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Kreuzberg, 1945. Image taken from: staticflickr.com

On 3 February 1945 shortly after 11 clock, 937 bombers of the 8th United States Air Force threw 2264 tons of explosives on Berlin. An hour later, it was pitch dark.

There was Exportviertel (export quarter) along Ritterstraße which had a lot of profitable small businesses, and the “press quarter” along Kochstraße was the home for most large German newspapers as well as the Ullstein, Scherl, and Mosse book publishers.

Both of these industrial quarters were almost entirely destroyed during World War II, during the single night.

At least 2,800 people died in the attack, more than 12,000 injured and 120,000 homeless. And this is where we drink and party now…

Russian tanks of the type T34 at the sector border between Berlin-Friedrichshain (East) and Kreuzberg (West).

Berlin-Kreuzberg, Schönleinstraße, 1945

Gleisdreieck 1945

Kreuzberg, February 3rd

der strausberger platz

Bombs over Kreuzberg

Branderburger Tor, Mitte

Image taken from BikesurfBerlin FB page

Image taken from BikesurfBerlin FB page

Berlin is the third most popular city in Europe. And if you are couchsurfing you might also want to do bikesurfing. Two wheels in a large and active city like this is the best way to explore it.

Bikesurf Berlin offers 19 bicycles which can be rented for free up to 7 days.

Graham Pope is the one behind all this. An experienced couchsurfer who has seen many countries riding his bike, is now based in Berlin since 2011.

The system is pretty simple, check the available bikes on http://www.bikesurf.org/,
book, get confirmation, pick up from the location marked on the map and enjoy Berlin. When returning a bike you might want to make a donation, whether it’s money or beer you decide!

BikeSurf moto: BikeSurfBerlin was launched to provide budget travellers with the best means of transport: bikes. Bikes are fun, healthy, environmentally friendly and cost next to nothing to keep in working order. We do our best to make sure nobody goes without one in Berlin. Two legs good. Free wheels better! 

A great service by the great people for the great visitors! Spread the bike love!

BikesurfBerlin

BikesurfBerlin

Image taken from Fiesere Miese FB page

Image taken from Fiesere Miese FB page

Köpenicker Straße 18-20 is a large industrial space. With a Buddha statue in the middle of the yard and Zolando HQ on the corner we bumped first into the people celebrating wedding, and then somebody’s birthday on the beach before we saw the sign “Fiesere Miese 100 metres that way ➝”.

Looking for a clubwe were faced with an inscription PUFF. Old cars, a burning animal head, a red carpet, and the entrance through the bus – that’s Fiesere MieseIt is small in comparison to the famous Tresor and Berghainbut definitely one of the most interesting spaces I’ve seen in Berlin. Stuffed animals, a bathtub with a running water, a wooden barrel for washing hands, tons of old TVs and metal bars are just a few things you can find there.

Sadly it is not one of those places where you can come whenever for a drink. They are open for all kind of bookings, even clothing parties and feasts with white tables for X-mas; which means every weekend is different, and the place does not have a techno label on it. We saw a burlesque performance there which was followed by a minimal-techno DJ. Thank you VAGE and Puresque for having us last night!

Keep your eyes open for their future events here on Facebook.

Fiesere Miese 4 berlin

Fiesere Miese upper bar

Fiesere Miese old cars

Fiesere Miese cars

puff berlin 2

Fiesere Miese stuffed birds

puff berlin 3

Fiesere Miese one of the rooms

puff berlin

Fiesere Miese, view from downstairs

Solmsstr. Berlin

Solmsstr. Berlin

There are hidden streets in Berlin where masters do amazing work making this world a little bit more like a fairy tale. Last week I came across with one of those places -called  Alla Hopp. A small cute working space/shop with hundred of famous faces.

These are puppets who look like Oscar Wilde, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf and many others. They are being made by graceful Karl Schlarb, a designer and artist based in Berlin. His puppets are made of material, filled with small balls; and surprisingly there is no wire inside, but Karls has his own trick to make them sit and bend the hands. The heads are made from a special thick plastic in order to show all the features of the face.

