungy off-the-grid locations.

Lennie Burmeister, himself a protagonist

of the film describes it as a catalyst for the

Berlin skate scene: “That was what got us

together.” A year after the release of his

film, Sello turned Panorama into Anzeige

Berlin, a photo-driven fanzine and guide to

the city’s prime skating locations – spots

like the steps of Treptow’s Soviet memorial

or the steps and rails outside the Tempodrom.

The small-format zine would be

available at every skateshop in Berlin, and

a must-read for visitors in the know. “It

fired up the whole scene and skateboarding

in Berlin exploded,” says Burmeister,

talking about the snowball effect Panorama

Berlin and Anzeige had.

Berlin skating, 20 years on

In the 1990s there weren’t many skateparks,

so the go-to spot was Kulturforum, the

museum complex on Potsdamer Straße, not

far from where the Wall one stood, and only

a stone’s throw away from the huge building

site that Postdamer Platz was at the time.

Especially on Mondays, when the museums

were closed, the Forum was teeming with

skaters. Today, skaters are spoilt for choice,

with the city’s 40-odd skate parks and endless

secret spots. For many, Warschauer

Straße has become the epicentre, with premium

locations such as Skatehalle on the

RAW Gelände, the “Bänke Berlin” down the

middle of Warschauer Straße and the “Dog

Shit Spot” right underneath the Warschauer

Brücke. Twigga likes Hasenheide: “Where

there is some green, you are likely to find a

more mellow, slightly older crowd, people

that don’t have to prove themselves like the

teens who still have that need.”

Both Twigga and Burmeister agree that

skating is thriving: “Skateboarders from all

over the world are moving here nowadays

and you can find any style and cultural

influence within the scene,” says Burmeister.

“From dirty punk rock DIY transition

skaters to clean hip-hop ledge wizards,

everybody can find a place to skate in Berlin.”

Twigga agrees, emphasizing the unique

quality of the Berlin scene: here, in stark

contrast to traditional skate meccas like Los

Angeles, Barcelona, or Melbourne fame isn’t

fetishised. Pros and amateurs skate side by

side. “I think that’s the beauty of Berlin, you

don’t get so starstruck.”

“There’s never

been as many

skaters.”

Lennie Burmeister on 30 years

of Berlin skateboarding and

scouting for the best spots to

shred and kick-flip in the city.

By Franziska Helms

If you’ve never heard of Lennie Burmeister,

chances are you’re not into

skateboarding. A main protagonist of the

local Brett scene since the late-1990s, Lennie

is among that handful of German skaters

that managed to make a name and living off

their passion – getting the ultimate accolade

in the form of a board under his name by

Berlin’s leading producer Radio Skateboards.

Today 41, he lives between Kreuzberg and

his native Lower Saxony where he runs his

own skatepark building company, while still

trying to skate as much as possible in his

own “park” built in a barn, where he already

teaches tricks to his four-year-old son. When

we talked to him, he was sitting in his office,

slowed down by a knee injury.

How does a 10-year-old boy from rural

Lower Saxony in the 1980s end up catching

the skateboarding virus? It was 1988.

One of my best friends came back from a trip

to the US with three boards in his luggage. In

the beginning there was only the board and

For almost 10 years, Anzeige Berlin

magazine was the Berlin skateboarder’s

bible. Started by Adam

Sello, as a continuation of his

exploration of the Berlin skating

scene in the docu Panorama

Berlin, 49 issues were published

from 2005-2014. “Whenever an

American team would come to

Berlin, they would call me and

ask if I could show them around.

I would often say yes, give them

a stack of Anzeige Berlin and add

‘Here, now choose where you want

to go’.” (Lennie Burmeister)

the street. At some point, when I was visiting

Braunschweig, I must have been 11, I saw a

skateboard magazine at a kiosk for the first

time and I suddenly realised there was this

whole world around it.

When did you first come to Berlin?

It was the early 1990s, I was about 15 and

exploring urban skating spots around

Germany. That’s when I first met the Berlin

boys, around 20 people who would meet

each other at competitions. There was one

super talent, Sammy Hariti, who was winning

European championships at 14, but

otherwise Berlin wasn’t really on the map in

terms of skateboarding at the time. In skating

mags like Monster Skateboard Magazine,

which belonged to the Titus empire based in

Münster, it was all about western Germany –

but not the capital.

How behind would you say the German

scene was compared to the US? Everything

took off in California, in the 1960s

when surfboard companies started producing

and selling the first skateboards – they

were mini surfboards on wheels. In the 1970s

they invented the polyurethane skate wheels

and suddenly you could skate properly.

That’s when everyone started buying boards.

Titus Dittman picked up on the trend and

saw the market potential. He was the first

to import skateboards to Germany – and

for a long time the only wholesaler. Every

shop that wanted to sell boards had to go

through Titus. It was very exclusive but he

must be credited with bringing skateboards

to Germany.

14

EXBERLINER 185


You moved from the Bremen skateboarding

scene to Berlin’s in 1999.

Why? I was fascinated because although

still underrepresented, Berlin had all these

amazing locations, and the level of skating

was really good compared to the rest

of the country. There were great skaters

in every district, really. The epicentre

of the scene was the Kulturforum – we

were there every day! In the late 1980s

they built the square outside the Kunstgewerbemuseum

based on a design by

someone named Heinz Mack. The guy

probably didn’t have skateboarders in

mind when he designed it, but this is one

of the absolute best spots in the world –

and I’ve seen a lot of cities!

Where else would you skate in Berlin?

There also was the square in front of the

Neue Nationalgalerie, the Philharmonie, and

the spot in front of the Staatsbibliothek and

all-in-all it was an agglomeration of such big

squares that it was like magic, it just drew

you in. On Mondays the museums were

closed and we had it all to ourselves. But the

city had so many great spaces. We discovered

them bit by bit, like the Polish monument

in Friedrichshain, the big memorial in

Treptower Park, and of course Breitscheidtplatz

next to the Gedächtniskirche.

In 2004 the whole Kulturforum scene

got the limelight in the Panorama

Berlin cult video and you were one of

the protagonists. How did it happen?

Adam Sello, a skater from Hamburg, started

following the scene around with his camera

between 2000 and 2002. All you see in the

video – the total length must be about eight

hours – is pure skateboarding, no interviews

or voiceover, a real document of the

time. And the focus was on the Kulturforum

skaters, including the next Berlin wunderkind,

Christoph “Willo” Wildgrube who

was really ahead of the game at the time.

Was there a lot of jealousy around people

who stood out like that? Not really,

that’s the cool thing about skating: there are

competitions, but otherwise, when you see

someone doing a cool trick, it motivates you

to try it yourself. That was especially true of

Willo and his explosive style. It was a joy to

watch. So you do push each other, but it’s

not about outdoing everyone else. It’s more

about overcoming your own limitations.

You were one of the lucky few who had

just enough sponsoring to live off of

skating at the time. You worked with

Berlin’s biggest board company, Radio

Skateboards, they even produced a

SKATING IN BERLIN

SEPTEMBER 2019

‘Lennie board’, right? Back then there

were maybe only 20 of us in Germany. The

money itself came from deals with clothing

or shoe brands. You pretty much need to

have a board company and the more popular

the brand, the higher you rank. For a brand

like Radio Skateboards, it’s all about the

graphics, skaters and their image. So it’s kind

of an accolade when they sell a board with

your name on it. That’s when you can really

call yourself a pro. I got my first board in

2000 with Popular Skateboards and more

when in 2005 I switched to Radio Skateboards.

The most successful of the Lennie

boards was a rip-off of a 1980s skateboard,

inspired by the first one I ever owned. It was

called “Vision Psycho Stick” and had a punk

character printed with a montage of my face.

Then you got involved in Anzeige

Berlin and were somewhat of the city’s

best location scouter, right? At the time

we were discovering a lot of new spots,

trying to skate and shoot where nobody

else had before. It was a kind of hobby of

mine to go around by bike and systematically

skim the city. It was addictive, wanting

to be the first. I would spend hours every

day before and after skating just finding an

interesting backyard or playground or set of

stairs. It also had a financial aspect because

if you got a good shot and a whole page in

another magazine, that easily paid €500.

Can you tell us more about the Vogelfreiheit

Skatepark you helped build on

Tempelhofer Feld? Was it really made

from pieces from the old Palast der

Republik? Yes, it’s an interesting story:

Adam and a couple of people had secured

and stashed away material from Palast der

Republik’s square, which was a huge granite

square out the front. Six years later, in 2012,

Adam teamed up with an architect and came

up with the arrangement on Tempelhofer

Feld. I also helped adjust the heights, slopes

and angles. It’s a pretty rad location now because

it’s not a skatepark where everything

is idealised. In the street nothing is perfect;

the ground is bad, you can’t jump or slide as

well. So it really combines the best of both

worlds. I think that’s the future of skating.

How much has the skating scene

changed since you started out? It’s simply

exploded. There’s never been as many

skaters, never as many from other places.

Back in the day you could talk to a few

insiders and find out who was doing what,

who could do which trick and who was

visiting, because people knew each other.

Today everything has spun out of control,

it’s crazy! T

WWW.BERLINER-ENSEMBLE.DE/SURTITLES

ENGLISH SURTITLES

OTHELLO

by William Shakespeare

09/01/2019, 6.00 – 7.50 pm

09/29/2019, 7.30 – 9.20 pm

10/18/2019, 7.30 – 9.20 pm

FELIX KRULL

by Thomas Mann

09/08/2019, 7.30 pm

10/03/2019, 6.00 pm

THE TIN DRUM

(DIE BLECHTROMMEL)

by Günter Grass

09/16/2019, 7.30 – 9.20 pm

10/01/2019, 7.30 – 9.20 pm

BAAL

by Bertolt Brecht

09/20/2019, 7.30 pm

10/13/2019, 7.30 pm

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE

(DER KAUKASISCHE KREIDEKREIS)

by Bertolt Brecht

10/06/2019, 7.30 – 9.15 pm

THE POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND

(DIE MÖGLICHKEIT EINER INSEL)

by Michel Houellebecq

10/26/2019, 7.30 pm

For the best view on both stage and surtitles we

re commend rows 11-18 in the orchestra

or gallery seats.

IN ENGLISH

GUIDED TOUR BEHIND THE SCENES

10/26/2019, 5.30 – 30 pm

In order to make a group booking for the tour,

please contact einblicke@berliner-ensemble.de

WWW.BERLINER-ENSEMBLE.DE

15

© JR/Berliner Ensemble


SKATING IN BERLIN

A scene from This Ain’t California as

captured on set by Conrad Bauer

who played the fictional East-German

skateboard legend Denis Paraceck,

aka Panik in the movie.

California über alles

The 2012 almost-documentary This Ain’t California

blended fact and fiction to portray a small

but vibrant skateboarding community in the GDR.

The real story behind the film is of spontaneous

creativity, teenage friendship and a disturbing

case of life imitating art imitating life. By Ben Osborn

Alexanderplatz, East Berlin, the mid-to-late 1980s. A

small group of teenage boys are skateboarding in front

of the Rotes Rathaus. It could be a scene in any city

of the Western world at the time – the height of “skateboard

fever”, when Back to the Future had brought skateboarding solidly

into the mainstream consciousness. But this is the capital

of socialist Germany, and passers-by look like they don’t

know quite what to make of this odd sight. On closer inspection

it’s clear that the boards are at least partially homemade;

logos of California brands have been painted on, or are gluedon

images from magazines. A few visiting Westerners stand

out with their superior equipment and colourful clothing.

But when it comes to skateboarding skills, the East boys hold

their own. One of them manages a particularly improbable

trick – a one-handed handstand and flip. Someone on the

street takes a photo. The skateboarders know that it’s probably

a Stasi camera, but they don’t seem too bothered by it.

The scene was brought back to life in a stunning 2012

documentary called This Ain’t California, which, for the first

time on screen, offered a window into the long-forgotten

world of GDR skateboarding. The grainy, sun-drenched

footage of the skaters served as visual counterpoint to

interviews with contemporaries

who used to skate there – recounting

in particular the antics

of one talented skateboarder:

Denis Paraceck, nicknamed

“Panik” for his rebellious and

unpredictable nature. But soon

after the release of the film, the

truth emerged – the ‘historical’

footage was fake and Panik had

never existed. Director Marten

Persiel began to refer to his film

as a “documentary-fiction”,

casting a shadow on the very

existence of a GDR skate scene.

However, the Alexanderplatz

days were a reality to many,

including Christian Rothenhagen,

who joined the crew in 1987.

Conrad Bauer “There were usually around

10 people skating there,” he

remembers. “Once I had this board – my first board with a

concave and a kick tail – I went straight there. I said, ‘Hey,

I’m Christian, I’m the new guy.’ And in one minute, I was

part of the crew.”

Beyond GDR control

“I must have been 10 or 11 years old when I first saw skateboarding

on TV,” says Rothenhagen, an artist based in Mitte.

Born in 1972 in a small town near Erfurt, East Germany, he

moved to East Berlin when he was four years old. Here it was

easy to pick up illegal TV signals from Western channels,

which was how he first discovered skateboarding. He was

instantly captivated. When his family became friends with

a West German family living in East Berlin temporarily for

a job, the family’s young son let him have a go on a “banana

board” – a flexible plastic skateboard. Inspired, young Christian

began searching for a board of his own – but there were

no skate shops in East Germany. So, at 12 years old, he built

a skateboard: nailing two halves of a roller skate to a piece

of wood. By trading with friends, he was gradually able to

improve his board with better parts – but it wasn’t until 1987,

when his West German friend gave him one of his old boards,

that he felt brave enough to skate at Alexanderplatz.

According to research by Kai Reinhardt of Münster’s

Sport Science Institute, there were two to three hundred

skaters in the GDR. This small scene was surprisingly accomplished

and dedicated, despite limited access to proper

skateboarding gear and a somewhat uneasy relationship with

the socialist state. “Everything had political meaning in the

GDR,” explains Reinhardt. “Sport was serious, ideological

thing, supposed to prepare you for work. The concept of

16

EXBERLINER 185


SKATING IN BERLIN

fun-oriented sports like skateboarding didn’t

fit so well.” Nonetheless, skateboarders began

to appear on the streets of East Germany –

particularly in Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig.

Some, like Rothenhagen, had first seen skateboarding

on illegally-intercepted Western

TV; others had encountered it in the film Beat

Street, an American drama about the beginnings

of the hip-hop scene in New York City.

Made by left-winger Harry Belafonte and

showing the poor living conditions of African

Americans, Beat Street had enough socialist

credentials to justify its being shown in cinemas

around East Germany in 1985. It became

a big influence on teenagers; many took up

break-dancing, spray-painting or skateboarding

in emulation of the film’s heroes.

Faced with a self-organized youth movement

that seemed to be imitating US culture,

the state was unsure whether to forbid the

new sport or to support and centralise it.

“There was never a clear decision either

way,” says Reinhardt, “but in many cases they

tried to integrate skateboarding into organised

mainstream sports culture. They made

dedicated sections in the state sports centres

– carefully calling it Rollbrettsport, rather than

skateboarding. But skaters didn’t want trainers

or official structures. They wanted to be

out on the streets.” Perhaps the most farcical

attempt to bring skateboarding under state

control was the Germina Speeder – the only

Rollbrett to be manufactured in the GDR. “It

was a big joke to us,” Rothenhagen recalls. “It

was such a bullshit thing. The people who designed

it had no clue about skateboarding. It

was just four wheels on a piece of wood.” In

fact, the Speeder was an attempt to regulate

skating itself: the board came with a list of

rules about how and where you were allowed

to skate. Nonetheless, a few Ossi skaters did

get hold of a Speeder – but only to poach its

wheels and attach them to better boards.

Berlin-Alexanderplatz was the centre of

East German skating. “Ost Berlin was very

sleepy compared to a Western metropolis,”

Reinhardt explains. “Only here, at Alexanderplatz,

did you have a bit of that feeling of

“Sport was a serious

thing in the GDR...

The concept of funoriented

sports like

skateboarding didn’t

fit so well.”

modern urban youth culture.” The proximity

to West Berlin was a source not only of

TV signals but also of direct exchanges with

Western skateboarders. The growing community

around West Berlin’s “California

Sports” skate shop would cross over the

border to spend the day skating with the Ossis

– smuggling in boards, trucks and wheels to

upgrade or repair Eastern DIY skateboards.

Towards the end of the 80s, Cantian Stadion

hosted the unofficial Berliner Meisterschaft – a

friendly competition between Eastern and

Western skaters. The presence of the Westerners

– including journalists from Monster

Skateboard Magazine – attracted the attention

of the authorities. “Of course there were

Stasi checking us out,” says Rothenhagen.

“But I never got in trouble politically through

skateboarding. Sometimes we were chased

by hooligans, or had complaints about the

noise, maybe someone might throw a bucket

of water out of the window – just the same as

in any city. Sometimes police came but they’d

only move us on for being too loud, destroying

the curbs, whatever; they didn’t really

know what to do with us.”

Truthfulness or the making of

a tragic hero

Among the East Berlin crew, there were a

few skaters that showed real potential and

talent. According to director Marten Persiel,

the character of Panik in This Ain’t California

is a combination of three of them: René

Falk Thomasius, Marco Sladek and Torsten

“Goofy” Schubert. All three appear in the

film, in interviews or performing skate

tricks – as themselves, rather than as Panik,

who is never shown as an adult. In fact, the

film is centred around Panik’s funeral – we

quickly learn that he left the skateboarding

world behind, vanished from his friend

circle and surprised everyone by becoming a

soldier, eventually dying on the frontline in

Afghanistan. This last part is based directly

on Sladek, who also joined the army. Panik’s

death in the film is revealed to be a suicide.

