You cannot visit Berlin without visiting a museum. Some might think this is because of the fabulous collections and great choice of exhibitions constantly offered in the German capital. But, it is also because you don’t necessarily pay for a ticket to enter a museum. You can get it all for free! Why is that? Berlin is a city within a museum. You can find contemporary art virtually behind any corner.
Let’s go for a walking tour where I live, the buzzing and noisy “Torstrasse.”
“It consists of an endless variety of seats and benches placed in front of businesses.”
Berlin Slows Down To Take A Seat (An invitation to an open-air art exhibition in Berlin Central East)
By Estibaliz Díaz de Rada
Let’s go for a walking tour where I live, the buzzing and noisy “Torstrasse.” It is here, in Berlin Central East, where I have encountered one of the most exceptional displays of contemporary art I’ve ever come across. Its working title might well be “Slow down and take a seat.” It consists of an endless variety of seats and benches placed in front of businesses.
Early spring temperatures in Berlin still linger around 50 F. So, it is actually not too attractive to sit down in front of a shop. On the other hand, if the offer to take a seat is not real, why would we find them all over the place?
Some might call it all a smart marketing idea that spread very fast: a seat outside a shop to grab your attention and draw you inside. Others say the seat add an aesthetic value to the place. A decorative item pushed outside in the street.
Berlin is defined by its contrasts. I also believe the seats are symbolic of something that is unique for Berlin: its genuine intention to be a fusion of the present and the past, to overcome the division between East and West. This contrast is a sympathetic suggestion: “What you find here in Berlin, you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And we Berliners know how to turn a need into a virtue.”
It’s the vast amount of contrasts that have always described Berlin: East vs. the West, Communism vs. Capitalism, very local vs. very cosmopolitan, trash culture vs. fashion culture, antique vs. modern – an endless list of opposites that attract each other. That’s Berlin.
For me, the seats are a reflection of my neighborhood; an open-air exhibition of contemporary art, a piece of Berlin culture accessible 24/7 to everybody and free of charge.
The exhibition offers you a little everything: the retro, the modern, the functional, the minimalist, the crazy Berlin – an open invitation to slow down and reflect.
And it is intentional that there are no photo subtitles and explanations of the streets and businesses where the chairs or banks are found. Sometimes we pay more attention to (sub)titles and dates, than the beauty of art itself, don’t we?
If you come, I hope that you enjoy walking through Berlin Central East as much as I do.
INFOBOX TORSTRASSE/ MAP:
Torstrasse – A typical piece of Berlin culture
Torstrasse separates Berlin Central East from the young and family friendly district of Prenzlauer Berg. Torstrasse is famous for hosting some of Berlin’s most popular restaurants and bars. Hollywood’s stellar couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, have been spotted dining here on various occasions.
Berlin – the unfinished City
Berlin has outstanding cultural venues. After the wall came down, many venues were duplicated. This merger is still visible today. Berlin might well be considered the most “unfinished” and thus fastest changing major capital in Europe. Berlin is under constant change. The best way to witness this change is by taking a stroll through Berlin Center East.