Stattbad

by jonnywhitlam

El Bocho's tape art on the Stattbad art centre.

This is Stattbad. The 5th photo in my exhibition. Now, as a photo this may be quite weird, as it can quite easily be said that I’ve not really done anything creative here. It could be coherently argued that what I’ve really done is simply photograph another artist’s work. This is a criticism I accept and understand.

However, unsurprisingly this is not how I feel myself. It can be a bit of a cliché to say that Berlin is simply full of graffiti and street art, and because of that scene, that way of life, the street art in Berlin is the best. Like many clichés and stereotypes its roots in truth. All it took for me was one trip out of Berlin to really appreciate the quality of the art we have back at home.

This particular piece is done by one of Berlin’s more famous Street Artists, El Bocho. It has actually been called the ‘largest example of Tape Art in the world’. The image of this lady’s face (and on a larger scale, her hair) created entirely from tape.

The building this work is on is called ‘Stattbad’. Stattbad used to be a swimming pool. To the unassuming eye, it still is a swimming pool. It’s missing one key ingredient though; the water. With the pool emptied long ago Stattbad became an art centre. The tiled walls of the complex now covered in the work of Berlin and international street artists, left to explore various styles. At night Stattbad really changes, it becomes a club with spectacular surroundings. The dancefloor is in the former swimming pool. The DJ sits in the deep end, and people dance away all up to the shallow end. You even need a ladder to get out. Underneath the main dance floor there are other rooms, more DJs, hidden doorways, shady corners, you’re surrounded by pipes and valves. It’s a mad experience, in many ways it’s a truly Berlin experience. Berlin is weird.

But this place is weird even for Berlin, because Stattbad is in the district of Wedding. Now, I’ve got fellow ex-pat friends that tell me Wedding is new up-and-coming hip place to be. I’ve worked with Berliners that can remember The Wall and tell me that Wedding has had this reputation since about 1992. Wedding, for whatever reason, always comes with a certain ‘uncool’ stigma. But this can work in Stattbad’s favour. The people that are there? Well, it’s likely they’ve come from all over the city for a specific event, a certain experience, a unique night out.

So, I hope I’ve captured in this photo something that makes Berlin unique. The quality of the Street Art here, the forgotten and abandoned corners of the city turned into something great for the people, the fact that even in the ‘uncool’ areas of Berlin, people know how to properly have a mad time.

If you would like to visit the exhibition it will be on at Speakeasy Sprachzeug language school, 116 Boxhagener Str. Berlin (Nearest U-Bahn is Frankfurter Tor.) from June 24 until August 24. If you would like to buy a print of this or any other photo please feel free to send me an email (see contact).

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