BERLIN: Trip to the City: Overview

I have had the most amazing time, spending the past five days in Berlin, Germany. It is such an inspiring city, there is artwork everywhere and graffiti seems to be dominating the walls of the city. The architecture was beautiful and I couldn’t believe how accessible everything was and how easy it would be to travel around the city. I visited many galleries and museums whilst in Berlin and saw many inspiring pieces of work. These Included: The Neues Museum, The Pergamen Museum, Typography of Terror, The Kunsthalle Gallery, The East Side Gallery, War Memorials, The Jewish Museum, The Hamburger Banhopf and Urban Spree Gallery. I also visited some tourist sites like Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Below are some of the many quick snapshots I took whilst in Berlin.

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The History of Berlin was prominent throughout my visit. I visited the Berlin Wall and The Holocaust Memorial. It was interesting to me that the history of the city was so accessible and almost in an odd way, a tourist attraction.

I also browsed around the Jewish museum which housed some amazing installations. Below are two of those installations. Daniel Libeskind’s “The Holocaust tower” and Menashe Kadishman’s “Shalekhet or Fallen leaves” were very powerful pieces that really stood out to me. The Holocaust tower was a cold, dark, lonely room with only a slit at the top to allow a small amount of natural light in. I felt like I experienced a taste of the loneliness and terror that the jews would have experienced during the holocaust and the war. Shalekhet was a memory void filled with round pieces of metal with sad faces cut out of them. When you walked across them they made a horrid noise which to me symbolised the jews all walking together in shackles to their death and how badly they were treated. It reiterated to me that the jews could have never have had a certainty of their future and how terrifying that must have been. They were unpleasant environments to be within which made them incredibly successful pieces of art work in my mind.

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With the Hidden City in my mind, I visited the more hidden areas of Berlin, Below are some of the photographs I took of derelict buildings that I came across. It was very interesting to see that they had been covered in graffiti, like many of the buildings in the centre that has been adorned with artwork, it was nice to see that the derelict or abandoned buildings had not been left out. This got me thinking about the hidden loneliness of abandoned places within cities. Berlin is a highly cultural city, so it was interesting for me to learn that there was still racial tension there. Synagogues were guarded.

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Visiting the Reichstag made me think about Christa and Jean Claude’s piece when they wrapped it up and just how relevant the piece is to the theme of the hidden city, hiding buildings under a wrapped exterior.

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There were so many Hidden places in Berlin, the majority of the time the exterior of the places that I visited such as bars and cafe’s didn’t look very appealing at all but inside it was a whole different story. It is fascinating to think about how many people miss out on hidden gems in the city because the outer look puts them off even going in. Berlin, in terms of art is a highly inspiring city, you don’t even need to visit any galleries to see the artwork that is around. Part of the Berlin Wall is covered in Beautiful pieces of artwork and is known as the East Side gallery. I wish I had been there to see all the artists creating their works.

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In terms of my project, there were a few artists in the kunsthalle that have inspired me to be a bit more experimental with my drawing techniques and visiting made me think about isolation in a new light. The divide between the east and the west was an interesting angle to look at loneliness from. Just like in Cardiff, in Berlin there was a hidden loneliness everywhere, particularly on the S-bahn, U-bahn and other forms of public transport.  If people didn’t know each other they wouldn’t talk and there were even more commuters hurrying to get to work on their lonely journeys. A piece by Bruce Nauman called “my soul left out, room that doesn’t care” gave me a feeling of loneliness as I walked through it. Again it was cold and to me showed the emptiness of the life he was leading. He searched for something more.

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I would definitely go back to Berlin without a doubt. The City was so inspiring and there was so much to do within it that I didn’t get round to seeing everything.  I look forward to the continuation of my exploration the next time I visit the city.

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