Sladek, too, committed suicide. But four

years after the film came out.

“Originally I thought it was going to

be a classic documentary, just a series of

interviews,” explains Marten Persiel, “but

I realised this wouldn’t do justice to the

subject matter.” Born in West Berlin in 1974

and growing up in Hannover and Hamburg,

Marten was also a skateboarder in the 1980s

but had no knowledge of the GDR scene. “So

I set myself a rule: I would write a script, but

everything in the film was going to be true.

We made up the character of Panik – he was

based on three people: Goofy [Torsten

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SEPTEMBER 2019


SKATING IN BERLIN

“It was revealed, in

the middle of

the cinema

release, that Panik

was fictional...

Some people

felt like they’d

been betrayed.”

Schubert], who had a childhood of competition

sports and rules but left it behind to

become a skateboarder: I took his childhood

and made it Panik’s. Then this rebel who gets

all the girls, this is René Falk Thomasius. And

the last chapter – this guy that used to be a

punky skater and ends up being a soldier,

this was Marco Sladek. So Panik is fictional,

but every single thing that happened to

him was an anecdote from an interview.”

In fact, the stories that make up Panik’s

life in the film are not just those of Thomasius,

Schubert and Sladek. As Rothenhagen

explains, “some of it happened to me, some

to others – there are stories of around 15

people. The film crew would ask us to tell a

true story from our lives but replace a name

with the name of the character.”

The script was already underway when

Persiel met Marco Sladek, whose soldier career

would provide the inspiration for Panik’s

transformation and death in action. Sladek

had almost completely cut himself off from

his former scene. After the Wall came down,

most of the East Berlin crew happily integrated

with the Western world: as Rothenhagen

puts it, “the 1990s were our high times – the

crew split into different crews, new people

joined, we joined others. It was the best time

in skateboarding for my generation.” But

Sladek went through a change that alienated

him from his friends. “He had been a sort

of role model to me, though I don’t like that

term,” says Rothenhagen. “He was a brilliant

skater, and he was the guy who introduced me

to punk rock: I remember he played me “California

Über Alles” by the Dead Kennedys. But

he chose a different path.” Namely: a career

in the military that would alienate his friends

from him for 20 years.

“Marco Sladek was an atypical case,”

says Reinhardt. “Most skateboarders of this

generation would probably classify themselves

as leftist. In general, the Wende was

easier on skateboarders than other East

Germans – they already had a very Western

lifestyle, so integrating was not a problem.”

According to Persiel, Sladek’s enrolment in

the Bundeswehr was actually preceded by

years spent among far-right hooligans, which

he now explains as “a combination of fear of

the new, fear of the foreign” and a rebellious

nature looking for “a shiny new way to piss

people off.” Persiel also contends that Sladek

confided to him a suicide attempt, which

inspired Panik’s death in the film.

Around his 40th birthday, Sladek was on

the front in Afghanistan. “He told me he had

decided he didn’t want to live anymore,”

explains Persiel. “He was under fire, he was

ordered to retreat. But instead he stood up

straight and waited to be shot. The way it’s

depicted in the film is exactly the way he

described it to me apart from that he didn’t

actually get shot – they shot at him, but kept

missing. That’s the only moment of fiction in

the film – that he didn’t get shot.”

The story of a friendship

Sladek’s role in the film allowed him to

reunite with his former community, healing

some of the friendships that had been destroyed,

even forming new relationships. He

took up skating again, after a 20-year respite,

and even managed to recreate his famous

one-handed handstand flip. “He had a couple

of years in the limelight after the film came

out – a lot of interviews, was on TV,” says

Persiel. “Then he killed himself.”

Critically praised and receiving a string

of awards, as well as a Goethe-Institutfunded

world tour for its creators, This

Ain’t California was a success. But its blend

of fact and fiction was controversial. “It

was revealed, in the middle of the cinema

release, that Panik was fictional,” recalls

Persiel. “And then in every Q&A, that’s

all we’d talk about. Some people felt like

they’d been betrayed.” Overall, though,

he’s pleased with the film response; most

importantly the response from the skateboarding

community that contributed their

stories.“For me, a good way to look at it is

truth versus truthfulness. I don’t think you

can make truth on the screen, so you’re left

with truthfulness, and that’s what you have

to go for. The reaction from the skaters was

that it was truthful,” says an unrepentant

Persiel. Christian Rothenhagen agrees. “The

name of the character doesn’t really matter

– it’s more about conveying the whole thing.

It’s the story of a friendship.” T

“I don’t think you

can make truth

on the screen, so

you’re left with

truthfulness, and

that’s what you

have to go for.”

Catch This Ain’t California and meet Marten Persiel at Lichtblick Kino on Sep 23,

as part of our EXBlicks monthly series.

Strausberger Platz, as shown

in This Ain’t California.

Conrad Bauer

18

EXBERLINER 185


INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FESTIVAL

preview

Minority report

International

Literature

Festival Berlin

Sep 11-21

For its 19th edition, ILB goes full-on diversity

and inclusivity, playing host to a record 220

guests from 59 countries. Daunted by the chorus

of voices clamouring for attention at this

year’s festival? We help you navigate this year’s

labyrinth of literary trends. By Eve Lucas

Hartwig Klappert

Exploring displacement

Cultural displacement is a well-stocked festival

cupboard and post-colonial reckonings are plentiful

this year. Among those that caught our eye is

Canadian Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, which

narrates a tale of slavery with counter-intuitive

swashbuckling verve. Opening speaker Petina Gappah

from Zimbabwe, a litfest usual suspect, also

presents two of her works, of which the most recent,

Out of darkness, shining light, will be published

to coincide with the festival. Following the life of

the 18th-century explorer David Livingstone, the

twist is that his story is presented from the point

of view of two members of his former staff, his

cook and a former slave. Nigerian writer Chimamanda

Ngozi Adichie is the fest’s biggest Englishlanguage

attraction (see next page) and brings her

novel Americanah to the Art of Writing section.

Syrian Mustafa Khalifa is another of our authorial

highlights with his literal vision of estrangement

induced by imprisonment in The Shell, but we’d

also recommend two further variants on forms of

SEPTEMBER 2019

inner displacement: Tash Aw’s We, The Survivors,

which focuses on social prejudice as an exclusion

mechanism in Malaysia; and Indian bestseller

Benyamin’s Goat Days, a tale of a migrant worker in

Saudi Arabia. Tommy Orange’s There There gives a

Native-American voice to the contradictions inherent

in indigenous lives, while for a different take on

the unwelcome nature of ‘home’, Ocean Vuong’s

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous presents smalltown

American life as so hostile to his own gay,

Vietnamese-American identity that only Vuong’s

intensely personal and poetic tale can do it justice.

Meanwhile, for a final but essential sidestep, check

out Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, an exploration

of environmental displacement amid vanishing

climate-affected landscapes (see next page).

Identity and gender

This year’s inclusivity flagship, the About: Sex

section is programmed to spread the love, but

beware – although events may reference the work

ILB 2019

Moving away from its traditional home

at Haus der Berliner Festspiele (while

it’s being renovated), this year’s ILB

kicks off at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU1) on

Sep 11, with its ensuing programme

unfolding at 25 venues across the city,

including the auditorium of the newly

opened James Simon Gallery, aka

David Chipperfield’s “most expensive

cloakroom in the world’”, on Museum

Island. Other new locations include

Wedding’s Silent Green and the excellent

Collegium Hungaricum. Fancy

checking out some of the 250 events

on offer? A full-festival pass will set you

back €50-60, a single ticket €8-€12.

Anna

Karenina

oder Arme

Leute

NACH LEW TOLSTOI

UND FJODOR

DOSTOJEWSKI

REGIE OLIVER FRLJIĆ

15/SEPTEMBER

ADDITIONAL SHOWS

20/27/29/SEPTEMBER

ALL PLAYS WITH

ENGLISH SURTITLES

MAXIM GORKI THEATER

Am Festungsgraben 2, 10117 Berlin

Box Office: 0049 30/ 20 221 115 19

Tickets online: www.gorki.de


INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FESTIVAL

that merited their author’s inclusion, it might do

so only in the context of a broader discussion. It

should be noted that most authors in this section

are also presenting more work elsewhere in

the festival. For example, French author Didier

Eribon, whose biographical tale of coming out by

going away Retour à Reims/Returning to Reims has

become a staple of the Schaubühne stage, will also

appear in the Reflections section, while André

Aciman (see right) from the US reflects on love

and lust in no less than three different categories.

Our outside favourite in the About: Sex section is

Eileen Myles, who identify as they, once ran for the

US Presidency and have written prolifically in various

genres. Also on the bill is Meena Kandasamy,

whose novel When I Hit You, a tale of a repressive

Indian marriage, gives a much-needed fictive voice

to a familiar social dystopia.

Christopher Ferguson

André Aciman

Mahanti Smeeta

R.O. Kwon

Wani Olatunde

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

(Sub)Urban alienations

Whether it’s US writer John Wray’s story of a Californian

woman who joins the Taliban in Godsend,

British author’s Alex Wheatle’s cult young adult

Crongton novels set in a gang-war-torn neighbourhood

or the drift of suburban lives and relationship

woes in Dag Solstad’s T Singer – urban and suburban

alienation from the self remains a festival hotspot.

A special shout-out goes to Nicolas Mathieu’s Leurs

enfants après eux (Their Children After Them), which

sets small-town disaffections against the background

of 1990s industrial decline. Fellow Goncourt Prizewinner

Mathias Énard presents Boussole, a novel that

deals with the West’s fascination with the Orient.

Set in cities such as Vienna, Damascus, Istanbul

and Aleppo, Énard’s cultural counterpoint masterfully

seeks out the otherness of places as a means

of unveiling self-estrangement. Venezuelan Karina

Sainz Borgo’s debut novel It Would be Night in Caracas

pits personal despair against political upheaval,

as a young woman mourns her mother amid wider

societal disintegration.

Inclusivity rules

A veteran ILB protagonist (she has helped curate

and moderate over the last few years), Berlin-based

author Priya Basil is stepping out from behind the

stage and into the festival limelight with a perceptive

little book. Be My Guest explores the Derridian

premise that the only possibility in the concept of

unlimited hospitality is its impossibility. Such an ideal

presupposes as necessity both the striving for and

the failure to create a Willkommenskultur in which

every life matters – one that keeps an open house for

families and migrants, neighbourhoods and nations.

A dedicated political activist and campaigner for inclusiveness

(she is the co-founder of the Authors for

Peace initiative), Basil is frank and provocative, and

Be My Guest passes as festival motto and categorical

imperative. Hospitality for all.

Gimme five!

Five ILB guests that should

hit the Lit-spot By Eve Lucas and Madeleine Pollard

André Aciman Slotted untidily into this year’s focus on LGBTQ

authors, André Aciman (born 1951 in Alexandria, Egypt, before emigrating

to New York, via Rome and Paris) rides the tide of renewed

interest in his 2007 novel Call Me By Your Name (to which he has now

written a sequel, due for 2019 publication) as well as the 2019 German

translation of his Enigma Variations (Fünf Lieben lang). Both novels

are driven by critically lauded explorations of lust, but it’s CMBYN

and its 2017 filmic translation that have become objects of cultish

reverence. Seeking to exploit this adulation, the litfest features Aciman

in the About: Sex special (Silent Green, Sep 18, 18:00), where he

discusses the presentation of gay sex in literature. Married with three

sons, Aciman eschews questions about his own sexuality. He prefers

to describe the mechanisms of desire and obsession as a state of mind

and set of circumstances linked to identity and memory. A classic

case of showing – but not telling! — EL

R.O. Kwon Searching for (and finding) the ultimate niche experience,

R.O. Kwon’s first novel The Incendiaries has made its way into

contemporary mainstream sensitivities beset by the need to conform

and stand out. Set on a fictional Ivy League campus (niche 1), new

student Phoebe is recruited into a religious cult by John Leals, a softtalking

barefoot guru (niche 2), all the while observed by ex-boyfriend

Will, himself busy fudging the details of his working-class, scholarship

background (niche 3). That’s a lot of niches and Kwon juggles

perspectives with aplomb, making her a shoo-in for this year’s festival

both in terms of talent and context. Kwon, who was born in South

Korea but has lived most of her life in the US, is a Yale graduate and

holds an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. Now a non-believer,

she’s distrustful of religious certainties while understanding their lure

and, in particular, the social processes that underpin their attraction.

She should be a must-read in pre-electoral America and is definitely a

20

EXBERLINER 185


INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Bryan Appleyard

A. Abdelwahab

Mustafa Khalifa

Robert Macfarlane

must-hear at Collegium Hungaricum Berlin,

Sep 14, 21:00.— EL

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie She’s

the rock star among this year’s participants.

The Nigerian writer might have just three

acclaimed novels to her name (2003’s Purple

Hibiscus, 2007’s Half of a Yellow Sun and 2013’s

Americanah) but her activism and social

media skills have hoisted her onto the pages

of glossy magazines, including an appearance

in British Vogue’s Forces of Change edition

last month. Above all, it’s been Adichie’s two

extra-curricular forays into TED Talks (2012’s

We Should all be Feminists as well as 2009’s The

Danger of a Single Story), both with over 5 million

views on YouTube, that have helped fuel

her street cred. Adichie has become a go-to

guest speaker at prestigious US universities

and has won numerous literary prizes, including

last year’s PEN Pinter Prize. Eloquent and

engaging, she appears in the Literatures of the

World section (HAU, Sep 13, 20:00) to talk

about the merging currents of her work, on

and off the page. — EL, MP

Robert Macfarlane A nature writer

extraordinaire, the best-selling Brit takes

his experience of natural extremes to new

depths as he explores the land under our feet

in Underland: A Deep Time Journey. Putting

a name to Anthropocene concerns such as

‘solastalgia’ (sadness caused by the loss of

natural environments), Macfarlane’s underlying

concern that it may all be downhill from

here is tempered by the soaring lyricism of

his prose. A former Booker Prize Chair and

Cambridge Fellow, Macfarlane is never less

than erudite and often deeply emotional writing

about issues as varied as nuclear disposal

sites, the world-wide-wood root system,

Norwegian cave art or glacial melting holes.

Naysayers cavil at the carbon footprint of the

travel involved but if this is the price tag on

Macfarlane’s ability to plug us into the past

and the future of our planet, so be it. It’s the

writer’s first ILB appearance (with his 9th

book: what took you so long?), and although

you’ll need a dictionary to navigate this

wordsmith’s creativity, it’s worth the effort.

James-Simon-Galerie, Sep 13, 19:30. — EL

Mustafa Khalifa Coinciding with the

release in German of his novel The Shell, first

published in Arabic in pre-Arab Spring 2008,

Mustafa Khalifa has found his way into both

the Literatures of the World and the Sciences

and Humanities sections of this year’s ILB.

The latter event (at Collegium Hungaricum

Berlin, Sep 17, 18:00) sees the Syrian-born

septuagenarian taking the stage with Charité

head psychiatrist Andreas Heinz to discuss

the impact of migration on mental health, and

the correlation between social isolation and

psychological stress – a situation described

with great poignancy in Khalifa’s novel.

Drawing upon first-hand experience gathered

during the years Khalifa spent in a Syrian jail,

The Shell is this century’s answer to Kafka’s

The Metamorphosis: a radical reinterpretation

of what happens when we lose touch with

the world around us. With 250 million people

currently in some form of migratory situation,

complete with all the pitfalls of isolation,

The Shell is textbook reading for our volatile

times. — EL T

SEPTEMBER 2019

21


WHAT’S ON — Interview

Verbatim

Jewish

Film Festival

Berlin

Sep 8-17

Nicola’s fest

Nicola Galliner looks back at her 25 years showcasing Jewish

films and 50 years of life in Berlin. By Ruth Schneider

Daniel Cati

25 TH JEWISH

FILM FESTIVAL

BERLIN

The festival

opens on Sep 8

with Dror Zahavi’s

Crescendo (19:00) at

Potsdam’s Hans

Otto Theater and

takes over 14

cinemas across

Berlin, Potsdam and

Brandenburg. Fifty

films (OV with

English subtitles)

over 10 days,

closing out

Sep 17 with The

Mamboniks (20:00)

at Filmtheater am

Friedrichshain.

A

fixture of the Berlin Jüdische Gemeinde, which

she helped shape and shake since she moved here

from London 50 years ago, Nicola Galliner’s also

a name to be reckoned with among local cinephiles as

the spirited brain behind one of Europe’s leading Jewish

film festivals. Launched in 1995 with eight films in one

cinema, Nicola’s Fest has morphed into a major event on

the local film calendar with 50 films across 14 venues in

Berlin and Brandenburg, a success she obviously relishes

with communicative bonhomie. We met with Galliner

for a light lunch at the Lubitsch on Bleibtreustraße, a

suitable location for a chat about Jewish film and Berlin!

You launched the JFFB in 1995. How did it all start?

Was the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival an

inspiration? Yes, it was! I was working with the Jewish

community at the time and we got sent a programme

from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I used to

live around the corner from the old Arsenal – when it

still was on Welserstraße – and I ran up to the Gregors’

(Ulrich and Erika). They’d received the programme too...

And I said, “Wow, what an amazing idea, let’s do something

like this!”

What did the first edition of the festival look like?

We started the festival in 1995, in the wonderful arthouse

cinema the old Arsenal used to be, with eight films. I

don’t remember who gave me the tip, but somebody told

me about a very good film by a young, first time Danish

director that was a Jewish family story. The film was

Freud’s Leaving Home and the director was Susanne Bier!

