Why Berlin? A look behind the scene..... by billcody
My life as a photographer has a close relationship with my hometown Berlin. Without Berlin it could be that I never got the interest and my abilities in photography. Maybe without Berlin I never owned a camera......
So why Berlin?
The first reason is very simple: BECAUSE I LIVE HERE! If I am willing or not: When leaving my flat I have to pass all the street life, the fine and bad places, the overcrowded subways and railroads - nobody asks if I am lucky about or not.. And taking photos from this never sleeping and everchanging city is a way of live, it is a way of SURVIVE.
I have to tell you a secret:
In reality I am a fan of country live and landscape photography, that means of things which are not common with my reality in the center of Berlin (I am living only one mile away from the Brandenburg Gate, Berlins "Ground Zero"). But it makes no sense to dream about the Alpes or the Scottish Highlands or the Grand Canyon, I cannot reach such places every day. I HAVE TO TAKE WHAT I CAN GET EVERY DAY when I´m in the mood to taking pictures.
Freedom is: I`m an owner of a full one-year ticket for our communal busses, trams, subways and railroads, this is my greatest treasure and gives the abitity to reach all places in Berlin. Everything is paid.... Using a bike I can add 30-40 kilometers of Berlin`s surroundings. The distances in WE are 70-80 kilometers, in NS are 50-60 kilometers, a very large playground without using a car....
Berlin photography - only a compromise?
YES and NO...
YES, it is a compromise, Berlin cannot offer one of the fine landscapes of our planet, but Berlin is much, much more as a boring place and has a lot to offer for a photographer with an open mind. Berlin is full of live, it is in a fascinating process of everlasting changing, of creating something new. It is full of interesting young people, aa often fine street live, harsh multicultural breaks, a great artists and club scene and the cultural capital of Europe....
I am a typical Berlinian: Most of us love this city and hate it at the same moment: Berlin is fine, and Berlin is bad at the same moment; it is shimmering and full of glamour and it is down and dirty at the same time; there is a lot of light (maybe false light) and a lot of shadow, too. Berlin has a lot of potential, but there is a lot of hype, too, only overheated air.... This is the atmosphere I live and have to work in. NO, this is not only a compromise, its an everlasting process with an open end, and I am at the right place at the right time.
Berlin - a Hype?
Berlin can be beautiful, and it is cheap. POOR BUT SEXY - this is the message that comes from Berlin these days - and it created us more then 20 million tourists in the last year. TWENTY MILLIONS!!!!
Overboarding tourism and a bursting infrastructure system with overcrowded trains, subway system and stations create nervous breakdowns here and voices grow up "STOP TOURISM, NO MORE TOURISTS HERE! WE DON`T LIKE THEM!"Nobody of the old constructors and architects could know that Berlin creates 20 million visitors per year in the future and so our infrastructure is to small for such masses of people. This is a source of permanent stress today...
Another big problem is the GENTRIFICATION: Berlin is cheap for tourists and moneymakers from all around the world. Whole neighborhoods, especially in the center of Berlin were sold out to "investors", old and very old structures were destroyed, the prices for flats grow and grow and the old Berlinians like me have to go, we are not longer able to pay our rents for the flats. This creates a lot of fear and aggression, too, and more and more people live their aggression on the streets or in subway stations... "BERLIN FEELS WELL" was a slogan of our authorities some years ago., it meant "Berlin creates good Vibrations".......
Don`t believe that, friends! The truth is: Berlin is not the beauty the tourism industry offers; Berlin can be ugly, cold, rainy, the people are rough and often shocking directly to strangers. Berlin can be openminded to everyone and full of racism at the same time; here the "Carnival of Cultures" and there rightwinged parties agains muslims and mosquees. "Poor and Sexy" sounds good, but "Rich and Sexy" sounds better, uh?
It is the overbording tourism at one side and the false glamour at the other side that creates my work as a photographer. I see myself as a chronist, who have to show ALL sides of Berlin. This includes the old and historical and the new architecture; this includes museums and events, this includes the fine places and the ugly, the sharp breaks; the city life and the countryside of Berlin, the Berlinians and the tourists, the German and the foreign Berlinians.
Berlin is much, much more then Brandenburg Gate or Potsdam Plaza, and I do what I can to show the unknown sides of my city and you are invited to it, but lets speak out the truth: The time may come when I leave Berlin and I am no longer able to stand it. Berlin is a carousel and creates nervous breakdowns, and we should leave when the party is at it`s best......
Sincerely yours, billcody
The Berlin Carnival of Cultures - Behind the Curtains.....
