Berlin’s notorious change of pace be witnessed better than in Neukölln.
and students have been gradually priced out of traditional inner-city areas such
as Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, this southwesterly
district has become a haven for the annual hordes of newcomers seeking refuge
in its relatively cheap rents, transformed ateliers and bars and burgeoning
those rents are now rising to almost match the rest of the city, the sometimes
fractious mix of arty expats, low-income residents and Middle East and Eastern
European immigrants remains – and the two-day art splash 48-Stunden Neukölln (48
Hours Neukölln) is a perfect way to sample the unique vibe and kunst (art) of Berlin’s most-hyped
The aim –
to provide a platform for artists to display their work in a mix of venues –
has stayed the same since the event began in 1999, as a reaction to what were
viewed as radical cuts to the local art-and-culture budget. But the notoriously casual criteria for selection
(there’s no jury or chief curator – any artist or Neukölln resident can get
involved if they meet the deadlines and some basic criteria) lends the festival
an edgy, anything-goes atmosphere that is distinct from other institutionalised
theme is “Last Stop: Neukölln”, a reflection on how the neighbourhood has long
been portrayed in the media as a trouble zone and served as a kind of final
stop for many of Berlin’s immigrants, a trend that started with the migration
of Bohemians to the area (then known as Rixdorf) in the 18th Century.
exhibitions and events involving painting, performance, dance, sculpture,
poetry and digital art scheduled to take place in more than 300 venues
– which can mean anything from cellars and gardens to private apartments and
courtyards – it’s difficult to hand-pick highlights from such an intense
whirlwind of activity.
A quick sampling of the menu reveals British musician Michael Wookey and his “grand
orchestra of little instruments”, which includes everything from bicycle bells
to manipulated electronic games (Friday at 8:30 pm; Die Frühperle, Boddinstr 57a); and "Reuterkiez", a
series of oil paintings by German artist William Wires at the
Bohei Gallery (Fri 7 pm to 10 pm, Sat 12
pm to 8 pm, Sunday 12 pm to 7 pm; Weserstr 43) which depicts unlikely but
compelling subjects such as corner pubs and construction sites.
But the best way to approach the event is with some
beers in your backpack, a sturdy set of sneakers and an open mind.
48 Stunden Neukoelln runs from 7 pm on 14 June
to 7 pm on 16 June. Admission is free. You can find info, tips and maps at the Info Point Donau-Nord, Weichselstr
is the Berlin Localite for BBC Travel. He also runs/writes slowtravelberlin.com