On the 14th we travelled to Dresden to go to the vernissage of the exhibition No Time No Space No Soul in Dresden where you can still see a few of my pictures until the 21st of December. I had a great time and it was really fun to stand behind people and sneakily listen to their reactions to my pictures. I got quite a few nice compliments and it was quite an experience! I also used the opportunity to take some pictures as well.
On the left writer and artist Pierre Rochus, who also happens to be my brother.
Don’t they look nice there? The one at the bottom didn’t like the wall much and tried to make an early escape several times. Getting those Kapa boards to stick to the wall is about as much fun as cutting them (= nightmare).
In the background photographs by K. C. Wagner.
Sculpture by K. C. Wagner.
In the background photographs by Silvio Colditz.
Since the exhibition celebrated the publication of another issue of the literature and art magazine Der Maulkorb the vernissage was accompanied by author readings. I am not in touch with the German literature scene at all, so it was quite interesting for me. My pictures shown in the exhibition are also published in Der Maulkorb #12. You can get it over at Der Maulkorb blog.
Silvio Colditz reading. He did an amazing job organising the whole event. In the background a photograph by David Campesino and an artwork by Silke Rilke.
Sculpture by K. C. Wagner (the same as the one further up).
Katja Bohnet reading.
All pictures taken with: Canon EOS 450D and Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.
My favourites were definitely K. C. Wagner’s work and the pictures of the flood by Silvio Colditz.
And you know what the best thing is? You still have the chance to see it until the 21st of December 2013! Go check it out at Hole of Fame, Königsbrücker Str. 39, Dresden. There will also be more events happening until the Finnisage on the 21st.
I lived alone for 5 years before I decided to go to England. The latter involved staying in student accommodation for about 1 1/2 years and in shared houses for probably the same amount of time. I have to say that I didn’t care much for living with other people. Flatmates can make your life very annoying especially when they turn their unbearable “music” up in the middle of the night, steal your food or leave their dirty dishes out while they’re gone for a holiday, basically inviting rats and cockroaches for dinner.
In university accommodation it was usually loud and smelly from cleaning products and you were thrown together with people that you either liked or not. I had to change rooms once, because my flatmates were just unbearable and after that I still had problems with people stealing food. In shared houses in town I wasn’t very lucky either and ended up with random people. I didn’t have much in common with them and there were always arguments about the heating.
However, sometimes it was also different. Although there were always aspects that I disliked about living with people, I had some great times too. I was glad that I could talk to someone and sometimes I also didn’t have to eat alone. And with a few flatmates we would even watch a movie, go out together or have long conversations over a cup of tea. Then I could forget that many of my belongings were back in Germany and that I had given up a lot to be in England.
I had a real home once. It was a flat which I didn’t have to leave in a matter of months with all my books and my belongings. I had a life with friends close by, goals and – as it seemed then – a reasonably clear future. I also had my peace and quiet and didn’t have to deal with flatmates.
Almost all of this is still something I have to rebuild. These days all apart from the living alone bit. Ezequiel left a few days ago, so I’m back to my solitary existence alone in my flat with just my computer and a few books for entertainment.
Isn’t it ironic sometimes? All of a sudden I don’t care much for my peace and quiet anymore.
The picture is a macro of a halved fig. They are not quite as tasty as they were back when I used to live in Spain, but nevertheless they are still quite nice.
Yesterday I managed to get a better picture of how the streets actually fit together in my neighbourhood. Maybe I have to clarify: My sense of orientation works in some way like in those strategy games. In those games you at first have only this blob of known area surrounded by total darkness. When you explore you see more things on your map until you’ve pieced it all together and then corridors of known space combine to a neat map of your surroundings.
I knew the area around Alt-Moabit, Turmstraße and Perleberger Straße as separate areas. Until yesterday when I connected them all together through walking along Rathenower Straße from Alt-Moabit to Perleberger Straße. There is a primary school and a youth centre on the way that seems to be partially abandoned. The building of the youth centre seems to be a bigger complex of connected buildings and it is covered in graffiti. Instead of the usual relatively old and beautiful buildings in the area there are more unappealing apartment buildings across from the youth centre. I probably wouldn’t want to live across from that half rotting youth centre in any case.
I’ve now explored a considerably big area around where I live and can say that I know it a bit. Moabit is neither particularly pretty nor ugly, it doesn’t seem dangerous although there seem to be quite some drug issues too and it’s very multicultural with a big Turkish community along with quite big Turkish supermarkets. So, in general it’s neither a very good nor a very bad area. I’m sure there are better areas too, but for now it’s more than alright. And before I run out of things to photograph I still have a few backyards to explore!
The picture was taken across from the court house. Someone had obviously lost a pacifier.
