In a grungy steel planter in front of a cute little mite of a delicatessen in Kreuzberg,
The folks on Dresdenerstraße, a little street tucked away behind Kottbusser Tor in Berlin-Kreuzberg, have gotten up several of their currently leafless street trees with colorful baubles and ribbons. For once, Christmas finery isn’t reserved for the conifers.
This intrepid plant caught my eye with its bright green color as I was walking down Adalbertstraße in Kreuzberg the other day, not far from the petting zoo. Isn’t it amazing how it totally defies the gray-and-black palette of its stony and metallic surroundings with its radiant color?
Spotted today on Bernburger Straße in the northwest end of Kreuzberg, near Anhalter Bahnhof.
30. May 2009, ca. 15:00, Mariannenplatz, Berlin-Kreuzberg
As Marko and I were passing by the big construction site in front of the Bethanien (an old brick hospital, once site of squatters’ movement, now home to arts organizations), he pointed and said, “There’s something for Urban Plant Research.” In a strip of newly laid asphalt, there had already been some kind of small-scale upheaval. It looked like the blacktop had been broken from underneath by some very determined plant!
I sometimes visit a friend of mine at Johanniterstr. 5 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and the building always makes me smile. It’s a U-shaped apartment building that is both very Modernist and quite friendly-looking. Though it’s made of pre-poured gray cement slabs like many of its severe-looking counterparts in East Berlin (and also in Gropiusstadt, see below), its chubby, rounded white balconies and bright-yellow windowframes give it a cute, cheerful appearance. It also doesn’t hurt that the building’s proportions are modest – just 5 floors – or that it is home to many plants, in unexpected places and forms.
10 November 2008, ca. 16:00
Engelbecken, Kreuzberg, Berlin
Freshly sprayed graffiti interacts (probably inadvertently) with the plants that had claimed the wall first. Red and gold leaves have been masked with black, but others have been memorialized in green: they blocked the new silver paint from hitting its target, leaving bits of the earlier green paint in perfectly leaf-shaped patterns. A welcome bit of subtlety and detail in a piece of painting that would otherwise be monotone and boring.
30 April 2008, ca. 17:15
In park in front of the Bethanien, Mariannenplatz, Kreuzberg, Berlin
Do the kids who tagged this tree even really realize it is a TREE, that it is ALIVE, a living thing? I was amazed to see writing on the surface of a tree in a park, as if a tree is just the same as furniture or a brick wall. Of course the comparison must be made to carving initials in hearts on trees, but though that action involves more force and injures the tree significantly more, at least it is done with full comprehension that the affected thing is a tree, with a formidable sheath of bark that must be battled with a sharp pocketknife. Somehow that seems to me a more understandable action than this blithe, rapid tagging of a tree with some fat felt-tipped marker.
Adults’ windows – in workplaces and homes – are populated with plants in Berlin. But in school and kindergarten windows, paper flowers grow and paper people and animals play under paper suns and moons. Here are 13 paper tulips, just down the street from those wild and graphic real tulips in their dying throes.
Was each one colored, cut and pasted by a different child during Bastelstunde (craft time)? How did they achieve those vivid color gradients? How are the shapes and colors so similar – was there a dotted line to cut along? If so, what adult decided that tulips look like this? I grew up in California, where I saw nary a tulip in my childhood, yet had a firm understanding – most likely from arts+crafts-time at school, that they looked just like the ones here: perfectly rounded bottoms, with three points on the top end. But in real life, they eventually look like this.