She drove all the way to Berlin while extremely pregnant.

I remember saying , “Goodness, I’m so honoured that

you came. But what happens if the baby arrives?” She

said, “No, no, he’ll wait.” And he did! It turned out she

very much wanted to come to Berlin because her father

was a Berlin Jew who’d escaped to Scandinavia. Her son

must be exactly 25 now, like the festival! When I see how

successful she has become, I feel so proud. It was a lovely

Jewish film and such an amazing way to start our festival.

What’s a Jewish film for you? Fifteen years ago we

asked this very question to 30 people – and of course

everybody had a different view. A colleague from Munich

said that it was about the audience – if they eat and

drink and talk through the whole film then it’s a Jewish

audience. Former director of the San Fransisco festival

Peter Stein used the famous quote, “I can’t define it, but

I know it when I see it.” There is no easy answer.

I remember you telling me about people recurrently

asking if JFFB was a festival about Holocaust film.

It’s such a traumatic event in German and in Jewish histories

that it defines many things for several generations. We

always have films that deal with the Holocaust, but most

of our picks are about contemporary issues.

Looking back, what major changes have occurred

over those 25 years? I think we have changed from being

that little local festival to a major player in Germany and

that’s really nice. What’s also fantastic is the amazing success

story of Israeli films that 25 years ago no one had ever

heard of. Now they are in all the major festivals and getting

prizes. So there definitely are parallels. It’s amazing.

22

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Interview

For a while Berlin also had an Israel

Film Festival and the distinction was

not always very clear to people. About

half of the JFFB films are from Israel,

right? Israel produces such an extraordinary

amount of films! They have 12 film schools

and even a film school just for religious people.

That is fascinating because 90 percent

of the pupils of that school are women – for

men it’s not really a profession that’s looked

upon positively! I think one could have at

least three Israeli film festivals plus two

Jewish ones, to show all these films. We try

to maintain a balance between Israel and the

rest of the world. But there are just so many

great Israeli films!

Any personal favourites? The most extraordinary

film I think that we have ever shown

was the Israeli horror film Big Bad Wolves. I really

hate horror films, but this one I just fell in

love with. And it stars Lior Ashkenazi – a mega

star in Israel and one of our most memorable

guests ever! A couple of years ago, we also

showed Prisoners of War, the Israeli TV series

Homeland was based on. That was fantastic!

This year you’re showing a few episodes

of Autonomies, another very hyped

Israeli TV show... Autonomies is a sci-fi

series that says a lot of relevant things about

today’s problems between the orthodox and

the secular parts of society. I first saw it in

New York where people absolutely loved it.

You even hand out awards, right? Yes, and

all sponsored by the same generous family of

the late Gerhard Klein who was a child actor

in 1920s Berlin – he played in the first production

of Emil and the Detectives! He managed to

escape last minute to then-Palestine and came

back after the war. He had a very famous cinema

in Dahlem called Capitol Kino, where he’d

also organise literary readings and all sorts of

interesting events. He would always call me

to tip me about films or give me his feedback

about the festival. When he died I said to his

widow, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a prize

under his name?” and she thought it was a

great idea. A few years later the daughters

said, “Well, shouldn’t we do another prize?”

And so on. By now we have three – best feature,

best documentary, and best German film

with a Jewish subject...

I heard you tried to invite Barbara

Streisand...? Not me! I had a really

nice boss at the Jüdische Gemeinde who

always wanted to invite Barbara Streisand

to Berlin. And we all thought he was quite

mad – she famously always refused to come

to Germany. But somehow he got her phone

number, and one day he said, “Nicola, let’s

call Barbara Streisand.” So he called her and

put her on the loud speaker and said, “We’d

love to invite you to Berlin to give a concert.”

And she hung up on him! She ended up

coming several years later, in 2007. By then

everyone was coming to Berlin, it was not

seen as so negative anymore. Actually her

concert at the Waldbühne coincided with our

closing event in Potsdam, and some papers

rung us up asking whether it was connected

to the festival! But, no, it wasn’t!

You seem to have a flair for debuting directors

and films that are set for greatness:

It started with Susanne Bier, and

last year, it was The Cakemaker, your

prize winner, that ended up as Israel’s

contender for Best Foreign Film at the

Academy Awards. It’s impressive! In

2006 we also had that very nice short by Ari

Sandel. We liked it so much that we showed

it every single evening, and people went mad

about it. It was called West Bank Story and

the next year he got an Oscar for it!

I heard your International Film Critic

Jury is appropriately all-female this

year... Yes, we have a four-women jury, and

we have Marlyn Vinig, Israel’s only Orthodox

Jewish female critic.

Do you care about politics? You showed

Samuel Maoz’ Foxtrot last year and that

wasn’t very popular with the Israeli government.

Do you ever feel pressure to

be diplomatic? I’m not diplomatic! I always

get it on the head for that reason. We are an

independent festival. We can show whatever

we like. I thought Foxtrot was an excellent

film and I showed it.

Recent polemics surrounding the resignation

of the Jewish Museum director

showed how sensitive Jewish matters

are in Berlin. Do you think it’s become

worse? The debate on what a Jewish Museum

is, should be or do, what and who a

Jewish Film Festival should represent was

always there. One of the first Jewish Museum

directors was sacked in 1998, remember?

So it’s a long ongoing story. But you know

what I think is getting worse in this country?

Antisemitism. Definitely.

Have you personally observed more

antisemitism around you? What I’ve observed

is the total lack of interest that people

who should know better show in Jewish issues

– this festival for example. I spend a lot

of time running around and looking for funding.

It doesn’t interest them. I also see that

it’s become really quite accepted now that

people get away with antisemitic remarks. I

have been here for 50 years and I find that

the development is shocking and frightening.

I would not send my Jewish child to a public

school any longer.

Meanwhile Germany is really supportive

of Israel, the Bundestag recently took a

highly controversial stance against the

pro-Palestinian BDS movement, calling

it ‘antisemitic’, which divided the Jewish

community itself... This is Germany,

and for obvious historical reasons you can’t

have a “boycott” of Israel in this country. I

think that there are things that you have to

do here, which you might not have to do in

other countries. That’s my opinion. People

who criticise this really don’t have any idea

where they are. T

Jewgeni Onegin

Pjotr I. Tschaikowski

12 to

79 €

30. AUGUST AND 8. / 13. / 20. / 27. SEPTEMBER 2019

SEPTEMBER 2018 ALL PERFORMANCES WITH ENGLISH SURTITLES! 23

0049 030 47 99 74 00


WHAT’S ON — Film

Editor’s Choice

Best of the Berlinale

Three of the top prize winners at this year’s Berlin Film Festival

return to city screens this month. By Paul O’Callaghan

Peter Hartwig

DON’T MISS

Frank Borzage

Retrospective

Arsenal Kino

celebrates a giant

of Hollywood’s

Golden Age with a

20-film season that

includes his 1927

silent Oscar-winner

7th Heaven

and 1948 noir

classic Moonrise.

Sep 1-30

Webfest Berlin

Germany’s first

international web

series festival returns

for its fifth edition,

with world premieres,

panel events, a

special focus on

female empowerment

and a party.

All at Osthafen.

Sep 12-14

Fantasy Film Festival

The city-hopping fest

is back at Cinestar

Sony Center with a

bumper programme

of highly anticipated

genre fare, including

Zhang Yimou’s

latest martial arts

epic Shadow and

the Guillermo Del

Toro-produced

Scary Stories to

Tell in the Dark.

Sep 4-15

While this wasn’t a vintage

year for the Berlinale,

2019’s Golden Bear winner

offered cause for excitement.

Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms tells the

story of Yoav (Tom Mercier), a charismatic

young Israeli man seething

with contempt for his homeland, who

lands in Paris desperate to embrace

French culture. Dashingly handsome

and intellectually curious, he proves

irresistible to affluent young couple

Emile (Quentin Dolmaire) and Caroline

(Louise Chevillotte), who take

him under their wing after they find

him squatting in their building. But

while Yoav benefits financially from

the pair’s interest, aspiring writer

Emile’s eagerness to appropriate his

new friend’s stories seems somewhat

predatory. An atmosphere of unpredictability

is established in a bravura

opening sequence, which sees Yaov

suffer a series of unlikely mishaps.

And Lapid frequently seizes the opportunity

to experiment with form –

at times Synonyms feels like a feverish

stream of consciousness, propelled

by Mercier’s strikingly physical

central performance. But these avantgarde

flourishes never come at the

expense of narrative cohesion, and

the film triumphs both as an intimate

account of an artist’s conflicted relationship

with Israel, and as a broadly

relatable tale of modern immigration

and urban alienation.

This year’s Alfred Bauer Prize, for

a film that “opens new perspectives

on cinematic art”, was handed to

Nora Fingscheidt’s System Crasher,

an energetic and heart-wrenching

tale of a 9-year-old girl named Benni

(Helena Zengel) with severe behavioural

problems. Too disruptive for

her timid mother to handle, Benni

bounces between foster carers, frequently

causing chaos with outbursts

of violent behaviour. But while Germany’s

child welfare system seems

fundamentally ill-equipped to deal

with her, she finds a gruff guardian

angel in Micha (Albrecht Schuch),

a school escort with anger management

issues of his own. The film is

powered by the precocious Zengel,

who brings charm, volatility and vulnerability

to the lead role. But Fingscheidt

also proves herself an assured

storyteller. Rather than delve into

the abuse that’s at the root of the

problem, the writer-director instead

discloses a single example of Benni’s

past trauma in a manner that’s more

horrifying for what it leaves to the

imagination. The ending is a touch

idealistic, but this is one of the

most impactful German dramas in

recent memory.

If the Berlinale jury made a misstep

this year, it was in awarding the

Grand Jury Prize to François Ozon

for his ultra-timely docudrama By

the Grace of God. Their decision

was understandable - this account

of Lyon’s ongoing clerical sex abuse

scandal is sensitively handled and

persuasive. But Ozon plays it safe as

a filmmaker. The result is a deliberately

paced procedural with a muted

colour palette, which sees a succession

of middle-aged men sombrely

reflect on the trauma inflicted on

them by a paedophile priest Bernard

Preynat, before banding together to

expose the Catholic church’s efforts

to cover up his crimes. Ozon should

be lauded as a social activist, but it’s

a shame that he should receive his

most prestigious award to date for

work devoid of the style and subversiveness

that once made him such an

exciting auteur. T

Synonyms Starts Sep 5 D: Nadav Lapid (France, Germany, Israel

2019) with Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire | System Crasher (Systemsprenger)

Starts Sep 19 D: Nora Fingscheidt (Germany 2019) with

Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch | By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu)

Starts Sep 26 D: François Ozon (France, Belgium 2019) with Melvil

Poupaud, Denis Ménochet

24

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Film

Previews

Downbeat tales from Down Under

Savour melancholic movies from

Australia and New Zealand at

the ninth Down Under Film Festival.

Previous instalments of Down Under Berlin have placed

bombastic genre movies front and centre, but the

standouts of this ninth edition are decidedly downbeat.

Dustin Fenely’s sparse drama Stray follows two damaged

strangers on a path of healing and reconciliation. It’s a

triumphant double character study that deftly employs

near-wordless storytelling. Gabrielle Brady’s stunning

doc Island of the Hungry Ghosts draws attention to

Christmas Island, Australia’s grim offshore prison camp

for asylum seekers. Brady weaves poetic images of the

island’s crab migration into reconstructions of detainee

therapy sessions, with mesmerising results. And closing

the fest is Richard Lowenstein’s achingly intimate Mystify:

Michael Hutchencev, which traces the charismatic INXS

frontman’s meteoric rise to fame, decline in mental

health and tragic suicide. — Jared Abbott

Sep 26-29 | Moviemento | downunderberlin.de

How about human rights?

The Human Rights Film Festival

shines a light on social injustice.

This second edition, which boasts over 70 screenings

and events, opens with the Berlin premiere of Cannes

Best Documentary winner For Sama. Assisted by codirector

Edward Watts, Syrian journalist Waad al-Kateab

reconstructs four tumultuous years of her life, from her

support of the 2012 civilian revolution to the arrival of

her first daughter and her days as one of the last remaining

rebels in Aleppo. Raw, on-the-ground footage

makes the conflict feel nail-bitingly urgent. Daddy and

the Warlord deals with similar themes from a different

perspective. This streamlined doc follows a daughter

as she returns to Liberia to assess her father’s involvement

in Charles Taylor’s brutal revolts. The film offers

a deeply personal take on the common observation

that atrocities are often made possible through boring

bureaucracy. — Ellen Lang

Sep 18-25 | various venues |

humanrightsfilmfestivalberlin.de

18.– 25.

SEPTEMBER 2019

Human

Rights

Film

Festival

Berlin

hrffb.de

JFFB turns 25

Unflinching accounts of Israeli life stand

out at this year’s Jewish Film Festival.

The 25th Jewish Film Festival is comprised of 49 features,

shorts and TV shows, to be screened at 14 venues across

Berlin and Brandenburg. Some of the standouts boldly

confront the tensions and contradictions that define

contemporary Israeli society. Autonomies is a glossy

dystopian miniseries which imagines that civil war has

transformed Jerusalem into a walled-off Orthodox

autonomy. Key to the story is Broide (Assi Cohen), who

transports the bodies of secular Jews into the Holy

Land for religious funerals and smuggles contraband

(porn DVDs, pork) in their coffins. The deliberate pace

sometimes feels at odds with the soapy plot, but it’s an

engrossing ride. For a more grounded look at modern

Israeli life, watch Unsettling, Iris Zaki’s portrait of a diverse

West Bank settlement. From a chilling encounter

with a proud fascist to a moving account of a woman

who reconsidered her Israeli entitlement after being

stabbed by a Palestinian teen, this brisk documentary

is packed with riveting moments. M, another mustsee

doc, channels the otherworldly vibe of Taxi Driver

to tell the harrowing story of a singer determined to

confront the ultra-Orthodox elders who raped him as

a child. — PO’C

Sep 8-17 | various venues | jffb.de

Finding new favourites

The Favourites Film Festival returns

with a treasure trove of award winners.

With a simple premise that ensures consistent quality

– every film screened must have won an audience

award at a previous festival – Favourites is back with

another showcase of indie gems. If you missed First

Reformed, which scandalously never received a German

theatrical release, rectify this immediately. Featuring

a career-best performance from Ethan Hawke as

a priest experiencing a crisis of faith, Paul Schrader’s

late-career masterpiece is breathtakingly audacious.

Cinephiles will also be enchanted by Talking About

Trees, winner of the Panorama Audience Award for

Best Documentary at this year’s Berlinale. Charting the

attempts of a group of filmmakers to open a cinema

in the conservative Sudanese city of Omdurman, it’s

a gently devastating portrait of the eradication of a

country’s cultural identity. — PO’C

Sep 25-29 | City Kino Wedding |

favouritesfilmfestival.de

ORGANISIERT VON

IN KOOPERATION MIT

SEPTEMBER 2019

25


WHAT’S ON — Film

REVIEWS

Tell It to the Bees

D: Annabel Jankel

(UK 2018)

Fiona Shaw’s lesbian

romance novel set in

1950s rural Scotland

receives a screen

adaptation which

fails to convincingly

balance post-war

harshness with some

late-in-the-day

magical realism.

Starts Sep 5

Schwimmen

D: Luzie Loose

(Germany 2018)

This tale of an

intense friendship

between two

disaffected Berlin

teens is intriguingly

ominous in its

early scenes, but

its depiction of

modern German

youth ultimately

rings hollow.

Starts Sep 12

The Miracle of the

Sargasso Sea

D: Syllas Tzoumerkas

(Greece, Germany,

Netherlands,

Sweden 2019)

This noir-tinged,

narratively unpredictable

portrait

of a sinister Greek

coastal community

is unlike anything

else you’ll see this

year, but some may

be frustrated by its

meandering pace.

Starts Sep 12

Reviews Interview

“The way I see it, Israel

is a society of men.”

Director Nadav Lapid on his blistering

autobiographical drama Synonyms. By Paul O’Callaghan

Nadav Lapid’s Berlinale Golden

Bear winner Synonyms

(photo) is a formally bold,

thematically provocative study of

a charismatic young Israeli man

(Tom Mercier) who renounces his

troubled homeland and embraces a

bohemian life in Paris.

How directly is the film based on

your own formative years as an

Israeli exile in Paris? Around 18

years ago, after my military service,

I had this sudden compulsion to

leave Israel, to save my soul from

what I felt was an incurable disease.

I landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport

and stopped speaking Hebrew immediately.

I think of the film as a

thesis on my life - sometimes it’s the

way it was, sometimes it’s the way it

could or should have been. My main

aim was to capture the feeling I had

when I arrived in France - I was in

this kind of feverish state.

Why did you choose to explore

this period of your life at this

point in your career? It was a

mixture of personal and practical

reasons. Some of the questions

I raise in the film are still totally

unsolved for me personally. I live

back in Tel Aviv now, and many of

my problems with Israel remain

the same. The big difference is that

today I don’t necessarily believe that

France is the remedy! On a practical

level, when my previous film (2014’s

The Kindergarten Teacher) became

successful, I got emails from French

producers asking if I had a project

in Paris, so it got me thinking about

this very meaningful thing that happened

to me there.

In the current political context,

it’s a rather bold gesture

to portray an immigrant man

wishing to assimilate as quickly

and as completely as possible in

Synonyms

Starts Sep 5

the culture of his host country...

After the film won the Golden Bear,

someone sent me a quote from an

extreme right-wing German website.