Yesterday I spent some time walking around after my driving lesson taking pictures. I went back to my previous practice of exploring backyards and encountered two very photogenic crows which even stayed on the spot through me changing lenses. The lighting conditions were difficult with the quite harsh light from above and the deep shade in the backyard. Although I now have some reasonably good pictures of these two fellas the photos seemed to have something lacking. I can’t quite figure out what is missing, but in the end they are just … pictures of crows, if you know what I mean.
Further down the street right in front of the prison here in Moabit there were some bushes with sparrows sitting in them. They were all ruffled in the cold air and looked a bit grumpy. I also took some pictures of them sitting there. And it suddenly reminded me of one of those nights when I was walking back home through the city park after a night out in my hometown. It was about 1 1/2 hours walk, but I sometimes preferred it to waiting for a tram in the cold. Sometimes I also just wanted to think.
One night there were clouds in the sky and I remember that there was more light than usually. It was probably late autumn, because there were hardly any leaves on the trees which I didn’t pay much attention to at first. I was just walking, looking at the ground, thinking, almost not paying attention to where I was going. At least half an hour of the way is just walking straight ahead and in the dark you don’t see too much apart from the looming dark trees. The path was illuminated by orange street light and the sky was not quite black, maybe it had a dark blue colour, although it was still far from dawn. And maybe it also just seemed this way because the sky wasn’t obscured by the trees like in summer.
At some point I found that there was something odd about how things looked. As if a particular stretch of the way seemed darker than others and I kept wondering what the difference was. I largely ignored it though and just carried on walking. Until I heard a very strange sound. It took me a moment to realise that it was just a bird flapping its wings. What was strange about it was that the sound was not continuous like it is when you hear a bird flying away. No, it seemed as if the bird was just stretching its wings, flapping them once and then there was nothing. And that was the first moment that night when I consciously looked up at the tree tops. The sight made me stop with a probably quite audible gasp. The tree tops were black against the sky, like very long alien fingers with very thick black knuckles. And way too many of those knuckles too. For a moment I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, but then I heard another flap, then another and suddenly the alien knuckles turned into wings flying up into the sky. The air filled with excessive crowing and for a moment the sky seemed black with birds.
It was one of these cinematic moments, where you’re waiting for the birds to come down at you nosediving and trying to hack your eyes out. Or did you ever stand right behind your front door on the way out and you suddenly hear a thud and crash which makes you wonder whether you should check the TV before leaving? You know, for signs of a zombie apocalypse?
Obviously the birds didn’t attack me and the zombies didn’t come crashing through my door. They never do. Still, boys and girls: If you ever hear a strange noise coming from your basement. Don’t go down there and check what it was … that’s just plain predictable and stupid!
The other day I had a conversation with Ezequiel about cultural stereotypes. Germans for example always know how things are supposed to be and feel entitled to have an opinion on just about anything. I immediately remembered one of the questions from the driving theory test for which I was studying that day:
“There is a traffic jam and through your side mirror you see a motor bike illegally passing through the gap between the cars. What do you do?
a) Don’t let him pass.
b) Let him through.
c) Honk and note his licence plate number.”
Option a and c reflect German stereotypes and b is the correct option. Which reminds me of my driving lesson yesterday. Someone drove out into the street right in front of me and stopped to park their car. I would have just changed lanes and gone past, although I admit that it was a bit annoying. However, my driving instructor told me to stop right behind that car so that the driver would not be able to park there. My instructor already stepped on the breaks before I could object. Then he started lecturing me on how inconsiderate people drive here and how this is the reason why traffic is such a nightmare in Berlin. “And these people think that if they just drive out into the street without looking properly that they’ll get to their destination more quickly. Well, the driver in front of us now has to wait even longer. That’s how you deal with such people”.
Sometimes I think that only in Germany people feel they have the right to tell people how to do things. I’ve never encountered this kind of behaviour anywhere else and Ezequiel neither.
Our conversation also led us to my old Swedish flatmate Robin back when I was living on campus at the University of Sussex. One day Robin knocked on my door. He asked me “Hey, tell me, are you very German?” I was baffled! What a question to ask out of nothing! I said “No, why?!” and he said “Oh, I was just wondering whether you had a hole-puncher”! I pulled a face, mainly because … well, I had one of these things. They say Germans are very organised. They have things like hole-punchers and staplers and stuff like that. I had a hole-puncher, but only because someone gave it to me! I think that hole-puncher was out of the ominous box in Kent House where people just left stuff that they didn’t need anymore. Someone must have assumed that a German girl like me can use a hole-puncher at some point. I didn’t even use it once. After all I didn’t even use any paper as a computer science student! Nevertheless I was stuck with the “very German” label immediately.
