Five Leaf Nettles is the side-project of Best Friends’ drummer, Jack Collister, a band held in high-regard within the Sheffield scene. Where Best Friends is the chance to sing about partying in the sun, here we see Collister swapping sticks for an acoustic guitar, reflecting on love and loss.
Words and Pictures by Jacob Story
Here is the final show with me presenting from our radio show on Push FM
Oranienburger Strasse 54-56, www.tacheles.de, Sbahn: Oranienburger Tor.
Take a spectacularly ruined building, some squatters striking back against capitalism and you have the start to the turbulent modern history of the Tacheles collective. The structure is missing its back wall, the main stairwell smells of urine and marijuana and the graffiti tattooed walls may seem uninviting, but once inside you’ll find a bunch of welcoming artists, sculptors and graffiti bums opening up their studios to some 300,000 visitors per year. Discover the cinema, cafe-bar, backyard sculpture garden and club in the warren-like maze of rooms. The name hails from its Jewish roots as a department store built in 1908; Tacheles is Yiddish for ‘speak the truth’. The history of the building has a knotty tale, going bankrupt only six months after its opening it was used as an electrical goods showroom and under the Nazi regime became the central office for the SS who used the attic to detain French prisoners of war. World war two heavily damaged the building though a large enough portion of it stayed intact for use in the GDR as a travel agency, art school and office space. Plans for demolition were interrupted by the fall of the wall when the Tacheles collective took over and persuaded the Berlin Round Table to issue a last minute injunction. Despite being such a prime piece of real-estate, they have so far kept the only remaining symbol of non-conformism in the revitalised Mitte area secure. Nowadays the future is uncertain, a classic Berlin face off; the activists against the investors.
Schloss Strasse 70, 14059 Berlin, Open: tues- sun 10am-6pm, Admission: €12/6 combination ticket also allows entry Museum Beggruen. 14059 Berlin
With the ticket from Museum Beggruen covering both exhibitions, the Scharf-Gerstenberg collection, located across the road in the revamped stables of Schloss Charlottenberg, will be high on the list for visitors prepared for an afternoon of heavy hitting art. This inspiring collection, under the title ‘surreal worlds’, gives a broad spectrum of some 300 surrealist works spanning from Rousseau and Manet up to Magritte, Duchamp and Breton. The works are laid out more or less chronologically through the rooms, which spiral upwards, taking you time-travelling through a comprehensive history of surrealism over the last 250 years. On the ground floor we see Francisco de Goya’s graphic drawings criticising Spanish high society with a harsh satirical bite, along with Giovanni Battista Piranesi’ bizarre imagined architectural etchings and an unexpected abstract painting by Victor Hugo who penned The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Moving further into the depths of the gallery, the artworks become more fantastical. Odilon Redon’s Homage a Goya shows an iridescent disembodied head gazing at the sky, referencing Goya in the title confirms that he is regarded as a predecessor to surrealism. Here you’ll also find Max Klinger’s comical and controversial Fantasies about a found glove, dedicated to the lady who lost it.
Reval Straße 99, 10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain, Open: Nightly 10pm-6am closed on Mondays. Entry €3-8
Just around the corner from Cassiopeia you can easily fit in both clubs into one action-packed night out. The minimal warehouse vibe is transformed by large psychedelic projections on the walls, which resembles an explosion of a thousand glowsticks. The music alternates between minimal trance, indie and electro disco playing a mix of Cut Copy, MSTRKRAFT, Fake Blood, Digitalism, Foals, MGMT and Friendly Fires. With a beefed up sound system and a light show that could give you epilepsy, a good night is guaranteed for those with the stamina.
Schloßstraße 1,14059 Berlin, Open: tues-sun 10.00-18.00, Entry: €12/ €6 (reduced) Thurs 14.00-18.00 Free, U-Bahn: U2 Sophie-Charlotte-Platz
As a young Jew forced to flee Nazi Germany, Heinz Beggruen’s success came as an art dealer in Paris through his acquaintance with Pablo Picasso. In 1996, after living in exile for 60 years, he opened up this museum as a branch of the National Gallery indicating a gesture of reconciliation with a few of his personal favourites.