They cited the protagonist Yoav as

an example of a good immigrant, because

he’s ready to totally abandon

his national identity. It’s not a very

intelligent reading, because the film

also talks about to what extent a

country can integrate immigrants if

it’s only willing to accept them on its

own terms. But ultimately, it’s not

like I have the answers - it’s not a

pro or anti-integration movie.

How have audiences responded

so far? More or less everywhere, it’s

dividing audiences. The reactions

are very powerful on both sides. In

Israel, I got threatening letters, and

the Minister of Culture said she

doesn’t know if the film complies

with Israeli law. But it did well commercially

and the critical response

was good. Many people told me that

it really captured something and

that they’d sent family members to

watch it in order to understand what

they’ve been through.

Yoav’s sense of masculinity

seems conflicted, and there’s a

strong homoerotic undercurrent...

The way I see it, Israel is a

society of men. I spent over three

years in a very small military base

with only 15 men for company, it

was a world without women. It was

totally straight in a way, but also

extremely homoerotic. It never

became sexual for me, but all around

me there was this affection, attraction,

fascination.

Tom Mercier’s central performance

is revelatory. Did the

direction of the film change once

he came on board? While writing

the script, I naturally imagined myself

in the role. And when I started

casting I had this intense concern

about maintaining the truth of the

film. But all these doubts disappeared

the moment Tom began his

audition. Just as the movie is in

some ways an improved version of

my life, Tom is definitely an idealised

version of myself at that age.

He’s obviously a very good actor but

he’s also a really unique and peculiar

human being who can only be in a

state of total truth. T

26

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Film

Csaba Aknay Courtesy of A24

Reviews

Midsommar

Pro: Mesmerising

A deeply depressing contemporary break-up

movie disguised as 70s-style folk horror, this

sprawling follow-up to last year’s Hereditary

cements Ari Aster as the most exciting and

emotionally candid emerging voice in the terror

genre. Less cerebral and more visceral than its

predecessor, this tale of an unhappily-in-love

American couple (Florence Pugh and Jack

Reynor) whose Swedish holiday turns into a

drugged-out pagan nightmare relies on oldfashioned

visual storytelling. Pawel Pogorzelski’s

cinematography is a marvel, turning the idyllic

pastoral setting (Hungary standing in for Sweden)

into a central character, equal parts alluring and

menacing. Perhaps the most surprising aspect

is the humour - whereas Hereditary was fairly

earnest, Midsommar features numerous intentional

laughs and an astonishingly absurd sex

scene. Throughout, Aster expertly controls the

pace, building to an effective denouement that

perfectly complements the insane proceedings.

Hands down, one of the year’s finest films. — JA

Con: Meh

Ari Aster was proclaimed the new master of

horror after Hereditary, but some will surely be

tempted to backpedal after seeing Midsommar.

This sophomore effort could have been far more

impactful had Aster taken some narrative risks.

As it stands, nothing in this daytime nightmare

will surprise or impress if you’ve seen The

Wicker Man or Ben Wheatley’s underrated Kill

List. Florence Pugh admittedly gives a flawless

performance, but this inadvertently assures that

the film nosedives after the first act, when it

loosens its focus on her character’s trauma and

experience of toxic relationships. It’s engaging

in the moment, but its spell quickly fades. You’re

left with a strangely hollow film that never hits

the heights of its obvious influences. — DM

Starts Sep 26 D: Ari Aster (US 2019) with

Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor

Playland USA

This imaginative doc by German director Benjamin

Schindler offers an outsider’s perspective

on the history of the US and the myth of the

SEPTEMBER 2019

American dream. Narratively abstract, it’s held

together by an overriding interest in the country’s

approach to storytelling and self-mythologising,

with a particular focus on historical amusement

parks and other “educational” tourist attractions.

A picture is formed of a nation built on

extreme bloodshed, Christian fundamentalism

and indigenous erasure. Highlights include a

lucid segment addressing the damaging effect

of Hollywood Westerns on the perception of

Native Americans, and a mordantly funny scene

in which an earnest professional Santa Claus

tearfully relates his Dickensian origin story. Such

vignettes are interrupted by distorted footage of

a rousing Michelle Obama speech, presumably

to serve as a chilling reminder of how quickly

the tenor of American discourse has recently

deteriorated. The result is an engaging, if slightly

insubstantial, study of a nation that’s lost its grip

on reality. — PO’C

Starts Sep 26 D: Benjamin Schindler

(Germany 2019)

Diego Maradona

Asif Kapadia delves into the life of Argentinian

football legend Diego Maradona in an engrossing

doc that, much like the director’s earlier Senna,

distils hundreds of hours of archive footage

to paint the portrait of a life. Superbly edited,

the film deftly chronicles a fall from grace, but

something is missing. Kapadia asserts a clear

distinction between Diego and Maradona, as if

there’s Jekyll/Hyde dédoublement. However,

this internal struggle between a stocky shy boy

from the slums and his tyrannical alter-ego

is never clearly depicted. We don’t meet the

womaniser and cheat, meaning you’ll likely end

up feeling sorry for the fallen hero embroiled

in the trappings of fame, rather than conflicted

about the egomaniac with ties to the mafia.

Recommended for those more interested in

the myth than the man. — DM

Starts Sep 5 D: Asif Kapadia (UK 2019)

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27


WHAT’S ON — Music

DON’T MISS

Editor’s Choice

Multiple choice

It’s a blessing and a curse to live in an international hub where so many

bands and performers stop on tour. Here’s a guide to help you

with September’s most agonising “double bookings”. By Joey Hansom

CAA

The Amplified Kitchen

Political parties of a

different sort: with

the theme of “Club

Culture = Protest”,

this edition of the

panel discussion

series will explore

how nightlife can

go beyond pure

hedonism into the

realm of activism.

Sep 5, 20:00, at

About Blank,

Friedrichshain

Festival für

selbstgebaute Musik

Ukulele too hightech?

The “Festival

for Self-Built Music”

is all about jamming

on a shoebox with

rubber bands. Besides

concerts, talks and

an exhibition, you

can get crafty

and build your own

instrument, too.

Sep 13-15 at

ZK/U, Tiergarten

Common

Earlier this year, the

rapper, actor and

activist published his

memoir, Let Love

Have the Last Word,

and last month

released his 12th

album, Let Love.

Tonight, the uncommonly

talented L.A.

resident hits Berlin

on tour.

Sep 16, 20:00 at

Astra Kulturhaus,

Kreuzberg

On any given day of the week,

Berlin is spoiled with options

for live music. But every so

often, a particular calendar date

poses concertgoers with a true

chin-stroking dilemma. In fact, this

month brings several such dates, so

no matter what you decide on, the

FOMO factor may linger. In these

cases, it’s usually best to stay home

and read a book, but if you insist on

going out, perhaps this column can

point you in the right direction.

If you’ve got the Brexit blues, it’s

either Sleaford Mods or Muse (photo).

Both their latest albums react to

the political climate in the U.K., albeit

in aesthetically different ways. Muse’s

Simulation Theory goes back to the

Thatcher era, stylizing their stadium

rock with a synthesised sheen, cover

art by the illustrator of the Stranger

Things posters, and Ghostbusters

references in their music videos. To

the working-class Mods, though,

that’s probably a bunch of big-budget

bollocks. The electro-punk duo have

packaged the anti-austerity anger and

punch-packing beats of Eton Alive

beneath a blurry photo of themselves,

stamped with a handwritten logo.

There’s not exactly a surplus of

Asian indie-rock bands touring Germany,

but here we are with Say Sue

Me and The Hormones playing on

the same night. The former are from

the southeast coast of South Korea,

which is perhaps why their pleasantly

poppy tunes – endorsed by Elton

John – have a certain surf-rock tinge.

The latter hail from landlocked

China, their songs venturing deeper

and darker into the sonic abyss,

thanks in part to production by Tim

DeWit of Gang Gang Dance.

Amanda Palmer gained recognition

with cabaret-punk duo The Dresden

Dolls and earlier this year released

her third solo album, There Will Be

No Intermission. Laura Jane Grace

is known primarily as the singer of

punk band Against Me! and released

her first solo album, Bought to Rot, in

2018. What they have in common is

that cathartic balance of heartfelt and

hardcore. So, let the deciding factor

be your preferred instrument: piano

by Palmer, or guitar by Grace.

In July, Wilco announced their

return to touring after a two-anda-half-year

hiatus along with their

forthcoming 11th album, Ode to Joy,

due in October. Over their history,

they’ve adroitly evolved from college

rock to dad rock, retaining traces of

alt-country from their predecessor,

Uncle Tupelo. Meanwhile, fresh off

his appearance on the Grand Ole

Opry Sam Outlaw may not be as

“wanted” as those Chicago veterans,

but country purists will find his

music more rewarding.

Remember Jay Electronica? The

rapper still hasn’t released the official

follow-up to Act 1, released in

2007, but new (old?) tracks have

been trickling out lately, regenerating

interest. Performing on the

same night is Stephen Malkmus,

and while he’s certainly not direct

competition, he might as well

change his last name to Electronica:

his recent synth-heavy album

Groove Denied is a far cry from the

indie-rock band that made him famous.

If you can’t afford a ticket to

Primavera Sound next summer for

the Pavement reunion, this is the

next best thing. T

Amanda Palmer Sep 6, 18:00 Admiralspalast, Mitte | Laura Jane Grace &

The Devouring Mothers Sep 6, 20:00 SO36, Kreuzberg | Muse Sep 10, 20:00

Mercedes Benz Arena, Friedrichshain | Sleaford Mods Sep 10, 21:00 Festsaal

Kreuzberg, Alt-Treptow | Sam Outlaw Sep 12, 20:00 Frannz Club, Prenzlauer

Berg | Wilco Sep 12, 20:00 Tempodrom, Kreuzberg | The Hormones Sep

16, 20:00 Kantine am Berghain, Friedrichshain | Say Sue Me Sep 16, 20:00

Berliner Badehaus, Friedrichshain | Jay Electronica Sep 26, 21:30 Gretchen,

Kreuzberg | Stephen Malkmus Sep 26, 20:00 Burg Schnabel, Kreuzberg

28

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Music

Verbatim

Tips: Clubbing

12 Jahre Renate Wilde Renate has a house-party

vibe, both in terms of music and its architecture, a

labyrinth of living rooms. Their 12th anniversary

celebration gathers DJs Ata, S. Ruston, Axel Boman

and many more for a weekend-long fiesta. Sep 13-15

at Salon zur wilden Renate, Friedrichshain

Sarah Wijzenbeek

Ahead of her performance at the Philharmonie with

the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Sep 5, 20:00), Dutch

vocalist Nora Fischer reflects on occupying the

netherworld between classical and pop music.

I’ve always loved classical music as it is written down on paper, but

the traditional style of singing turned out to be a jacket that didn’t

fit me well. It’s an amazing craft and can sound like a beautifully

polished diamond, but I have always had a fascination for singers who dare to

sound raw and unpolished. I’ve always had the feeling that the voice is such a

rich instrument, and it’s a shame to learn to use only a small part of it. I made

it my challenge to learn to use the voice in many different ways, searching for

the right colour for any emotion I’m trying to convey. Classical music is very

often seen as richer, deeper and of a higher quality, but I have always had a

strictly non-hierarchical way of listening to music. I see myself as a kind of

funnel: a lot of inspiration goes into it, and a certain hybrid vocal style comes

out of it, which I learned to call my own. Whether I’m performing classical,

pop-infused or experimental contemporary music, I always aim to make it as

widely accessible as I can – without lowering my standard of quality. It can

be hundreds of years old or written today, but in the end, it’s all music, and it

should speak to people’s guts – not to their brains.”

Thursdate For his monthly residency at Watergate,

U.K. DJ/producer Richy Ahmed invites different

notable guests to Berlin. This time, it’s dubstep

originator Skream, diverging from the club’s usual

palette of techno and house. Sep 19, 23:59 at

Watergate, Kreuzberg

Blankless Summer The rave station at Ostkreuz

is best experienced when you can get lost in their

magical backyard. This weekend brings you your

last chance till next year, with the likes of Fadi

Mohem, Shadowax and Sedif Adasi. Sep 28-29 at

About Blank, Friedrichshain

Tips: Classical and contemporary

Global Adapter The Month of Contemporary Music

kicks off with Berlin’s Ensemble Adapter and guests

from New York and Sydney. Check field-notes.berlin

for the full September program of concerts, exhibitions,

talks and tours throughout the city. Sep 1,

20:00 at Radialsystem, Friedrichshain

Klang der Dinge The “Sound of Things” festival

presents sonic experiments in which machinery,

found objects and even vegetables take the stage

to make noise (with some help from their human

friends). Sep 5-8 at Schaubude, Prenzlauer Berg

Symphonic Mob Any instrumentalist or singer can

join the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester for an

open-air concert of over 1000 musicians playing

Dvořák, Massenet and Verdi. Just maybe bubblewrap

your violin in case it gets rowdy. Sep 21, 14:00

at Mall of Berlin, Mitte

Musikfest Berlin Through Sep 19 various locations

Sun 29.09.

8 p.m. | Philharmonie

ROBIN

TICCIATI

Nicolas Altstaedt Cello

Improvisation

for orchestra

Walton

Cello Concerto

Mahler

Symphony No. 1

Mon 30.09.

8.30 p.m. | Philharmonie

Casual Concert

Mahler

Symphony No. 1

afterwards Casual Concert

Lounge with Live Act KUF and

DJ Sven Weisemann

dso-berlin.de/en

SEPTEMBER 2019 29


WHAT’S ON — Music

DON’T MISS

Exek

The Reeperbahn

Festival (Sep 18-21

in Hamburg) has

chosen Australia

as this year’s focus

country, so expect

numerous acts from

Down Under to be

hitting up Berlin,

too. For example,

this dubbed-out

post-punk quintet

from Melbourne.

Sep 20, 21:00 at

Internet Explorer

Suzanne Ciani

After crashing in the

basement of Philip

Glass’s studio in the

1970s, this synth

pioneer ascended

to produce jingles

for Coca-Cola

and practically

prophesied new age

– before the genre

became yoga muzak.

The real thing.

Sep 27, 20:00 at

Trauma Bar und

Kino, Moabit

Marissa Nadler

Hailing from

Boston, this singersongwriter

mixes

black metal and

folk music. Besides

her numerous solo

albums, her most

recent, Droneflower,

is a joint effort with

Stephen Brodsky

of Cave In.

Sep 29 at Kantine

am Berghain,

Friedrichshain

“ We use analogue cassette

to record.”

Paul Cabine

Interview

Although their Kreuzberg surroundings have

shifted dramatically over the past quarter

century, Stereo Total are happily stuck in

the past. By Joey Hansom

Power couple Brezel Göring

and Françoise Cactus have

been cranking out catchy,

multilingual rock chansons since the

mid 1990s, maintaining an international

cult following along the way.

With an upcoming tour following

the new umpteenth Stereo Total

album, Ah! Quel Cinéma!, the timeless

pop duo talk their backwards

approach, their next theatre piece

and their local Kiez.

What’s the story behind the Velvet

Underground references in

your new album? FC: It’s about the

way of life of these people surrounding

Andy Warhol and the Factory: always

drinking, always high, nine days

a week. We take drugs sometimes,

but we’re not those kind of people.

BG: One song is about how Lou

Reed got electroshock therapy as a

teenager because of his sexuality.

The song will also be in the play

we were commissioned to write, premiering

next year in Frankfurt. We

delayed that so that we could make

the record first. It’s like an echo in

the wrong direction.

So you were hired to write these

songs for a theatrical production,

but you used them for your

album first? BG: That’s really

rotten! (Laughs.) FC: No, no, we

always do that. For example, “Babystrich”

from Do the Bambi was written

for our play about Christiane F.

You’ve been Stereo Total for

over 25 years now. Have you ever

thought about being Mono

Total, or Surround Sound Total?

FC: We’re already really backwards.

BG: It’s even worse than when we

started. I was recently looking at all

the instruments we use, and none of

them were made in the time since

we started. We use analog cassette

to record, which I can use faster

than computers, and the sound is

very satisfying. You know, I saw

some films that someone made in

the 1940s. He made scratches on the

audio strip of the film, and it sounds

like techno music from today. The

brain invents the methods to make

the music, even if the technology

isn’t there.

Cactus, in the video for “Cinemascope”,

you’re dreaming in

bed. Your native language is

French, but this particular song

is in English. Which language do

you usually dream in? FC: Different

languages, but mostly French.

Sometimes German, rarely English.

Only if some American guys show

up and say something. BG: I mostly

dream in German. But it’s true,

when we’re traveling and in another

country, the language influences my

dreams. FC: He dreams in music.

He often wakes up in the middle of

the night and goes to the piano. BG:

It helps a lot. Whenever it happens,

I think “Oh, that’s a hit!” When

I listen to it later, sometimes it’s

ridiculous. But sometimes I do come

up with wonderful melodies.

You both came to Kreuzberg in

the 1980s. A lot has changed.

Since your last album, the

neighborhood has gained a

vegan fast-food joint and a coworking

space sponsored by an

insurance company. What is still

missing? FC: They should make

Oranienstraße car-free. BG: I liked

the way it was so much, and now I

see this big hotel at Oranienplatz

that represents everything that’s

wrong. That reminds me: I was in

this little Turkish bar around the

corner, and a young woman came up

to me. She was from Denmark and

asked if I could translate a message

she got on Tinder. The guy was an

asshole and wanted to meet her. I

took over the conversation and told

him to take a taxi to that hotel and

find “me” at the bar.

Sounds like his natural habitat.

Now, in promoting your new album,

you’re hosting interviews

from your flat. Have all of the interviewers

behaved themselves

or did any of them like, start

going through your refrigerator?

