For several years now, an unassuming building on Weserstraße in Neukölln has been undergoing an incredible transformation. In previous lives it was a bakery, tobacconists, and brothel; and at the start of this month it officially began its new life as Berlin’s newest independent cinema — Wolf Kino.
As autumn approached, me and a friend set out on a bike ride to enjoy one of the last days of summer. With no real destination in mind, we headed southeast through Neukölln and ended up cycling along part of the Mauerweg: a 160km long route that traces the former path of the Berlin Wall. It was a route neither of us had taken before, yet one that turned out to be the most enjoyable I’ve encountered in the city.
Whilst browsing Instagram one day I came across some stunning lighting products that are not only made in Berlin, but made primarily from concrete. The strong lines and smooth, angular surfaces combine to create products that are both stylish and minimalistic. As well as pure concrete lamps, they are available in a combination of materials such as concrete and oak, or concrete and copper, and there is also a range of porcelain lamps. I paid a visit to the workshop and studio of GANTlights to speak to the man behind it all, Stefan Gant, about the products he creates and his relationship with the city.
Rixdorf is an area that is home to plenty of artists, evident in the many exhibitions and events that take place here during the annual 48 Stunden Neukölln art festival. Just down the road from the well-known Richardplatz lies the smaller square of Böhmischer Platz, where you’ll currently find Open Gallery x.
Step inside the doors and you’re welcomed by a large, beautiful space that epitomises the look that many bars and cafés in Neukölln go for, thanks to its crumbling walls and random mismatched furniture: it’s just that in this case, it feels more authentic. Open Gallery x is more than just an exhibition space though, it’s a concept, and this is just the first of (hopefully) many. After the current exhibition — LeidenschaftFreiheit — ends, Open Gallery x will move on to a new location to host the next set of projects and events. I took some time to check out the exhibition and to speak to Rana Aminian, the curator and founder of Open Gallery x.
Neukölln, although ever-gentrifying, is still one of the grittier districts of Berlin. Discarded furniture lines the streets, graffiti lines the walls, and when walking down the uneven pavements you always have to keep one eye on the ground, because for some reason, people in this bezirk seem incapable of picking up dog excrement. When the urban chaos gets too much a retreat to nature seems like the obvious remedy, and Comenius Garten, in this very district, fits the bill perfectly.
You know those disaster movies where the protagonists are in the eye of the storm, and everything is calm and quiet whilst cows and barns fly around in the distance? Comenius Garten is kind of like that. A quiet oasis, where the hustle and bustle of city life constantly swirls around but never penetrates.