Tag Archives: Photography

Olympus OM-D Photography Playground at the Opernwerkstätten Berlin

Jeongmoon Choi – Drawing in Space at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

An interactive exhibition is ideally suited to Berlin, a city overflowing with creative people, and that is what Olympus has created with the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground, which opened at the Opernwerkstätten last night.

The Opernwerkstätten, built between 1939 and 1941 with some involvement from Albert Speer, used to house the workshops of Berlin’s many opera companies.  It was here that the sets were built and costumes made.  Visiting during the installation of the new exhibition gave me the opportunity to appreciate the space.

The ceiling at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A hook at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Außer Betrieb - Fire Alarm at the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Olympus turned over 7,000 m² of the building to a group of artists to create site-specific installations on the theme ‘Space and Art’.   Between them, Jeongmoon Choi, Martin Butler, Shan Blume, Starstyling, Numen / For Use, Julian Charrière, UnitedVisualArtists, Tim John and Sven Meyer & Kim Pörksen, Speech and Zimoun have created a stimulating playground for the senses.

Visitors are invited to explore the space and document their experiences with the Olympus OM-D camera which can be rented free of charge.  The memory card is removed from the camera when it is returned and can be taken home.

The Olympus OM-D system camera

Photo courtesy of Olympus

Warning: You will need ‘proper’ identification (for those without a National Identity Card, a passport) to borrow one of the cameras.

Unfortunately, my UK Drivers Licence wasn’t acceptable so I can’t tell you any more about the Olympus OM-D, except that it looks good.

It was clear that those people who did get their hands on the camera were enjoying the experience though – everywhere you went people were snapping away.

Visitors taking photos of the installation by Zimoun – Prepared dc-motors, cork balls, cardboard boxes at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Visitors having fun with the installation by fashion designing duo Starstyling – Settings at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A visitor taking photographs in the installation by SPEECH (Tchoban & Kuznetsov) – towninbox at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

And why wouldn’t they?  The installations have been cleverly conceived and constructed to play with light, sound and perception and make ideal subjects or backgrounds for photographs.

A visitor taking photographs in Shan Blume's OT_L_Space_01 at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

 

United Visual Artists – Vanishing point at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Amongst my favourite installations was Drawing Space by Korean artist Jeongmoon Choi.  The simple but effective use of UV light and string created a myriad of geometric patterns that were visually striking and different from every angle.

Visitors interacting with the installation by Jeongmoon Choi - Drawing in Space at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

Another outstanding contribution was Tim John’s ‘Was war gestern’ (What was yesterday).  I spoke to the artist while he was creating the artwork and it was important for him to create an experience with his installation.  Echoing the building’s past he has created a stage and set, complete with audience in their boxes.  A number of ‘pointing fingers’ direct visitors to the interactive elements.  The crank of an old gramophone, for instance, must be turned to start the show.

Tim John – Was war gestern (What was yesterday) at the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground the Opernwerstätten in Berlin

A fun, interactive, sensory experience this is what all exhibitions should be.  The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground has returned in 2014 and is open daily 11:00 to 19:00 at the Opernwerkstätten, Zinnowitzer Strasse 9, Berlin until 25 May 2014 – entry is free.

JR – Wrinkles of the City in Berlin

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 1

French Street Artist JR began his Wrinkles of the City project in Cartegna in 2008 – since then, he has continued the theme in Shanghai, Los Angeles and Havana and this month, Berlin.

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 2

As luck would have it, I spotted JR and his crew at work at Warschauer Strasse two weeks ago today.  Having recognised his work, I followed him on Twitter and Instagram, where he posted shots of work in progress and some of the completed artworks.

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 3

The concept behind Wrinkles of the City is to take photos of the old people living in the city in which the art will be displayed as large-scale paste-ups on walls that have their own texture so that the architectural wrinkles enhance the physical wrinkles.

JR has left his mark on between 15 and 20 walls in Berlin where suitable buildings are plentiful.

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 11

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 4

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 5

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 6

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 7

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 8

While he was here he also created impromptu artwork at the East Side Gallery, where he rebuilt a section of the wall recently removed by developers amid protests and added a paste up.  In this article in Berliner Morgenpost (auf Deutsch) it is alleged that a Security Guard was knocked out during the incident.  A photo of the artwork has subsequently been removed from JR’s intagram feed.

This isn’t JR’s first contribution to Street Art in Berlin.  JR collaborated with BLU on the mural at Cuvrystrasse that represents the struggle for East and West to remove each other’s masks to reveal their true identity, which featured in my BLU in Berlin post.  JR’s input, the eyes, had unfortunately long since disappeared by the time I first came to Berlin in 2009.  There is also a huge pair of eyes under the railway bridge from Friedrichstrasse station at Schiffbauerdamm.