Tomorrow, 26st June 2008, my series of photographs from the Berlin Carnival of Cultures 2008 ends, and it is time to look back and then into future.
My series is grown up constantly in these last days, planned were only a few pics. I hope nobody was bored and the fun preveiled. Collecting these pics and working them over was a pleasure, because I discovered more and more details that I couldn´t rember in reality.
What is that "Carnival"?
It is at first an event to get strange people together, to learn a better understanding for both sides and to loose the fair.This is the MAIN idea.
You, my RR- friends from all parts of the world, should not believe that Berlin is a place of steady happiness and understanding. As Paris, London, parts of the Netherlands, New York and many other cities in the world has Berlin great problems with its immigrants, specially with young gangs from Turkey and arabian countries, too. We have the whole catalogue: Criminalism, violence, gangs, drugdealing - stuff like this.
And don`t believe, that all of us old german Berlinians are very happy and opened-up! One of three of us has never heart of this carnival, another one of three is "not interested" or "do not know" and only one of three is engaged, is a fanatic like me! That is enough to create an one-million-peoples event, but all in all are we a minority in my city.
Than is this carnival a fake?
No, it is real. The fact is, that many, many people are engaged in this event and in relationships with strange countries and their members. They count to ten-thousends, and Berlinians have relationships to all parts to the world, as persons, but as heighborhoods and even as whole departments. And what can be better as to doing a hot salsa dance school in these long, dark and boring winter evenings? What can be better as to learn as strange language in the endless raining of november?
And please remember:
This was the city with the WALL surrounded, and many people used every free minute to enter an airplane and leave their jailhouse for a while. I did so, too, and all my friends....
And there is another fact, a secret (Come closer, friends..)
Often these strangers are a pleasure for the eyes, oh boy!! Experts of this events know that there are thousends of good looking women, concentrated at one point! This alone pays the show, and a look at my series show the results. Beauties from the south sea dancing in the streets, in MY STREETS! Tweak me...... And the ladies here know, too: A well muscled body of one of this dancers is sheer pleasure! Please you, have a look of it! This is one of the secrets of this event and made it to a millions-spectacle. And these colors, too. I have never seen so much photographers, armed with their biggest equipment. They know, why! And everything is for FREE!
What is the Part of the City?
Berlin, a very poor city, spend a lot of money for its official culture: Three opera houses, a famous symphonic orchestra, that act worldwide, three universities, 22 high schools for different educations, two zoological gardens and more then 140 museums...A lot of money! The big companies are often sponsors of big events, maybe a "Rolling Stones" concert in the Olympic stadium and stuff like this.
The carnival of cultures is not part of the "official" culture.
That means: The city spends no money. The city gouvernment, the "Senate of Berlin", gives only support: The police closes the streets, the emergency organizations like the "Red Cross" are present, our transport systems send more busses and subways, and our city organizations clean up and take away the wast after the show. In the morning at 6.00 P.M. the streets are cleaned up completely. The Berlin Radio and TV report the whole 4 days and sends the street carnival completly in our local TV channel.
Is there a hidden meaning of this carnival?
Yes, of cause! It is 200% political correct! The Senate of Berlin can present our city as an "open (minded) city of tolerance and understanding, and the carnival of cultures produce fine pictures for the booming tourism industry and as a message to the world: We are no longer Nazis, look at us! No fear! The carneval is very wellcome to the Senate, and it is cheap, too!
The money coms from the clubs and organizations like samba schools, salsa or tango clubs and private sponsors. Very important are the countless foreign embassies here: The embassies organize contacts to their countries, to local culture orginazions and stuff like that. They organize "culture forums" to present their countries and they pay the traveling and hotel coasts for these like the girls from my last pic...
What makes Berlin so special?
The creativity of a great part of Berlinians. The idea must not be originally born in Berlin, but here are countless aficinados enough to say" Lets doin´it in Berlin, too"
The city marathon was breeded out in New York, the first carnival of Culture was the famous Notting Hill Carnival of Cultures in London, but who cares? Crazy people like YOU and ME were the ones that made an crazy idea to an million-seller event, and this is the fact I´m proud about....
That makes a place interesting.
Today we have three million- seller events per year here:
1. The Carnival of Cultures (1st weekend of may)
2. The Christopher Steet Day of Homosexuals and Lesbians
3. The Berlin Marathon in september
Recent they try to establish an velothon (an bycycle race 100 km distance)
Uff, a novel again...... Hopye you enjoy it and I could give some informations. Bye
Remembering Valerie Ducom...
No, Valerie Ducom and I, we were no friends....
Why does it hurt when a "no - friend" leaves me? I miss her much.
