Thursday, February 25, 2010
the apartment o the fuhrerbunker
marx and engels memorial
the lobby of the arsenal
nanna and me
madhu and the kaushiks
nicole and me
marx cafe / elina and nicole
hansaviertel / jewish museum
philip and merle
it was cold. even for the berliners. that was some small consolation as we struggled with our multiple but yet always insubstantial layers to be able to deal with the sub zero temperatures and the biting cold wind while at the same time trying to keep our balance on the wet ice on the ground. it snowed many days and when the sun did come out towards the end of our trip we basked in the little light that it did give. cinema city set up 7 installations in 3 spaces in 4 and a half days across berlin. saki, kausik, madhu and me lived in an apartment building that happened to be built on the fuhrerbunker (where hitler died) and whose windows overlooked the tiergarten in the distance and the holocaust memorial (eisenmans field of gravestones)- merely two perpetual reminders in the city of its traumatic history. if bombay is haunted by an impossible future- berlin is by its past. every corner bears a reminder of what once was. a city whose people have to bear the burden of a perpetual guilt of fascism and the embarrassment of being divided over communism. red lines across maps mark the wall. this side and that side. till today – even though the boundaries are tending to blur, new ones are emerging. some areas are gentrified while others are the heart of the subculture- a well articulated ‘other’. gay, punk, brown all in kreuzberg where restaurants sell turkish food until late at night and where almost everyone we know lives.
but enough for know with my own ramblings on the city- more about cinema city- the reason we were there. the berlin film festival and its 60th anniversary. the first space was the ‘arsenal’ the center of the forum- where the arthouse section of the film festival resides- experimental films and video art. in the lobby we set up pushpamala’s phantom lady, the sweat shop video installation and a small workshop desk for the ‘cinema city lived’ book. this was the first two days. then we moved to cubix- where in a multiplex mall- all glass overlooking the railway station and the tv tower of alexanderplatz we set up the pila house booth, the calendar booth and the gorgeous bioscope. it really is too bad that the motors of the bioscope blew over the next two days. but while it lasted it was sublime. the next day saki and me ran over to the art deco (sort of) delphi theater in the west where we set up a booth for zubins photographs. red curtains behind the blue of the bar.
the opening was on the 12th. it all went of fabulously. thanks to all the help from nicole, nanna, angie, dorothy, uli, sanol and alexia.
over the next few days we tried to catch a few films but we always got out of the house a little too late and then spent more time running around adjusting things and meeting people than watching films. and even when we did our adrenaline rush was too strong to be able to slow down to the pace of the long languorous takes. germans are very good film watchers. they can sit through the longest slowest film and then ask intelligent questions about it and then discourse about it for 2 hours after that over wine. the parties went on forever. the arsenal lobby being the center of it all. but there were other dance parties- the forum party at a beautiful theater in the old east and the teddy party in a factory shed. while the first was a rocking good time, the second had rather terrible music. nicole and me still did our best to dance though.
i was living with nicole after we had to give up the apartment once the kaushiks and saki had left for bombay. elina was ill for most of the time i was there so nicole and me ended up walking a lot across the city as she showed me kreuzberg and the socialist memorial at treptower park with its socialist realist murals which reminded me not very pleasantly of the free books we used to have in our school library courtesy the soviet state. the panel discussion we had was well received overall. we spoke of memory and memorialisation, of conflict and representation and desire.