Over the past three years, the Schinkelpavillon “Disappearing Berlin” series has begun artistic events in the stunning Berlin architecture that is threatened with demolition, i.e. to be renovated or transformed. The high-rise Postbank building at Hallesches Ufer, the wave pool at Speewaldplatz, the Keese café, the multi-storey car park behind the Kreuzberg Center, the mouse hideout, and the Bierpinsel in Steglitz, well located in 20 locations, was really the setting for shows and music in particular. The last event in the series, which is always fully booked, took place last Sunday: choreographer Florentina Holzinger performed a performance of “Eight Bodies, Five Guitars and a Car” in the Gallus printers’ parking lot in the city of Spree. . A conversation with Artistic Director Marie-Therese Bruglacher and Project Director Anja Lindner about Disappearance, Enhancement and Berlin.
They often assert that Beilin’s “disappearance” is not about nostalgia. What is the motivation for starting the series?
Berlin has a lot of famous buildings, especially of eastern architecture, which were simply demolished in the 2000s, often without public discussion. This series is designed to make urban change experienceable and understandable in a different way, not through media reports, not through ready-made images.
Through performances and music, we create a new approach to places you may know well, perhaps only from hearsay, about which you have read stories. In Berlin, the cultural occupation of these places has a long tradition, think of Raumlabor and temporary artistic use in the Palace of the Republic. We want to build on this and stimulate discussion about the city as an architectural and social structure.
“Disappearing Berlin” has been active in churches, swimming pools, on rooftops and in the supermarket. How are the sites selected?
It’s about how different each of these places stands for Berlin. The focus is not necessarily on disappearance. We walk or walk around town a lot, like going into backyards, looking around every corner. This is the passion we all share in the team. There are places where it was clear from the start that we wanted to do something there, like Bierpinsel in Steglitz.
Our network draws our attention to other things. We didn’t even know the roof of the Bonjour Tristesse, an apartment building in Schlesisches Tor, that we only got there by chance. But there are also a lot of things that never work out.
[Behalten Sie den Überblick über alle wichtigen Entwicklungen in Ihrem Berliner Kiez. In unseren Tagesspiegel-Bezirksnewslettern berichten wir über das aktuelle Geschehen und Kunst in Ihrer Nachbarschaft. Kostenlos und kompakt: leute.tagesspiegel.de.]
Which ones, for example?
The exciting market for LSD property on Potsdamer Street. People there see LSD as a safe place. They didn’t want the art audience to come and see everything. Some places will surely be demolished, such as the Gallus printing business, in which we organize a show by Florentina Holzinger in the parking lot at the weekend. Others work on premises such as LSD, Green Mango Bar, or even Xara Beach. It’s very exciting – for both sides, because it is possible that a different interaction will occur between the artists and the people on the site. Many of the other buildings, beautiful and iconic as they are, are very commercial. We cannot finance that.
Should the places threatened by ‘passing Berlin’ be saved, should the disappearances be stopped?
We are concerned with the current situation. We ourselves do not claim to prevent demolition or diversion. We want to draw attention to the processes of change. A lot happens unnoticed. We want to be a medium for discussion and questioning about the opening and preservation of art spaces in Berlin. At best, this creates sustainable structures. Then other players who can implement and implement the changes play.
It can be accused of contributing to the gentrification with “Disappearing Berlin”..
For us, the interaction between culture, investors and real estate developers is exciting. Certainly we are engaged in improvement, as are everyone working in the arts and culture sector. We do not develop any sustainable structures through our software, but rather fit the structures on site because we want to comment on them.
“Disappearing Berlin” is not about bringing the final artistic production to an unusual location, but about developing new works specific to the location. For example, an investor like Signa Real Estate and their approach in Berlin confronts us with the question of how we can interact critically here without allowing us to be exploited as cultural factors for the benefit of developers and investors.
As one of Karstadt’s developers, Signa Real Estate is responsible for the three large construction sites at Alexanderplatz, Ku’damm and Hermannplatz. A huge new building is being built at Hermannplatz, what can you achieve there?
Karstadt am Hermannplatz is an incredibly interesting example that is incredibly worth discussing. In our opinion, it would be a mistake to ignore these urban planning projects. We ask what are the possible forms of interaction without being placed in front of the cart?
We’ve been talking to Signa for a year, but haven’t found a concept that works yet. If we do not deal with the matter in the cultural sector, then everything will continue like this, and the political and economic interests are very large. There must be ways to comment on that.
Sometimes things change too, as shown, for example, by your participation in Bierpinsel, a two-day festival held there during Art Week 2021.
Bierpinsel has been closed for over 15 years. Nobody has access. We worked on it for two years before we could do business there. The owner didn’t seem interested in us at first, but then got really excited about the culture in the building. Now he wants to work to ensure there is temporary cultural use for two years longer. The original plan was to convert the building into an office tower immediately in the fall. The only area open to the public was a co-working space. Even bathing establishments in Berlin did not have the cultural use of swimming pools on their agenda. But now they want to organize more events with us and make the swimming pools usable for the culture.
Is this a project working specifically in Berlin?
Berlin consisted of many individual cities before becoming Greater Berlin. Due to its distinct history, it has many architectural and cultural discontinuities. This makes the city very open to a project like “Berlin is disappearing”.
If you did it in London or New York, it would be full of nostalgia because the operations there are over. Capitalism, gentrification and tourism have advanced well. There is always a bit of nostalgia when commenting on them or looking back at the times when there were still plenty of opportunities. Berlin’s disappearance isn’t entirely free of that either, but we don’t want to be a nostalgic project.
The city where we can imagine something similar is Paris. Paris has completely changed in the last two or three years. Many new artist initiatives and social projects emerged, in a city whose structures were already solid. So changes are also possible retroactively.
What do you say is Berlin about to disappear?
The city is still at a point where all is not lost. The interesting question is what will happen in the next five to ten years. It comes down to how many places there are still design options. We think a lot is still possible in Berlin. And there are still a lot of people here who want to change something.
Berlin has a long tradition of cultural and cooperative working methods that emerged in the post-reunification period. If we can bring together the interests of these many groups, we will also be able to open and preserve endangered places in Berlin for culture and the public in the long run.