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

 

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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Linked to:

Tuesday Photo Challenge – City

 

URBAN ART HALL, BERLIN (2)

Unfortunately the project URBAN ART HALL does exist no longer here in Berlin, the former postal distribution hall will now be demolished and some new building erected soon. These here are some of the last impressions inside and outside the crazy and creative hall captured by mid of July 2019. Again it was very difficult to make a photo selection due to the many stunning works and mindful creations.

Additional information in German language here:

https://www.urbanarthall.de/about

 

URBAN ART HALL, BERLIN

The ART HALL is a temporary and independent project at Berlin-Spandau, with the aim to support urban art in its multiple diversity.  The location is situated in a former logistical center and hall of the German Post directly at railway station Berlin-Spandau. The hall itself will be demolished in 2019, so the urban art (inside and outside the hall) can only be admired and seen here for a rather short time left, some examples to be found hereunder.

Additional information in German here:

https://www.urbanarthall.de/about

Location:  “Alte Post/Packhalle”, Klosterstr. 36-38, Berlin-Spandau, Germany

 

 

 

 

 

MEETING LUBLIN IN POLAND – EUROPE AT THE BRINK

Poland or Polska is just standing for the term of a flat land what it is mostly in reality with wide agricultural fields, big forests and national parks, some mountains in the South-East at the border to Slovakia (High Tatra), small villages and some wellknown big cities like Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw or Gdansk. Around 40 million people are living there which are 99,9 % Christians (87 % Roman-Catholics) – only 5,000 Jews and around 30,000 Muslims have still their home in this country with a total amount of foreigners of around 100,000 or 0,27 % of the population (1).

So this is nowadays a ethnically cleaned society due to the brutal and fierce developments during the Nazi-occupation between 1939-1945. In former times the population was really much more diverse with a lot of Jews and other nationalities living there what is in my view always better for creating an open society.

Poland-Lithunia used to be an important monarchy in medieval times with the capital Cracow, but afterwards for long-time it was governed by foreign countries, divided more than once between other empires with the effect that Polish was more an underground language for centuries, therefore it is also regarded as a quite museal language in the Slavic area because it could not develop freely for long time. The grammar is really complicated, so to learn it is really not an easy task, but some few words like “barzo djekuje” (many thanks) can always be helpful to know for every visitor.

Due to the very bad experiences made in history nationalism is quite attractive for Polish people as a political concept, as long this does not mean national egoism and stupidity this is normally not a problem for neighbouring countries. So Polish people or governments quite often look nervously to the West (Germany) or anxiously towards the East (Russia) especially due to the traumatic experiences in the 20th century when in 1939 Germany and the Soviet-Union invaded and occupied the country and divided it in 2 parts where incredible crimes and mass-murders of the local populations took place. Subsequently a lot of matters happening today are a little bit more understandable when looking back in history of this country in the heart of Europe.

DSC_0065Urban art at an unused house in the old town of Lublin

The town of Lublin is situated in the very South-East of Poland not far away from the border to the Ukraine. The old town is very charming because not all houses are perfectly restored (some even without inhabitants) but instead you will find a lot of old pathes for loafing around, a high diversity of pubs and restaurants which are very crowded in the evening, just real life. Besides there is also an old castle in the centre hosting nowadays a big museum with a lot of important paintings from Polish history.

DSC_0018Former SS concentration camp Majdanek near Lublin

Only a few kilometers from the city centre you will find the former SS concentration camp Majdanek which was finally erected in December 1941 with the original purpose to serve as a camp for war prisoners from the Soviet-Union. However, it was then utilized for other purposes such as accomodating Polish civilians forced to work for the German SS regime. In 1943 and 1944 it served also as a place for eliminating the local Jewish population till the Red Army freed it in August 1944. At least 80,000 people (59,000 Jews) were killed here in the gas chamber, by shooting, due to hard work and inhuman treatment or by disease. On the photo you see the watch towers, in the background the crematorium with chimney and the white modern memorial monument made out of concrete at the place of a mass-grave. A visit is quite terrifying because the horror is still present in one of the still existing gas-chambers or the crematorium. This kind of industrialized mass-murdering is hardly realiziable for us today at this damned location.  So the memorial place outside of the camp therefore shall be a place of honour and remembrance to those who lost their life here at the brink of Europe.

DSC_0024Performance of the German-Polish chorus “Spotkanie” in May 2015 at Kazimierz Dolny

Fortunately we today live in different times with open borders between a lot of European countries (the Schengen zone). This is also the case for the border between Germany and Poland which can today be easily crossed normally without any control or delay. However, it must be still quite astonishing for a lot of people in Poland, when the mixed German-Polish chorus Spotkanie from Berlin is making concerts in Poland (mainly in churches) and then performing also a lot of traditional Polish songs like Gaude mater. The word Spotkanie is Polish and means meeting each other,  so in May 2015 the chorus did a short of performance on the market place of Kazimierz Dolny supported by the dynamic mayor of the town (to be seen on the photo infront of the chorus to the left) who professionally whistled melodies on a simple leaf what was a quite funny situation. Kazimierz Dolny (ca. 40 kms from Lublin to the North-West) is meanwhile regarded as one of the nicest villages in Poland with 2 famous Rennaissance buildings at the market place for instance. It is also possible to make short boat trips here on the nearby river Vistula.

zamosc_armenian housesMarket place with town hall and the Armenian houses at Zamosc

The city of Zamosc is a must for every visitor of this region while it is also called the “Padua of the North” – a UNESCO world culture heritage town being situated around 35 kms from Lublin to the South. The city was constructed (starting 1578) in accordance with the ideas of the Italian master builder Bernardo Morando in the style of the Italian Renaissance. It was founded by Jan Zamoyski in 1576 who was also the name giver of the town – his descendant Marcin Zamoyski was president of the town during the periods of 1990–1992 and 2002–2014. At the big market place it is truly nice to stay in one of the diverse taverns for a coffee or whatever will be individually preferred.

Wurzelschlucht2Roots gorge near Kazimierz Dolny

To complete an impression of the region it is also very much advisable to pay longer attention to a natural moment near Kazimierz Doly – the roots gorge created by erosion where you can view a lot of exposed roots created by very big trees in all different shapes. An amazing place for enjoying the subtile powers of plants which are existing much longer than our species on this unique planet Earth.

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(1) All figures were published by the European statistics authority as per end of 2014.

More information is also available under the links above:
http://www.staypoland.com/about_lublin.htm
http://www.deutsch-polnischer-chor-berlin.eu/

© transmutation.me (2015)