The main crux of the museum is the vast array of artworks by Picasso. From his early sketches and caricatures in art school to his better known cubist works showing distorted angular nudes the circular three- floor museum takes you on a journey through the development of classical modernism.
Each room is tranquil and intimate, displaying four or five masterpieces making the substantial collection easy to absorb.
The museum also exhibits around 20 selected works by Matisse, from his early works using oil on canvas to his later progression into collages, along with paintings by Paul Klee and a handful of Alberto Giacometti’s bronze sculptures. But it is Pablo’s dominance here makes this one of the finest private collections the world has to offer.
In a city that’s reportedly burdened with €60 million worth of debt and increasing unemployment, the Mediaspree investment project seems like a smart move. The scheme, costing anywhere between €3 and €6 billion, promises to create around 50,000 jobs in the media sector by developing upon the 3.7km stretch along the river spree that divides Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. The people that live there however, have huge concerns over this investment plan. The districts, well known for their cheap rents, free-thinking citizens and graffiti covered landscapes, are hostile to the gentrification of their area. Guaranteed to increase property value, restrict access to the riverfront and wipe out longstanding and beloved party venues such as Bar 25, Yaam and Maria am Ostbahnhof, citizens fear a repetition of what happened in Mitte in the 1970’s. MTV Germany, Viva and Universal Music have all set up shop here turning the area into urban-like metropolis akin to the more modernised neighbourhoods in the west. The most controversial investment under this scheme was the building of the O² world, a 17, 000 capacity multi-use indoor venue and what residents see as a capitalist monstrosity. It was the removal of a section of the East side gallery (longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall) to make way for a docking station to allow access by boat to the O² World, which really irked the locals. Not ones to sit back and watch, the neighbourhood back lashed by setting up the ‘Mediaspree versenken’ (Sink Mediaspree) campaign and succeeded in persuading 30,000 other residents to sign a referendum against it in 2008. Their radical attitude may be able to keep the investors at bay for the time being but it is more likely that the long term victory will go to the investors.
It isn’t actually ‘made in Berlin’ as most of the wares in this Holy Grail of vintage shops come from America but it’s a popular choice with tourists and Berliners alike. It’s almost always flooded with bargain hounds sifting through buckets of clutch bags, trilby hats or retro sunglasses. Good deals are easily found; leather jackets and Doc-martens are reasonably priced considering the usual 15% Mitte price tag. Sitting side by side you’ll find better than average jumble along with designer dresses. Pieces from Cynthia Vincent’s line, popular with celebrities such as Rhianna, Becki Newton and Vanessa Hudgens, are sold for around €70.
Potsdamer Strasse, Ubahn: Potsdamer Platz
As formerly divided Berlin’s answer to Museum Island in the east, the Kulturforum in the west is a hub of cultural institutions situated near the impressive Postdamer platz. Among the internationally renowned museums here is the architecturally magnificent ‘Neue National Galerie’, the ‘Gemäldegalerie’ which takes in paintings from the old masters and the ‘Neue Staatsbibliothek’ Germany’s state library with its sensational reading room. A day ticket costs €8 and guarantees you entry into each of the institutions located here.
The labyrinthine layout of the museum for skilled craftsmanship can be discouraging but if you have the time to get lost one afternoon you may be delighted by the vast display of artefacts. Exhibited here are examples of fine porcelain, exquisite silk gowns, ornate silverware and elegant 16th century grandfather clocks. The museum provides a thorough history of applied art through the baroque, rococo and art deco eras.