An exhibition of Wrinkles of the City at Galerie Henrink Springmann runs until 25 May 2013, with two of the outdoor pieces nearby.  The exhibition includes original artworks on wood, incredible photos from the project in previous cities, a captivating multi-screen video installation (with blinking eyes) in the front room and a film of JR at work on loop in the back of the gallery.  It really compliments the street work and I would highly recommend a visit.

You can see more photos of JR’s Wrinkles of the City project in Berlin on his website, including photos of the piece on Warschauer Strasse with an uninterrupted view – an advantage of having access to the train tracks (parked trains have been in the way each time I’ve been there).

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 9

Also, for an interview with JR about the project, shot while he completed the work at Postbahnhof, check out this video from Enter Berlin, a YouTube channel dedicated to urban culture, art, food, fashion and music.

Street Artist JR – Wrinkles of the City // On the Beat

I hope to find more of the JR pieces from Wrinkles of the City in Berlin over the coming weeks.  Sooner rather than later hopefully because there is a question over how long some might last – the diggers are already perilously close to this piece.

JR - Wrinkles of the City Berlin 10

Teufelsberg – A Return To The Devil’s Mountain

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Berlin was cold but sunny yesterday and when a friend had the ‘crazy idea’ to walk up the Teufelsberg I didn’t take much persuading.

The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) is a hill in the Grunewald forest in Berlin and is most famous for the former NSA Listening Station that sits at its peak.

As we walked from Grunewald S-Bahnhof I recounted the story of my previous trip to Teufelsberg in August 2010.  Then, the Grunewald lived up to its name (Green Forest) but yesterday the predominant colour was white, the snow laying thick on the ground.

Having reached the top of the Teufelsberg we walked around the perimeter fence of the former NSA facility occasionally stopping to look up at the domes looming high above us.

A dome of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin seen through the perimeter fence

On the Western slope of the hill we came across a group of sledgers, skiers and snowboarders enjoying the snow on the Rodelberg (the best translation from Google is toboggan mountain).

When we reached the main gates of the former NSA Listening station a guide was preparing to take a group of visitors on a tour and on a whim we decided to join them.

For €7 (or a reduced price of €5 for students) our guide led us to the main building in the complex and up the highest tower.

The main change to the building since my last visit was the addition of lots of great Street Art (much of it created for the aborted Artbase 2012 event) – so much in fact that I will post about it separately.

Our first stop as we climbed the tower was the highest floor with a view over Berlin.

Looking down on buildings at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Tattered sheeting and the Wannsee from the highest tower of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Olympiastadion (the Olympic Stadium) and a factory from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Then it was up to the top dome, with its incredible acoustics, where we were treated to an impromptu performance from a singer who was there when we arrived.

Our guide (off camera in the video) then took up the baton and gave his own performance.

As we descended we stopped on the roof of the main building for more photo opportunities and as luck would have it we had timed it perfectly to see some wonderful colours in the sky as the sun began to set.

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome and the setting sun on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Pink sky and a dome on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

And then it was time to leave.

The main dome tower at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

An outbuilding and dome at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome tower at sunset at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

I think that €7 is a small price to pay for the wonderful views over Berlin and the opportunity to walk around the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg but the adrenaline rush of sneaking through the fence on my previous visit was sadly missing.

Berlin Skyline – The View From the Parkdeck of Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Having spent the afternoon in Neukölln the other week having a burger at Berlin Burger International and checking out the abandoned Children’s Hospital, I decided to make the most of ‘Golden Hour’ (the hour before sunset) and returned to the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden for a great free view of the Berlin skyline.

I first came to check out the Berlin skyline at night with Digital Cosmonaut back in October and have been meaning to return to the roof of the parking garage of this Neukölln shopping centre for some daylight shots since.

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

The Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden is a great place to watch the sunset over Berlin and I will be back again in the summer with a couple of beers for a repeat performance.

The Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin (Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft)

The Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Built in 1974 and empty since staff were ordered to leave during the Gulf War in January 1991 the abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin is a popular Urbex destination.

The non-descript pre-fabricated concrete building (the Plattenbau style so common in Soviet-era East Germany) sits in a quiet cul-de-sac in the former diplomatic quarter of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in Pankow.

Its grey walls belie its colourful past.

Iraq was the first non-Socialist country to recognise the DDR as a state in 1969 and a special friendship developed between the two countries.  It is widely believed that the DDR was offering scientific help to Iraq, particularly with their development of nuclear and chemical weapons.

In 1980, two members of staff from the embassy were arrested in West Berlin whilst attempting deliver a suitcase of explosives as part of a plot to kill a group of Kurdish dissidents at a meeting in Wedding.