BG: Not yet. But you know,

sometimes we’ve had people from

television over. They were behaving

like pigs. FC: No television, unless

it’s Arte or something. They’re like,

“Hey, move the table over there!

Put the lamp there!” They don’t

even ask! They were stepping on my

artwork with dirty shoes. Television

people are the worst! T

Stereo Total, Manuel Muerte,

Namosh Sep 12, 20:30 Festsaal

Kreuzberg, Alt-Treptow

30 EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Music

Courtesy of Torstraßen Festival

Preview

A fest compressed

The ninth annual Torstraßen

Festival has been condensed

to a single location but remains

a musical treasure hunt.

Each past edition of the Torstraßen Festival

sprawled to further venues surrounding the

main drag between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.

This year, though, it looks a bit different: happening

as a sort of farewell to summer rather

than the accustomed prelude, the polygenre

festival has been streamlined into a single day

at the Volksbühne, taking over the main stage,

Roter Salon, Grüner Salon, 3. Stock and the

theatre’s various foyers. Discovery remains

the key element: for every recognisable name

on the lineup, there are probably three you’ve

never heard of but who are likely contenders

for your next favourite band – or rapper.

Besides local up-and-comers like Die Wände

(“The Walls”, photo right), who formed while

students at the UdK and released their noisy

art-rock debut LP earlier this year, there will

be numerous international acts in town, such

as Shunaji (photo left): rocking the mic with

old-school flair, the perceptive London MC

flows over soulful loops for a sound that’s

too fresh to be merely nostalgic. Or switch

genre gears with Californian freak-folk artist

Jessica Pratt, the Sade-istic pop of Amsterdam’s

BEA1991 and the plinky playfulness of

electronic producer Kate NV from Moscow.

Other Berlin names include Tara Nome Doyle,

the Norwegian-Irish singer-songwriter whose

piano-backed 2018 single “Down With You”

has racked up nearly a million plays on Spotify,

and P.A. Hülsenbeck, whose jazzy dirges

lean toward cult following rather than mass

appeal. In night mode, the festival becomes

a party with campy cabaret collective Gazino

Neukölln as well as London’s rkss, who takes

an arty approach to EDM, mischievously vacillating

between minimal- and maximalism. So,

pace yourself throughout the afternoon, and

save time to check out the offerings at the

Independent Label Market, with stands from

the likes of Ninja Tune, Mansions & Millions

and Wicked Hag. — JH

Torstraßen Festival Sep 7, 12:00

Volksbühne, Mitte

Lara Ohl

OUR PLAYLIST

1 - Aul “Neverending” We saw

this stunning band at Ostfest

in Switzerland and we plan to

catch them again when they

play Berlin in October.

2 - Crack Cloud “Drab Measure”

One of the best shows we’ve

seen this year. Four cool

Canadians who use punk

as therapy, with four guitars

on-stage. Very addictive.

3 - Gatekeeper “Chains” Ever

since one of the guys from the

Flennen Collective played this

for us on our way to Dresden

in 2016, it’s been our jam

whenever we go on tour.

4 - Kala Brisella “Im Quartier”

It’s no secret: We love this

band so much! This one

combines all of their strengths:

musical frenzy, dreaminess

and amazing lyrics!

by Die Wände

5 - Death Cab For Cutie

“No Room in Frame” An

early-morning drive through

an unfamiliar valley, a broken

heart and a melancholic

vision of the future that the

protagonist seems oddly

resigned to… and when the

guitar drops at 46 seconds!

Schaubude

K ANG

Berlin

DER DINGE

Festival für

experimentelle

Musik und

Objekttheater

SEPTEMBER 2019 31

5.9.—8.9.2019

Echtzeitmusik, Objektperformance,

Klangkunst, Figurentheater

www.schaubude.berlin


WHAT’S ON — Stage

Editor’s Choice

If it ain’t woke, fix it

Berlin’s stage scene kicks off the new season with

some signature takes on canonical texts. By Nicholas Potter

Arno Declair

DON’T MISS

Auf meinen Schultern

Kreuzberg’s hotspot

for post-migrant

theatre opens the

season with a solo

dance performance

by Raphael Hillebrand

based on his experience

of growing

up in Berlin in the

1980s and 90s.

Sep 5-9, Ballhaus

Naunynstrasse

The Land of Milk(y)

and Honey?

House artistic

director Daniel

Brunet explores

the diversity of

Berlin-based Israelis

in a documentary

performance full of

candid anecdotes,

German guilt and

tasty pudding.

Sep 5-11,

English Theatre

Jugend ohne Gott

Catch Schaubühne

honcho Thomas

Ostermeier’s latest

production, based

on Ödön von

Horváth’s 1937 play

about the societal

structures of

National Socialism.

This season the

theatre marks 20

years under Ostermeier’s

directorship.

Sep 6-12,

Schaubühne

Berlin’s stages may just be

waking from their summer

slumber but behind

the scenes, ensembles have been

hard at work rehearsing. And as the

curtain rises on the new Spielzeit, an

impressive slew of big-name directors

throw their signature styles at

classic texts.

First off, Sebastian Hartmann

takes on Shakespeare’s Lear at the

Deutsches Theater. For the uninitiated,

Hartmann is the Marmite of

German avant-garde theatre: you either

love him or hate him. This yeasty

quality earned his manic rendition of

Dostoyevsky’s Humiliated and Insulted

an invitation to this year’s Theatertreffen,

but also saw a considerable

proportion of the audience leave

during it. Those expecting a faithful

staging of Shakespeare’s tragedy best

look elsewhere. Hartmann draws

liberally on his source texts, here also

interweaving playwright Wolfram

Lotz’s spoken-word play Die Politiker.

Bringing themes of property and

inheritance to the fore, the result

should chime nicely with current

political discourse in the capital.

Meanwhile, British director Katie

Mitchell returns to the Schaubühne,

teaming up with Revolt. She Said. Revolt

Again author Alice Birch to stage

a multimedia production of Virginia

Woolf’s feminist classic Orlando

with live video. On-stage camerawork

is certainly nothing new on German

stages. However, directors here

would be wise to learn a thing or two

from Mitchell’s seamless yet experimental

approach to video in theatre.

Over at the Berliner Ensemble,

the enfant terrible of German

theatre Ersan Mondtag tackles

Brecht with a production of Baal.

The deservedly hyped wunderkind

has an auteurist approach to theatre

that sidelines wordy dialogue in

favour of an intricate and rich miseen-scène.

It’s a style that’s nabbed

the 32-year-old scores of awards,

three Theatertreffen invitations and

catapulted him into the big league

of German practitioners.

As the dust settles on a turbulent

two years at the Volksbühne,

the iconic institution seems to be

in good stead. René Pollesch may

have been appointed rightful heir

to the Castorf-throne post-2021 but

in the meantime, interim intendant

Klaus Dörr has two exciting seasons

in store with a new ensemble and

two resident directors. This season

opens with Icelandic director

Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson’s retelling

of Homer’s Odyssey. The production

joins the dots between Ancient

Greece and Cold War Berlin to

tread into the current discussion on

right-wing populism’s influence on

cultural institutions.

Finally, Gorki re-opens its main

stage following renovations with a

look to the East: the Bosnian-born

dramatist provocateur Oliver Frljić

sets his sights on two Russian heavyweights,

Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, in

Anna Karenina or Poor Folk. Don’t

expect Frljić to get all soppy with

these two love stories though. The

director has a reputation for ruffling

feathers, interchangeably taking the

AfD, the church or just Western civilisation

in general into his crosshairs.

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t

broke, don’t fix it. But with a literary

canon chock-a-block with (predominantly)

dead white men, perhaps it

needs a modern twist: if it ain’t woke,

fix it. It just so happens that some of

Europe’s most promising directors are

on the case. Now if only they themselves

were a tad more diverse... T

Lear Sep 8, 13, 24, 27, with English surtitles Deutsches Theater, Mitte | Orlando

Sep 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 Schaubühne, Wilmersdorf | Baal Sep 6, 7, 20, 21, with

English surtitles on Sep 20 Berliner Ensemble, Mitte | Odyssey Sep 12, 14, 21, 22,

with English surtitles Volksbühne, Mitte | Anna Karenina or Poor Folk Sep 14,

15, 20, 27, 29, with English surtitles Maxim Gorki Theater, Mitte

32

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Stage

Nanova Photography

Reviews

lances and police cars. As the titular couple,

Maximilian Werde and Nadja Schminonsky head

up a talented and energetic cast. Benjamin

Krüger, in particular, stands out as Mercutio,

whilst Astrid Köhler delivers a winning comic

turn as Juliet’s nurse. Admittedly, given that

Christian Leonard’s direction leans heavily on

the play’s comic aspects, the bawdiness of the

first act awkwardly gives way to a sombreness

in the second, which makes for a slight

unevenness of tone overall. Considering its

constraints, however, this production punches

considerably above its weight, putting other

productions of Shakespeare’s classics at larger,

better-funded theatres to shame. Except for

a few directorial missteps in the second half,

this production certainly whips up an appetite

for more. — Paul Sharratt

Romeo and Juliet In German on Sep 11, 13,

14, in English on Sep 12, 19:30

Globe Berlin, Charlottenburg

a disconnect from what’s not in the photo

or a chance for people to live out all sorts of

identities?). Even the stage design itself is a

con: the original set drops halfway through

to reveal a floor-to-ceiling funhouse of

evil clown faces behind a hall-size light-up

scoreboard – “POW”s and stars blinking during

a fistfight on stage. And it just gets more

absurd from there, ending in a bathtub orgy

of body paint. It’s blunt, at times clumsy, and

doesn’t say much we haven’t heard before,

but the excellent ensemble manage to make

the slapstick charming instead of cringy, landing

every laugh they are going for, making it

easy enough to deceive yourself into having

a good time. — Walter Crasshole

Felix Krull: Die Stunde der Hochstapler

Sep 3, Sep 8, Sep 19, Sep 26, 19:30 with English

surtitles on Sep 8 Berliner Ensemble, Mitte

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare in the park

D: Christian Leonard

On the site of a soon-to-be-built outdoor

Shakespearean theatre, Globe Berlin presents

a taste of what’s to come with a summer of

classics from the playwright’s arsenal. Clearly

taking its cues from the original Globe reconstruction

in London, this is theatre at its

broadest and most unashamedly entertaining,

with bawdy humour and swashbuckling choreography

aplenty. Romeo and Juliet is perhaps

the ideal vehicle for this kind of project and

the ensemble deliver an excellent evening’s

entertainment. The open-air setting adds to

a relaxed Shakespeare in the Park vibe, only

occasionally interrupted by passing ambu-

Felix Krull Hour of the con men

D: Alexander Eisenach

Alexander Eisenach’s Felix Krull opens with

Krull (played by a mesmerising Marc Oliver

Schulze) hitting a slanted set in a dapper tuxedo,

violin on chin. It takes only two notes to

notice that he’s not playing but pantomiming

to a recording, deceiving the audience from

the get-go. And if that sounds on-the-nose,

it is. Theatre and acting are acts of deception,

after all. Eisenach’s adaptation uses

Thomas Mann’s final protagonist to explore

deception in a 21st century context and is

less telling Mann’s story, or really not at all,

than using episodes of the character’s life to

prove that lies are the stuff of life (Instagram:

JR Berliner Ensemble / Marc Oliver Schulze

SEPTEMBER 2019 33


WHAT’S ON — Stage

Interview

“ Why not just be lazy?”

After Hamletmaschine, Sebastian Nübling brings

another Heiner Müller piece to the Gorki stage –

and it’s only 14 lines! By Nicholas Potter

DON’T MISS

Ausweitung

der Kampfzone

(Whatever)

Bulgarian director

Ivan Panteleev

adapts divisive

French literary

sensation Michel

Houellebecq’s 1994

debut novel (English

title: Whatever), a

post-Fordist perspective

on the life of

a defeatist computer

programmer.

Sep 8-26,

Deutsches Theater

Say my name,

say my name

Back in the 1980s,

feminist thinker

Donna Harraway

saw emancipatory

potential in cyborgs.

Instead, we ended

up with feminised

slave bots like Siri

and Alexa. In her

latest dance performance,

Olivia

Hyunsin Kim gives the

paradigm a muchneeded

reboot.

Sep 12-15,

Sophiensaele

isson 2019

Double trouble in

P-Berg: Toula

Limnaios reworks

her 2003 doppelgänger

dance

performance with

dancers Leonardo

d’Aquino and Alessio

Scandale. Find out

what’s behind the

Greek choreographer’s

local

cult following.

Sep 12-15,

Halle Tanzbühne

You could call Sebastian

Nübling a late bloomer –

active on the Baden Württemberg

free scene as an actor and

musician, he didn’t start directing

until he joined the Basel Junges

Theater in his late thirties, a career

move that was to jump-start a

profuse career across the German

theater world: 60 plays in 22 years,

and the enviable title of “young

director of the year” at the tender

age of 42! A resident director with

the Maxim Gorki Theater since 2013,

he’s produced repertoire staples

such as Sibylle Berg’s The So-Called

Outside Means Nothing to Me and

Necati Öziri’s Get Deutsch or Die

Tryin’, and last year’s acclaimed take

on Heiner Müller’s Hamletmaschine.

This August, the 59-year-old opened

the season with Herzstück, another

adaptation of Müller with the same

cast of refugee actors from Gorki’s

Exile Ensemble.

Why choose to stage two works

by such a classic author as

the East German Heiner Müller

in a theater like the Gorki?

Heiner Müller would always cross

boundaries, which makes him a

hybrid figure – and he conceived of

himself as such. He was privileged

and underprivileged at the same

time: banned in the GDR, courted

in West Germany. He is an interesting

character for Gorki because one

can tell that his identity is a brittle,

ambivalent one which combines

multiple perspectives.

Hamletmaschine is indeed very

ambivalent. Even Robert Wilson

openly admitted to not having

understood it. Alexander Verlag

released a collection of Heiner

Müller recordings in which he reads

his own plays in a bone-dry, almost

robot-like voice. The collection was

promoted with a quote from Jürgen

Kuttner, who said: Heiner Müller is

the only person who can read his

texts because he doesn’t pretend to

understand them. It’s not about understanding

Müller. It’s about what

you can take from his texts.

What have you taken from Herzstück,

a text consisting of 14 lines

that read more like a joke with

a punchline than a play? When

reading the play we got stuck on the

sentence “work and don’t despair”.

We started to think about concepts

of work and non-work. In an artistic

context, you quickly end up with

the idea of art as non-work. The

Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović

was a particular influence. He wrote

a “praise of laziness” in which he

says that as a non-state artist in the

East, he had few chances to display

his work. In one of his pieces, he just

lay down in bed, accompanied by the

caption “artist at work”.

And from that you launch a critique

of work? We have to define

what work is for us. Who defines

these criteria and why are we all so

willingly busy? In her book MRX

Maschine, Luise Meier writes that

although as a class it’s become obsolete,

there is an inner proletariat.

We’ve simply internalised a lot of

these processes. We’re prepared

to develop ourselves optically,

mentally and emotionally – unpaid,

of course.

What’s wrong with a little selfoptimisation?

Why not just be

lazy? Why not do nothing? Why

not binge-watch TV series? The

best version of ourselves is always

thought of in terms of the market

but the best version of me is often

when I’m just hanging out at home.

I feel good there.

Esra Rottho

What would your creative process

look like if you were freed

from the constraints of capitalist

market-optimisation then?

Imagine you had no deadline for

your next play… There’s a super

film by Charlie Kaufmann, Synecdoche,

New York, where the protagonist

attempts to build a life-sized

model of New York in a warehouse.

I think it would be like that: I’d keep

rehearsing until I kick the bucket. So

deadlines actually give me a sense

of freedom, a frame in which I can

act. I have to churn out something in

time for the premiere.

With a career spanning over 20

years and some 60 productions

all over the German speaking

theater world from Hamburg

to Munich to Basel, what does

the future hold for your career?

I really like my job, especially

rehearsing. It’s more fun not to

think about the result. I don’t want

to become an intendant and I don’t

want to run a theatre. I just want to

produce plays. T

Herzstück Sep 1, 20:00, with English

surtitles Maxim Gorki Theater, Mitte

| Also by Nübling: Die Verlobung

in St. Domingo – Ein Widerspruch

Sep 7, 24, 20:00, with English surtitles

Maxim Gorki Theater, Mitte

34

EXBERLINER 185


GIG

LISTINGS

Your guide to

concerts & events this month

and beyond.

RVG / TALLIES

18.09.2019 ACUD

[THE THERMALS]

HUTCH HARRIS

26.09.19 Privatclub

MARISSA NADLER

29.09.19 Berghain Kantine

CHASTITY BELT

06.10.19 Frannz Club

KEVIN MORBY [SOLO]

04.11.19 Heimathafen Neukölln

ANGEL OLSEN

30.01.20 Huxleys Neue Welt

TICKETS: PUSCHEN.TICKETS.DE

STEVE GUNN & BAND

10.09.19 Lido

SASAMI

17.09.19 Berghain Kantine

MAC DEMARCO

11.11.19 Columbiahalle

Blogrebellen & Tonspion präsentieren:

CELESTE

Mo. 23.09. Einlass 19:00 Maschinenhaus

2019_AUG_LSK_Anzeige_ExBerliner.indd 1 14.08.19 13:03

Musikexpress & Testspiel.de präsentieren:

DILLON

Do. 03.10. Einlass 19:00 Passionskirche

OSCAR JEROME

Do. 07.11. Einlass 19:00 Maschinenhaus

ByteFM, The Postie & Ask Helmut präsentieren:

GADDAFI GALS

Mi. 08.11. Einlass 19:00 Badehaus

DAN REED NETWORK

Mi. 04.12. Einlass 19:00 FrannzClub

MAHALIA

Mo. 09.12. Einlass 19:00 Kesselhaus

Infos unter www.mct-agentur.com

tickets > www.tickets.de

H I G H E S T R A T E D C O M E D Y

W A L K I N G T O U R S !

www.comedywalks.com

F I N A L LY I N B E R L I N !

