Yayoi Kusama Retrospective in Berlin

The Gropius Bau in Berlin is hosting Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective (from April 23, 2021 until Aug. 15, 2021) a comprehensive exhibition spread over 3000 m² that features eighty years worth of art work, fashion, installations, and documentary materials produced by the prolific and renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.


Balanchine_Jewels_Foto_by_Carlos_Quezada_DSC6114Balanchine’s Jewels – Berliner Staatsballett 

George Balanchine’s (1904-1983) Jewels ballet originally premiered at the New York State Theatre in April 1967 and has been performed on world stages more than 190 times since 1980. Berlin’s Staatsballett revived it for its current season with a premiere at the Deutsche Oper on May 21, 2016. Balanchine described it as “storyless but not abstract.” The ballet is divided into three parts, each distinct in colour, style, music, and movement.

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Berlin – City of Women – Exhibition at the Ephraim Palais

From March 17 to August 28, 2016 the Ephraim-Palais in Berlin presents the exhibition “Berlin – Stadt der Frauen” (Berlin – City of Women). The exhibit focuses on the lives of twenty strong women, demonstrating how they shaped Berlin’s history, how they cast off social and political constraints, and provides an insight into many aspects of the women’s movement, with a special focus on the issue of emancipation through education. No matter what era they belonged to or which profession they practised, all of these women determined and shaped their own lives. Connected by their backgrounds in the educated middle-class and having access to similar opportunities, these women nonetheless experienced many challenges in their journeys from tradition to emancipation.

DER GUTE MENSCH VON SEZUAN Musik von Paul DessauThe Good Person of Sezuan – Berliner Ensemble

Berliner Ensemble‘s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan (Der gute Mensch von Sezuan – published in 1941 and first staged in 1943) opens with the character of Wang, who sells water in the impoverished city in the province of Sezuan, and encounters three goddesses in search of a good person. Finding them a place to spend the night proves to be a challenge, and only the sex worker Shen Te takes them in despite her dire poverty, and the goddesses reward her for her kindness with money. She buys a tobacco store but is immediately taken advantage of by all the inhabitants who know that she can’t say no to anyone, and thus she is forced to invent and cross-dress as her mean cousin Shui Ta, who immediately created order, and kicks out all the free-loaders who exploit her generosity.


BEBerliner Ensemble – Behind the Scenes with Werner Riemann

I arrive back in Berlin for research on a new book series on cities and theatres – after writing on Berlin for my MA Thesis, PhD dissertation, Berliner Chic, and covering all cultural aspects of this city, including film, documentaries, literature, architecture, branding, fashion, art, and music, it was only a matter of time until my attention turned to theatres! I started with Berliner Ensemble, established by Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht in 1949 and moved into the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm from Deutsches Theater in 1954.


Berlin Wonderland coverBerlin Wonderland 1990-1996

Anke Fesel and Chris Keller’s (eds.) publication of  Berlin Wonderland: Wild Years Revisited 1990-1996 (Berlin: Gestalten, 2014) documents through photographs and eye-witness accounts the now-legendary years of Berlin’s post-Wall existence.

Zehn-Minuten-GeschichtenBerlin Short Fiction and Interview with Anja Tuckermann

Every few years, I roam through the recent publications about Berlin and select some highlights that are worth mentioning and interview a few Berlin-based authors. This time I focused on collections of short stories and short fiction. Here are my picks:

Everything We Want - BeaEverything We Want – by Beatrice Möller

Berlin documentary filmmaker, Beatrice Möller touched on several cultural nerves in her new film Everything We Want. Born in 1979 in Düsseldorf and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, she made her first documentary in 2003, entitled Omulaule heißt Schwarz (Omulaule means black), followed by Shalom Salam (2006) and Shosholoza Express (2010), which documents a train ride through South Africa and the experience of Apartheid.


Berlin Fashion Week 2012

AUGUSTIN TEBOUL first made a splash with their mystique and creativity last summer during the Berlin Fashion Week 2011, winning the SYFB award. This year, the two female designers are back on Berlin’s catwalk (July 4 – 7, 2012) with their signature aesthetic that arises from the conception of two contrasting personalities: German-born Annelie Augustin with subtle, minimal shapes and her sophisticated mind and French-born Odély Teboul, the rather chaotic, nostalgic crafts-woman.


Tracing the Locations of Berliner Chic

Berliner Chic is a phrase associated with more than just the local fashion industry and its ready-to-wear clothing. Berliner Chic is a cultural concept that evokes history: the turbulent story of the efforts and strives of creative designers and manufacturers in Berlin, whose attempts to establish Berlin as a fashion capital have been continuously interrupted by politics, ideology, and war. It evokes the notion of quality (the tradition of handmade clothes) and a certain urban flare that persists to this day in the contemporary fashion scene.

