Berlin: Double, double toil and trouble…
…fire burn and caldron bubble! Words spoken, hearts broken, art alive and thriving, constant battling for survival against language, climate, culture, the unknown. Welcome to Berlin.
This spotlight painted over with four symbols represents my Berlin so far: the bike, active, discovery, searching for a place to fit in; the heart, full of love and wonder, building life in a new place with Luca; the anarchist symbol, full of contradictions, alternative culture, art, change; and finally the tear, representing extreme challenge, sadness, struggle, loneliness, nostalgia.
Let´s say I probably could use a hug! Berlin has presented itself in full form as a bold, harsh, courageous city. And even though I´m familiar with the place, making the move has proved quite challenging. Less than a week after I got here, my computer got stolen at Tacheles, where Luca works, and it´s taking a while to get over that. All my photos, music, writings, documents… well, it´s like losing memories. On top of that searching for housing has been unfruitful and disappointing. And trying to get together a million documents for a study visa, etc. A lot of work. I´m hoping that a little determination will pay off soon!
When we´re not stressing though we have a good time. Getting to know the many neighborhoods of Berlin is as fun as doing the same in San Francisco or New York, every area has a different style and character, and it´s amazing how much change and development I´ve noticed just in the 2 years since I was last in Berlin.
On July 24 we went to see Obama speak near the Brandenburg gate. I thought I´d go be a good American and inform myself about Obama´s policies, seeing that I knew so very little about him even though I figured he was probably the best candidate. After waiting 4 excruciating hours in the hot sun, his very general speech (of which he read every word) about German/American relations and history (barely touching on his ideals as candidate for president) fell on tired ears. I was disappointed that he didn´t take a stronger stand on important issues like war and environment. But we were right up close and it was nice to be a part of the event.
Luca works as an artist at Tacheles. Tacheles is a historical building from the early 1900s that was used both as a department store and then later as a Nazi meeting/office space. Two months before it was set to be demolished in April of 1990, a small group of artists occupied it and managed to convince the city that it was structurally intact enough to be used as is, and it was named a historical building. Now known as Tacheles, which means “straightforward” in Yiddish, it houses 5 floors of artists studios, several bars, a Latin-American nightclub, a cinema, a large beer garden and natural garden with a pond.
And Luca is living his dream of working as a metal sculptor in the midst of this beautiful and interesting place. His boss is an older Turkish guy who was one of the initial occupiers of Tacheles, and Luca works inside his office, getting paid and getting to use tools and materials to make his own art, some of which he also gets to contribute to the ground-floor gallery which is right on Oranianburgerstrasse, full of tourists and people passing by.
Watching his progress during the course of ArtVenture and up to now, I really see how he´s grown as an artist. Having a workshop with every kind of tool at his disposition allows him to be able to realize his projects in a more professional manner, and he loves it. I´m very proud of him! Here are some of the pieces he´s been working on.
Aren´t they fabulous?? All of these are already on display at Tacheles. Come and get them! They´re on sale! As for me, I just started my first night last night (8pm-5 am) of working at as a bartender in the Tacheles “bus.” Basically it´s a van turned into a mini-bar in the middle of the beer garden. Luca´s working weekends as a bottle-collector, beer stacker, clean-up guy, so hopefully now we´ll get to work together. Work seems to have worked itself out, so hopefully the rest will, too. In the meantime, these ”dragonfly moments” of peace and enlightenment are very welcome during this tumultuous and short Berlin summer.