Diary Entry 5

Text and pictures by Katy Hawkins

As the office that I currently work in is located in the new-new Berlin gallery "hot-spot", situated around the Check-Point Charlie area, I have been attempting to break up the monotony of the working day, or to find some quick-fix through occasional visits to the surrounding galleries.

A slightly surprising location, in my eyes, for it is a somewhat confused part of town...

The majority of the galleries have cropped up around the high-rise Axel-Springer complex and are enveloped in the hype emitting from the famous ex-crossing point- now manned by actors dressed as guards in fake uniforms.

This site of superimposed remembrance sees past and present co existing, in this presentation of a sensationalized history which plays on repeat. Now, for a small fee you can get your passport stamped and play a part in the eternal and kitsch street-theatre...and then pop over to MacDonald’s...A geographically contingent “site of memory”, but ultimately a construct of the later present and a staged response to Divided Berlin.

Meanwhile, on the roads, sight-seeing buses swarm the area, mutating Berlin into a terrain for observation rather than integration. It is in sighting one of these vehicles that I suffer a temporary switch in perception, as I am reminded that this landscape, which features heavily in my day-to-day existence, is also a popular tourist destination and a important site of historical significance.

Included into the mix- architectural contributions from the internationally acclaimed Peter Eisenmann and Rem Koolhaas - both of whose building's (1987, IBA) are currently struggling to stand out amidst the semiotic interruptions of excessive signage- a result from the commercialization of the area (see above).

Then, running south down Friedrichstraße, where the boulevard has emptied of tourists and has become comparatively humble near U-Bahn Stelle Hallesches Tor, you can find the Path of Visionaries, a slightly bizarre (and currently incomplete) “monument” to Europe. 27 illuminated panels (will) line the pedestrian walkway,  each encrypted with a visionary "idea" from a great European- captured in a quote. Here we are invited to think-on the “Cultural peculiarities”  enjoyed with in this continent and, as advised by Mayor Klaus Wowereit, to stop for a moment and reflect on Europe… I am not exactly sure how one goes about doing that...

Luckily there is an accompanying exhibition entitled Place Of Ideas, to "help you out"...

(A bit unrelated, but I’d also recommend popping into motz & Co e.V.-a nonprofit organization who provide emergency overnight accommodation for people affected and threatened by homelessness. Generally, a good second hand store, with non-Humana prices – at the southern point of Friedrichstrase ...)

Then, finally to the comparatively  quiet natured galleries- and some personal favorites...

- Galerienhaus in Lindenstrasse-- it makes things easy even for the lazier of art-goers for it has 5 floors containing 11 contemporary galleries, collectively hosting an array of styles, mediums, conceptual ideologies, etc.
- Galerie Barbara Thumm
- Hamish Morisson Galerie
- Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin

…and to make it easy each gallery has a surplus of Large-scale, self explanatory mapped guides to the galleries in the area...

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