Diary Entry 3

Text and pictures by Katy Hawkins

So, to pick up where I left last time... Money

One of the things I love most about Berlin, especially when experienced in comparison to London, is that the role of money as a driving component, or force, within society is considerably less prominent – or perhaps people are just better at hiding it here. In London I always felt as though I was missing out or that I wasn’t utilizing the city when I didn’t have much money at my disposal. Obtaining the “key” to the city seemed inextricably linked to your financial capabilities.

However in Berlin there is so much to do for free; while interning at the Art Gallery here, as I wasn’t being paid with a full wage, I wanted to try and make sure I took full advantage of all the free activities the city had to offer.

Some of my favorite free things to do included:
Making a visit to the The Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. The city model is here as well as a very obliging man at the help desk, and although he forgets me every time I go back, which I hate, he still emails me with all the up coming, free English spoken lectures or seminars with regards to urban planning developments in the city (here you can also read up on the plans of the IBA 2020, those behind the “critical reconstruction” of 1987)

Spending an afternoon in the Kunstbibliothek Berlin- located in the Kultuforum. It has a vast selection of international journals and magazines and you can get a reading pass for free.

I haven’t yet gotten round to doing this, but I really want to get involved in one of the city's many urban gardens. Prinzessinnengarten for example is a beautiful self-proclaimed "urban place of learning". This project has enabled a forgotten corner of a motorway junction to enjoy a new lease of life. Conceptually, the project captures the very spirit of Berlin, in all its temporal glory- run by "nomads" it will exist for a limited amount of time. Spaces such as these offer the chance for testing out the future, and by enabling public involvement - they allow the opportunity for the city to be shaped by its temporal user. So to allow for Berlin to exist as a space forever in becoming: constructed for constant assembly, disassembly and movement, in a self-organizing sprawl.

In that way I think Berlin gives you the space to grow alongside it. I found London to be a sort of "final product" city -in that you either had to find your place within the already “decided” and legitimated metropolis – or leave. Berlin is experimental. Temporary. I think it encourages you to delight in the NOW; a theory hard to play out in day-to-day living, especially when we are flooded with ideas of a "career ladder" and forever encouraged to focus on future orientated goals. If there is any city that makes it a little easier, then it is Berlin - with its temporary spaces, galleries, structures...

The problem is that this characteristic plays out on to the inhabitants - which involves way too many goodbye parties- and I think eventually prevents you from ever investing too much into an individual. So to any new-comers, unless you want to spend all your time having get-to-know-you conversations, quickly find some people that could remain constants in your life, amidst the transient short term visitors you will incur. Now, when I meet someone, the first two questions that I ask them is for their name and for how long they will stay in Berlin, in no particular order.

I also found that public interface Tempelhofer Freiheit was always worth keeping an eye on. I hope lots of you had a chance to visit "The World is Not Fair" at Tempelhof during June, I helped briefly at Lukas Feireiss' pavilion Institute for Imaginary Islands (which perfectly captured the spirit of Calvinos Invisible Cities) in which he invited children and adults alike to make a small scale structures- with the design brief of “Imagine if you arrived on an uninhabited island -what would you build?” There were far too many Bubble tea shops…But all these pavilions worked to encourage or engender more creative ways for one to perceive, inhabit or engage with their urban surroundings.

With all these “free” events and tip based activities you experience a deviation from the traditional system of payment. Similarly with the Internship/Praktikant set-up i think you are required to undergo a new evaluation of the relationship between the components of time, money and experience gained. In successful situations the latter overshadows the former two elements. For example, a friend who is currently interning at Raumlaborberlin (an unpaid position) said to me recently that with such varied work and with both creative responsibility and freedom that he would gladly will work over-time every day. However for those without sufficient funds or a scholarship, the practical factor of money will always rule.

For the moment I guess I’ve had to go with the “money” option. I initially thought that working in sales would be an interesting lesson in the art of manipulation. But I now think that it is a skill that I don’t want. Moreover, now that I finally have money I am spending most of it - in reaction to an unfulfilling job …Something probably needs to change-fast...

But, for now all that is changing is my room. As I prepare this evening to move into my 10th flatshare, out of Neukölln after a 6 month stint and now to F'shain...In this particular casting interview me and my prospective housemate, who is a journalist writing largely about the genifrication suffered in the city, reached a funny/horrible point where I had to raise my hands to being one of these very culprits…

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