"There is tenderness only in the coarsest demand: that no-one shall go hungry any more" – Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1974: 156)
With the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall only a few weeks away, the spate of articles tracking the remarkable transformation of the city’s cultural, economic, and political landscape over the past two decades has already begun. For anyone interested in a fairly standard survey of the city’s famous club scene, the Observer is running the following article by Stephen Emms. It’s pretty straightforward ‘says what it does on the box’ fare though it’s nice to see someone make a connection between an earlier musical underground in Kreuzberg (and the significance of the Rauchhaus) and the explosion of a temporary improvised scene in the eastern half of the city in the early years after the Wende. What worries me – and this article is yet another exemplar – is to what degree Berlin’s ‘experimental’ scene has itself acquired the status of a powerful place-making myth. So much so that is has itself become an alibi for the wholesale whitewashing of the city’s past – its messy and uncontainable heterogeneity – under the sign of advancing development and gentrification (now rebranded as ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’). One need only spend a few hours on Kastanienalle (or ‘Casting alley’ as it is often described) or around Schlesisches Tor to get the sense that the oxygen is slowly being pumped out of the air… Which takes me back to the Emms article. If (and only if) you absolutely must ‘space-travel’, do it soon!
Note: Guardian proofreading standards (see the following Miranda Sawyer article) seem to be slipping. kaffeeburger is on Torstrasse not Tonstrasse unless one fancies a trip to a small town outside Chemnitz.