A Performance Series

SO WHERE IS THE ART IN BERLIN? JUST POINT ME IN THE DIRECTION…

SO WHERE IS THE ART IN BERLIN? JUST POINT ME IN THE DIRECTION…

’30 Days’ is a project by two anonymous North American cartographers in the New Life Berlin Festival who are on a mission to map the artistic and cultural landscape of Berlin by simply asking the local art enthusiasts, “where is the art in Berlin?”

During the 30 days of 1 May to 15 June Mr. and Mr. Anonymous will visit and experience art in Berlin for the first time. They will collect and link art in the places they happen to stumble-upon or are directed to by strangers on the street, tourists or fellow artists to the New Life Berlin festival and relay their findings employing a unique mapping system in conjunction with a Google-map (MAP 1), a physical map (MAP 2), and photographic images. What results is the 30 days ‘mission impossible’; a 30-day scavenger hunt for art around Berlin with no predetermined route, navigating their way through Berlin by relying on local recommendation and discovery.

This process of mapping, or cartography, has a long history dating from about 2300 B.C. Mr. and Mr. Anonymous have this history in mind and are using proven mapping methods , employing a sophisticated means to illustrate the accessibility of the art community in Berlin. I am unsure how scientific Mr. and Mr. Anonymous are about the actual mapping, but the concept is undeniably appealing. Moreover, there is a definite new development in the way they are mapping the art of the city. Within these developments, they rely on trusted methods, and like any great expedition they are depending on local people ‘in the know’ to foster this map. In so doing, they are exploiting ‘word-of mouth’ and making the most of Berlin’s artistic network and associations.

Mr. and Mr. Anonymous made their first appearance at a public network meeting in the New Life Shop on June 4th. It was a casual gathering of artists and writers who were interested in the concept of mapping the artistic culture in Berlin. This event gave Mr. Mr. Anonymous the opportunity to introduce their project whilst remaining individually unnamed. It also gave the public an opportunity to participate in mapping the 30 days project. At the meeting, Mr. and Mr. Anonymous asked everyone to mark on a large map of Berlin where art can be found. This collection of dots started the process of drawing MAP 2 and would lead Mr. and Mr. Anonymous to some suitable Berlin art destinations. I was intending to contribute to MAP 2 by marking where I thought art was to be found in the German capital, but never did. I was stumped from the get-go. Firstly, what is the definition of art? Art is not an object, a place or a space. It’s a philosophy, is it not? And secondly, all the notable museums and galleries were already taken, and there were lots of dots covering the areas I knew. Eventually, I figured a tourist like myself had little to contribute.

With a population of 3.4 million in its city limits, Berlin has a young, thriving artistic community and is growing rapidly. Artists flock here from everywhere; it’s somewhere artists can live cheaply and can find great studio space with relative ease. But how approachable are the arts without having specialist information or an artist-friend as tour guide? Mr. and Mr. Anonymous are attempting to find out by identifying all the communities of cultural expression that form the layers of Berlin’s art. They have immersed themselves in Berlin’s artistic realm. They’ve seen a lot of art spaces and met a lot of the people who make those places special. In this sense, 30 Days is a project about overcoming barriers of language and knowledge in order to gain access an art and culture within a large city area. It will be interesting to see if the documentation reveals what the 30 days perceptions of art in Berlin are. The duo have set themselves no small task in trying to articulate what art represents, where art could exist, and survey a multicultural artistic community by just being here for 30 days. A cartographical approach to such questions is unique and very welcome.

The 30 days maps are online at http://www.wooloo.org/30days/

Carali McCall

Carali McCall is an artist living in London.
caralimccall@gmail.com www.art-yo.com

Please only reproduce this text with permission from the author and Open Dialogues. opendialogues@gmail.com

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