ARTBASE FESTIVAL 2019 – MURALS IN RURAL RUINS

Artbase is a festival of urban art moving in a vivid kaleidoscope between painting and party on deserted grounds. The first issue took place in 2011 at the former pulmonary hospital Grabowsee. During the last weekend of August 2019 it was realized again in the former and now abandoned lunatic asylum Domjüch close to Neustrelitz (80 kms north of Berlin). Nearly 150 international urban artists transformed these ruins into a wild, romantic and very alive place.

 

A smooth wind blows through the long abandoned houses‘ empty corridors, while a warm and friendly summer sun gleams through the ailing cracks. Inside the ruins, a conglomeration of fading colors and amazing street art works decorate the walls.

A place where nature has slowly recaptured the old walls. Deserted, long hallways, abandoned rooms with only faint memories.

 

But suddenly a soft hissing of a spray can sounds. Someone presses a button. Suddenly sounds are coming through the empty rooms. Loud voices echo through the old walls and the place awakens.

After WW II the buildings were used for military purposes by the Soviet Red Army which left the site in 1993, the start of a long and deep slumber which was interrupted abruptly now by all kinds of colors, visions and phantastic dreams painted on the crumbling walls of this remote place.

And last but not least on the premises you will find also the namegiver of the site, a beautiful forest lake called Domjüchsee.

Jo’s Monday walk : Alvor & the Estuary

 

NOTHING AT/AND ALL

The biggest enemy of patience is called nowadays action bias, meaning the craving for doing something always at any time. Why not just start doing nothing or even feel the nothing?

And in this mysterious mood everything comes to the vain blow, because the plastic world staged the cosmic blackout. But to untangle the world of the Maya can only succeed in pure nothingness, an unstructured space without end or still beginning – and yet no space.

Here the words simply fail and hence everything starts all of a sudden nowhere again. According to the unwritten riddles of cosmogony, the jump to the true non-place now succeeds.

ALLIANCE FOR MASTER BRUIN

A common Russian joke told to guests from other countries is that they can meet in Russia bears as well in big towns but with a balalaika around the shoulder and a bottle of vodka in the paw.

All is just fine for my teddy deep in the forest

This human perspective of the bear and nature has in fact nothing to do with the real bear who likes for instance to snack honey or all kinds of berries. In any case the bear still acts all around us as a virulent archetype in our today’s life and language, so in Germany – when telling a complete false story – this is described by the idiomatic phrase  “jemandem einen Bären aufbinden” meaning literally to fix a bear on somebody’s back.

‘Meister Petz und Reineke Fuchs’, 1752, by Allart van Everdingen
(Illustration in Johann Christoph Gottscheds’  animal epos ‘Reineke der Fuchs’)

During the Bronze Age people in Europe adored the bear for his power and strength, but besides believed in him also as a great healer because it was said that during the time of the annual winter dormancy the bears would simply disappear to the other unseen world of myths, spirits, gods and dreams. However, the common picture of the bear is a bit ambivalent because he was also regarded as a threat for farmed animals although being in reality a vegetarian most of the year. In the last 200 years the common view on the bear has changed a lot, because he hence became an important player in fables and epic works where he would represent either just a clumsy fellow or also quite often the real personalization of a friendly, good-natured, naive companion.

19th century illustration by Gustave Doré

In Northern America the tale of “The woman who married a bear” is widely well known and most probably existing in multiple versions with the diverse tribes and first nations. And in this context and culture bears are more treated like brothers and sisters shared in a common nature. In order to preserve this old but jeopardized relationship they have found GOAL, the tribal coalition to protect the grizzly and their ancestors’ legacy. GOAL is representing 39 tribal nations in total, and you will find more detailed information under the following link:

http://www.goaltribal.org/

 

 

MY NEAREST MOUNTAIN – CRAZY TEUFELSBERG IN BERLIN

Today, I would like to introduce you to the mountainous aspects of Berlin. Downtown there are of course some quite higher tops like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg which make me thinking of the funny film dealing about an English man who climbed on a hill and came down a mountain (that’s also the film’s title).

Postcard with view from Kreuzberg in 1866

But the nearest and more well-known and highest elevation of Berlin is Teufelsberg / Devil’s Mountain in the huge municipal forest Grunewald and just 2 km distant from my home – even with rising sea levels a safe place due to an actual height of unbelievable 120.1 m, a location which also offers an interesting and surprising history.

Deceptive idyll on Teufelsberg in June 2018

Being geologically one of the youngest mountains worldwide, the 50th birthday of the location has just passed by, a critical age where a lot may change usually in the course of times as the following pictures of the site do clearly suggest.

Today Teufelsberg a center of urban art, the very last mutation of a bizarre place.

But let’s see what happened before here. At the end of WW II you would simply find a flat forest and the bombed rests of a big building formerly used by the German Wehrmacht as a military academy. This place was lying in the British sector of (West)-Berlin where no German army was allowed till the early 1990s when the special status of the city ended with the German unification. So nobody had any use for these military ruins left by the Nazis.

Ruins of Wehrtechnische Fakultät at Teufelsseechaussee

Vast areas of the town were also destroyed as a result of WW II, so this was declared as a place where all the debris and rubble of smashed houses would be brought till the late 1960s, in total 26 million cubic meters of waste material piled up to a new mountain getting the name Teufelsberg  because the site is lying at the road Teufelsseechausee leading finally to natural lake Teufelssee.

A truck transporting rubble to Teufelsberg, December 1951

Nature took quickly control of this dump, so today the mountain is covered by a wild nature and secondary forest. And the people of West-Berlin used the new mountain also for leisure like  snow sports as it was difficult to go elsewhere for quite long time due to the Wall of Berlin surrounding them till 1989.

Ski lift on Teufelsberg (120.1 m), Winter 1961

Down the mountain’s not too long slope, December 1981

But the mountain has also been the last listening post of the Cold War. In the years 1968 the American army seized the complete top area of the mountain and erected till 1969 a radar and monitoring station for intelligence purposes such as controlling telephone conversations in the former German Democratic Republic. The secret name of these constructing and supervising ambitions was Project Filman. The last and fifth tower was built and finalized in 1989 shortly before the political transitions and opening of the Wall of Berlin. With the unificiation of Germany this complex was no longer required, the American army left the place in 1991 changing the area to a mere ghost town.

Teufelsberg radar and monitoring station by US-army in the 1980s

Path around the complex through the secondary forest, June 2018

Pioneer plants conquered the place in the time being which grew in the cracks of the asphalt and even settled on roofs. Undemanding plants such as the evening primrose, the stonecrop or the elder have laid the groundwork that it is today very green on top of the Teufelsberg. The complex was sold to an investor who planned a hotel and luxury appartments on the mountain. But after getting many millions of loan for the project from the banks, he was never seen again in the city. Some years ago this area has also been declared as forestrial land making impossible such luxury projects in the future. 

One of the decaying radiation domes, August 2019

Colorful wildness of the ruins, August 2019

The abandoned and still militarywise fenced place attracted of course the urban art and graffiti community. So in the ruins you find today a vast diversity of amazing colorant works of any kind. The domes can no longer be visited due to their bad conditions, but the unique complex is huge and can be visited against payment of an entrance fee. Meanwhile another change, the city awarded this wild site the relevant status of a real protected monument. So history can be just fabulous sometimes!

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – City