Photography Travels

Berlin Day 6 – A walk, a wall and Køpi

The Berlin Wall

I woke up at 1:30 today and realized I was supposed to meet Meli and Andres at 2 at Scharni. The plan was to visit abandoned buildings and a punk collective trailer park community for my photographic interests. That plan didn’t work out, Meli and Andres had to cancel last minute.

Instead I decided to venture out alone. I hopped a train to Alexanderplatz and then wandered around from there. I decided to go take some pictures of the Berlin wall and just kinda explored my way around. I walked around a big portion of Berlin using mostly the setting sun to guide me in my direction. Eventually I found “Checkpoint Charlie” the gate area from East to West Berlin run by US military. From there I walked along the wall.

Some time after that I decided to head back. I started hopping on random U-Bahn trains (subways) until I found a direction towards the Alexanderplatz from where I knew how to get “home.” On the way I stumbled into the museum district and a number of small parks eventually finding a gorgous fountain surrounded by grass where I decided to sit and relax. This was probably the most ideal way to end my stay. It was a beautiful sunny day, almost no humidity and not too hot.

When I finally made my return to 78 Mouse and Aki insisted that I needed to go out with them for a little bit. Mouse prepared a delicious dinner at Fischladen and from there they took me to Køpi.

Køpi is arguably the largest, most famous “punk” house in Europe, if not the world. It’s technically a squat but evicting it’s residents would be impossible. The place is built like a fort and surrounded by several other, smaller communities of the same type. It literally houses an army of punks and German leftists (not all of which are anarchist btw.) To clear out Køpi would literally require a military assault and I’m not sure it would be successfull. However the place isn’t harming anyone so there is no rational to remove it either as doing so would attract international press attention.

The place is amazing, the community that has been created here is astonishing. There was a punk/hardcore show going on in one part of the house. They had at least 4 different bars, a movie theater and way more. Mouse tells me they have in house plumbers, carpenters, electricians and more. It’s not a collective like 78 but everyone there has a role in life outside of the place and they contribute their skills towards making their home a better place.

We only stayed at Køpi a little while but I’m glad I got to go, the next time I head to Berlin I’m going to work to develop relationships there to allow me to photograph it, as it truely is something amazing that needs to be documented, but due to it’s legal status most would not have been comfortable with me doing so.

Unfortunately when we returned I still had to pack, and I had no time remaining to sleep. After packing up I head to the Airport and made my way to Paris for the next 26 hours…

More soon. For now: here are the day 6 photographs.

General Photography Travels

Berlin Day 5

Aki and friend.

Internet is down at 78 again. Although we can pick up an unsecured wireless in the big kitchen on the 2nd floor. Not sure when i’ll be able to post this.

Last night was interesting, we went to Fischladen and found the street to be swarming with Politzei. There were full riot vans filled with cops waiting for a reason to jump out. No one was quite sure as to why this was going on but as you can imagine it made things a bit tense. The cops came to the door of the bar on more than one occaision and then backed away. It’s like they were anticipating something that the community didn’t know was going to happen. Either way it ended peacefull with the cops eventually leaving as mysteriously as they had arrived.

Many members of the collective are hard at work here in the house. On Mouse’s floor alone they are installing a large kitchen and a bathroom. They both look to be the nicest in the house, I’m sad I won’t be here to see them. Downstairs they are building a bar into the front of the building. Mouse took us through it the other night, it looks to have a lot of potential as well. I’m not quite sure how or if this will compete with Fischladen which is just down the street. Mouse insists their community is large enough to sustain both.

Despite what I may have said in yesterday’s post regarding technology, this movement is strong and far from in danger of dying out anytime soon. They have built a place for themselves both figuratively and literally through hard work and dedication. There is definitely something there to be respected and admired.

Mouse is tending bar at Fischladen, we spent the afternoon lounging around there. He has mixed up Chocolate Martini’s for people with Hershey’s syrup that Aki brought back from the states for him. Apparently you can’t find that here at all.

Going to a cookout tonight at another house. Should be interesting. Tomorrow is my last day in Berlin and it looks like I have have picked up a last minute photo job as well. More details on that if it happens. That’s all for now.

oh yeah… pictures.

General Photography Technology Travels

Berlin Day 4 – Technological Anarchism

Mouse, Vanesza and Aki.

Berlin is an interesting place. We spent all of last night at Fischladen where I left off last night. When we left it was morning. While Aki worked furiously on her work for Johnson Creek; Vanessa, Mouse and I discussed the merits of Wi-Fi, Twitter and technology in general in political movements, in particular the leftist “Anarchist” movement here in Berlin.