This is a project which started 3 years ago as an idea to put love for puppets and literature together. So, the puppets got the faces of famous authors. Among them are also Bjork and David Bowie.

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Xposed queer film festival berlin

Xposed poster

My homeland, Latvia, is just a little less aggressive towards everyone who is not white and straight than Russia. Gay, lesbian, transgender – this topic makes post soviet countries take a hostile reception. Everything forbidden and “wrong” in my country always evoked in me compassion and will to support the minority. Trying to prove something in Latvia is like trying to plant tomatoes in concrete. We are blind and are not willing to change.

That’s why leaving my country was a celebration, I could avoid things I could not change. I did not want to waste my energy on people who don’t want to be happy. In Berlin I celebrate the variety, freedom and peace. XPOSED International Queer Film Festival is one of those events which reminds me that i am in the land where being yourself is normal.

It’s about eXposure and eXposing. It’s about fun, it’s about Berlin and the rest of the Queer World!

The best way to shine a light on Queer life in another land is to mark it with a giant X and open peoples eyes to it, therefore, the festival grew into it’s new focus. Every year we would dedicate to a specific region around the world and bring queer stories from these lands to an International audience in Berlin. Not only have we XPOSED Queer Australian short films, but also short films from Canada, Korea, Turkey, Germany, Spain & The Middle East!  X marks the spot, and that spot this year is AUSTRIA (Xposed)

30 May – 1 June 2013

@ MOVIEMENTO

Kottbusser Damm 22 ubhf – Schönleinstr. U8

Full Program and other venues

Kurt Kren 10/65 Selbstverstümmelung

Albert Sackl Im Freien

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

This blogpost is not a review on film, it’s a sentimental note about Berlin then and now. How the landscapes of the 80s look today, based on the film “Der Himmel über Berlin”.

It so happens that I live in the yard, where in 1987 Wim Wenders has filmed very important “Wings of Desire”moments – the circus scenes. It is the yard by Hallesches Tor, very close to Friedrichstr. When I started watching the film I did not expect to see the yard I cycle through every day, or Tommy Becker Haus (then – a squat, now – a house project), which famous wall paintings are being regularly photographed by tourists until now.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Wings of Desire with Tommy Becker House on the background. Screenshot.

Berlin, Tommy Becker Haus almost hidden in the green. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Berlin, Tommy Becker House hidden by the trees. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

My house was not even there in the 80s. But the building across the street, with the yellow windows – was (you can see it on the screenshot above). Now it is quite a special feeling to have this view in front of me. After I finished watching the film I thought it will be interesting to compare “then” and “now” with photographs.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Tommy Becker House. 21/05/2013. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Tommy Becker House. 21/05/2013. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

The empty yard, where almost 20 years ago was circus, turned into a truly green spot for local kids, alcoholics and drug addicts who come here from Hallesches Tor metro station.

Not only the whole town… the whole world is taking part in our decision.

                                                                     – Marion

On 21 July 1990, ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters staged a gigantic charity concert of his former band’s rock extravaganza The Wall to commemorate the end of the division between Eastand West Germany. The concert took place at Potsdamer Platz. The enormous buildings “grew” within 10 years time and changed the face of the area completely. Now finding the Potsdamer Platz wouldn’t be a problem. 

Former Potsdamer Platz, 1986. Image taken from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/05/writing-on-stone/

Potsdamer Platz today. Image taken from http://www.potsdamer-platz.net/

Wings of Desire. Screenshot. Hotel Esplanade Berlin, Kaisersaal (the emperor’s hall). Stars like Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo stayed here.

Hotel Esplanade once stood on Berlin’s busy transport and nightlife hub Potsdamer Platz. During its colourful and turbulent history it went from being one of the German capital’s most luxurious and celebrated hotels to a bombed-out ruin lost in the wastelands alongside the Berlin Wall. A section of it still survives today, albeit as a fragment incorporated into the soaring modern complex of the Sony Center.