Somebody of you are knowing me here as a photographer, as the man with the "Berlin spleen". But this is not the truth; the most time here I spent as an unknown visitor, and this began so:
Some years ago, it must been at the beginning of 2005, I came here along for searching of a wallpaper. In this time I didn´t really knew what a wallpaper is; people in my age are not grown up with computers, and I had a language problem, too... For all of you from the english spoken language countries all these modern PC - terms need no description, the name says it all. As a German I had to translate some terms and had to think about, what they mean....
I was interested in a Science Fiction theme first, and so I explored again and again the "Terragen" and "Mojoworld" section here. And so I learned all the big names there: Prutzworks, Hillrunner, Christianfly, Markal, Ionel and all the others, don`t forget the big Artmatic Man bpmac..... I did so for nearly 2 years. I was no photographer, and I had no camera at these time.
And I had no interest in photography!
My wife spent me a camera at Christmas Eve 2005 (my beloved Nikon Coolpix 8700) I don´t touched this monster for several months, and often my wife talked about "ebay".......
My camera travelled with us to a short vacation to the isle of Madeira, and there happened the BIG BANG.
Do you know these big manuals, when you buy something technical? These sides of sides in strange languages as Arabian, Korean, Chinese or other languages you don`t need? Its globalism, folks..... I hate that part of it!
When we arrived at Madeira I hadn´t read a word of these manuals like the month before and my wife showed my the "press down" button..... It was very easy!
To look at these pics on my home computer in a size of my desktop was GREAT, GREAT, GREAT, and I´ve found a new drug! After this, in November 2006, I began my excursions through the Berlin urban jungle and the surroundings of Berlin. In May 2007, 13 month after I got my camera, I did my first upload of an own pic here, "Elve`s Home"
And then I had my first contact with Valerie Ducom...Valerie "The Great":
Just uploaded my second pic here, there was a comment here of Valerie, short, but friendly, as we knew her.... Maybe this was our only contact and her only comment for one of my pics, and this is the only reason that I`m not calling her a friend.... I´m sorry about, and now I´m sad, because it is too late.....
Only a very short contact, but Valerie was very remarkable; I surfed regulary in the photo community, looking at other pics (mostly of persons who commented me...LOL), and Valerie was alltime present: Here a comment, there a comment, here a friendly word and there a friendly word, and then the remarkable "Good Day!" at the end of every comment.
"Damned, My day has only 24 hours, her day must have 48 hours, she is present at all places at the same time, how can that be?" I asked myself. Such an energy!
And her photography!
It seemed as they were lightyears between her art of photography and my beginner status! I loved to look at her pics, and Valerie became part of my discussions with my wife and some friends: "There is a girl there at RENDEROSITY, my god, she is a real artist! Her pics are a must-see!"
And there was the hidden and secret wish to act like she with my camera.... Sometimes I dedicated a quest in in my brain: What would Valerie say about this pic? Is it good enough? Sometimes I asked me the question: Are you taking your pics for yourself or to please a strange person with the name Valerie Ducom you´ve never seen?
Valerie`s art of photography had a lot of influence of me, and believe me, dear friends, it`s not easy to speak it out so directly....
And: I´m a very shyish person - I was not able to ask Valerie Ducom for help, - me, a beginner and hobby photograph at one side and Valerie The Great on the other side.....
Today I know, that Valerie would help me, if I needed help. But I didn´t ask......Today I know that she was able to took aware even of beginners in the photo section.... like me.
It was her energy, her positive thinking and her friendly soul that made her so special, as a shinig star....
I have lost so many friends here, because things change.... Some of my idols are gone, and I hate these empty galleries "XY has uploaded 0 images since..." Names as christianfly, hillrunner and others - all of them burnt a hole in my soul, Valerie Ducom, too...
But there was the hope, that they are coming back, a deleted gallery must not be the end, only a mistake, a wrong click.... tomorrow there is a new, better pic of hillrunner, armands, christanfly, Valerie Ducom and so many others in the pipe.....
Who of my friends will be the next, burning a hole in my soul?
Death ends it all, Valerie never comes back. Why must I have these damned feeling, that the best of us must go, and these old scumbags of our planet alive? Is this God`s plan?
We were no friends, Valerie and me, but I wish, it would be. I miss you very much, Valerie, you and your Big Mouth, your alltime-presence! I hope, you are in a better world now.....Farewell, my inspiration...
For all my friends here: Hope they are not so much mistakes here, excuse me.
And a last wish:
I have had so many favorite pics here, but no one from Valerie, no pic, no avatar - nothing! That makes the hole in my soul so big. Is somebody able to share some pics?