1. Pasteurstrasse

Retrospect Berlin

March 8, 2004

As I write this, I am on the train from Berlin to Amsterdam. This morning I woke up early at 6.30 am because I see the time on my red alarm clock and I decide to get up. I haven't packed my suitcase yet and I want to tidy up and clean, because I have to leave the room clean according to the agreement with Polaris. I rented the room from Polaris. The train stops and I look where we are. I can't see the sign properly. Last night I agreed with Barbara that I would be with her at 10 am for our farewell breakfast (Barbara is my upstairs neighbour whom I met in Berlin) I would take some pictures of Barbara and her 6 month old baby Anne, a Madonna with a child. Wir sind in Wolfsburg. The train is moving on. There wasn't really much time to take the pictures I wanted to take. Barbara was a little tense, perhaps because she thought her hair didn’t look good. In Amsterdam I will take a closer look at the photos. I took the photos with a digital camera, which I have only had for a month. If the photo’s don’t turn out, I otherwise have a good excuse to go to Berlin for another week-end to take pictures of Barbara and her daughter.

Sunday, March 7 In the morning, as I open the curtains, I see that it has been snowing. The day before I had bought a museum card for 3 days costing 10 euros. Today I want to use this card and I decide to go to Berlin North. Berlin North is a former old station and is now used as a museum. "Die sammlung von Erich Marx" can be seen there and also the exhibition "Zeitgenossische Kunstler aus den Nordischen Landern" in the Arsenale, which is part of “the 3rd Berlin Biennale für Zeitgenossische Kunst". At 11.30 am I get on my bicycle, in the meantime I have gotten to know my way around. For one month I travelled with the underground and S Bahn and for these last 5 days I cycle. In Germany, traffic does not take cyclists much into account and you see most cyclists cycling on the sidewalk for safety reasons. It is quite cold, but I wear a thick jacket and I am well packed. The wind feels Siberian cold. Along the way I see a lot of vacant properties vacant again and when I see a web address listed, I get off to my bike to make a note of it. Maybe I want to stay in Berlin for a longer period to work there. Berlin has beautiful architecture.

Saturday I bought an architecture guide "mit uber 800 bauten". It is a clear and comprehensive book that I am very happy with. When I arrive at Berlin North, I first look at the collection of Erich Marx. The work that appealed to me most was from Ross Blechner's, I had never seen work by him before. Born in 1949. Two large paintings. Middle sex of Angels 1988 and Architecture of the Sky 1989. It is difficult for me to describe the work, but for me the works had a mystical atmosphere, very beautiful in the exhibition, Zeitgenossen Kunstler aus den Nordischen Landern. I saw a film work by Annika Eriksson of the Zeitgenossic artist Aus den Nordischen Landern, where she filmed two musicians with tambourine from Sao Paulo together with 4 hip-hoppers. First you see and hear them talking to each other, then one of the `older musicians', who unexpectedly walks into the picture, starts to sing and he accompanies himself on a tambourine and the other older musician (with tambourine) agrees with him. Slowly you see the hip-hoppers participate more. I actually think it's very funny. The older musicians I think are the real hip-hoppers (musically speaking then) It is a very nice improvised piece of music, in my opinion. The train shakes and vibrates, quite a bit difficult to write, when I get home it will put in the computer what I am doing now. You probably can't read my handwriting. My suitcase is very heavy, because I bought a few books. I bought a book by Gerhard
Richter and one of Hermann Hesse's “Siddhartha”, a design book for Otto and a Berlin guide for Sybrandt. Sybrandt wanted to visit me in Berlin. But he is busy working on his philosophy doctorate and he has decided to go to Berlin some other time. I had borrowed a book from Sybrandt "The totality of the infinite" by Emmanuel Levinas. It contains beautiful passages about the face, but I did not have the peace to delve further into the book. Emotionally, the place I rented in Berlin was not really a place in which to retreat. Every day I used to get to know Berlin better by walking in different neighbourhoods and riding through Berlin on the U Bahn or S Bahn. I viewed lots of art and architecture. In the apartment where I stayed there were two other rooms that were continuously rented to different artists, so that I had several flatmates during my stay. We shared the kitchen, the shower and toilet together. The room was quite cold. It was really a chore to drag 10 to 20 kg of briquettes upstairs every day for the stove. When the briquettes do not burn properly, it stinks terribly. I stayed in Prenzlauer Berg an alternative artists' neighbourhood where I have felt quite at home.

Paula van Ameijde