Algiers +Tusks +Partner

17.09.19 Lido

Sebadoh

22.09.19 Musik & Frieden

Mattiel

17.09.19 Musik & Frieden

Stephen Malkmus (solo)

26.09.19 Burg Schnabel

Bill Callahan

08.10.19 Admiralspalast

The Amazons

18.10.19 Musik & Frieden

Charlie Cunningham

20.10.19 Heimathafen

Calexico and Iron & Wine

09.11.19 Tempodrom

Sparkling

15.11.19 Maze

Friska Viljor

28.11.19 Columbia Theater

Orville Peck

09.11.19 Maze

Everything Is Terrible

14.10.19 Heimathafen

Metronomy

24.10.19 Columbiahalle

Say Yes Dog

20.11.19 Lido

TICKETS UND INFOS: SCHONEBERG.DE

TICKETS UND INFOS: SCHONEBERG.DE

MUSIKBRAUEREI

12

—15sep2019

440 44 292

halle-tanz- berlin.de

für zwei männer

issonein solo

jeweils uhr

20 30

Berlin in English since 2002


WHAT’S ON — Art

ART NEWS

James-Simon-

Galerie open

Opened in July, the

large white angular

portico by British

architect David

Chipperfield acts

as a vast reception

area for Museum

Island and will

also hold its own

exhibitions, starting

with the current

show of plaster

casts from the 200

year-old Gipsormerei,

on until March

next year.

Käthe Kollwitz

Prize 2020

Berlin-born Timm

Ullrichs has won the

€12,000 prize for

visual art that this

year celebrates its

60th anniversary.

The artist, who

in 1961 declared

himself the world’s

“first living work

of art” will also

be awarded an

exhibition at

Akademie der

Künste in January.

Ai Weiwei

leaving Berlin

Coinciding with the

end of his visiting

professorship at

Berlin University of

the Arts, the dissident

Chinese artist and

human rights activist

has announced he

will be leaving Berlin,

his home since 2015.

He will, however,

keep his studio in the

former Pfefferberg

brewery in Prenzlauer

Berg: “My studio in

Berlin will always be

my base; I will never

give that up”.

Editor’s Choice

New indie institutions

Free from commercial and academic restraints, these new spaces

are a perfect fit for Berlin. By Anna Larkin

Unlike its museum and commercial

gallery siblings, the

independent art institution

doesn’t hold permanent collections

or sell artworks. It may charge for

entry, but might equally let you in for

free with the help of state funding,

private benefactors and corporate

sponsorship. These spaces provide

much needed platforms for independent

thought and expression. Three

new indie instis have found a perfect

home in Berlin, where audiences are

hungry for ever more outstanding art

from unusual perspectives.

Set to open on September 14 and located

in a reignited former coal power

station 30 minutes out of Südkreuz,

E-WERK Luckenwalde is the latest

to join the indie scene: following an

inaugural performance art extravaganza

in collaboration with London

performance festival Block Universe

this September 14, founders Helen

Turner and Pablo Wendel promise a

schedule packed with special events

alongside three exhibitions a year. For

their first exhibition Thames Water

(Sep 14 – Mar 28), Nicolas Deshayes’

cast iron wall sculptures will also be

powered by the reanimated power

station with heated water running

through them like radiators. The first

of their annual Flag commissions has

been won by Lucy Joyce. Her Electric

Blue (Sep 14 – Mar 28) will be visible

across Luckenwalde rooftops alongside

an exhibition of new works in one

of the three gallery spaces.

Since opening in November 2018

The Times Art Center Berlin (TACB),

a branch of China’s Guangdong

Times Museum led by Artistic Director

Xi Bei has positioned itself as an

experimental space for contemporary

Chinese art, a platform for a scene

generally underrepresented in the

West. At a time when Paris’s Centre

Pompidou and London’s Victoria and

Albert museums are opening branches

in China, it’s refreshing to see the

cultural tide flowing in the opposite

direction. This month TACB will

move to bigger premises in Mitte’s

Brunnenstraße. Spread over two

floors, the new gallery has 300sqm

of exhibition space and will open

with the group show Neither Black/

Red/Yellow Nor Woman (Sep 28 –

Jan 4). Nineteen artists will reflect

on a conceptual reenactment of the

works of three pioneer female East

Asian artists: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

(1951-82), Pan Yuliang (1895-1977) and

Trinh T. Minh-ha (b. 1952).

Funded by the benefaction of an

art-collecting German-Swiss couple,

KINDL Center for Contemporary

Art took over the former Berliner

Kindl brewery in Neukölln in 2016.

Taking in the 1920s machine house,

brew house, tower and boiler house,

it has been sensitively converted into

three floors of pristine galleries and

an atmospheric café set among the

enormous copper brewing pots. Very

importantly, in the summer there is

also a beer garden. Steered by Artistic

Director Andreas Fiedler who has

curated shows by the likes of Shirana

Shahbazi, Roman Signer and Haegue

Yang, KINDL has ushered in over

30,000 visitors in its first year. This

September it will open three shows:

Bettina Pousttchi’s Panorama (Sep 1

– May 10) consists of eight oversized

photos offering alternative views

from the boiler house window front,

artists Natalie Czech / Friederike

Feldmann (Sep 1 – Feb 2) explore the

graphic qualities of writing and Bjørn

Melhus’ video installations in Free

Update (Sep 15 – Feb 16) deconstruct

strategies of mass media.

Only time will tell if these new

spaces will stay the course, but

experimental art, sustainable energy,

and beer gardens sound very

Berlin indeed. T

E-WERK Luckenwalde Rudolf-Breitscheid-Str. 73, Luckenwalde | Times Art

Center Brunnenstr. 9, Mitte | KINDL – Center for Contemporary Art Am

Sudhaus 3, Neukölln

Jens Ziehe

36

EXBERLINER 185


WHAT’S ON — Art

Pipilotti Rist

Reviews

Garden of Earthly Delights

Through Dec 1

This group show has contemporary works

which hail from all over the world, but is

named after its delightfully strange 16th

century Hieronymus Bosch painting. Under

the theme of humanity’s urge to garden and

quests to either control or enjoy nature’s

power are 17 rooms full of large-scale,

multimedia installations. From Renato

Leotta’s creative collaboration with the

seasons “Notte Di San Lorenzo”, which

enlists falling lemons as a sculptor, to Yayoi

Kusama’s huge, dissociative dotscape “With

All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever”,

artists approach the topic with attitudes

that range from the scientific to the surreal.

Some take dubious routes in their quest

to connect to the Earth, like Zheng Bo,

whose multimedia installation “Pteridophilia

1-4” features nude men literally making

love to ferns. A more successful attempt

at sensuality is Pipilotti Rist’s immersive

film “Homo Sapiens Sapiens”, where viewers

lie on their backs to see an alternate

garden of Eden, complete with two Eves.

Continuing the Bau’s recent renaissance

under director Stephanie Rosenthal, this

show makes for an entertaining journey

into the wild. — Ellen Lang

Gropius Bau, Mitte

Space is the Place

Through Sep 15

Named after the 1970s Afrofuturist film written

by and starring musician, composer and poet

Sun Ra, you might expect this group show of

23 artists to be about Afrofuturism. Sadly it’s

not a contemporary position on a movement

characterised by artists from the African diaspora

nor a historic flight through the cosmic surreal

of Afrofuturism. The exhibits instead fall into

two categories: big minimalist monochrome

statements resembling props in dystopian films

like Alien and sculptures, drawings and paintings

reminiscent of a more colourful and hopeful

sci-fi. Works like Bjørn Melhus’s “Critical System

Alert” play audio of fraught moments from sci-fi

films from a tangle of black wires, screens and

speakers whereas Jared Theis’s “Cuties for Space

Invaders 1- 6” is an assemblage of what could

be the crocheted cousins of Day of the Triffids.

A great nostalgia trip if you’re a Trekkie, but with

90 percent of the works by white men, it feels

like a narrow view. Even captain Kirk had more

than one person of colour on his crew. — AL

Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Kreuzberg

The Blue Room

Through Sep 21

Berlin-based Hungarian artist duo Gergely

László and Péter Rákosi aka Tehnica Schweiz

present an installation of film and ceramics in

DECAD’s small shop front gallery. The film is a

gentle tracking shot of the interior of an 18th

century synagogue in Tata, Hungary, set to a

rousing soundtrack of original music nodding

to both ancient Hebrew and Greek melodies.

Moving between large white plaster casts of

classical sculptures and reliefs, it documents

the last days of the synagogue as home to this

19th century collection from the Hungarian

Museum of Fine Arts. Gradually the space is

turned into a workshop for students who make

small ceramic versions of the sculptures. We see

these displayed in the gallery, laid out on a two

tiered Wedgewood Blue table reminiscent of

the synagogue’s own interior architecture. In a

meta flourish the film creates an infinity mirror

effect with a shot of the ceramics in front of

the casts. Finally, museum technicians move in

to dismantle the plaster casts and pack them

into crates. Elegantly juggling neoclassicism

with themes of replication and reproduction,

this exhibition is a neat reminder that nothing

we see is truly new. — AL

DECAD, Kreuzberg

Kirchner

Richter

Burgert

11. 09.

— 03. 11.

2019

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Dodo mit japanischem Schirm, 1909

© Olbricht Collection, Photo Jana Ebert /

Gerhard Richter, Mao, 1968 © Gerhard Richter, 2019 /

Jonas Burgert, Streiter, 2009 © Courtesy of the artist & Blain | Southern,

Photo Lepkowski Studios

Auguststraße 68, 10117 Berlin

Mi-Mo, 12-18 Uhr

me-berlin.com

„I‘VE NEVER SEEN

IMPROV LIKE THAT...

I HAD GOOSEBUMPS.“

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Media partner

Berlin in English since 2002

SEPTEMBER 2019

37


WHAT’S ON — Art

Interview

“ I’m a huge fan of

the boldness of Art Deco”

Bröhan Museum curator Anna Großkopf on Berlin’s

19th century art rebels, upcoming shows

and (not) counting every teaspoon. By Anna Larkin

DON’T MISS

Bauhaus Week

This festival of

exhibitions, tours

and performances

includes everything

from early

morning yoga to

tours of the private

residential buildings

in Hansaviertel

and a shop window

exhibition along

Kantstraße on 100

years of Bauhaus.

Through Sep 8

Berlin Art Prize 2019

Curious who will lift

this year’s trophy,

prize money and

residency? Check out

the five finalists’ work

spread over nine

project spaces across

town. The winner

will be announced

at Flutgraben e.V.

on Sep 14.

Through Sep 27

The Making

of Husbands

KW is showing works

by the late Chicago

Imagist Christina

Ramberg from the

1980s and puts

them in conversation

with 14 younger,

contemporary artists.

Sep 14 – Jan 5

She joined the Bröhan only last

year, but Anna Großkopf is already

responsible for a couple

of standout shows that suddenly

have everyone talking about the toooften

overlooked Charlottenburg

institution. Located right across

from the palace, the museum started

out as the private collection of businessman

Karl Bröhan in the 1960s,

before the institution eventually

became a Berlin State museum in

1994. It houses a permanent collection

of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and

Functionalist objects as well as temporary

exhibitions. Both the current

Group of XI and last year’s Grapus,

a French Graphic Design Collective,

were curated by Großkopf. We

sat down with the Düsseldorf-born

curator for a chat about the museum

and what we should look forward to.

What’s the guiding principle for

your temporary exhibitions? We

always try to keep a connection to

our historical collection, basically

objects and art from about 1880 to

1940, but we also try to reach out

to contemporary art. A lot of topics

that are relevant today were discovered

or became relevant for the first

time during this period around 1900.

The current exhibition is a good

example of that.

Can you tell us more about the

myth and scandals surrounding

those 11 painters from Berlin

who called themselves “the XI”?

They were real pioneers of the 19th

century in many ways! It was the

first modern artist group in the German

speaking world and they had

very modern exhibition politics. For

example, they invented the format

of the group exhibition in a private

gallery, small well-curated shows

that, unlike the annual Great Berlin

Art Exhibition, went for quality not

quantity. They were really doing

their own thing, choosing themselves

what to exhibit, how to hang the

works, designing their own invitation

cards and really acting like

‘artist-curators’. They were the first

to accept a woman as a member,

Dora Hitz (1856 – 1924), a successful

portrait painter. They were also

the first to show impressionist and

symbolist paintings in Berlin, the

works of Max Liebermann, Walter

Leistikow and Franz Skarbina or the

highly unusual symbolist paintings of

Ludwig von Hofmann that provoked

very controversial press reactions.

The opening of their first exhibition

on April 1, 1892 was a real sensation

and attracted extremely negative reviews,

insulting the “XI” as dilettante

and half-crazy, a dubious clandestine

group. But they embraced the scandal,

because they understood very

quickly that all PR is good PR.

You next show opening in October

is about Nordic design...

It is closely linked to the show we

did this spring on the Bauhaus. It

will start in the 1920s with Finnish

architect and designer Alvar Aalto,

and go right up to the present-day

with a focus on the 1950s and 1960s,

with Sven Markelius, the father of

Swedish functionalism, and the

much celebrated Danish designers

Hans J. Wegner and Arne Jacobsen.

We’ll be rounding off the exhibition

with futurist designs by Verner

Panton, Eero Aarnio and Marimekko,

which marked the Nordic countries’

ultimate break with functionalism.

But this autumn we’ll also show a

photographic series on Germany

after the fall of the Wall by photographer

Stefan Moses who died last

year. Next year we will celebrate the

150th anniversary of Berlin painter

Hans Baluschek who together with

Käthe Kollwitz and Heinrich Zille

Sylvia Hinz

was one of the protagonists of sociocritical

realism.

How many pieces are currently

in the museum’s collection? This

isn’t an easy question to answer as it

depends on how you count: we have

around 18,000 pieces including the

painting collection of 300 works.

But we have a lot of cutlery pieces

for example, and do not count each

teaspoon as a separate work!

And do you receive bequests?

Perhaps a fan of the museum

might leave you their art nouveau

butter knife? Yes. And it’s of

course very sweet when the older

ladies coming to the museum offer

us their items. But sadly, we cannot

accept everything. Art Nouveau was

a large movement, and lot of everyday

objects were produced, not all of

historical relevance.

What’s your one favourite exhibit?

As a huge fan of Art Deco, I

especially admire the work of Paul

Iribe. In our permanent collection

we have two exceptional lounge

chairs that perfectly express the

elegance, boldness and eccentricity

of the period. T

Scandal! Myth! Modernism! The

association of the XI in Berlin

Through Sep 15 | Nordic Design - The

Answer to Bauhaus Oct 24 – Mar 1 |

Stefan Moses - Abschied und Anfang

1989-1990 Nov 7 – Apr 19 all at Bröhan

Museum, Charlottenburg

38

EXBERLINER 185


Preview

BERLIN

ART WEEK

WHAT’S ON — Art

Sep 11 – 15

Back with a bang

Two art fairs, 18 museums and

exhibition halls, 22 project spaces,

15 private collections and almost

every gallery in town opening new

shows: Berlin’s Art week may overwhelm.

Here are our top pics.

The art fairs: Positions Berlin and Art Berlin

(Opens Sep 12, 16:00) The sixth edition of Positions

Berlin will for the second time take place

in the former Tempelhof Airport. It’s an ideal

fair for collectors new to the game with nearly

70, mainly German, galleries showing emerging

artists alongside some more established names

for €12. Also returning to Tempelhof is Art Berlin,

who this year has a new tagline – “fair for modern

and contemporary art” – suggesting some

bigger prices for older names. The 110 galleries

are again mainly German, but it’s notable that

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Berlin’s big hitters will be pitching their tents

at here. Among them are König, Sprüth Magers,

Esther Schipper, Capitain Petzel and Tanja

Wagner, so you may get your money’s worth

for the eyewatering €22 for entry.

Power Night at E-WERK Luckenwalde (Sep

14, 16:00) On September 14 there’s also the

opening night for E-WERK Luckenwalde. This free

evening of performance art curated by British

festival Block Universe will include movementbased

performances, installations, artist band gigs

and spoken word from Nina Beier, Charismatic

Megafauna, Marikiscrycrycry, Cecilia Bengolea,

Rowdy SS (photo centre), Fernanda Muñoz-

Newsome and Nora Turato.

Statista on Alexanderplatz (Opens Sep 11,

19:00) In the GDR’s former Bureau of Statistics

(photo right) since 2015, this artistic experiment

in community ownership and management will

Ayka Lux

for the first time be open to visitors. On view

is an exhibition representing everything from

neighbourhood initiatives to a cryptocurrency

linked to the wellbeing of bees. Accompanied

by a conference in English and German, this

is a chance to see artistic prototypes for a civil

society built on collective principles. Through

Sep 16.

Walking Through Walls at Gropius Bau

(Opens Sep 11, 19:00) It is fitting that the Gropius

Bau, whose front steps were for so long

blocked off by the Berlin Wall, is in the 30th

anniversary of its fall mounting an exhibition

(through Jan 19, photo left) reflecting on the

emotional, psychological and physical impact

of living with such concrete and symbolical

divisions. Including work by 28 artists, among

them Marina Abramović, Willie Doherty, Mona

Hatoum, Gustav Metzger and Anri Sala, this

show promises to be a blockbuster.

