Living in Berlin is like being in an endless dream. It has always been a haven to me, and many others like me, les désorientés. I know it. I can feel it. What else can be the reason behind all those people staring at ugly construction sites in Neukölln corners with Champagnne glasses in their hands, sitting on chairs arranged like cafe chairs in Paris looking at Seine?
I always wanted to come here. And now that I am here, I hear the soundtracks of my favourite movies in the trains. Here, the city that feels like a playground for adults, your office garden can turn into a park whenever you want, a club can feel like a holiday resort where you can’t help but extend your trip for a few days every time you go, dates can feel like scenes from Girls, strangers feel like friends, and friends feel like strangers sometimes. The world feels so big and small at the same time that you have to ask yourself: “Is all of this real?”
Sometimes it is the sun shining on your balcony, sometimes it is a street party, but most of the time it is the people who live here that make you doubt reality. The city is full of young and creative people. Someone once said everybody you will meet will be either a DJ or a graphic designer here, even if they are cleaning toilets on paper. I have to admit it turned out to be quite accurate statement, which is why I want to tell you about other kinds of creative residents of Berlin for this once.
Dutch artist Tim Roeloff’s work was one of the main reasons I stayed motivated and eventually made the move to Berlin. I saw his work in his studio/store in Tacheles six years ago, when I visited Berlin for the first time. I thought everyone knew him by now because his work can be seen everywhere in Berlin, but while I was doing my research on who to introduce to you in this article, I have realized he is not very good at online marketing. So I will do it for him. The posters and postcards he designed are sold at almost every bookshop in Berlin. The only thing I knew about him was that he mainly did collages and illustrations combined with brilliant text that sum up the Berlin post-wall spirit for everyone. So I walked into my neighbourhood bookshop The Curious Fox this morning and asked if they knew the guy in person. Of course they did, because this is Berlin, and here is what I found out: he is almost 50 years old now, has a studio in Neukölln which unfortunately is not open to public, but some of his original work can still be seen at Oranienburgerstrasse 22. And the best part is, he just made a magazine and left it at several bookshops for sale for a donation of any amount you can afford!
I met him in a club called Griessmühle last year. By met I mean saw him in the documentary B-Movie starring as himself and narrating the story, and by club I mean a movie screening in a club during a weekday. Producer and Musician Mark Reeder came to Berlin in 1976, when he was 17 to find records he couldn’t find in the record shops in the UK and ended up organizing the first secret punk rock concert in communist East Berlin. He is the person who brought Joy Division and many others to Berlin for the first time and he is one of the seventy-four amazing people who lived in Berlin during the 80’s and managed to shoot the best details of the city which in 2015 became the movie “B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin”.
Alex is a writer from California. I met him at my favourite Spoken Word night in Berlin, Whisky & Words when he had just moved to Berlin, few months ago. He mostly writes sci-fi short stories which have been published in magazines like Popshot, Literally Stories, Fabula Argentea and Sanitarium Magazine. There’s one more on the way to be published in RHNK very soon. He is young, but truly dedicated and clearly talented in writing. Just follow him, read one story and you will know what I mean. If you end up passing through Berlin, you can probably see him read his stories at either Whisky & Words or Berlin Spoken Word which takes place every Thursday.
Eden Cami is a singer and song-writer from Israel. She moved to Berlin two years ago and I saw her perform at Conflict & Food Berlin about two months ago. If she sang one more song, I could have ran to the airport and go to Beirut with the first flight. It was how intense her affect on me was. Yesterday, I met her at a park and asked her why she thinks she makes music. “Because there is no way that I can live without” she said. “It is honestly the reason I wake up in the morning. My soul, my heart, my mind is music.” She is currently working on three projects, all quite different than each other. “The first one is Kayan Duo”, she explains, “which is evolving to Kayan Project, with more people joining us soon. But until now the core of it has me and a base player from Denmark. He used to live in Berlin and then he decided to move back to Copenhagen. We met more or less a year and a half ago and had this really good click. In the beginning we played jazz. It’s his, and in a way my background. But I had always wanted to explore things I’ve never done before. Folk, to be specific, mostly Arabic folk music and some Hebrew songs and things I didn’t dare to touch before for some reason.”
Her other projects are “a-sort-of-a-rock-band” named naOs, and writing her own songs which are “a little bit more pop-ish” as she puts it. She is also a part-time architect, but I am not even going to get in to that!
And at last but not the least…
It took me much longer than expected to finish this article. I just couldn’t decide who to tell you about as the fifth person you should meet when you travel to Berlin and now I know why. This afternoon, as I was getting ready to put another episode of an embarrassing series on instead of writing, I got a message from a good friend. He was texting me from inside the plane which had just landed in Berlin saying that he made a big mistake, he had unprotected sex with a hottie on his holidays. Now he felt extremely paranoid and had to get tested and medicated just in case. I met him in front of an AIDS clinic in Schöneberg in an hour. After waiting in line with him and thirty other paranoid men trying to be cool while thinking about death for four hours, I was feeling quite exhausted and my mind was wandering in very dark places. It was almost 9 pm when my friend got out of the doctor’s office without any medication prescribed or results given. He had to wait for two days. We left the clinic to get some food and our mind off of AIDS. Then we saw a painting by her hanged next to the bar in The Ballery on our way.
I don’t want to sound too cliché or crazy but her painting shined on me like an angel-like figure in a dream announcing on international television that AIDS did not exist anymore. There were many other stunning artworks in The Ballery, but hers had this impact on me that stuck with me until I came home and everything fell into place when I saw rest of her work online. I have been stalking her for a few hours now, and I suggest you do the same, especially if you are coming to Berlin any time soon because her work seems to be all around the city. She is a multi-media artist from Kansas, United States who has been living in Berlin for a long time, married to a German, and found out that she has roots that go down to the Black Forest of Germany herself. She reflects on the concepts of the occult, magic and science fiction using video, printmaking, sculptures and installations.
Nazli Koca is a writer and dreamer based in Berlin. It’s very likely that you will run into her while she is writing in the train or reading at Spoken Word events around Rathaus Neukölln. If you live in a city far far away, you can read more of her stuff at rhnk.tumblr.com