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Mythos Berlin – a London perspective

A city in a unrestrained process-like state, a world of a bit away of the usual progress-driven narrative

Even a simple question like ‘What is a city?’ triggers an endless cascade of new questions. A city can never have a singular objective identity, it has to live with the identities which are ascribed by its inhabitants. Berlin often is described as a city that just defines its era.

In terms of exploring the role and reputation of the city as a capital of contemporary cultural production certain words are recurring as soon as conversations in London and across Europe comes to Berlin: creative hub, low rents, bohemian life, searching and finding inspiration. That’s it? Wuppertal-born art collector Christian Boros notes: “Wuppertal is cheap too. It does not explain the fascination of Berlin.”

What makes Berlin THE city to live right now?

A Monument for Nonsense by J.Prezewowsky | © Swantje Diepenhorst

A Monument for Nonsense by J.Prezewowsky | © Swantje Diepenhorst

Thus there must be more. Boros says “the mythical status of Berlin is based on the fact that you have to fight with very few limitations. A lot is possible here. To feel free is very attractive and erotic.” Sexy Berlin mixed with imperfection, openess and curiosity – indeed that are already a few more unique qualities.

Opened by the Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden the exhibition “Mythos Berlin – a London perspective” started last week in the German Embassy at Belgrave Square. The artists in the exhibition include Erin Hughes & Jennifer Mustapha, Jan Kaesbach, Robert Rapoport, Daniel Udy and Viktor Timofeev shows examples of the influence that Berlin as a working place has on contemporary artists’ practice and lifestyle.

In the First Gallery Room there is a sculpture / installation with the title “Declarations – Monument for Nonsense” by Julia Prezewowsky. This artwork says, that it’s a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. At least it’s branded with this statement. At first glance it doesn’t might be a compliment for Berlin, but actually it is – it suits to the very few limitations, Boros mentioned. It tells about the creative freedom people can find in Berlin.

Open spaces and gaps to fill

That's a very dark sky.. 'Cloudsync' by Viktor Timofeev (2012) | © S.D.

That’s a very dark sky.. ‘Cloudsync’ by Viktor Timofeev (2012) | © S.D.

Here are still open spaces, while in cities such as London or New York it is a lot more difficult to find gaps to fill. For Boros it is the work ofManfred Pernice that really reflects Berlin’s patchwork, crafty and process-like state. His work deals a lot with architecture – his cans and blocks reflect what is often called the ‘Verdosung’ / ‘containerisation’ of society.

During the past twenty years Berlin’s reputation in the world has changed immensely: from the scarred, divided and unsettled victim of Third Reich and Cold War politics to an iconic, vibrant and artistic metropole. A unrestrained, productive and social place to life. Like Susanna Davis-Crook, who left London not just for work but for cycling around and think, emigres to Berlin, particularly those from business capitals, escape their respective cities for the exemption from a world of progress-driven narrative. For Susanna ideas more easily become action in Berlin, where in London risk assessments take up more time than planning the show. This might be the fundamental difference between creativity in Berlin and in London.

We are constructing our version of city

From a London perspective.. | © Swantje Diepenhorst

From a London perspective.. | © Swantje Diepenhorst

At the end there are of course billions of views and none of the Berliners (or Londoners) live ‘in the same city’. What we all do is to construct our own versions, inventing a city that allows us to be ourselves (at best). We can do this because, as Jonathan Raban explained in his brilliant book Soft Cities back in 1974, cities are plastic by nature: ‘We mould them in our images: they, in their turn, shape us by the resistance they offer when we try to impose our own personal form on them.’ We’re all involved in this process, whether we are artists or not. Urban living is an artwork for itself, whether it is in Berlin or in London.

Source : Labkultur

Filed under: Analyses, Evénements, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , ,

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