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WHAT’S ON — Calendar

Calendar

Heinrich von Schimmer newthinking communications

Above

Sat 07 Torstraßen Festival

September 2019

Picks, highlights and can’t-miss events

for this month in Berlin.

Above

Sun 15 Anna Karenina

or Poor Folk

Left

Wed 11 Folsom Street

Fetish Festival Berlin

Cesra Rotthoff

Falko Siewert

Right

Fri 06 Original Bauhaus

Below

Wed 18 Human Rights

Film Festival Berlin

Leslie Martin

Above

Thu 26 BAM! Festival

Fotostudio Bartsch

04

WED Fantasy Film Fest –

Film Germany’s touring

genre fest returns to the capital

for its biggest event of the year,

with opening night screenings

including The Lodge, an intense

psychological shocker by Veronika

Franz and Severin Fiala (Goodnight

Mommy). Cinestar Sony Center.

Through Sep 15.

06

FRI Original Bauhaus

– Art opening The Bauhaus’

100th anniversary celebrations are

culminating this month with the

Bauhaus Archiv’s exhibition at

Berlinische Galerie, featuring 1000

original objects and works of art.

Come tonight to rub shoulders with

the curators at the official opening.

Through Jan 27. Starts 18:00.

Amanda Palmer – Singer-Songwriter

After releasing her first solo album

in six years, the crowd-funded

There Will Be No Intermission, the

New Yorker and former member

of the Dresden Dolls promises to

make fans weep on her solo piano

tour, tonight at Admiralspalast.

Starts 18:45.

Plateau Effect – Dance Berlin’s Staatsballett

begins the new season at

the Komische Oper with Swedish

choreographer Jefta van Dinther’s

multi-sensual contemporary dance

produced with the Cullberg Ballet.

Again on Sept 19. Starts 19:30.

07

SAT Torstraßen Festival

– Music From freak-folk

(Jessica Pratt) to hip-hop (Shunaji)

to dreamy electro-pop (BEA1991)

– plus the Independent Label

Market – there are plenty of local

and international acts to discover

at the Volksbühne Berlin (page 31).

Starts 12:00.

Lollapalooza Berlin – Festival A mixed

bag including Kings of Leon, Swedish

House Mafia and Princess Nokia,

plus a bunch of German bands

that Perry Farrell has probably

never heard of, much less approved.

Inside and out- at Olympiastadion

& Olympia Park. Through Sep 8.

Heritage Day(s) – Monuments The

city’s listed buildings and UNESCO

sites open their doors: Take a tour

through Siemenststadt, peek into

Pankow’s Ahmadiyya mosque or

see Mies van der Rohe’s Lemke

Haus in Hohenschönhausen and

more. Through Sep 8. Starts 10:00.

SUN Jewish Film Festival

08 – Film This 25th edition

opens with a gala featuring music

by Sigalit Feig and Harry Ermer,

followed by a screening of Crescendo,

starring Peter Simonischek as the

conductor of an Israeli-Palestinian

youth orchestra. Hans Otto Theater

Potsdam. Starts 19:00. Through

Sep 17.

10

TUE Familie Flöz: Hotel

Paradiso – Theatre The

Berlin-based international cast

of Familie Flöz is donning their

masks to celebrate their 25th anniversary

with several shows at

Schiller Theater. Their 2008 Hotel

Paradiso tells the tragicomic fate

of one four-star hotel in the Alps...

without words! Again on Sep 11

and 15. Starts 20:00.

11

WED International Literature

Festival – Books Berlin’s literary

extravaganza brings authors from

all over the world to stages across

the city for readings and panel discussions.

Special sections this year

focus on AI, decolonisation and sex

in literature. Zimbabwean writer

Petina Gappah opens the festival at

HAU. Through Sep 21. Starts 18:00.

Folsom Street Fair – Fetish For four

days, the San Francisco-born fetish

fair takes over more than

just Motzstraße, with boat and

bus tour, classical concerts and

of course, lots of leather and sex.

It culminates in the Street Fair

on, yes, Motzstraße on Sep 14.

Through Sep 15.

12

THU Berlin Art Week – fair

opening International art fairs

Art Berlin and Positions take over

Flughafen Tempelhof for four days,

as part of Berlin’s annual showcase

of international contemporary art

– in total 17 museums, 15 private

collections, dozens of galleries...

Through Sep 15. Starts 16:00.

Webfest Berlin – Film In total, 64

series, workshops, discussions

and networking events for aspiring

creators. It opens tonight at

Osthafen with a screening of old

favourites from the Returning

Series Selection. Through Sep

14. Starts 10:00.

14

SAT Anna Karenina or

Poor Folk – Theatre premiere

The Gorki main stage reopens

after summer renovations with

the premiere of Bosnian director

Oliver Frljić’s latest in-house

production, a medley of Tolstoy

and Dostoyevsky. Through Sep 29.

With English surtitles. Starts 18:00.

16

MON Shortparis – Electro-

Pop With a magnetic mix of

housey grooves, tortured trip-hop

and squirrelly guitar, this quintet

has won a following far beyond their

base in St. Petersburg. Experience

their theatrics tonight at Festsaal

Kreuzberg. Starts 20:00.

40 EXBERLINER 185


18

WED Human Rights Film

Festival Berlin – Film This

second edition opens with For Sama,

an extraordinarily intimate account

of family life in war-torn Syria, which

won the Best Documentary award at

Cannes this year. Kino International.

Through Sep 25. Starts 19:30.

19

THU Yann Tiersen – Classical/

Pop Tiersen is the French

auteur who scores films that don’t

exist yet. His most recent album

opens with “Tempelhof”, featuring

field recordings from the titular park,

and tonight, he’ll soundtrack Berliners’

Kopfkino live at Admiralspalast.

Starts 20:00.

20

FRI Disruption Network Lab

– Conference The disruptors

return with another exploration

of the intersection of technology,

politics and culture, this time under

“Citizens of Evidence”, tackling how

grassroots communities and regular

citizens expose (in)justice. Through

Sep 21. Kunstquartier Bethanien.

Starts 16:00.

Noam Rosenthal

My Perfect Berlin Weekend

WHAT’S ON — Calendar

#allefürsklima – Strike Join Greta’s army

at the global strike for sustainable climate

policy today. Local hosts Fridays

For Future are urging all generations

to join the march (location TBA) while

Chancellor Merkel’s climate cabinet

is meeting to discuss ways to tax CO2

emissions. Starts 12:00.

23

MON EXBlicks: This Ain’t

California – Film Come see

the skating documentary 1980s East

Berlin never had: Marten Persiel’s

semi-fictional portrait of a group

Stasi-monitored skaters doing their

Rollenbrettsport thing. As usual, there’ll

be a discussion and wine to round

out the evening. Lichtblick Kino.

Starts 20:00.

25

WED Favourites Film Festival

– Film Screening only films

that have won Audience Awards at

major international festivals, this

five-day event prioritises quality

over quantity, and kicks off with

the moving Israeli family drama

Redemption. City Kino Wedding.

Starts 20:00. Through Sep 29.

26

In Berlin for seven years, Israeli

Shani Leiderman is a real jill of all

trades, being one half of electro-pop

duo Anatopia, the face of this year’s

Jewish Film Festival and the owner

of Beba, the new café at Gropius

Bau, opened this March and offering

colourful dishes inspired by Jewish

classics from all over.

THU Down Under Berlin – Film

Back for its ninth edition,

this consistently well-programmed

showcase of Aussie and Kiwi cinema

SEPTEMBER 2019

opens with the German premiere of

Dustin Feneley’s hypnotic minimalist

drama Stray. Moviemento. Starts

19:45. Through Sep 29.

BAM! Festival – Music theatre Berlin’s

festival for contemporary music

theatre kicks off at Acker Stadt Palast

with Replay, a riff on the Orpheus

legend performed by a cast of three

instrumentalist-actors and based on

a composition by Christoph Willibald

Gluck. Through Sep 29. Starts 20:30.

27

FRI No Kiddin’ – Music This

festival is totally serious

about Neukölln’s DIY scene. Spread

across six venues, live acts such as

Skiing and Itaca will play, bolstered

with DJ sets from scene queens

such as Molly Nilsson and Lolsnake.

Through Sep 28. Starts 16:00.

28

SAT Moka Efti Orchestra feat.

Severija – Jazz Asche zu Asche,

Staub zu Staub. Fan of German television

mega-hit Berlin Babylon? The

orchestra in the shows ever-present

nightclub Moka Efti performs the

hits, led by the Lithuanian actress

that played Russian singer Nikoros.

Metropol. Starts 20:00.

FRIDAY 19:00 I bike home through Hasenheide as

the sun sets. 20:30 Dinner at Massaniello (Hasenheide

20, Kreuzberg), sharing fish from the grill, artichokes

and spaghetti vongole with my best friends. 22:30

First a drink at Arkaoda (Karl-Marx-Platz 16-18,

Neukölln) and then see where the night takes me…

SATURDAY 11:00 Coffee and hummus Sabich for

breakfast at Mugrabi (Görlitzer Str. 58, Kreuzberg).

14:00 Shopping: beautiful veggies from Spreewald,

a good piece of cheese from Alte Milch and a nice

piece of local lamb from Kumpel & Keule all at

Markthalle Neun (Eisenbahnstr. 42/43, Kreuzberg).

14:30 I take a pasta lunch at mani Di pasta (Markhalle

Neun, Kreuzberg) and then wander home to cook

the entire afternoon for my friends. 23:00 Drinks

at Zweiners (Hermanstr. 234, Neukölln).

SUNDAY 11:00 Coffee and a bagel with Cynthia

at Barcomis (Bergmannstr. 21, Kreuzberg), while

brainstorming new additions to the Beba menu.

13:30 Take a stroll through Tempelhofer Feld with

my son, meeting friends and snacking on some fruit

from our garden. 16:00 Next stop: Mos Eisley (Herrfurthpl.

6, Neukölln). Affogato for me, ice cream

for my son. 18:30 An early dinner at the relatively

new Turkish restaurant No/bananas (Pannierstr. 29,

Neukölln), which I absolutely love. 21:00 Finish off

with a movie at Wolf Kino (Weserstr. 59, Neukölln)

a small Kiez cinema with great programming.

HAU Das Musical zur Wohnungsfrage MUSIC THEATRE / German with English surtitles

26.+27.9., 29.+30.9. / HAU1 / Premiere

41


ADVERTORIAL — The Berlin Guide

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RESTAURANTS

CAFÉS and BARS

THE FUTURE BREAKFAST – Restaurant Once a

mobile breakfast truck, these guys have opened

up a joint on Böhmischer Platz, serving awesome

vegetarian and vegan Aussie brunch dishes.

The food is organic, seasonal and comes with

top-notch specialty coffee. Böhmische Str. 46,

Neukölln, Mon-Fri 8:30-17, Sat-Sun 9:30-17, closed

Wed, www.thefuturebreakfast.com

HOPS & BARLEY – Bar Serving home-brewed

pilsner and dark beer, this is the place to go to

get that proper brew-pub vibe in Friedrichshain.

Cider and wheat beers are also on tap. Part brewery,

part bar, the interior is beautifully decorated with

antique tiles. Wühlischstr. 22-23, Friedrichshain,

Tel 030 29 36 75 34

CARAVAGGI NATURWEIN BISTRO

– Cafe A welcoming, cosy ambience

where you can enjoy a top-quality

selection of Italian natural wines, in

the heart of Helmholtzkiez. Taste our

delicatessen: cheese and salumi from

independent producers, and typical

Italian pasta, meat and vegetable recipes.

Come enjoy our weekly live jazz

nights, drinking Italian natural wines

and eating Italian cuisine!

Lettestraße 3, Prenzlauer Berg, Tel

030 28 70 44 11, closed Mon

ZEROSTRESS PIZZA THE WINERY

– Restaurant After 3 years of success in

Friedrichshain, our pizza restaurant has

launched a new location in Kreuzberg,

topped up with a wine bar. Unique,

handmade pizza and antipasti are served

with very special wine. Every ingredient

is well-chosen and imported from

Italy. The welcoming crew will lead you

through this extraordinary experience.

Vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Lausitzer Plz 10, Kreuzberg,

Colbestraße 3, Friedrichshain,

Mon-Sun from 17, Tel 030 84 51 59 52

CAFÉ NULLPUNKT– Café/Restaurant

Café Nullpunkt, right at Bessel Park,

offers breakfast and lunch – Naturally

Good For All – organic, mostly vegan,

gluten-free. Oder your specialty cafe or

tea and try out homemade banana bread,

pancakes, soda bread or porridge! White

Bean Hummus and Zucchini Noodles

are on top of its delicious lunch menu.

The café hosts after work drinks and

artists’ performances on Thursdays.

Friedrichstraße 23b, Kreuzberg,

Tel 030 84 71 09 23,

www.cafenullpunkt.com

MONSTER RONSON’S ICHIBAN

KARAOKE – Nightlife The original - the

best! The world’s craziest karaoke club,

with 14 private karaoke cabins and a

big stage! MultiSEXual BOXhopping

Mondays: Queer + Friends, Mix + Mingle!

Every Tuesday: The House of Presents’

Drag Show! Doors at 9, pre-show at

10, main show at 11! Wednesdays &

Sundays: BOX HAPPY HOUR! All

cabins half-priced from 7pm - midnight!

Warschauer Str. 34, Friedrichshain,

www.karaokemonster.de

DOLORES – Restaurant Founded 10 years ago as a street food pioneer

in the German capital, Dolores serves excellent California-style burritos,

tacos and quesadillas – inspired by San Francisco’s Mission

district. Recommended by Time Out, New York Times and Lonely

Planet. Voted #1 value for your money by Exberliner readers. Rosa-

Luxemburg-Str. 7, Mitte, Tel 030 28 09 95 97 Bayreuther Str. 36,

Schöneberg, www.dolores-online.de

SCHWARZES CAFÉ – Restaurant Since the 1970s,

Schwarzes Café on Savignyplatz has been a cult

favourite among artists, anarchists, foreigners and

Charlottenburgers. They’re open 24/7, have English

menus and serve organic meat. Try our favourite:

the black tortellini with salmon filling and lobster

sauce, only €11.80! Kantstr. 148, Charlottenburg,

Tel 03 03 13 80 38

42

EXBERLINER 185


ADVERTORIAL — The Berlin Guide

Berlin’s most authentic

French bistro

CHEZ MICHEL – Restaurant Chez Michel is an

authentic Adalberstr. 83, bistro Kreuzbergoffering French cuisine Mon-Fr: 11:30-22:30 at prices

from Kotbusser €5 Tor to (U1, €14. U8) All chezmichel-berlin.de dishes are cooked Sat-Sun: in the 15:00-22:30 open

kitchen, including delicious quiches, steak frites,

duck confit and daily rotating specials. For

dessert, the French tarts or crème brÛlée are

very seductive… Adalbertstr. 83, Kreuzberg,

Tel 030 20 84 55 07

LA BUVETTE – Restaurant For a good

glass of wine, a romantic or business

dinner, a wine tasting or a birthday

party... come to La Buvette Weinbar.

A cosy French bistro where all wines

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BASTARD – Restaurant From Bastard with love:

whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, this restaurant

is not just for those who were born out

of wedlock. Choose from the changing seasonal

menu created with love for fresh ingredients and

fine food. Our tip: try the homemade stone-oven

bread! Reichen berger Str. 122, Kreuzberg, Tel

030 54 82 18 66, closed Tue-Wed

PICTOFACTUM – Jewelry A concept store

where you’ll find the most beautiful

jewelry, stunning accessories, and

colossal postcards. Gifts for yourself

or for your loved ones made in Berlin.

First and foremost the store presents

the jewelry of Pictofactum, which the

designer produces in the shop. Individual

customer wishes and adjustments

can be implemented directly on site.

Wühlischstr. 12, Friedrichshain, Thu-Fri

14-19, Sat 12-18

YUN – Service Yun is an innovative,

Korean eyewear brand offering quality,

timeless design. They champion a

minimal concept in both their design

and price. Beautiful, simple frames start

at just €99. Have your chosen frames

or sunglasses ready in 20 minutes with

their state-of-the-art technology at their

flagship Berlin store! And you can even

watch your new frames being created

before your very eyes!’ Rosenthaler

Str. 11, Mitte, Tel 030 27 57 78 20

NO HABLO ESPAÑOL – Restaurant The best

California-style Mexican street food joint in

Friedrichshain. Delicious freshly made burritos

and quesadillas served by a collection of fun-loving

international people. Once a week, challenge the

NHE team to a game of rock-paper-scissors and

win a half-price meal! Kopernikusstr. 22, Mon-

Sun from 12, www.nohabloespanol.de

KAKADU – Kitchen An internationally-minded

“community kitchen” where you’d least expect

it - KAKADU brings a refreshing taste to the Wedding

food scene: creative breakfasts, quesadillas

with homemade fillings, hummus. Check out for

special events. If you are up for something personal,

this is where you go. Soldinerstr. 13, Wedding,

Mon-Fri 15-23, Sat-Sun 10-23

I:SY CENTER BERLIN – e-Bike The i:SY e-bike is the

alternative to Berlin road traffic. Thanks to its

uniform frame design and its quick adjustability,

the i:SY e-bike can be used by almost anyone.

It delights the whole family! Test drive at i:SY

center Berlin. Lease & financing possible!

