Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last stuff from Berlin, the Pope meets protest in London,Budapest and other stuff

It seems ages since I was in Berlin when in reality its only about 10 days or so. I've found some stray pictures buried in my hard drive and rather than hitting delete, I figure some of them are interesting enough to post.
You can always tell you're in the East rather than West by the crossing "men". The old GDR put a hat on them and its become a symbol appearing on tourist T-shirts, posters etc.
Though I posted a lot pictures of the Holocaust memorial in my last entry I figure given the picture and blurb following, these two, warranted inclusion.
Over the past 10 years there have been a few thousand little additions to the memorials landscape in Berlin.
The Stolpersteine ( Stumbling Blocks) are individual, personalised memorials conceived and installed by Cologne artist Gunter Denming..
They're shiny brass plagues and are found all over Berlin integrated into the sidewalks throughout the city. Each one, the size of a cobblestone, bears the same message:
"Here lived"
  • Name of the victim,
  • Date of birth,
  • Year of deportation
  • Name of the camp
  • Date of murder

I took the picture on Friedrichstasse, one of the main streets in Berlin (famous for Check point Charlie). Today its all banks and high end shopping. Without the little metal cobblestones, no one would know a family used to live at the address, torn asunder during darker times.

Arthur Kroner
Meta Kroner
Charlotte Kroner
Says Demnig, now 56
“I will place these plaques as long as my body allows . My work is that of an artist and I cannot delegate it, and frankly, making them is lonely and often sad work. I just finished three plaques for a mother and her two children – the last words Auschwitz, ermordet (murdered). That is very hard. I need the interaction with the people who gather when stones are laid. Often something wonderful happens, like the two childhood friends in Hamburg who found each other again after 66 years. Plates for the parents of a man who had escaped to Israel were being laid when a neighbor came out of the house next door. The neighbor, once his best friend, had been a soldier, of course.”
Close to Potsdamer Platz is the last remaining watch tower from the bad old days of the wall. It sits abandoned amongst the gleaming new buildings in an area transformed and unrecognizable from its "no man land" past.
A lost relic, devoid of marker of any kind.
I took some pictures of the main Stasi prison in Berlin. Originally a prisoner processing point for the Soviets after victory in the war, it became a holding prison for the Stasi, the internal security apparatus of the GDR.
The last picture is of a "water cell", a rubber covered walled cubicle in which a hapless prisoner would be tossed naked, ankle deep in water.
Not a good place to find yourself in a cold German winter
Time to lighten up.
I've posted similar before but the above and following are probably the most photographed spots in the capital and warrant mention in any post about Berlin.
Here's the chocolate version.
Post unification, Berlin has become a magnet for artistic types. Rent is cheap and there's a real sense of creative energy.
One outlet for that energy is the East Side Gallery. A 1.3 km section of the wall running along the river spree has been transformed into an open air gallery. Again, pictures I've posted the like of before, but I figure my last visit produced a few worth sharing .
Post Berlin I was in London and my visit corresponded with that of a certain religious leader.
Many of the locals were not amused.
Some folks didn't care one way or another.
In deference to some of my more sensitive readers, I've left out the more robust signs of disapproval. Papa Smurf did draw over 70,000 to Hyde Park so on balance, he probably won the day.
Back to the artistic theme begun earlier, I ducked into the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square, specifically to see two installations:
The first is a portrait of Isabella Blow by artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster.
Isabella was somewhat of a Fashion icon with a Gothic sensibility (or so I've read).
In the words of the Gallery's promotional fluff:
The unusual portrait made of 15 taxidermy animals (including birds, a rat and a snake), wood and fake moss, together with a heel from one of Blow's own Manolo Blahnik shoes and her trademark lipstick, is a vivid combination of sculpture, installation and light projection.
In the resulting silhouette of a head, Isabella Blow appears to be wearing one of the extraordinary hats designed for her by Phillip Treacy, which often featured taxidermy. The artists were fascinated by what they saw as Blow's gothic quality and chose to depict her head as though on a stake, incorporating a raven and the species of rat associated with the Black Death.
I think it was interesting enough for a pic.
The other item of interest is entitled " Self" by Marc Quinn.
As it's encased in shiny (refridgerated) plastic and glass, getting any sort of decent picture proved almost impossible.
This is my electronically cleaned up attempt.
Here's a more professional version. Yes.
Its a bust of a man made with his own frozen blood.
I think that makes for an interesting self portrait.
From the sublime to the ridiculous.
Its tea.
Its in Harrods.
Its worth 15,000 pounds sterling.
Finally at the tail end of the marathon I was in Budapest for less than 24 hours.
I took these pictures from a boat, where, as is the way of these things, the view was far superior to the iffy food on offer.
Love to all


Lucia Falcão said...

Nossa! Fiquei cansada só de "correr" pelas fotos dessa última e interessante postagem...
Gosto das versões achocolatadas...
Great post!

RS said...

What was the tea like?

Terry said...

Tea was too rich for my blood

BR-ROC said...

The breadth of topics (or should I say the historic span?) on this post kept me reading. I got to the end and sort of wanted a quiz to test my cultural intelligence. You have a knack for shining a tractor beam onto big vague complex issues.

I went through Checkpoint Charlie.

I also duck into big museums just to see one or two key things.


Terry said...

Hey thanks
Can't say I recognise the monkier.
Welcome and have a look around. The list running down the right side of the blog covers a lot of ground. Its funny but I think its changed a ton over the last few years.I've learned togo light on the narrative and let some of my amateur snaps speak for themselves.