Berlin Blog 1

May 17, 2011

Michael Rodemer is spending much of the Summer of 2011 doing a collaborative art project in Berlin with Berlin artist (and former A&D Witt Resident) Franz John as part of Über-Lebenskunst, a symposium devoted to exploring sustainability, sponsored by the House of World Cultures and the Federal Cultural Foundation.

Barely 24 hours after getting off the plane at Tegel Airport in Berlin, I wanted a tattoo; the desire for tutti-frutti hair wasn’t long in following. 


Now, the urge to get a tattoo was just an atmospheric thing, and had nothing to do with the myriad posters in Kreuzberg, the hippiest-dippiest quarter of the city.


But now it’s been more than a week, and my epidermis is as yet unadorned, and the sparse protein strands on my top story are still bleakly grey, dreaming in vain of their chromatic transmogrification.

I’ve been busy (uh, has the semester ended yet?) teaching a workshop in a Berlin Gymnasium and preparing an artwork for the “Long Night of the Sciences,” on May 28, during which I’ll show a piece developed by Berlin artist Franz John and me, along with the projects my pupils from the Andreas-Gymnasium made. (Report with photos forthcoming).


Below, with interlineal comments, are some photos that may help to convey something of the character of this immense city. (West Berlin was 4 times the size of Paris within the Périphérique expressway around that luscious city, and East Berlin was equally as large.)


Dr. Rock is self-explanatory; Below, “Stichpiraten” are the stabbing pirates, i.e. tattoo artists.


This is a nice example of the diversity of Berlin: Radical Jewish Culture, Classical Music, and Emmy Lou Harris on the same Littfaßsäule (what they call these cylinders here).


I don’t even want to think about how this graffiti got made (it’s 5 stories up!)


Uh, get the message?


Get it yet?

(David Sedaris, in his new book, "Engulfed in Flames," quips that this font is large enough to be read from space.)

At the Gymnasium where I taught, there’s a storage room in the basement used for art stuff too bulky for anyplace else. Here, too, are Marx’ and Engels’ obsolete ”bronzed” plaster noggins, next to some defunct fire extinguishers. Wonder if one is keeping all these things just in case they’re needed again? (What a disaster that would be – more about that over the next weeks.)

Your Berlin correspondent,




hilarious, Michael, thanks for sharing fantasies of chromatic transmogrification and the gritty, street view of life in Berlin. Just don't start smoking, it might kill you.

Posted by Kath Weider-Roos on May 19, 2011

Can we start a tattoo suggestion contest in the comments?

Posted by Andre Grewe on May 20, 2011

Funny Papa!!!

Posted by Maya Rodemer on May 20, 2011

Fascinating. Keep the posts coming. (And I would hold on to the transmogrified eyebrows.)

Posted by Stephanie Rowden on May 23, 2011





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