As I keep hanging out around this particular subway station in Berlin, here are a couple more shots of the people who enjoy hanging out there as well….
This is the new video I made of Berlin’s subway rapper Kool Kasai, this time doing a solo performance at Berlin’s subway station. We filmed this video on an iPhone.
Several of the musicians that ply their trade in Berlin’s subway system tend to hang out at the Südstern subway station, including rapper Chris aka Kool Kasai and didgeridoo player/ drummer Oliver aka QuasiMono of whom I posted a video the other day. Here are a few more pics from Saturday night.
Christina from Lithuania and Antonio from Italy, a couple who recently moved from London to Berlin and are currently caught in Germany’s intractable bureaucracy while trying to get registered, find a flat and find a job – all at the same time. Antonio is a chef and sings and plays the guitar in a gothic metal band. Christina used to run a gothic shop in Camden.
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2 with 35mm1.4 lens.
Chris, who goes under the handle Kool Kasai, usually does freestyle rapping in Berlin’s subway trains. Sometimes he teams up with friends in order to jam. He had asked me to film him perform with Eleonora from Venezuela, who sings and plays the Quarto, and Oliver a.k.a QuasiMono, on drum. Here is the video:
I have seen Chris performing in the subway for something like 7 of 8 years, I think. He’s been hanging out close to where I live, and we got talking a few weeks ago, and been having a beer or two together every so often around one of the subway stations. He is one of the most interesting people you can meet around Berlin, talented and smart and with a life experience that belies his relative youth. He’s hoping to move on from subway rapping to more substantial gigs, hence this tryout with Eleonora and Oliver. His goal is to get a spot on a concert series that takes place in Berlin’s Hermannplatz every Thursday during the summer.
Oliver can usually be seen around Berlin playing the didgeridoo. He has produced and published a few tracks that mix the didgeridoo with electronics to great effect. Here they are on Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/quasimonoton .
I used the Fujifilm X-T10 to film the video; this is the first time I used the camera to shoot video and it shows in a couple of places….
Over the past 12 months, I shot a series of photographs throughout the Berlin districts of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln, two traditionally working-class districts that are now being gentrified. The series focuses on items – furniture, cloths, shoes, electronic appliances – placed outside on the pavements by local residents.
Berliners always had a tendency to get rid of unwanted items by simply disposing of them in the public space. However, in Neukoelln and Kreuzberg, this phenomenon has become increasingly more prominent as gentrification increases, and as the old working-class (or unemployed) tenants have to make way for the hipsters and the young professionals. Disposing of trash by simply putting it out on pavements and in parks is against the law, of course, and as such constitutes an act of defiance against Germany’s much loved sense of order. This act of defiance may simply be down to lazy nests or economic reasons (you have to pay money to get bulky items properly disposed of), but it can also be seen as a defiant gesture, the departing locals giving the finger to the new arrivals before they leave the neighborhood; or a sign of protests against the prettification and increasing orderliness of the neighborhood – in the same way that graffiti is used as a protest against law and order. Be that as it may, it is this act of defiance that I chose to document with this series. Continue reading “Detritus: Signs of Uneasy Cohabitation”
This past weekend I revisited a place where I used to live prior to moving to Berlin: Beaufort, in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. The small town is unremarkable but boasts an 11th century castle and, leading away from the castle, a narrow valley which conjures myths and legends. If you ever find yourself in Luxembourg, make sure to visit the place.
I first visited Kolkata back in 1986 (it was still called Calcutta back then). The trip was a nightmare. The friend I was travelling with ended up in hospital with dyssentri, and instead of travelling around the country, we were stuck in the city which back then was quite horrible. It was extremely overcrowded – people were fleeing the impoverished countryside in masses and ended up as squatters in Kolkata. The city was polluted, smelly and traffic perpetually congested. I literally still had nightmares of the place months after being back in Europe. It took me almost 30 years to go back to the city, but when I did, in 2013, I found a place much changed for the better. It is a lot less crowded, and it is less dirty and hectic than Mumbai for instance. I returned there again in 2014 and 2015, which tells you that now I am quite fond of the place.
