11 November 2009

Save Berlin Fest 09



This coming weekend, SLAB Magazine is participating in the Save Berlin Fest 09. We’ll be presenting a set of posters which question the motives behind the event itself. What remains to be seen, is whether the Save Berlin Fest is really up to tackling such important issues as city planning politics, gentrification and pritvatisation in a coherent and constructive mannar.

The venue

SLAB remains quietly sceptical: a recent interview with curator Dan Borden goes only halfway to clarify what needs saving in Berlin, and completely fails to explain from whom. In place of an analysis of the complex web of political and financial interests which are currently shaping the city, we are instead repeatedly referred to “bankers and bureaucrats” who are intent on “destroying” the “intangible” aspect of Berlin which makes it so special. But what has made Berlin so special since the fall of the Wall is very tangible: it’s full of gaps, for example, and it’s (still fairly) cheap. The so called “bureaucrats” are just convenient bogeymen. This is distracting: it tells us nothing about how a city is run.

Whilst the concerns of Save Berlin are totally legitimate, there is a sloppiness in the way they are being voiced. This is dangerous. Downright careless are statements such as: “This is a city that’s been a canvas for brilliant schemes, for utopian schemes. After the Wall came down, that died.” Which city is meant here? West Berlin or East Berlin? Let’s not forget that the former was a state-subsidised island incapable of financing itself (employees were payed a 7% bonus to encourage them to live there). And which brilliant utopian schemes are meant? No answer is given: does he mean Germania, or IBA? So far, we are left speculating in the dark.

A further question, hopefully answered by the Fest, is that of the “creatives” themselves who are now encouraged to save the city. Is it not the same creative scene which has made Berlin such an attractive place for developers in the first place? This needs to be addressed in an honest manner.

The worst thing that could happen is that Save Berlin remains the isolated voice of a small circle of Anglo-American ex-pat “creatives”, worried that their beloved Berlin of the 1990s is being taken away from them by The Man. SLAB sincerely hopes that a larger dialog is the result, even resulting in some kind of coordinated movement a la Not in Our Name in Hamburg.

From the newswire:

Join EXBERLINER’s Save Berlin Fest 09!

Friday Nov 13 – Sunday Nov 15, Stattbad Wedding, Gerichtstrasse 65, www.stattbad.net

Save Berlin is a three-day extravaganza of art, music, film and performance in and around the disused swimming pool of Stattbad Wedding. There will be three floors of exhibitions, live performances, installations, films, food and drinks, and even a Souk-style market.

Inspired by the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, architects, artists, performers, musicians, and other imaginative Berliners will present their ideas and visions. They’ll be revisiting the past, challenging the present and showing their alternatives for the future – in the form of concrete proposals and artistic works. The exhibition will show drawings, models, photographs and installations of the people’s vision for 21st Century Berlin, while each night we’ll also have a varied programme of performances, films, music and discussions.

Full list of participating artists and projects here.

We’ll be serving delicious, affordable food and cheap drinks all weekend long…