Berliner Chic – One Year Later

Berlin is the city for new and non-traditional media. It is becoming increasingly apparent that just as for city-guide publishers, it may be a futile project to put anything about Berlin in print. The city changes daily, renaming its streets and metro stops, replacing old buildings and establishments with new ones, and generally moving the sand from one “beach-bar event” to another.

Berlin Fashion Week 2011

The 9th Fashion Week in Berlin (July 5-10, 2011) revealed the new Spring/Summer 2012 collections at a new location on Strasse des 17. Juni, with the main entrance across from the Brandenburg Gate (also known as the Fan-Mile during the World Cup public viewings). The key players of the Berlin fashion scene who were invited to present in the main tent this year included: Michael Michalsky, Michael Sontag, Vladimir Karaleev, Katja Will (C’est Tout), Iris van Herpens, Lala Berlin, Marcel Ostertag, Kaviar Gauche, and others.


Visions & Fashion – Exhibition at the Kulturforum

Just in time for the Berlin Fashion Week starting next week, the Lipperheide Costume Library at the Kultuforum at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin opened its new exhibition, entitled “Visions & Fashion: Images of Fashion 1980-2010” on display from June 30 until October 9, 2011.

Haunted Sites: Forgotten Places in Berlin and Surroundings

Arno Specht’s book Geisterstätten: Vergessene Orte in Berlin und Umgebung (Haunted Sites: Forgotten Places in Berlin and SurroundingsJaron Verlag, 2010) is a “search for traces and ruins of Berlin’s youngest history … a history and a past that has not been worked over in museums, where the history of the buildings and their inhabitants is narrated, but rather it is a history of coincidental traces, un-arranged and un-curated.” (p.5)


Street Art in Berlin – Kai Jakob

Street Art in Berlin (Version 4.0) is the fourth edition of the collection of Berlin street art photographs by the freelance photographer Kai Jakob. Capturing a temporal artistic medium, the book presents the work of Berlin street artists such as: XOOOOX (working with stencils in Berlin since 2001), El Bocho (the creator of “Little Lucy”), Just (since 1999), Emess, Dolk, Linda’s Ex, Alias, Tower, SP 38.

New Berlin Fiction

As the first floor of Dussmann Kultur-Kaufhaus dedicated to literature on Berlin expands with more and more Berlin novels and non-fiction books (now it also has a whole new, two-level store-addition of English books), and as more and more people feel the desire and necessity to write about Berlin, I try to follow their creations and publications in order to trace what they have to say about this city. Here are some of the new trends and works I’ve found:


Berlin-Avantgarde – Art, Fashion & Interior Design

Berlin-Avantgarde, located in Nollendorferstr. 11/12 in Schöneberg, is an art gallery, lounge, fashion and design store, as well as a platform for contemporary artists and exhibition space for charity auctions and art shows. Established in September 2010, it was conceptualized to be avant-garde, creative, and open-minded, and to present contemporary ways of combining arts with pleasure (as the website states).


S.Wert Design – Urban Stories

S.Wert Design began with a research project of Fernsehturm graphics in 2001, which turned into the book publication Von der Partei zur Party 1969-2003 – Der Berliner Fernsehturm als grafisches Symbol (2003), by Dirk Berger, Ingo Müller, and Sandra Siewert. I met with the Swiss graphic designer and architect by training, Sandra Siewert, who came to Berlin in 1992 from Basel, and has been translating Berlin’s surfaces and façades into her graphic designs.


Via Intolleranza II – Christoph Schlingensief’s last play

Christoph Schlingensief’s last play (which premiered in Brussels in May 2010) was invited to the Berliner Festspiele Theater Treffen festival this year. Schlingensief, famous for his provocative, politically-activist performances, films, theatre productions, documentaries, installations and happenings, passed away in August 2010 after battling lung cancer for two years. During those last two years, Schlingensief was extremely active producing self-reflective plays, publishing a book, and building an opera village project in Africa.

Berlin Elsewhere

“This is not a piece about Berlin” is announced in four languages at the beginning of Berlin Elsewhere as ten people step onto the stage and begin to twirl and dance without music. One of the props – a styrofoam model of a high-rise building – collapses and the dancers begin to use it as a platform for their movements. Einstürzende Neubauten comes to mind. Two musicians on a side stage (set up with instruments) begin to play. The dancers continue to dance to the music. Their movement is that of fragmentation and interruption. They fall and get back up, only to fall again (knee pads are integrated into the costumes).


Google: Building the Digital Future

The future according to Google is an exciting place, yet convincing a room full of American and German intellectuals, visiting scholars, as well as business, finance, politics and media representatives proved to be a welcomed challenge for Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. The American Academy in Berlin hosted Schmidt’s lecture, “Building the Digital Future” tonight at its mansion on lake Wannsee.

Berlin! – The Musical

If you had to sing the story of Berlin after Reunification, what would it sound and look like? Barbara Abend’s Berlin! Und wir mittendrin. (Berlin! And we right in the middle) tells the story of Berlin in humorous and serious headline announcements, in theater repertoire (which also recently celebrated it’s 20th anniversary) in songs, and in dance.

Annett Gröschner – Living and Writing Berlin

In her 2008 book Parzelle Paradis: Berliner Geschichten (Lot Paradise: Berlin Stories) Annett Gröschner‘s protagonist moves through the different neighbourhoods of Berlin and watches the people, the buildings, and spaces, and the words that make up the many stories of the city.

The Visit of the Old Lady / Der Besuch der alten Dame

Friedrich Dürrenmatt‘s 1956 dark-comic story of Claire who returns to her decaying hometown as a billionaire and wants revenge for her once broken heart and honour, and sets in motion a tragi-comic social experiment of moral values, has been revamped in a post-Wende rendition directed by Armin Petras at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.
Mauerpark – by Dennis Karsten

Mauerpark, a documentary film by Dennis Karsten about Berlin’s most-visited Sunday hang-out, premiered last week at the Achtung Berlin Film Festival of new films about, and produced in Berlin. Filmed in the summer of 2009, with a Panasonic Gh1 camera that allows to selectively leave certain parts of the frame out of focus, Karsten’s film is a beautiful homage to Berlin’s subculture and its eccentric, creative, and talented outsiders.


Michael Nast – The Better Berliner

Berlin’s My Space blogging celebrity, Michael Nast made his name writing about life in Berlin, first in blog-form, then as audio book Berliner Schule (2008), and then a collection of amusing dating adventures and stories in the life of a thirty-something Berliner and the people he encounters in Der bessere Berliner (2009). Nast is currently writing his next Berlin novel.


Richard Long – Berlin Circle

The current exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin takes the shape of the circle as the archetypal focus form. The main exhibition hall of theformer train station (converted into a museum in 1996) has been turned into a sculptural landscape by the artist Richard Long, whose ‘Berlin Circle’ is part of the Museum’s permanent collection, by the collector Erich Marx.


Achtung Deutsch! – What makes someone German?

What is German, and how does a German family speak, act, or look? You can find out by going to the theatre – of all places. Until April 24th, Theater and Comedy on Kurfürstendamm presents a play that by way of humour constructs and deconstructs stereotypes of multiculturalism, and of Germanness.


F.C. Gundlach and the Modern Woman on the Street

As Perry Anderson pointed out, “German culture in the past third of a century has been distinguished less as a matrix of ideas than of images” (Anderson, “A NEW GERMANY?” April 2009). With the explosion of visual culture and new media over the past century, his claim is almost self-evident, yet the question becomes then, how is this matrix of images constructed, and what kinds of narratives do those images create? Capturing images of fashion and film for popular magazines of post-war Germany, F.C. Gundlach’s photographs have no doubt become part of this visual matrix.


Berlin Fashion Treasures in Vancouver

Berlin is chic. And as it turns out, traces of its style, culture, and history can be found all over the globe. Having established various “locationalities” of Berlin fashion in cultural establishments such as film, photography, music, museums, and fashion shows, I could not help but notice how far Berliner Chic stretches.


Berlin Ghosts and Other Inhabitants: New Berlin Fiction

Many foreigners populating the streets of Berlin, and particularly Prenzlauer Berg, have begun writing about their adopted city, thereby adding to the already-existing, rich, local Berlin cultural discourse, and creating a relatively new trend of expat-fiction set in Berlin. Some of them manage to find something interesting to say about Berlin, others not so much.


U2 in Berlin

The day after the free U2 concert at the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, I went to the Hansa Tonstudio in Köthenerstr. 38, to see where Achtung Baby was born and where One was filmed.


East-West Discourse in Transition

In May 2006, just a few months before the FIFA World Cup in Berlin, I asked Ingo Schulze a question after his book reading (from his Neue Leben, 2005) in Kreutzberg: “What do you think of the “new” Germany?” not even suspecting that we were speaking different discourses.


City of Cinephilia

Berlin is the city of cinephilia. One constantly encounters what Christian Keathley describes as the “cinephiliac moments” throughout Berlin’s topography. Walking around the ruin of Anhalter Bahnhof (now a ruin of a former train station), one catches a glimpse of the old bunker (today used as Das Gruselkabinet – haunted house) and immediately sees the inscription: „Wer Bunker baut, wirft Bomben“ (those who build bunkers, throw bombs), and thinks of Peter Falk, walking across the vast void (now filled with a soccer field) in Wim Wenders’ Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987).


Berlin Freedom

Sitting at Café Segafredo at Unter den Linden, across from the monumental Russian Embassy, I watch people float towards the Brandenburg Gate, where at 7 pm tonight, the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall celebrations will begin. Earlier today, walking past the German Guggenheim just down the street, I think I saw Frank Gehry walk towards me. There are so many people here. All wanting to be part of something big, to re-live or to experience what happened here 20 years ago.

1 Response to Berlin

  1. Pingback: These are a few of my favourite things… | Suites Culturelles

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