Kolkatans take pride in that their city is different from other Indian cities, and indeed it is, even though, as an outsider, I may find it difficult to judge just what that difference is. Kolkata is relatively young, of course; daring back to the 18th century only. It used to be India’s most populous city, until Mumbai overtook it, and during the British occupation, it was the capital of the British Raj. And indeed, it is this British past which characterises Kolkata to a large degree – certainly in its architecture, from the Victoria Memorial on down to the many stately villas, many of them now sadly crumbling or being demolished. The city once boasted a vibrant Jewish community, which numbered 5000 before Indian independence, but is now down to 26 members. Similarly, Kolkata is home to India’s only Chinatown, but the ethnic Chinese community has also dwindled considerably.
The city is named after the goddess Kali, and a friend of mine argues that it this which leads to women being far more empowered in Kolkata than in the rest of India.
The photos I put up are from those three last trips – unfortunately I have no photos left from the 1986 trip. I organised the images into three sets:
- The City: as the name implies, photos from around the city. It is not meant to be a travel guide, and many of the landmark sites are missing from the collection. Instead I have included images of those places which interested me the most. My favourite ones were probably the overgrown grounds of the National Library and the equally overgrown Victorian-era South Park Street Cemetery. Also included are photos from two of the three Kolkatan synagogues.
- Kolkata At Night: these are scenes from night time festivities during three Kolkata festivals: the Durga Pujas (in honour of the goddess Durga, a manifestation of the goddess Kali), the Kali Durgas (in honour of Kali), and the all-Indian festival of Diwali.
- Across the River: images from the area outside Kolkata, on the opposite banks of the Hooghly River, as that particular branch of the Ganges is called – Chandannagar, an area which once belonged to the French (and Portuguese and Swedes).
For more India travel photos, click here.
For portrait and street photography from India, click here.
I met these two gentlemen on Berlin’s Hermannplatz (one of my favourite hang-outs, as I wrote last week) on a recent Sunday morning. They were visiting Berlin and basically just hanging out. They were in the middle of discussing the meaning of life when I asked them to pose. One was reluctant, the other one wasn’t, but then they both did. I later emailed them the photos I took and they replied that “I had captured them spot-on.” Good 😊
Camera: Fujifilm X-E2 / 27mm lens
More street portraits here.
One of my favourite hang-outs in Berlin is Hermannplatz, a square at the intersection of Neukoelln and Kreuzberg, two traditionally low-income parts of Berlin who have been heavily gentrified in the last few years. It’s a fascinating place where many of the cultures that make up modern Berlin meet: the hipsters from all over the Western world, kids whose parents or grand-parents once came from Turkey and Lebanon, newly arrived refugees from Syria, Africa and other places. I wrote about this intersection of cultures in a lengthier article last year, after having photographed in the square all of that summer and fall. Now with summer here, it’s again a good place to hang out, to meet people and to photograph.
The gentleman with the beard pictured above is a street musician who plays the guitar and other instruments, mostly in Berlin’s underground. He seems to have quite a reputation (he told me his name so I can check his videos on YouTube, but I managed to forget it…), and the other two guys were busy taking selfies with him when I asked if I could photograph them. As you can tell, they were happy to oblige. The encounter was centred on the musician, who told me all about his music; and I did not get to ask the other two guys about their background. But if you look at the scars on their faces, I am sure there is much history there as well… I guess, that’s for another day then. I’m sure we’ll meet again. On Hermannplatz.
The photos above were taken with a Fujifilm X-E2 and a 27mm lens.
There is always something fascinating about watching people in museums and exhibitions….
(Photos from Castle Sans-Souci in Potsdam, Germany; the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway; and the Louvre in Paris)