Yesterday’s picture was taken at the Spree Bogen which is where the Bundesministerium des Innern (Federal Ministry of the Interior) is located. A cobbled street, shadows from low golden hour sunlight and reflections in the wall and the window. No wonder that I like it a lot!
Sometimes it’s just not possible to keep up a daily blogging schedule. I was just too tired to write last night after not having slept very well the night before. I have been struggling with insomnia for ages, so it’s not quite surprising that every now and then I have restless nights. This was also the case after Ezequiel left on Tuesday. I brought him to Tegel airport which is only 10 minutes from here on a bus. It is only a small city airport and not a very pretty one either. Still, I spent some time walking around, climbing up stairs to see what’s around. It was raining, so I tried to keep my camera dry by taking pictures from under overhanging roofs and through windows. It definitely changes your perspective a little.
Apart from that my day was rather uneventful. I went to a shop to pick up some groceries and then spent the evening watching episodes of Star Trek Enterprise from a few years back. It’s quite different from other Star Trek series, because there is not the usual moral high ground involved. There is no big organisation that dictates directives or what to do in outer space and the universe is not just a big friendly space on the territory of the good guys. There is crime, slavery, a bit of frontier spirit and so on. For one or two seasons they managed to keep the story lines quite well together, but I think they were struggling with low viewer numbers and tried to spice things up a bit. The third season is therefore far away from the usual Star Trek spirit and goes way too far in questions of morality. I was not impressed at the time. No wonder that they got cancelled after that. It’s a shame though since the fourth season is really quite something. It for example explains why Klingons look so different in the original series.
And yes, I’m re-watching the series after I’ve already seen it twice. I’ve actually seen every Star Trek episode ever produced at least twice apart from some of the original series episodes which I only vaguely remember from my childhood. All of the series have something special about them, something that distinguishes them from the others while still maintaining a similar spirit. That’s what made the entire franchise so successful: There is something in it for everyone. And every now and then there are very special stories in them too like the TNG episode ‘Inner light’ or the Enterprise episode ‘Carbon Creek’ that don’t happen on star ships. There is just this incredible range of topics that can be explored in Science Fiction which I have always found fascinating. It has the whole range of “what if” to play with which makes me wonder whether they will even come up with a new series at some point although the franchise seems a bit dead at the moment. It would definitely make me happy!
Yesterday it was again raining so it was time for one of my bad weather close-ups. This time I took a picture of Ezequiel’s beautiful red headphones. One day I have to try them out to see whether they’re more than just pretty.
The bad weather is actually getting on my nerves by now and I can’t wait to get to a warmer climate again. Maybe living in Berlin is not such a good idea after all considering that I have such delicate health in cold weather. Berlin is actually one of the coldest places in Germany in winter. However, I have always liked Berlin and the opportunities here seem endless. Nice relatively cheap flats, museums, English language cinema, lots of shops, areas with interesting things to see, second hand bookshops, cafés, lots of tango, many universities with groups of related interest. Really, I like it a lot and the longer I live here, the more I seem to like it.
I’ve even noticed today that I’ve come to feel a little bit at home here, which is rather surprising since I’ve longed to develop that same feeling in Brighton for years and never managed to come anywhere near it. The closest I got was this feeling of familiarity. It probably had to do with the fact that I never could arrange myself with the relatively low living standard unless you had a very well-paying job. In Germany even unemployed people don’t have to share their flats. In comparison in England I often saw people in good jobs sharing with one or two people, because it was just so ridiculously expensive. And people there don’t even seem to complain or question their circumstances. Keep calm and carry on, because that’s all you can ever expect. I never understood it! This mentality of just accepting things as they are was probably another part of my feeling always a bit out of place.
However, don’t let me ramble on about England. After all I don’t live there anymore and I’m certain that I will not go back, no matter if they offer me the best job in the world (which they won’t anyway). I actually see my future here in Berlin, especially since I’m starting to feel at home. Maybe we will need a winter residence somewhere warm though. Do you guys have any ideas where it would be nice and warm?
Yesterday was the day when I put the heating on. It’s getting cold in Berlin now and the weather is getting more nasty too. Originally we also weren’t planning to go out. It was just too cosy inside in comparison to the cold weather out in the street. However, in the end we went out anyway, so that I could take some pictures and also because I wanted to try and find some gummibears too. I might not have mentioned this before, but I’m quite addicted to that stuff. That might be a problem when you try and find them Sunday night when all the normal shops in Germany are closed. However, there’s usually an off-licence open even at night in the big cities. Maybe not Sunday night at 1am, but until 10pm it’s not a problem.