With 72 rooms covering more than 7000 square metres of exhibition space, the Gemäldegalerie is one of the largest and comprehensive collections of European paintings. The museum takes you more or less chronologically through the 13th to the 18th century with the first half focusing on German, Netherlandish and Flemish pieces and the latter concentrating more on works from Spain, France and England giving you a broad history of art. The large rooms, with smoke treated Oakwood floors, filtered natural light and velvet walls, allow the paintings to be viewed and enjoyed in all their glory. Big names such as Botticelli, Canaletto, Jan Steen, and Sir Joshua Reynolds are all represented here along with some key works for instance Caravaggio’s Amor Victorious and Franz Hal’s Malle Babbe (‘Mad Babette’) which is regarded as a precursor to impressionism. Don’t miss the octagonal Rembrandt room showing off sixteen of his finest works which are described in detail by the excellent audio guide (in German and English) included with your ticket.
This museum presents around 3000 musical instruments dating from the 16th century to the present day and demonstrates their sound through guided tours and concerts. Highlights include Bach’s Cembalo, some of Frederick II’s flutes, the collection of the Naumburger wind instruments and an extensive string section.
Philharmonie (and Chamber Music Hall)
Built in 1963 from the designs of architect Hans Scharoun, this world renowned concert hall is home to the famous Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra and unearthly acoustics. The chamber music hall was added as an extension in the 1980’s and both give performances on a regular basis and daily guided tours are held at 1pm. For details of what’s on see the website:
Museum of Graphic Arts and the Art Library
This collection of some 500,000 prints and 110,000 drawings, watercolours, pastels and oil sketches is the largest compilation of graphic art in Germany and one of the four most important institutions worldwide. This universe of art on paper includes works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Albrecht Dürer and Adolph von Menzel. This exhibit is complemented by the extensive Art Library which is home to predominantly European works associated with applied art.
As an institution of Prussian Cultural Heritage, the ‘new state library’ is perhaps best known for its impressive reading room, which was featured in Wim Wenders critically acclaimed film ‘Wings of Desire’ (“Himmel über Berlin”). Every 3rd Saturday of the month they offer free guided tours of the building lasting approximately an hour and half.
Neue National Galerie
Mies van der Rohe’s impressive, imposing construction created for the Neue National Galerie, popularly christened the ‘temple of light and glass’, is one of Berlin’s most exceptional museums for contemporary art. The permanent collection is held downstairs in the basement, while the minimalist steel and glass pavilion on the upper floor is used for temporary installations. This pavilion is the main crux of architectural wonder, the large steel roof, supported only by eight external columns creates a shelter-like effect, whereas the glass walls give the impression of an invisible barrier symbolically removed. This emphasises the suggestion of free space to be used however the artist requires. The main collection takes in important artworks from 1900-1945. The subtitle ‘Modern times’ is derived from Charlie Chaplin’s satire on the industrial world (on show in room 14), and accordingly he is the spiritual patron of the museum. Key works of expressionism, surrealism, Bauhaus, new realism and post-modernism extending beyond the avant-garde canon are presented with importance given to featuring a broad spectrum of art from the period. Naturally the museum showcases art with highly political weight as the pieces were born out of an extremely volatile era, emphasising the interdependency of art, history and politics.
A popular spot with tourists and Berliners alike, Friedrichshain is the epitome of Berlin’s liberal, non-corporate attitude. Although gentrification has begun to conquer, its roots still remain firmly with the squatters and artists who live there. As an unofficial anti-Mitte you’ll find no Starbucks here, instead is the bustling hub of quirky independent shops, plenty of cheap-eats and laid back cafe-bars perfect for people watching. The main sights are limited to the East Side Gallery (the longest remaining section of the Berlin wall) and Karl-Marx-Allee with the communist architecture living up to all its pomp and grandiose expectations. Simon-Dach Strasse’s leafy lined boulevard plays host to a multitude of cultured cafes which, by night, transform into raucous bars. Revellers swap their lattes for gin and juice and keep the party going long into the night, before heading to one of Berlin’s famed nightspots such as Berghain or Bar 25. Once the clubbing hounds have had their fill they head back to where it all started for brunch. Having refined their ethos over this cultural experience it is better seen to be believed, brunch is more than your average breakfast/lunch combo it’s a way of life. Head down to any of the cafe’s in Friedrichshain and look out for the all-day all you can eat buffets. Our favourite is Cafe 100wasser.