Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Art and cultural scene in Neu Kölln

Art scenes come and change, transform and disguise. Altogether they reveal what comes next as an exhibition attempting to stay the this side of mere entertainment, and still entertain with humor while not forgetting the serious side of the arts.

Artists who seek a specific milieu evaluate the concrete location if they have a chance both to find space for work and space to exhibit. It goes hand in hand with the wish to perform or narrate.

In every sense of the word, opportunities are capitalized upon as well, but not with the same meaning when speaking about economic opportunities as understood by Capitalism. At least not in a district like Neu Koelln where everyone seems to be atuned with alternative music and more so with a diversity of expressions. Still opportunities are seized upon by both individual artists and organizations intermingling with the artists but also just people going about doing their daily businesses. A case of point is to organize an event at the own shop when a street festival is being organized by the district's administration. For then thousands of people crowd into the streets. It is, therefore, an opportunity to do something likewise, given that an audience is potentially and readily available during that specific time of the festival.

Opportunities define themselves as something during which things can be exhibited, demonstrated, interacted upon or even be sold. While the money obtained from the state is important to survive and to sustain over a medium time period of one to three years the office and its corresponding activities, these opportunities are used to gauge the prevailing self understanding when it comes to survive on your own. Such opportunities mark a vast difference between living in poverty and with hunger and what people long for, namely self-sufficiency and self-pride. The latter is the ability to live from own work paid for directly rather than the existence being conditional upon state funded resources. Still there is the political debate about a minimum wage for everyone as basic condition to be shared by all. Yet any artist struggling for freedom from state tutelage wants to achieve that success, so that he or she can live off the works of art being created within such a milieu but with an eye to a future having a much larger horizon than that.


Community Channel Europe e.V.
Mainzerstraße 42
12053 Berlin

Visit to Weltkulktur-Neukölln, Tuesday 15.11.2011

At their cultural office, Rolf Bindemann explains how they work, what projects they do and how they seek to develop concepts for alternative tourism. The aim is to engage visitors to join in local projects or else to get to know this district from a different angle. With a touch of humor, they invent historical stories about this district of Berlin as if rich in archaeological findings. There is create an imaginary promise that in future more sites shall be discovered where more digs can be made to uncover incredible, indeed unbelievable stories. This gives the term 'fiction' a new flavor.

In one of their many imaginary reconstructions, they conceive a river which ran apparently through Neu Kölln. Co-worker Viktoria Müller painted the background for this cityscape with river. Her talents as stage designer came consequently into play. The model with the painted background allows the visitors to imagine this river existed really in ancient times of Berlin. It offers a wonderful contrast to especially the chocked up streets by both cars and lots of people as evident when walking along the Karl-Marx street which runs through NeuKölln. . Along that street Neu Kölln and the cultural diversity of its population becomes evident at every step. Shops after shops profiles alter according to where the operators came from or wish uphold their affinity towards certain far away places considered to be their original home. Still, all of them are proud to say when crossing the street near city hall that is „our town hall“. As said by James Clifford in his book 'Predicament of Culture' about the writer Josef Konrad, every migrant develops with time three languages: the one of origin where someone was born, the language of desire when having fallen in love with someone taking one to far away places like Konrad did to Africa with a French woman, and then the language of the 'social norm' by marrying with all the social conventions to adapt to the official side of society linked to state institutions and its legal framework (Konrad ended up marrying a British woman and this is how he ended up not writing in Polish or French, but in the English language.) Local identification makes it easier to overcome the shifts and set-backs in what former youth judge Heisig described as an utter failure of the institutions to stem the increase in violence especially amongst the youth. There comes a time when all institutions are over demanded, and then civil order does break down at times.

Viktoria Müller came from Russia in 1996. She had studied classical art and was thus highly qualified both as craftswoman and artist, but once in Berlin she found it quite hard to survive as an artist. Hence she survived i.e. made her living by doing stage designs for theatres both in Berlin and in West Germany. Much later she also took courage and joined a group of painters. For whatever reason, she stayed with them for just a short while and preferred to do things on her own.

Her advice to Jad Salman seeking exhibition space is to become known to gallery owners by attending exhibition openings i.e. by staying in contact with the art scene evolving and changing rapidly.

Interestingly enough it turned out that her latest solo exhibition was of all places the WEEKEND Gallery in Charlottenburg.
Working together with Rolf Bindemann in this cultural office means as well that she writes articles which accompany the various exhibitions and actions. She does so on the basis of a three-quarter paid job by the Cultural Department of Neu Kölln. What will happen when that runs out within half a year, that she does not know at the moment. Rolf Bindeman has a full time job paid by a similar department of the city's administration. It will last for two more years. What then, he does not know either, but then existence in a city like Berlin is always the same question as to what next to survive on?

The cultural office provides via the Web an outstanding service like a cultural calendar by which every exhibition or cultural event becomes known. They have a system by which they can filter incoming information and then process it so that it becomes a readable cultural calendar for the events ahead in Neu Koelln.


Maki Shimizu and Thomas Monses



Thomas Monses 

One of the latest newcomers is Thomas Monses who has just arrived in Berlin four months ago from Amsterdam, and as well from Japan where he stayed to improve upon his special technique. Having in the back court yard his atelier, it explains why the streets of Berlin are alive with new bursts of energy brought onto canvas.


Crossing Karl-Marx Street - food at Vietnam restaurant - the shop of Maki Shimizu

Maki Shimizu

On the other hand, artists like Maki, born 1981 in Tokyo, has lived and experienced Berlin by now for the past four years. She has gotten to know the city from a very active side, but after four years of tremendous improvisation, action paintings and cartoon works e.g. her latest publication is called 'Adagigo', she is off to try new fields. Her next stay shall be of all places Napoli. 

The artistic shop in which Maki works, she shares with three other girls. The shop has a bit of everything. It is a combination of selling objects like post cards to a street public while serving at the same time as a meeting place for friends and fellow artists. Sometimes the scene evokes a similar image to what might have been taken place there in the past, that is when seamtresses were at work. The mixture of things evoke further associations about heroic efforts to escape something which can pull one down. It is the gravity called 'poverty'. Yet in the artistic language it may be called rather than self defense rather defiance of everything which could pull you down. There is no scientific name for this kind of courage. It makes the strange place so familiar that Maki would even start to complain that she knows everyone. No wonder, wherever she goes, she gives everyone a big smile and sparks immediately some kind of interaction with her tremendous enthusiasm. 



   Note: this district became known most recently by the youth judge Heisig who introduced the new disciplinary measure within the judiciary when it comes to prosecute youthful offenders of the law. She had gained the insight if they appear in front of the judge six months after they were caught and charged, then hardly remember what they did back then. Consequently she speeded up this process. Yet her book published after she was found dead in the summer of 2010 was called significantly "Ende der Geduld" (End of patience). In it she outlines the fact that all institutions are over demanded by a youth looking for a fight, even if a wrong one, simply because they have internalized so many denials by society that even an alternative milieu like Neu Koelln cannot mediate between intolerance and impatience as the two ingredients which characterize sudden flare ups and fights in the street, but also the kind of aggressive confrontation leading usually to a break up of another human relationship.

^ Top

« Jacques Naoum | Pfefferwerk »