Two weeks ago I was in Berlin to visit the big city who has become so attractive to many artists and art buyers, designers or just visitors. I don’t know if it’s your case, but I have 3 friends that left their cities to move to Berlin recently. I went there to find out, and tell you about the great Berlin.
It’s huge !
As you may know, Berlin is 50 km large for 3,5 millions inhabitants. Consequently, it has an OK car traffic, tons of person go with bikes, winters included, and it has a lot of parks. It is very well distributed by public transporting, and has a lot of “empty blocks” or not constructed area – which can be a bit disturbing when you’re from Paris and live in Barcelona, the kind of cities that can’t extend more and sees its building being topped by more floors, and new towers coming out of the ground every night.
It has great diversity
The first thing you’ll find refreshing about Berlin, it’s its diversity: Architecture, people, culture, food, music, bars. You’ll find everything, and you can tell that everyone respects one other space. Berliners seemed to me as kind and respectful, quiet people. Very quiet. In many ways they recall me all the fantastic people from Sweden or Norway I got to know in Barcelona over the years.
It’s the artist paradise…
Berlin, since it’s not crowded, has a lot of empty space to provide. Here, you can easily split what you spend in a western city of Europe between your flat rent and a 50m² workshop where you will be able to work in good condition. What you’ll more be charged for is actually the heating for both your flat and your workshop. Ok, Berlin has been built (and rebuilt) thinking about thermal insulation, but still, temperature go very low in the winter. Actually most of my local contact told me they take advantage of this particular season to… run away and go to more pleasant latitudes.
Yes, nightmare. Well, since it’s so attractive, artists from all over the world, especially Europe, come to enjoy the very lovely green friendly and huge Berlin. I’ve been told during my stay that the local art market is over saturated in Berlin right know, and the hardest task is to get your name out there. The second one is to get the most visibility for your work. The social medias come real handy, and hard working and lobbying with cultural local institutions is a must.
There are a lot of things to see in Berlin, I’ll stick to four main things:
It hasn’t been used for 2 years and it will soon be transformed into… we don’t know yet! But it’s an almost mystical experience to ride your bicycle on those never ending airport runways in the center of the city. The Bread & Butter Berlin uses this location for its Fashion Trade. Greg Ross went there last July: see the pictures of the fair.
East Side Gallery
It’s the part of the wall that has been painted years past the 1989 re-unification of Berlin, and that has been re-visited since then by Berlin lovers, with great painting surrounding such topics as freedom, expression, revolution, or just society. A absolute must-see to get one a big part of Berlin is all about.
Check point Charly
Here you will see the most famous check point of all Berlin during the cold war, when Berlin (yes kids I’m talking to you) were split in two half: A Soviet administrated east-side, and a western shared administrated west-side. Near check point Charly you will find the great museum about this time were people was trying to cross the forbidden wall area. You have been told in schools, at college, but I can assure you that you have to go in this museum and see the incredible stories proving the absurdity of this situation, that last more than 40 years.
Tons of bars, all kinds of bar, quiet, cool bars, loud bars, concert, books, café, lagers, Berlin has a real culture of the pub, the café, the club… the diversity is huge. In 5 days we did live concerts, tons of lounge café where people reads, then bars with hundred of type of beers and funny people talking and shouting, from all over Germany. Remember that during the winter, sun goes down around 3pm, and it’s night at 4:30pm !! You’d better find yourself a cosy place to have a drink, even if in Berlin people have dinner around 7pm, nights can be long…
In bars I had the pleasure to re-encounter with friends based in Berlin for some time now.
Alberto Ramirez, Spanish confirmed painter based in Berlin is one of them. He showed us around his workshop and flat in Berlin and took the time to answer to our questions.
Visit Alberto Ramirez Website: alberto.artleg.com