Arabic Book Cover - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The embassy came under renewed scrutiny in 1990 when it was reported in the magazine Junge Welt, that the building was being used to stockpile weapons and explosives and to protect terrorists.  The East German Interior Ministry confirmed the weapons find and activities at the embassy were monitored closely.

And then they were gone.

Looking at the building now it would seem that when staff were ordered to leave in 1991 they left in a hurry.  The Iraqi Embassy to the re-unified Germany is now in Dahlem and has been since 2003.

Germany owns the land on which the now derelict embassy stands but granted Iraq perpetual rights to the land and building.  This has left the plot in a state of limbo.  The Germans say they have no right to it and the Iraqis have their shiny new embassy so they’re not interested.

Dark Corridor and Bathroom - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Dark Corridor and Furniture - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Draughty Room - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The Iraqi Embassy is in a dreadful state.

It is a series of dark corridors and draughty rooms, many of which are now completely open to the elements and there is broken glass and paperwork everywhere.

A lot of the writing is in Arabic so I can’t be sure but I assume any sensitive documents were taken away.  At one time the books, papers and files must have been stored neatly on shelves and in cupboards but now they are strewn across the floor and amassed in great heaps.

English and Arabic Writing - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Arabic Book - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The Europa Year Book 1982 - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The smell of mouldy paper is overpowering.

As in all abandoned buildings the visitors have left their mark in the form of pictures, slogans and more considered art.

Our House In The Middle Of Iraq - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Clown Face - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s And There Will Come Soft Rains by Elizabeth Skadden - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The furniture has been moved, papers have been burned and typewriters, faxes and photocopiers have been smashed and their keys have been removed.

Chair and Desk on Balcony - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Paperwork - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische BotschaftBurnt Paperwork - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

It is clear that many treasures have been looted.

Early blog posts and newspaper articles mention framed portraits of Saddam Hussein hanging on the walls – some of the authors even boast of the souvenirs they took.

Now there are just a few newspapers and calendars bearing his image.

Saddam Hussein Front Page of Paper - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Saddam Hussein Face on Calendar - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Saddam Hussein Hands and Title on Calendar - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

I would recommend visiting the abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin soon before all vestiges of its past life have been plundered, damaged or burnt and all that’s left is a derelict shell. Who knows, Germany and Iraq may one day even sort out the issue of ownership and put the land to new use.

Snapshot: Brandenburger Tor – The Brandenburg Gate At Night

Brandenburger Tor - Brandenburg Gate at Night

The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is arguably one of the world’s most recognisable structures and has become a symbol for the city of Berlin.

I remember visiting the Brandenburg Gate on my first morning in Berlin and looking up at the stonework marvelling at the fact that it was completed in 1791.

Throughout history, the Brandenburg Gate has been the backdrop to political upheaval, flashpoints and celebrations.

In 1806 Napoleon removed the Quadriga, the statue of the goddess Victoria driving a chariot drawn by four horses that sits atop the gate, and took it back with him to Paris.

In 1987 Ronald Reagan delivered the line “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” from a podium set up near the gate.  The spot is now marked by a memorial.

And who could forget the images beamed around the world in 1989 of the celebrations atop the wall here when travel restrictions between East and West were lifted.

Rewatex – Abandoned Laundry and Dyeing Factory – Berlin

Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

In autumn sunlight the abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory on the Spree, previously home to  VEB Rewatex, looks almost inviting as an urbex destination but in the snow and cold of a Berlin winter it’s a different story.

When Digital Cosmonaut suggested a trip out to Spindlersfeld last October to explore an abandoned factory I jumped at the chance.  By coincidence, just a few weeks before, as we stood on the opposite side of the river in Köpenick, Bine had told me about the factory where Dry Cleaning had first been developed.

Wilhelm Spindler formed W Spindler, a laundry and dyeing company, in Berlin in 1832 and the headquarters of the firm moved to Spindlersfeld (then Oberspree) in 1873.

Roof at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The company was acquired by the state in 1949 and renamed VEB Blütenweisß.  In 1961 the name changed to VEB Vereinigte Wäschereien Berlin Rewatex (VEB Rewatex for short) and in 1981 to VEB Kombinat Rewatex.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall the company was again renamed, this time becoming Rewatex AG and was acquired by Kölner Larosé Hygiene-Service-GmbH in 1992.  Shortly after re-privatisation operations ceased and the factory at Spindlersfeld has been empty ever since.

The main factory building is laid out as a square, which means seemingly endless corridors and open rooms with many supporting columns.

The Factory Floor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The Light At The End Of The Corridor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Crumbling Columns at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There is also a central courtyard, now overgrown with weeds, which helps give a sense of scale to the complex and is useful when orienting yourself whilst exploring.