Friedrichstr. 40, Mitte, Tel 030 54 90 59 69,

www.isy-berlin.de

EVERYONE CAN DRIVE A CAR! You own a

driver’s license, but you are scared, hesitant or

don’t understand the German driving law. Set

up for a driver like you, the training will help you

out! A highly experienced driving instructor will

help you approach driving without stress. Unsure

if this is for you? Book a trial session for only €25.

www.jederkannautofahren.com, Tel 015 17 05 19 53

SHOPS and

SERVICES

TO PLACE YOUR

AD HERE CONTACT:

GOURA PAKORA – Restaurant Goura

Pakora is a satvic-vegan and ayurvedic

inspired restaurant. Satvic-food means

food of virtue. It promotes clarity and

peace of mind. We offer different Dosas,

Stir-Fry Currys, Thali plates, Wraps,

fresh Pakora & Kofta, Smoothies, Salads,

Juices and Sweets. Almost all of our food

is gluten-free. We hope that we inspire

you to get into the higher taste of Goura

Pakora. Krossener Str. 16, Friedrichshain

Tel 030 98 36 44 40

HUMBOLDT-INSTITUT – Language Total beginner

or advanced learner: the Humboldt-Institut has

the right German course for everyone. Small

classes with intensive training ensure swift and

effective learning. Or simply choose a part-time

course during the evening or on Saturdays.

Individual lessons also available. Invalidenstr.

19, Mitte, Tel 030 81 45 37 61 - 0

THE GERMAN SPY MUSEUM – Museum

Get a unique insight into the gloom of

espionage! Visitors are welcome to try

the newest multimedia-based technology:

Decipher a range of secret codes,

negotiate the laser maze, see how secure

your favourite password is and hack into

your favourite websites! Travel through

time, starting with the Biblical Scouts,

journeying through the Cold War, to the

present and future. Leipziger Platz 9,

Mitte, Tel 03 03 98 20 04 51

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SEPTEMBER 2019 43


ADVERTORIAL — The Berlin Guide

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SCREEN PRINTING AT SDW – Workshop

We are SDW — An open screen printing

workshop recently relocated to Taborstraße

3 in Kreuzberg, open Wed-Fri

from 10-18! We offer beginner courses

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druckerei@sdw-neukoelln.de

Taborstraße 3, Kreuzberg

PRETTY DEADLY SELF DEFENSE – Course

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TIB-SPORTZENTRUM – Sport At Berlin’s oldest

sport club you’ll find sports for young and old.

Baseball, softball, ultimate frisbee, tennis, dance

and more. Their sport centre has a gym, sport

courses, eight badminton and two indoor tennis

courts, and a sauna. Columbiadamm 111,

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useful things gathered from all over the

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and carry a full range of reusable food

and drink containers. They also stock

over 80 unique tea towel designs. You’ll

find a useful gift for almost anyone here!

Weisestraße 58, U-Bhf Boddinstr U8, /

Tempelhofer Feld, Tues-Sat, 12:00-19:00,

englishtraders.de

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SEPTEMBER 2019

45


BERLIN BITES

Jane Silver

Reviews

Spice girls

Jane Silver tries a disappointing dinner and

revelatory lunch from Berlin’s two top Thai chefs.

Sing, O muses, of bean curd and coconut,

of lemongrass and locally butchered

poultry. Of two culinarily gifted

Thai Berlinerinnen, one on each side of the

“expat-migrant” divide, and the socioeconomic

factors that led one to be anointed

with a Michelin star and the other to languish

in obscurity as “the soup lady”.

Let’s start with that Michelin star, awarded

in February to Kin Dee (photo right) and its

33-year-old chef Dalad Kambhu. Born into

a wealthy Bangkok family and educated in

New York (where she famously modelled

while honing her self-taught cooking skills),

Kambhu floated into town in 2016 on a cloud

of hype. With the help of scene connections

including contemporary artist Rirkrit

Tiravanija and the boys behind Grill Royal

and Pauly Saal, she launched a pop-up that

set Berlin tongues and food media ablaze. A

restaurant – in the Potse space vacated by

beloved Thai veteran Edd’s – followed suit;

next thing you knew, the New York Times and

Vogue were waxing rhapsodic about Kambhu’s

homemade spice pastes and deft use of

German ingredients. A scant two years later,

Michelin came calling. By the time we sat

down for our €55-a-head, eight-dish “sharing

experience”, we were completely awash in

the Kambhu Kool-Aid. Had our expectations

been lower and that star plaque not affixed

to the door, we probably would have been

charmed by the meal. As it was, we were

Born into a wealthy

Bangkok family and

educated in New York,

Kambhu floated into town

on a cloud of hype.

doomed for disappointment.

Kin Dee seems to still be growing into its

starred status, with slapdash-feeling beige

laminate tables and well-meaning waitstaff

who’ll jump to refill your water glass but

struggle with the wine menu and have to

consult with the kitchen on questions like

“where does the chicken come from?” (Our

eventual answer: Martkhalle IX butcher

Kumpel & Keule, which sources its meat

from local farmers.)

That chicken came in a mellow peanut

satay sauce with sliced yellow beets. At a

neighbourhood Thai joint, it would’ve been

a delight; here, at the bottom of a fancy

ceramic dish, it was just okay. The same went

for our other starters: a raw duo of chilliand

lemongrass-topped scallop and trout

“ceviche”, and a couple slivers of tempurafried

squash blossom. Tasty enough, but we’d

been primed for mind-blowing. The closest

we got to that was Kambhu’s signature octopus,

confited till crispy-tender and served

atop a deeply spicy basil, chilli and tamarind

paste whose Thai name, kraprao, serves as an

onomatopoeia for what it does to your tastebuds.

The red rice alongside was overcooked,

but helped dull the burn.

For mains, a bafflingly flavourless filet

of steamed scabbardfish succeeded only in

making us jealous of our neighbour’s chilli

and wild garlic clams. Braised beef shoulder

in a green curry sauce, with zucchini and silky

roasted eggplant, fared better, but we were

more interested in the grilled romaine on

the side, topped with caramelised coriander

seeds for a novel sweet-savoury-crunchy

touch. Then a “palate-neutralising” bowl

of warm cucumber broth was sold to us as

an emotional stage of the meal for Kambhu

herself, its humbleness supposedly an empathetic

nod to the Thai people’s simple diet

(seriously?!). It was followed by

a dessert of brioche bits and fruit

swimming at the bottom of a coconut

sorbet, served in upcycled

palm sugar packaging cups.

Again, Michelin-worthy? Nope.

We might have been less frustrated

with Kin Dee had we not

eaten at Thai Art (photo left)

a couple weeks earlier. This is

the year-old, bare-bones Imbiss

operated by the aforementioned

“soup lady” – whose name, by

the way, is Siliya Rothert. After

moving to Berlin from the central

region of Sukhothai, Rothert spent a decade

in the Thai Park trenches, drawing the street

food market’s longest queues as she assembled

bowl after bowl of pork tom yum from a

sprawling mise en place of plastic tubs.

That soup is the star at Thai Art, too,

and it’s still got a clear, spicy-tangy broth,

perfectly cooked rice noodles and an ingredient

list longer than the songwriter credits

for Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” (among the

most obvious: bean sprouts, chilli, lime, scallions,

peanuts, fried wonton skin and pork

in roasted, minced, meatball and crackling

form). But we were most dazzled by the beef

boat noodles. Rothert’s opaque broth goes

easy on the blood and hard on the fermented

bean curd for an incredibly funky depth

of flavour, the kind we’d hoped to find but

mostly missed at Kin Dee.

Vegetarians will have to pass on soup, but

even the tofu pad thai is done better here -

nicely wok-caramelised without a hint of gumminess.

Curries and the gravy stir-fry lad na

can also be made meatless, though carnivores

are definitely getting the best deal. We’ll be

back on a Wednesday for the northern Thai

dish khanom jin nam ngiaw, a braised pork and

tomato stew ladled over rice vermicelli.

One’s heart aches to think about what

Rothert – who started off at her mother’s

restaurant back home and has been cooking

since Kambhu was practically in diapers

– could do with Kin Dee’s free-range

meat, fresh seafood and top-notch produce.

Instead, she’s forced to keep prices down to

meet diners’ “soup lady” expectations. She

told us some have baulked at Thai Art’s baseline

of €7.50 per dish, which is just ridiculous.

But the silver lining is that for now, for

the price of a single dinner at Kin Dee, you

can order seven bowls of Rothert’s noodles.

We know which one we’d rather get. T

KIN DEE Lützowstr. 81, Tiergarten, Tue-

Sat 18-22 | THAI ART Berliner Str. 42A,

Wilmersdorf, Mon-Fri 11-20, Sat-Sun 12-20

46

EXBERLINER 185


COLUMN— Astrology

planets

The Berlinoscope

Resident astrologer Randon Rosenbohm on

what’s up in Berlin’s September skies.

– what is happening every day? It might not be your worst case scenario.

Take off some edge with a free rooftop yoga session during Bauhauswoche.

AQUARIUS (January 20 - February 18) If you believe in something,

put your money where your mouth is. Berlin is more than

just flipped-out antifa, it’s filled with activists that you can collaborate

and hit the streets with. If recalling this summer’s Hitzerekorde don’t

inspire you to make it to Fridays for Future’s global climate strike on

the 20th, maybe your horoscope will.

PISCES (February 19 - March 20) You are at a critical time where

you can manipulate people into seeing your greatest vision! It’s a

good time to have a photoshoot, or be your own photographer. Consider

going shopping for a new camera, maybe join the analog (still-)craze here

in Berlin and get one from Fotoimplex in Mitte – or just learn Photoshop.

VIRGO (August 23 - September 22) It’s time to emerge from

your hermitage, focusing on yourself so that you can be helpful to

others. Use your self awareness to actively decide what is and isn’t possible

in your relationships. Festivals, art fairs and parties are in full swing this

month, so if you’re going out near September 21, rave safe and carry narcan.

LIBRA (September 23 - October 22) Figure out what your plans

are – there can be challenges with German bureaucracy that make

you change directions. You’re throwing some shit at the wall to see if it will

stick. Be honest with yourself about what’s actually sticking. The new moon

on September 28 forces you to be truly honest about what you need.

SCORPIO (October 23 - November 21) Come to terms with how

you can continue to afford to stay in Berlin – is moonlighting at

your friend’s bar in Neukölln really the way to make it work? Be sure

you are going out and meeting people, because they can put you in touch

with just the right crowd who can make it happen for you. Towards the

end of the month it’s time to spend more time alone.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 - December 21) Changes are stirred

at home as you try to determine why you’re living in Berlin. You

can make moves to live in a more idealistic WG – or a less hedonistic part

of town – whether it’s through your colleagues or your exes. You can make

more well-connected friends at the end of the month, near the 28th.

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 19) It’s hard to know what

to believe, especially through that Gegen-induced Kater. When

things are confusing, get more information by focusing on the constants

ARIES (March 21 - April 19) Become the preacher of Prenzlauer

Berg! You can be anywhere in the world just because you want to

be – it’s 2019 – but think of your raison d’être of being here, in Berlin. Now

work it and use it to your advantage. Once you get your ducks in a row you

can finally focus more on other people in your life, not just your to-do list.

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20) You turn a corner, aware that you

need to make nice to get someone to invest in your dreams. Of

course you should do inventory as well, counting up your bank statements

before knowing exactly how much it is you need. Blow off steam partying

at Griessmühle or going on cute dates to St. George’s English Bookstore.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 20) Think about how public you really

want to be with your relationships. Is it worth shouting everything

from the top of the TV Tower? Parse through the differences between

a photo that is texted to your friends in a small group chat versus something

worthy of the timeline. The end of the month brings a fresh start

to your dating life.

CANCER (June 21 - July 22) Whether you’re traveling far away

from home, or just trying to get your life together so you can

travel, you are at a fork in the road when it comes to figuring out where

you’re going. Just hold out until next month when more information comes

to light. If you’ve got a place here anyways, it may be best to hold on to it.

LEO (July 23 - August 22) Ideas are flowing but you need to give

yourself time to see who your audience is. You could find yourself

in a situation where you want to go out and spend a bunch of

money on partying or a ticket for a nice long Deutsche Bahn ride, but

have conflict when it comes to other people being able to afford your

desire for fun.

WHATEVER

based on the novel by Michel Houellebecq

Director: Ivan Panteleev

World Premiere: 8 September 2019

A nameless IT specialist, employed by a Parisian software company,

goes to the provinces on a business trip. He describes precisely and

with captivating rationally the stages of his isolation, „the progressive

extinction of all human relationships“, his disgust, his self-hatred –

and the lust and desperation with which his sexually frustrated travel

companion and colleague Tisserand regards the world and the female

body. On Christmas Eve the situation escalates. After going to a disco,

the two follow a young couple into the dunes...

upcoming shows with English surtitles: 13, 26 September and 2, 13, 29 October

For tickets and more information visit deutsches theater.de/en


COLUMN— Save Berlin

Beige, grey

or cosplay?

From the Humboldt Forum

to Potsdam’s Barberini – what

should we make of the historicist

revival in architecture?

Last year, Zum Umsteiger shut its doors

after 113 years. The legendary tavern

across from Yorckstraße station (photo

top) had survived the Nazis, World War II and

the Cold War, but a worse horror was still to

come: its new neighbours. The quaint building

is wedged between an oppressive apartment

complex and an intrusive parking garage entry.

Lonely Zum Umsteiger is an unwanted relic

screaming out for a bunch of coloured balloons

to carry it away.

With its high-pitched roof and faux-gothic

brickwork, Umsteiger is a throwback to an

architectural style known as historicism. For

thousands of years, designing a building meant

finding an existing model to copy – every bank

was a Roman temple, every apartment block a

Florentine palazzo. Historicism was a crutch

that helped even mediocre architects create

great buildings. However, since modernism

arrived a century ago and lifted the yoke of historical

styles, anything goes. Genius designers

produce an occasional work of brilliance, but

they’re just as likely to lay an

architectural egg. Despite our

ongoing construction boom,

try finding one recent building

with one-tenth the character of

sad little Umsteiger.

Maybe that’s why Germans

have embraced a new form of

historicism – modern buildings

dressed up like long-gone architectural

icons. Berlin’s Humboldt

Forum is a 21st-century museum

wrapped in an 18th-century palace

facade. Across the Spree, the

2003 Bertelsmann Foundation HQ is costumed

as the baroque Alte Kommandantur. In 2016,

Potsdam unveiled two shiny new buildings in

the guise of “baroque” palaces, one housing

the offices of Brandenburg’s parliament and

the other, the nearby Museum Barberini.

Frankfurt am Main has recreated a whole new

“historic” city centre. Opened last September,

the new Altstadt is packed with tourists who

love its selfie-friendly faux-olde facades. But

the historicalness is only skin deep – it’s a

kind of architectural cosplay.

Daniel Cati

Dan Borden on

architecture and

urban politics

Playing architectural politics

The narrative around Potsdam’s Garnisonkirche

has a familiar ring: after WWII,

its bomb-damaged remains were bulldozed,

and proponents say its current reconstruction

corrects that tragic mistake. However,

critics decry the spread of “Disneyfication”

and worry about “correcting” the past. Even

scarier, the church has links to right-wing

politics. The first calls to rebuild it came in

the 1990s from Max Klaar, a notorious Nazi

fan whose goal was to restore the place where

Adolf Hitler shook hands with

Field Marshal Hindenburg and

thus secured his position as

German chancellor. Similarly,

Frankfurt’s Altstadt was the

brainchild of Claus Wolfschlag,

another right-wing author who

links traditional buildings with

“true” German identity.

Did Klaar, Wolfschlag and

others really hope their resurrected

structures would drive

Germany’s politics to the right?

If so, they’re likely to be disappointed.

Buildings are remarkably ineffectual

devices of political coercion. For example,

no building better embodies Hitler’s politics

of intimidation than the Luftwaffe HQ near

Potsdamer Platz (1936). Still, it was converted

into East Germany’s House of Ministries with

the simple addition of a mosaic depicting

cheerful socialist workers. Currently serving

as Germany’s Finance Ministry, the hulking

building has yet to compel passers-by into

making a Nazi salute or breaking into a chorus

of The Internationale.

Designing a sexy future

In spite of its critics, the resurrection juggernaut

seems unstoppable. Is it time to jump on board

and seize control from the right-wing nut jobs?

After all, what’s more delusional, losing ourselves

in rosy nostalgia or looking forward to a “rosy”

future personified by soulless beige and grey

boxes? Once our Humboldt Forum is finished,

workers will cross the Spree and rebuild Karl

Friedrich Schinkel’s Bauakademie. Then what?

My candidate for reconstruction is Richard

Lucae’s 1872 Villa Joachim, which found its

higher calling in 1919 as Magnus Hirschfeld’s

Institute of Sexual Research (photo bottom).

Hirschfeld was an openly-gay man whose work

revolutionised ideas about sex and sexual

identity. Though destroyed by the Nazis and

WWII, the villa and Hirschfeld’s collection were

thoroughly documented by photos, making an

accurate reconstruction very doable. Returning

it to its rightful home near today’s Haus der

Kulturen der Welt would cement Berlin as the

true birthplace of modern sexual freedom. T

Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin

48

EXBERLINER 185


Funded by

centenary exhibition

6 sep 2019 – 27 jan 2020

at the berlinische galerie

Woman wearing a theatrical mask by Oskar Schlemmer and seated on Marcel Breuer’s tubular-steel chair,

c. 1926. Photo: Erich Consemüller, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © Dr. Stephan Consemüller

wednesday–monday 10 am–6 pm | alte jakobstr. 124–128, 10969 berlin, germany | www.bauhaus.de


Stadt, Kunst, Zukunft

Season Opening Festival

26.9.–5.10.2019

HAU1, HAU2, former Post building (Hallesches Ufer)

➞ www.hebbel-am-ufer.de

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