Goodbye to Berlin

Is Berlin still an “avantgarde” Reference?

a young queer recently reacted with dismay when i hinted that i felt Berlin was becoming a bit “respectable” and set in its ways.

Image: Das_neue_schauspielhaus.png by Babewyn on Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Clicke here for camera location on OSM.

Some thoughts …

I love Berlin, and i feel that that the myth Berlin lives on. It depends very much on how you see avantgarde. You are in a much better place to innovate i Spain because you have a large young population and high unemployment. Young people with little perspective on the established market have the freedom and the motivation to do their own thing.

Here in Germany the situation is the opposite. We have more old and middle-aged people and nearly no unemployment at the moment. Many young people here also view Germany’s affluence as our personal “achievement”, and are very taken in by the prospect of making lots of money. The energy of the years after the political turn around in Germany where there was a great deal of uncertainty, high unemployment and lots of cheap space to live and work in has died down, and those who were young and going their own direction then are now cashing in (or trying to cash in) on their work of the past 20 years.

What you see now in Berlin, in my assessment, is lots of comfortable galleries opening in newly renovated building. Wealthy people vacation here and enjoy what is left of the zaniness of 90’s and 00’s. The rents a continue to rise incrementally. Properties have been sold to bidders clambering to invest their money that they are afraid to invest elsewhere due to the finance market crisis, and that they cannot get interest on at the bank due to the Fed and ECB’s policies of quantitative easing as a reaction to the various debacles of the market. Yes, some of the parties still go on, there are still interesting people here, but many of us are getting middle-aged, and are reenacting past events, not living new ones. The people in their twenties do not want the craziness, they want a “good” job, a flashy car, and a new flat crammed with all the niceties money can buy. When they have free time, they have money to burn, and so expensive clubs and events are attractive to them (and to people who run expensive clubs and events). When they are at work they are often in so-called “creative professions” where they work for the people my age who are cashing in on their “success” – the result: the sights and sounds of the last two decades are available for sale in boutiques, galleries and clubs. You can buy them, and hang them on the wall or listen to them on your iphone. New things? I don’t know if they are happening … maybe they are and i am just too old to be aware of it.

I have noticed young musicians and artist coming out of Sofia, BG lately. I don’t know what that means. Maybe it is just that the studio prices are cheaper than in LA, London, Berlin or where ever. The new supra-nationally networked generation of online users may not need a physical place for their ideas to unfold. Perhaps the era when people migrated to Paris, New York, San Francisco, Seattle or Berlin to be a part of an urban Bohème is a thing of the past. Time will tell.

If you wish to visit Folsom, Berlin in September, i am sure you will enjoy yourself. It is a big mess, and everyone gets high and screws. Whether there is anything avantgarde about an affair that is scheduled bi-annually, and sponsored by the big fetish labels, the event managers and the beverage industry … that you will have to decide for yourself.

Do not be sad. The party is not over. It will never be over, because the party is in your head and not in any physical place.

… and just because it is a nice song from a similar era in Paris

For @lo1x
Les BourgeoisJacques Brel
… en version française en studio le 9 mars 1962 et figurant dans l’album Les Bourgeois …

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