The German leftist movement has a fear and misunderstanding of technology. Wi-Fi in many places is not allowed and approached angrily. While 78 is legally owned and inhabited many individuals here are very much afraid of being identified for their political actions. Their fears, of course, are justified, many could and would be arrested if identified. However the group fails to mobilize and grow beyond it’s existing circles from what I can tell, most don’t even have cell phones either because they can’t afford them, or they believe them to be the tools of the establishment. Their numbers, while supported internationally are not as strong as they were right after the wall fell, and they likely won’t be again unless this group embraces technology. Aki and I cited examples of Mumbai and Iran to explain the values of it but the consensus is that it will fall on deaf ears.

Now please, do not interpret this as an endorsement of the actions of this movement or their beliefs, nor do I mean disrespect to their beliefs either. I am merely a guest here and these people are putting me up and treating me as one of their own. I believe that nearly any political movement has merits and from what I can tell, these are good people who want to life their lives free of political oppression and generally mind their own business, I cannot speak for all of their beliefs, only that I can say they feel very justified in them and truly believe themselves to be doing good to help society, as they see it. It’s sad to me to see their message and beliefs get lost or downed out because they refuse to adapt to modern technology.

An interesting side note, you’ll see that most of my photos from this trip do not contain people… weird seeing as I tend to focus on portraits quite often. This is because the men and women of “78” refuse to be photographed and the ones who don’t know me react angrily to me walking about with my camera at all. While I respect and understand this concern it saddens me as many of them are amazing, beautiful, interesting people who should have their voices heard and choose to hide their face so that they can fight another day, a concern that I’m not entirely sure how realistic it is.

New photos are up, check them out…

Until tomorrow.

General Photography Travels

Berlin Day 3 – All out of Internet(s)

The Brandenburg Gate

We actually woke up at a sane hour today… If you call 2:30 pm a sane hour. Aki and I decided to venture put and explore, we started with the Alexanderplatz and took the U-Bahn (underground train) from there in a few different areas. Eventually we found ourselves resting in a park by the German history museum. In this area there were a ton of photo opportunities and many historic buildings, which of course I know nothing about. From there we walked west towards the setting sun and on to the Brandenburg Gate. As we got there the sub was hiring it perfectly and I was able to take some phenomenal pictures that really excited me. Also by the gate where a group of protestors putting on a hunger strike. All of their signs and fliers were in German so we were unable to follow their message. Aki pushed further until we found one of the representatives who spoke English.

He told us of a group of Iranian exiles living in Iraq who previously were recieving protection from the American government in Iraq, but as the turnover of power has progressed they have found themselves at the mercy of the an Iraqi government increasingly bowing to Iranian pressure to turn them over. This to them means certain doom. I haven’t had time to read over the necessary info as of yet but it sounds pretty legit. These people and their supporters hunger striking for the same protection from the Iraqi government that they recieved from the Americans. Interesting to say the least and not the kind of thing you find out about in the US. More info can be found at Please take this with caution, this is not an endorsement or a reccomendation at this point, merely linked for curiousity. I have not been to the site myself yet.

So if you read my Twitter account today you might know that 78 is without internet at the moment and this post has been delayed because of it. Well I am writing this from Fischladen (translates to Fish Store but it’s bar that Mouse works at… no they don’t serve fish.) we managed to get in tonight to use the internet with Mouse’s keys. We’ve set up my MacBook Air as an ad-hoc wireless network so that Aki and I can both do our respective work. We are hoping the situation is remedied tomorrow.

We went to a party at another collective tonight, 84 Boxhagnerstraße, not much to discuss, biers were drank, franks were eaten, jokes were told & good times were had. I met some good people who hopefully will remember me next June when I plan to return. Anyway, I’m going to go, I’m being rude, the three of us are sitting in Fischladen drinking Tyskie and Vanessa just arrived to hang out with us. Tschüss!

General Photography Travels

Berlin – Day 2

Mouse's Apartment at 78

Today was simple but great. We didn’t get to bed last night until 5 am and I didn’t get up till 5 pm. We went to the park again and made dinner (pizza and ramen… awesome.) We are now sitting around Mouse’s place drinking and watching Battlestar Galactica. (Germans love Battlestar Galactica… well at least ex-pats do).

Tonight we’re going to meet up with some people for a party and hopefully stay out till dawn again. I’m hoping to get on the roof and catch some shots of the sunrise.

I am posting a few more shots today as well, including Mouse’s room at 78 and a few more from the park. I’m going to try and document 78 a little more in the coming days.

For those reading this and finding it uneventful… you’re right, but this is exactly how we wanted today, I haven’t been this relaxed in ages.