Larger Than Life

Don’t miss out on the beautifully intimate exhibition of photographs by Esther Friedman currently on show on Karl-Marx-Allee: Iggy Pop and David Bowie in 1970’s Berlin.

Installation view - 0347
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

A New Gallery on Karl-Marx-Allee

At number 98, one of the greatest artists of our time is being celebrated: the late David Bowie. On 10 January, the world woke up to the shock of his far-too-early death, but he had left a farewell gift to his fans: his last album Blackstar, released just two days before. Three of the 25 albums he released in the course of his musical career were recorded in Berlin – Low, Heroes and Lodger.

DB-looking right
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

DB-smiling right
Image courtesy Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

Between 1976 and 1978, Bowie lived in a seven-bedroom apartment in a pre-war building in Schöneberg. Many years later, the American writer Jonathan Franzen, whose novels include Purity, Freedom and The Corrections, moved into the same apartment… but that’s another story.
As for Bowie, he wrote one of his most anthemic tracks of all times in Berlin. “Heroes” is a creative triumph written at a time when Bowie’s career was at a low point. Not only was Berlin a divided city at the time, its western half was also a mecca for heroin addicts. Never one to swim with the tide, Bowie came here to become clean. Once again, he successfully reinvented himself.

Bang Bang. Hauptstrasse 1978
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

Iggy Pop, the Real Punk Pioneer

Bowie and Iggy Pop – who was the real creative force behind the punk movement – were flatmates as well as comrades-in-musical-arms. Bowie produced Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life album, which includes what was to become his most successful single so far. “The Passenger” is the story of an S-Bahn ride through Berlin. Iggy Pop’s 17th album Post Pop Depression, which is due out at the end of March, also includes a track about Berlin.

IP - U Bahn
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

IP-Leather Jacket
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

In 1976, Iggy met and fell in love with the photographer Esther Friedman. She used her camera to document their time together. Forty years later, the exhibition on Karl-Marx-Allee is the first time these images have been shown publicly in Berlin.

Esther and Iggy Pop 1978
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

Installation view-3
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

“No Idiot 2” – a Journey Back in Time

In an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit , Esther Friedman talks about how Bowie’s driver took her for regular jaunts to the eastern part of the city in his Mercedes. It’s highly likely that they would have passed Karl-Marx-Alle 98, where a new gallery offers visitors a chance to travel back in time: two young men striking übercool poses in low-slung bell-bottoms and biker-style leather jackets, framed by rows of buildings that exude a strong whiff of floor polish and sauerkraut. There’s something ever so slightly disturbing about getting this close to the everyday life of two pop stars captured on film as though they were mere mortals.

Rosalia-IP-mit Rosalia nach Mastektomie, Berlin1979
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

Installation View - 0358
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

Take the shot of Iggy Pop standing by the window in an unflattering V-neck jumper – an image that might have been taken from the private photo album of any member of the baby boomer generation. Their home, too, is ordinary almost to the point of bourgeois stuffiness. The TV in the corner even has trinkets on it. There’s hardly a trace of the kind of posturing cultivated by the next generation of pop stars such as Madonna and Lady Gaga. Instead, here are two young men you could easily imagine meeting for a drink in the local Kneipe.

Installation view-2
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture

As you leave the exhibition in the Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture and start walking along Karl-Marx-Allee, another image will come to mind: Iggy Pop stretched out on the bonnet of a Wartburg – the East German version of a luxury car. Can’t you just see them driving along this very road?

DB-Hands on Hips
Image courtesy of Esther Friedman – Hubertushoehe Art + Architecture