Every city’s got stories. Rome has the Romans, New York has the skyscrapers, and London has the Empire. For me, Berlin is the story. Its streets, its (shitty) architecture, its restored cultural monuments: they’re more than landmarks. They’re the stretch marks, scars, amputations, and regrowths of a city that has, to put it bluntly, seen some shit.
Berlin has, literally, layers of history: buildings, streets, entire neighborhoods have been torn down, rebuilt, re-configured, destroyed again in seemingly endless cycles of destruction and renewal.
Layers of history
Berlin has layers of history. Take, for example, the Berliner Schloss: originally built in the 15th century, it became the main residence of the Prussian royal family, and then of the German Kaisers. It’s now a modern replica of the Baroque-era palace and houses three separate museums. Each layer of Berlin’s history is represented in that one building.
Layers of Culture
Berlin has layers of culture. Whether you’re interested in open-all-weekend clubs like Berghain, catching a show at one of Berlin’s four opera houses, or checking out independent artists working in the creative industries, Berlin is bursting with culture. According to the city government, there are around 150 different theaters and stages in Berlin, each with its own raison d’etre. The common theme is that artists, musicians, and performers have been drawn to Berlin in huge numbers. There’s just something about this city.
Layers of Politics
Berlin has layers of politics. Berlin is currently governed by a coalition that includes a party that used to be communist, but has districts where over 1 in 4 voters chose the far-right party. And of course, Berlin is also the political capital of the largest country in Europe. Decisions made in the German Parliament have serious geo-political consequences.
Berlin Layers is a space to explore these layers of Berlin’s culture, history, and urban structure. I’m interested in how past events continue to shape our lives, from mundane stuff like “why is this u-bahn station here, and not around the corner?” to larger questions like “why on earth did they spend so much money rebuilding the Schloss”?