While I was debating whether or not to review Starbucks as an artistic institution, Despina suggested it might be more fruitful to check out Döner shops instead—it would be much more Berlin!
Up for the challenge, I eagerly biked to Kreuzberg to do some fieldwork. That was probably my first mistake. Peering through the windows of a near dozen shops, I was crestfallen when I realized the only images on the walls were blown-out and faded pictures Halloumi, Falafel im bröt, and Pommes mit Curry Ketchup.
I caught the U-Bahn back home to Prenzlauer Berg, discouraged. I got off at my regular stop; I walked my regular path home. The karma police must have recalculated my worth since dropping a Euro into a street performer’s cup the other day, as my routine route was interrupted by the sight of Bistro Keko.
I got closer to the window. Could it be? Is that… art?
Excited, I took note of the address and decided to return with a camera, a close friend, and my (art) thinking cap.
A wise man once said that the only worthy subject of a painting is a horse in a field. A wiser man (me) once said that flowers and parrots are also appreciable, and Bistro Keko’s collection is no exception. Look at those sunflowers! Look at those parrots! Now look at the grey sky outside and think of how lucky we are to have reminders that there is hope and sun and skies that aren’t grey! +10 for optimism!
Across the hall from the sunflower poster was this sepia-toned matte photograph of old cars highlighting the baby-blue buggy in the back. Appropriately, “sepia” is the art word for “fake vintage”. Paired with the obtrusive light and the selective coloring (very 2003 of them), this photograph is proof that the curator showed a lapse of judgment that I would expect of Starbucks and maybe of Painting Forever!, but not of a high-class institution like Bistro Keko. -37 for the disappointment.
The comparisons to Starbucks did not stop there. I would be shocked if Bistro Keko had not lifted these images straight from the coffee corporations private collections. Scandal! As a former victim of plagiarism, I have to give Bistro Keko a harsh -100 for shady practice, and a stern verbal slap on the wrist to the curator.
At this point, the man trying to hock me a dönerbox was getting the kind of annoyed a Starbucks-barista gets when they have to explain the restrooms are for paying customers only (How rude!), so my friend and I bought a juice and left. The juice was solidly OK. +0 for the juice; -0 for the juice.