Posted on Nov 25, 2012 in Berlin | 0 comments

At the DDR exhibit, German Historical Museum, Berlin

At the DDR exhibit, German Historical Museum, Berlin. Photography was not allowed, but I had to sneak one in anyway when I saw these collected socialist heads. When I brought this picture into iPhoto, its facial recognition engine asked me for the people’s names, so I entered them: Engels (I think), Lenin, and Marx (back row to front row).

On Saturday I arrived at the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) shortly after they opened at 10 a.m. I had seen a poster for the DDR exhibit that was ending this weekend, so I expected large crowds and I wanted to beat them. But the DDR exhibit turned out to be only one of several in this vast museum. It was busy but not overrun, and it wasn’t even that big. I think there are just too many choices here in Berlin, while in Vancouver the few exhibits we get tend to be mobbed in their last days when everyone tries to cram it in. The DDR exhibit also included free audio guides featuring interviews with people who had been imprisoned by the Stasi, or recounting their military service experience, or working conditions, or travelling around Eastern Europe with its restrictions.

Afterwards I also visited an exhibit of the DHM’s painting collection. They collect only paintings that are relevant to German historical events, and they did cover the gamut, including a painting of Hitler which was clearly not meant to flatter.

There was also a modern art exhibit on art, “Verführung zur Freiheit” (Seduction to Freedom). The exhibit expresses answers to questions such as “How do we wish to live? By what should we orientate ourselves? What roles should politics, the state and society play, in helping us to live out our lives, as worthy human beings? Does our desire for a socially and ecologically secure future count as a basic human right?”

It’s interesting for me to ponder this role of art. I am aware of its validity, but so far, I have the need to just create images without questioning why I am making them. But the question of why we make art and for what purpose and whether it can be for the greater good, is one that needs to be asked over and over again.

Oliv, a coffee shop in Berlin

After my 3.5 hour museum visit, I had lunch and a coffee at Oliv Cafe. I’d done my google research and read it was good, and it was. I sat at a large communal table and did a drawing, but only roughed in the people closest to me so I wouldn’t be caught staring at them for too long.

Then I wanted to ride a City Bike to Kurfürstendamm to pick up an opera ticket and a play ticket I had reserved, but the whole bike rental internet system was down. All the bikes were locked up and nobody could use them. So I started walking. I walked for several hours, until I had done my errands and lots of meandering and looking into shop windows and then I took the subway home, had dinner, and crashed. It was only 8 pm but I had been sightseeing for 10 hours.

Fokus DDR — exhibit on East Germany at the German Historical Museum, Berlin

Fokus DDR — exhibit on East Germany at the German Historical Museum, Berlin

Postcards with old East German signage.

Postcards with old East German signage, top to bottom: No Goods Today (they had a preprinted sign for that?!), Helper of the People’s Police (no doubt this really meant “your friends and family hate you”), Closed Area: Do not walk in, drive in, or take pictures or you will be punished.

Dead warrior masks by Andreas Schlüter in the German Historical Museum, Berlin

Dead warrior masks by Andreas Schlüter in the German Historical Museum, Berlin. A large central roofed courtyard was used to display artillery in the Empire times. The dead warrior heads are above every window surrounding this courtyard. I spent about 45 minutes drawing this one, but the drawing looks too banal compared to the intensity of the sculptures, so I am not posting it here.

Freedom dress in the German Historical Museum, Berlin

Freedom dress in the German Historical Museum, Berlin. A fashion sculpture on the occasion of the museum’s 25th anniversary, designed by Stephan Hann, using posters of past exhibits.

Under the train tracks, Berlin

These two views are only separated by a street and a tunnel. I don’t know how well these bars under the tracks are doing, but I like how given the option, Berlin chooses to party. Of course, as an urban sketcher, I prefer the left view.

View into apartment building lobby, Berlin

View into a random apartment building lobby, Berlin

In the metro in Berlin

In the metro in Berlin. I am spending a fair amount of time riding the subway here. At least they’re a cheery yellow.