Living Artfully in Berlin
August 16, 2014 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Let's say you're a young artist. And you're headed to Berlin in spring. You plan on fully immersing yourself in local culture once you get there -- you're going to get a studio, mingle at pubs and learn about your neighborhood. But you'd like a boost on the art scene. You want to get culturally & conversationally fluent!

- What are you reading or listening to?
- Where do artists work, live and hang out?
- How do people behave at a critique or art opening?
- Who are the big players / institutions? (museums, galleries, performance venues...)
- What's the alt scene like?
- What educational resources are open to a foreigner? (classes, library access, hackspaces...)
- Any good Deutsch websites, podcasts or blogs to follow?
- How much do Germans know about their own art history?

I already have a good start on learning German, figuring out visas, and getting places to live. I've rounded up general resources and made some travel connections. If you have tips on those -- MeMail me!
posted by fritillary to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any insider tips but as a tourist I find Stil in Berlin and Freund von Fruenden pretty good for getting a handle on whats going on in the City and the various Arty types that make up the scene.
posted by Middlemarch at 2:04 AM on August 17, 2014

I'd contact the local art college and hook up with some of the students/grad students - either befriending or paying one to give you a tour of their city. They'll know all this stuff ;)
posted by jrobin276 at 4:09 AM on August 17, 2014

Best answer: Berlin has one of the coolest hackerspaces in the world: C-base. If I were you I'd join in a heartbeat. But there are others too, well worth a visit I should think.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:26 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd think that, as a creative person (and one who appreciates immersion), you'd want to form your own first-hand impressions on those issues, eschewing common wisdom. The fun and insight of taking yourself out of your natural element is all in figuring this stuff out gradually and organically. Other people's impressions would permanently color your own if you don't grow your own from scratch.

I'd do a bang-up job establishing the underpinnings of the trip (accommodations, visa, language, travel....all the stuff you're wisely attending to) and then, from that basis of solidity go in as a complete blank, absorbing experiences like a turbo-sponge. Make the impressions fully yours! Then maybe enrich your takeaway impressions AFTERWARDS by checking out other people's takes.

I've done this several times, myself. And I'm awfully glad I always winged it (while, again, diligently hammering out logistics for myself ahead of time).
posted by Quisp Lover at 1:46 PM on August 17, 2014

I'm not an insider, but I know that Prenzlauer Berg and Neukölln are pretty artsy.

Art museums: There's Museuminsel, of course, but also a bunch of other very good museums like the Bauhaus Museum, Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Museum für Fotografie...

A blog on Berlin: here
posted by gemutlichkeit at 9:20 PM on August 17, 2014

Response by poster: Wise advice, Quisp. But I don't believe in blanks. Points are just as useful to bounce off as to orient to. It's like the dating trope -- do you wait for true love to stumble by, or seek your mate out with a wandering eye? We all start slate in the end!
posted by fritillary at 9:26 PM on August 17, 2014

Not sure if you mean it that way but you sound rather career oriented. Berlin is traditionally a terrible town for making a viable business of art. Sure there are lots of famous artists who live here but most of them got started somewhere else and almost all of them make their money outside of the Hauptstadt. It is however a great town for hanging out, making interesting friends, discovering other work, partying, work-in-progress and study. Depending on your social life (and inexpensive lifestyle), it can also pleasantly and slowly sap your ambition.

If you want to be a big success in the art world, then you're much better off in a city that has a better capitalized commercial art scene like NYC, London, Paris, Amersterdam, LA, even Houston.

But if you want to integrate yourself into the art world in Berlin, I suggest going to parties and openings, getting drunk and making friends. I basically agree with Quisp that getting into a "scene" is not like getting your drivers license. It's a process, which can be really fun, not a set of canonical rules and facts which are boring once you know them.
posted by mr.ersatz at 3:22 AM on August 18, 2014

Inspired by mr. ersatz's interesting take on intentions....

When approaching a new scene with aims of conquering it (or, at least, making yourself successful within it), that's even more reason to shun conventional wisdom.

Success rarely happens by following a formula, because any established formula is being tenaciously plied by lots of people who got in line way ahead of you.

If you can remain fresh, clear-eyed and non-conformist, you are much more likely to spot a novel route/strategy for yourself than if you willingly absorb viral memes about what is and is not customary (not to mention possible).
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:57 AM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Keep an eye out for shows at nun. Up a step-ladder through a window into a one-room apartment/gallery that hosts one-night only exhibitions.
posted by Kabanos at 9:43 AM on August 21, 2014

Response by poster: How funny! I'm anything but career-oriented. I just want to meet artist friends, sketch my little heart out and see work that makes my blood pump. This question was simply a call for data points. When I go to a new place I like to explore it from as many angles as I can -- everything from media buzzword blitz to drunken localisms at the corner bar.
posted by fritillary at 12:14 AM on August 22, 2014

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