Since my first visit to Berlin in September 2012 consisted only of one evening and one full day, and I used most of that time to observe All2gethernow’s music conference at Noisy Musicworld, I decided to return to do some further exploration of the city and its music heritage, as well as to become more familiar with Newthinking and All2gethernow. My host Andrea Goetzke made sure that I was able to do both.
In particular, upon Jez Collins’ recommendation, I was interested in visiting the Ramones Museum (truly amazing experience, especially for a Ramones fan like myself!) and participating in Fritz Music Tours. The latter on this occasion included a two-hour tour of Hansa Studios, led by Thilo (previously interviewed by Jez), which was then followed by a bus tour primarily centred around places related to David Bowie, as well as Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and others. Since Jez already reported on both the museum and the tour, I just want to mention how fascinating I found the sense of place the tour managed to convey – a sense of Berlin as a city for music making and creative inspiration sought out by people coming from various other parts of the world, both in the past, i.e. the Wall era, and in the present. Thilo’s amazing collection of photographs, which he showed us one by one as we moved from one room of Hansa Studios to another, or his demonstration of the Studio 1 mixing desk through playing music that was recorded at Hansa (Bowie’s Baal, U2’s One) made these locations feel less like the locus of heritage, and more a continuous, living source of exciting cultural activity.
This sense was reaffirmed by a Bowie-themed exhibition (A Tribute to David Bowie HAUPTSTRASSE. The Berlin Years 1978-1978) at the small Egbert Bacqué Contemporary Art Gallery, where the bus tour ended. We were treated to an exciting introduction by Bacqué, the exhibition’s curator. As we learnt, upon hearing about Bowie’s new album, announced on the 8th January 2013 along with the release of a video for the new song “Where Are We Now” – a retrospective of Bowie’s Berlin years, which was in fact frequently referred to during the bus tour –, Bacqué immediately decided to alter the previously planned spring programme for the gallery and organise instead a homage to the artist. Photographer Joachim Seinfeld was commissioned to take photos of various sites significant in the Bowie story; besides these photos and the accompanying explanations, the exhibition also featured the work of various local artists inspired by David Bowie.
Later I also spent some time walking around the Kreuzberg area, observing the variety of subcultural venues, and visiting places like the refugee tents in Oranienplatz – see the attached photos.
(To be continued with a report on the 4th May WSLab workshop organised by Newthinking)