It's been one week since I arrived at the Buero, officially. It's feeling very much like home. The other residents have arrived, but they live far away in Wedding, a neighborhood on the opposite end of the city from Neukoelln, where I am. I won't lie, it's a bit isolating being alone on this end of the city. But we have been getting together and seeing shows, and slowly becoming a little unit. More on that in a bit.
In general news, Berlin truly is a mecca of art. I haven't gone a single day without running into it somehow. I am going out of my way to find most of these things, of course, but the longer I am here, the more seems to jump out of the woodwork. The streets are plastered with posters for shows, art openings, festivals, and an unending supply of graffiti, both ugly and beautiful.
I discovered a screen-printing-studio-slash-photo-lab called Stattbad, housed in an old public swimming pool in the neighborhood of Wedding. I found them through IAM's "helpful links" page on their website, and basically had a stroke from excitement. Photo and screen printing? MY DREAM. I visited them last week, and their space is gritty and completely DIY, and they guys who run it, Liam, Nils, and Adam, are total gems. I'm going to use their space in the coming weeks to screen print my Kickstarter rewards, and probably some experiments as well. SO AWESOME.
I've seen two back-to-back contemporary dance performances, something I wouldn't normally gravitate toward, last night and the night before. Four of the six residents at IAM are dancers, so I have accompanied them to these performances because, well, why not? It turns out, they have been quite inspirational. The performances have been part of the Improvisation Exchange Festival in Berlin, and all the dancers had participated in an affiliated 10-day residency. None of them had danced together before, and all their movements were improvised. Of course, some of this was quite pretentious, especially when combined with spoken word poetry (one of the IAM residents, a dancer named David, said this combination presents "a high level of risk for pretension"), but most of it was quite beautiful. I especially liked when a narrative seemed to form between two or more dancers, and especially if that narrative happened to be funny. The venue was a converted loading dock in Prenzlauer Berg called Dock 11, a very cool spot.
To rest my brain from the onslaught of art, I retreat to my neck of the woods, the quiet section of Sonnenallee in Neukoelln. The streets are lined with trees and bushes, very green this time of year. I'm close to Treptower Park, which has what looks like community garden spaces in addition to the Soviet soldier memorial and picnic areas. The neighborhood is similar to the Mission in San Francisco, if you swapped Latinos for Turks. Lots of children, everyone outside until late at night, restaurants and bodegas one after the other. It's also close to the Turkish Market, a farmer's market closer to Kreuzberg that sells vegetables, ice cream, fabric, spices, and hot food. It was crawling with people on Friday, many of them crowded around a hippy girl singing and hitting her guitar strings with a violin bow sort of haphazardly. It brought back memories of the drum circle guys at the Eugene Saturday Market.
I have been riding my bike around during the day, which is shockingly easy to do in Berlin. The city is so flat, I barely have to pedal. I rode through Treptower park yesterday and had a picnic by the Spree river, which was lovely! It was so warm and pretty and there were people partying on boats floating down the river. There were some dark clouds in the sky, but no one else seemed worried, so I continued to read my book. And then, BOOM, huge gusts of wind! The sun disappeared! I packed up my stuff and jumped on my bike and WHOOSH it started raining sheets of water! I was blinded by pollen and seeds blowing off the trees and mixing with the rain, but I pedaled my way back through the park, giggling to myself, my mostly-white outfit now almost transparent. It lasted no more than half an hour, and it was awesome.
On the docket for this week, I can't wait to pick up my pictures on Tuesday. The wait has been killing me! My next round of pictures will involve the dancers of IAM, long-exposures in their studio spaces, probably either Tuesday or Wednesday night. And then on Thursday, I'm off to Turkey, tons of pictures to ensue there (in addition to good times with friends).
More again soon.