The Courtyard of Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The Courtyard at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are signs of the administrative functions of the upper floors of the building with invoices, ledgers and other paperwork strewn across the floors, some showing signs of fire damage.

Paperwork at VEB Kombinat Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Receipts at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Paperwork at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are the usual signs of disrepair and neglect around the building – floors are warped, ceilings are collapsing and there is graffiti on many surfaces.

Collapsed Ceiling At Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Graffiti at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Someone may have been contemplating a repair on this hole in an upper floor but I don’t think Lego bricks would really serve the purpose.

Hole In The Floor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are also a couple of outbuildings worth poking your head into, though there is not much to be seen in them.

Loading Bay at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

My revisit a couple of weeks ago was prompted by one of my favourite Berlin based Street Artists, KEN, posting a photo on his Facebook page of a piece he had painted at the factory.

KEN Street Art at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

It took me a little while to find, as there is only one opening, which would have been a doorway when the room had a floor, that gives a view of the piece.

KEN Street Art at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory (Wide Angle)

The room in which it was painted was badly damaged by a fire on the night of 29 September 2006, which destroyed the upper two floors.  A new roof has since been added – the pristine wood incongruous amongst the damaged brickwork and piles of rubble below.

I didn’t hang around too long on my revisit to the abandoned Rewatex laundry in Berlin because there were animal tracks in the snow not accompanied by human footprints so I wasn’t entirely sure I was alone.  Besides, the site wasn’t as inviting as my first visit as the following two shots show.

Sunset at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Leaving Rewatex Berlin in the Snow - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Photos From My Phone – January

The new year started with a bang – well, lots of them actually.  I spent my first Silvester (New Year’s Eve) in Berlin and went to watch the fireworks at Brandenburger Tor from a side street near Potsdamer Platz.  Here’s a short video:

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, Silvester in Berlin is mental, with people launching rockets from their hands and throwing bangers at the feet of other revellers.  For a bit of an insight into just how ridiculous it can be, check out this video shot in Neukölln that night:

January is the month I finally succumbed to the lure of instagram and also discovered the joys of another great new app – Untapp’d – thanks to Gilly.  This is foursquare for boozing - check in your beers.

Potsdamer Rex Pils bottle top

After Christmas in Cardiff and some time settling back in to my Berlin routine I was getting Currywurst withdrawal symptoms so I headed to my favourite Berlin Imbisszur Bratpfanne.  Even standing around in freezing temperatures this is one hell of a lunch.

Currywurst mit Pommes at zur Bratpfanne in Berlin

Popping into the Hof at Haus Schwarzenberg near Hackescher Markt I saw this sticker by Mein Lieber Prost.

Prost - Joke Sticker - a twist on the Shepard Fairey Obama Hope poster by Mein Lieber Prost in Berlin

I spotted this ‘TANZ’ (dance) sign from a distance as I walked along Chaussestrasse and only realised as I got close that it is on the side of the Hafen Bar, somewhere I’ve been told I have to go for the Schlager (more withdrawal symptoms since Schmankerl-Hüttn closed).

Tanz (Dance) - Sign at Hafen Bar Berlin

The Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonic) looks a little bit like a cross between a circus tent and an alien spaceship.

Berliner Philharmonie - The Berlin Philharmonic Hall at dusk on a snowy cold day

Beelitz-Heilstätten is a former tuberculosis sanatorium and German military hospital, where amongst others, Adolf Hitler convalesced after the First World War.  An hour or so from central Berlin, it has been abandoned for many years and is a popular urbex destination.  Most of the buildings have been secured now and this post indicates that someone is charging curious souls for entry.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium and German military hospital near Berlin

I spotted this cheeky cow when I was wandering around Kreuzberg on the day I found most of the Street Art that would feature in my MTO – Photorealistic Street Art in Berlin and Finding AliCé By Accident posts.

Cheeky Cow - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

Berlin went Bowie mad in January after he released Where Are We Now?  Read more about Bowie’s Berlin in my Famous Berliners: David Bowie post.

Bowie Insurrection Sticker by Maxx on a Berlin lamp post

There was plenty of snow in Berlin in January and someone built this snow princess outside the hairdresser next to my building.

Snow Princess in Berlin

Why not follow me on instagram to keep up with my Berlin wanders – andberlinblog.  And if you like a beer download Untappd and find me – andberlin.

Snapshot: Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin at Night

Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin at Night

This photo of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) was taken last week when I was out in Berlin on a video safari.

Inspired by the great videos I posted in my Video Week, Luci’s In a Berlin Minute channel and Berlin am Abend by Gilly, I decided to go out and have a go at shooting my own Berlin video.  It was supposed to be fun.  Now I realise that I have a whole new camera technique to learn and that’s before I even get started on editing.  It may take a while to produce something worth sharing.