Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tacheles and T-Squat- Underground Art

Somewhere in former East Berlin, Kunsthaus Tacheles, a former Jewish department store and Nazi prison, lays home to a bohemian collection of clubs, studios and artist squats. The walls are adorned with graffiti, a beautiful conglomeration of political satire, artistic masterpieces and crude scrawls. Stairwells smell potently of urine and sporadic whiffs or marijuana, while dusty window panes overlook hapharzardly constructed bars which serve drinks to a curious mix of tourists and artists in the overgrown lot below.

This place is a haven of creativity in a city of incredible diversity and history. Since the wall came down an the world changed with it in 1989, an incredible alternative culture has flourished in this wonderful city. Art, in every form, springs from and is nurtured in deserted warehouses, on the street and at the man made reggae beaches that line the riverside. Last June I sat in the sand by the river, beer in hand, live music in the background, watching a group of men on boats, singing and dance with outrageous fervour, as they celebrated gay pride week. One, complete with red and yellow pom poms leapt unhesitatingly into the murky brown waters, and splashed around, delighting in the sense of freedom and acceptance that I felt so strongly permeated (at least in parts) this historic city.

Yesterday, a wonderful and creatively inspired friend of mine introduced to me, through her blog, T-SQUAT, the closest online equivalent I have ever come across to Berlin's Tacheles. I occasionally find some of these online art forums and collaborations can be slightly pretentious, particularly the ones which rely on sponsorship from, or are examples of advertising outreach by high name fashion designers. Which is not to say I don't appreciate them, or they are devoid of artistic value, but sometimes they can be lost in the money sucking vacuum of corporate advertising.
T-SQUAT, however, has absolutely blown me away. It's a Melbourne-based limewire of artists, writers, musicians... you name it. I'm particularly impressed by the Melbourne street photography of James Watkins who makes some very interesting observations-

""A series of people images made whilst wandering the streets of Melbourne this week. I'm becoming more interested in the relationship or lack thereof between a street photographer and their ephemeral, serendipitous subject matter and the way 
a camera triggers their instincive introverted or extroverted tendencies."

And Alex Marks' sea photography... WOW.

I strongly suggest you check it out. HERE.