Berlin, 1951. In both parts of the divided city, streetscapes resembles the toothless smile of an old crone. Reconstruction is a hot topic, although there is no consensus on the shape it’s supposed to take. East German leaders want a nine-storey residential tower block with state-of-the-art amenities at Weberwiese. The building project “is a political manifestation of the new country’s determination to build a socialist future. It was designed to showcase the GDR’s distinctive architectural style,” as the art historian Peter Müller explains in a 2015 documentary for RBB Radio. However, this distinctive new style had yet to be created.
Distinctive architecture attracts distinctive people. In this, Strausberger Platz is no different from Shanghai’s French Quarter or New York’s Meatpacking District. Authors, filmmakers, architects – as well as regular folk who don’t want to live somewhere regular – populate these hot spots.
image courtesy of kallejipp / photocase.de
In the aftermath of World War II, artists living in the Soviet-occupied zone initially aligned themselves to classical modernism. Art condemned by the Third Reich as degenerate, such as Expressionism, New Objectivity, Dadaism or avant-garde, experienced a brief renaissance. Alongside the philosopher Ernst Bloch and returning exiled writers Bert Brecht, Anna Seghers and Arnold Zweig, the former Expressionist Johannes R. Becher quickly became the central figure of cultural events.
image courtesy of HG Esch
Strausberger Platz is a work of art in urban surroundings. So, it’s only logical that a lively gallery scene should have made a home for itself here.
image courtesy of jock+scott / photocase.de