Germany, Micaela Schaefer, Eurovision. Image taken from: http://ruptly.tv/

I stopped watching Eurovision more than 10 years ago. When I was a teenager, who lived in a small city, with no Internet connection, Eurovision on TV was definitely the night to get excited about. Then you grow up and simply forget about it. Countries like Latvia, and certain groups of people who carefully follow this event from year to year take it extremely seriously. Did we send the best one to represent our country? They get really worried. And then the country which holds the event, gets super frustrated about the stage, building it specially for this occasion.

It’s politics under the shiny dresses. It’s love and hate between countries.

But in Berlin it does not matter, in Berlin it is another reason to have a party. They organise a big open air, with a huge screen and beers, and simply have a good laugh. Berlin has definitely gathered all European nationalities by now; so it is extremely fun to watch Eurovision if you and your friends are all from different countries. Is my country representative more ridiculous than yours? It gets sentimental only when it’s time to vote. It’s funny, but all the small shops, bars and cafes screen Eurovision. Everyone is watching as if it was football.

And then if your friend’s country is the winner, it is another reason to get another beer.

May the 18th, Malmo 2013. Have fun!

And it does not matter before the actual night, but if you want to know who is participating, please find all the details here: http://www.eurovision.tv/

Ellen Allien. Image taken from: https://www.facebook.com/EllenAllien

Why men are still dominating the film and music scene? Until the last century a woman was meant to sit at home and take care of kids and housing. She was forbidden to do certain jobs and get equal education. In the beginning of the 20th century the oppressed woman question exploded in the majority of European countries broaching up the subject about equal rights between both genders (Engels, 1879: chapter 1). 

“She is the first human being which came into servitude. Women were slaves before men”

                                                                                                                        Engels

So, now almost a 100 years later are women less enthusiastic about music than men?

A lack of women in the music industries in general is a theme running through the work of Cohen (1991), Hutton (2006), and Robson (2007).  Sara Cohen’s work illustrates that women were not only underrepresented in the Liverpool rock scene of the late 1980s, but actively excluded, and Josie Robson’s work on female fandom and gender dynamics in Sheffield in the early 2000s finds a similar lack of female representation across the music industries in that city. Focusing on club cultures and feminine identities, Fiona Hutton’s work highlights the disadvantages to female club producers, because of their gender, which include lifestyle factors, financial factors and the ‘negotiation of a hegemonic masculine culture’ (p. 67).

Live Music Exchange Blog

‘It’s a very misogynistic business. The blokes in it are very egotistical’, and women have to learn to put up with sexist comments and jokes.

Whitby-Grubb

Peaches at White Trash. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Peaches at White Trash. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

Are we less enthusiastic because we are repressed, because we lack the inspiration or because we are scared? Are there any technical issues? Or is it tits that interfere? Talking about electronic music, girls are generally less geeky, but then it does not mean they cannot learn the code.

“Technology now is so in your face. It’s much easier for women to learn and not be intimated. “

Tara Busch

The psychological pressure based on the stereotypical understanding of the music scene is high enough to scare off unconsciously. We just got used to seeing men at the deck and find it pretty comfortable. But there is no such fact – that men are more musically gifted than women, but then again the amount of girls choosing sonic studies is very little. There are enough women singing, but developing and promoting them are almost always menThe women who managed to state about themselves with certainty are very few indeed. The first who comes to my mind is wonderful Ellen Allien, a German electronic musician, music producer and founder of BPitch Control music label. And of course i cannot miss on Peaches – the godmother of electronic music and activist in Berlin.

Another factor is income. The Guardian search states that only 6% of women in the business earn more than £29,000 compared with 22% of men. So, where is equality?

Only 7% of the Ableton Live users are female.