We found an off-licence just a block from here, a little Turkish one that sells tobacco, a few basics and luckily also gummibears. They had a few types and in the end I decided to try the ones that seemed to have been imported from Turkey. They were in the shape of worms in two colours and they were tasty enough, although I probably would have enjoyed a different kind more. After all these are experiments in experience though, so I better experience some stuff, right? Including Turkish halal gummibears. Halal means in this case that the gelatine contained in them is beef gelatine rather than gelatine made from pork as is preferred in Germany since the outbreak of mad cow disease some years back.
Apart from pictures of this strange English phone booth I took mostly pictures of illuminated shop windows yesterday since it was already dark. I was also planning the phone booth shot for a while now and I already spent quite some time trying to find the right angle for it a few days ago.
And no, I have no idea why there is an English phone booth in Berlin just 2 blocks from my house. It probably belongs to this conspiracy that tries to make sure I’m reminded that England will never quite let me go. The first sign of that I encountered when I moved into my flat: The flat is furnished and there is a huge poster of a red London bus on the wall. It’s as if the universe is trying to mock me by placing strange references to England in my life when I’m trying to leave the experience of living in England behind me. That’s just as well though; some things never quite want to remain in the past.
Quite some time now I’ve been wanting to check out a street that I once drove through in a driving lesson. Back then I was pondering whether I should just stop and tell my driving instructor that I just have to take a couple of pictures. However, in the end I didn’t and I also forgot a bit about it. Yesterday I got the chance to see that street again. Originally we headed out to take a look at the book shop I mentioned the other day which is in a remote corner of the market hall down the street. When we got there the market hall was closed though which is probably normal considering that it was just before 6pm on a Saturday. We kept on walking and eventually I recognised a street close to the one I wanted to see, so we made a turn into that street and already found some very cool old houses. Then another left turn and we were there: Kruppstraße. I only recognised it when I looked it up on the map, but it definitely was that street.
About halfway down we found a really old building that was pretty run down and looked a bit abandoned. On closer examination it turned out to be a police station although part of it is probably disused. The building was neither repaired nor redecorated after the war which means that there were actual shot holes in the walls. There was an entrance on the side with a big metal door and a sign that said it was the Abteilung Verbrechensbekämpfung, the department for fighting crime, specifically fraud. There was a reasonably big standup ash tray with fresh cigarette buds as it seemed, which was probably the only sign that the building is actually still in use. Imagine working there, or even worse: imagine being brought in for questioning into a building with shot holes! The original house entrance was actually facing away from the street. A light blue door, rotten with the light for the house number crumbling and grimy. Someone had written initials next to the entrance in blue marker together with a little heart. Who’d choose a place like this for such signs of affection?
On the way back it occurred to us that the autumn weather with the fallen leaves, the cold wind and the crisp temperatures really added to the sinister feel of the place. Black clouds were moving in fast and we were walking briskly to get home before the storm hit. Obviously it was too late though. Yesterday’s picture was taken only a couple of blocks from Kruppstraße, but quite a way from home. We got caught in heavy rain without an umbrella. However, it was well worth it, because it added to the atmosphere of the rotten old police station. Interesting stories happen in this kind of atmosphere.
I have mentioned my hot water yeti a few days ago and here you can see him in action. He actually stayed warm for the entire evening and I was glad to have him since it’s become quite cold here over the last few days.
Other than that we planned to see the latest Lars von Trier movie last night, but then stayed in after all since the cold wasn’t really agreeing with me. Instead we watched The unbearable lightness of being with Juliette Binoche. I enjoyed it a lot, although I don’t quite understand why they never just let happy couples be. In the end they always have to die, as if happiness is some kind of unachievable notion that is only possible for a few moments. And with that I don’t mean to give it just a happy end, after all they are just as fake. The first kiss marks this happy ending, as if all of what comes after is all so easy and well-known. And they lived happily ever after. In real life the problems before the first kiss are usually smaller than those that follow it. That’s actually what I liked about The unbearable lightness of being. Being is not so light after all and they have many problems throughout. The first kiss is not the conclusion, but only the beginning. In the end they find a solution though and happiness with it.
Well, if you think about it, there is no way of letting them live then, since prolonged happiness seems so unrealistic to us.. As teenagers we believe in it, but later we become bitter and compare our own small lives to the stories in the movies or to what we wanted for ourselves, once upon a time. It results either in finding these films unrealistic or our own lives too mediocre. Welcome midlife crisis. Happiness only belongs to picture books and to our dreams that real life is supposed to shatter in the end, because we all have to do our part, right? I say, let them live every once in a while.
And no, nobody hacked my blog, it’s still me writing, although these almost optimistic notions are certainly out of character for me. I must be ill or something …