Some interesting stats I found on http://femalepressure.wordpress.com/facts/ Music festivals across the world and the number of participents:

– GERMANY

Berlin Festival 2012 www.berlinfestival.de
total: 87 acts / female: 12 / mixed: 9 / male: 66

CTM Festival 2013 www.ctm-festival.de
total: 181 acts / female: 18 / mixed: 7 / unknown: 3 / male: 153

Fusion Festival 2012 www.fusion-festival.de
total: 177 bands / female: 20 / mixed: 50 / male: 107

– BELGIUM

Dour Festival 2012 www.dourfestival.be
total: 232 acts / female: 5 / mixed: 17 / male: 210

– DENMARK

Roskilde Festival 2011 roskilde-festival.dk
total: 226 acts / female: 14 / mixed: 23 / male: 189

– FINLAND

Flow Festival 2012 www.flowfestival.com
total: 133 acts / female: 7 / mixed: 24 / male: 102

– NETHERLANDS

TodaysArt 2012 todaysart.org
total: 198 acts / female: 12 / mixed: 10 / male: 176

Check the link above for full festival and label list.

Two studies in the Journal of Applied Psychology called this the “penalty for success.” Women artists pay a social tax for their professional achievements that men do not. Women musicians cannot promote themselves in the same way that men do without facing negative consequences in the way they are perceived personally.

http://www.newmusicbox.org/

PJ Harvey. Image taken form: http://photo.sing365.com

SHE is an online Berlin platform for women musicians within electronic music. The project looks to create a database of contacts and a network of female artists, project leaders, songwriters, label owners, female issue leaders, musicians and bands to begin to address the gender inequalities in electronic music and give long lasting exposure to outstanding female artists. SHE gives a special support and calls to action.

Aim: Investors are welcome to become part of an innovative forward thinking project who will see a growth of members, artists and networks culminating in a central platform for female electronic artists and female artists issues. With a 1 year plan to build the network and then to launch the SHE Music Festival year long celebration which realises a 1 week festival of shows and events every 3 months. The future of the SHE Festival looks to host live events, workshops, live performances and open up discussion and debate about gender issues in electronic music.

This question is PhD worth, but it’s clear without a deep study – in the new Century we need a new way of thinking, the time comes when the old model just does not work anymore. And Berlin is to affirm it. SHE is here to stay. You can find more information about the project at: http://shemakesmusik.wordpress.com/ and http://artconnectberlin.com/AndyPegram/projects/6811

Matteo Giordano preview for Anna Bolena Bruitphonies Idroscalo Dischi 2013 from antonella pintus aka anna bolena on Vimeo.

"Alone with you". All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

“Alone with you”. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

I remember my teenage years in Riga, when we were queuing from 6am to see a favorite band’s concert at Arena Riga. It was young sonic madness, which can be understood only by music lovers. And it’s been a while since I’ve done it. But today Berlin has experiences a hell long queque to a new art space –  DB’s Kunsthalle. Last Year’s Deutsche Guggenheim closure was a big loss for Berlin, but this week’s announcement caused a lot buzz among all art lovers.

Deutsche Bank, who’s the sponsor, said they will accept ANY hanging art work from ANY artist between 5th and 7th of April, and will allow to put it on the walls until there is no space left. Me and my friend decided to participated with our paintings and collages, but faced a queque, which started to grow at 4am and is there still now. It was naive to believe that the news would not spread like a virus across the city, and there will be no hustle.

So, the opening of the exhibition is right on Monday, April the 8th, noon time, and will last only for 24hours. Make sure you are there, even if you are not in the queue right now, and see art madness of all kind of styles and expressions.

But the story does not end here. All works will be anonymous and will be given a number. As there will be  a competition, and a few prices. The main price is €500. Three other lucky artists selected by a curatorial team will have their own two-week solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle at the end of 2013.

What else a Berlin artist can wish for?

Art Parasites: Deutsche Bank's Friedrich Hütte reveals that those not able to fit in this morning at the Kunsthalle will be shown in special exhibition during gallery weekend.

Art Parasites: Deutsche Bank’s Friedrich Hütte reveals that those not able to fit in this morning at the Kunsthalle will be shown in special exhibition during gallery weekend.

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