Berlin nightlife, architecture and culture come into focus in a series of visual essays
One train and one subculture arguably define Berlin’s cultural stereotype: the Ringbahn and the underground party. The former, which translates to ‘ring train’, circles a 26-mile long loop, offering tourists and locals alike a way to get from one end of the vast city to another. The latter can come in many forms – a Berghain regular, fetish club addict, house raver, et al. No matter the shape or form, these defining characteristics are explored in Hajte Cantze’s new series of books, Berlin Stories.
Launched earlier this year, the first book, Hundekopf: The Berlin Ringbahn, was created by artists Ama Split and Riky Kiwy. The duo rode the Ringbahn from start to finish – which, without stopping, takes just over an hour and outlines a shape that’s more or less like a Hundekopf, or dog’s head – and photographed the landscapes, people and street life surrounding each of the line’s 27 stations.
You see a typical Turkish market near Neukölln, the Spree river and towering Allianz building at Treptower Park, a group of businessmen at Messe Nord/ICC, and the gentrifiers of Schönhauser and Prenzlauer Allees. Virtually circling the city through the book, you look out the window and watch as the architecture shifts from Eastern bloc housing to the ornaments of the West and back again.
Schönhauser Allee 6, from Ama Split & Riky Kiwy: Hundekopf. Die Berliner Ringbahn. © Ama Split and Riky Kiwy
In the second book of the series, Vagabondage Diary, artist and cultural nomad Ed Broner offers an intimate glimpse of Berlin’s hedonic nightlife. It’s an ironic yet honest compilation, showing real people in the midst of sex, drugs and alcohol juxtaposed with static images of art studios and pristine collections.
For example, on the left side of one spread, someone named Yacine ingests white powder while the opposing page pictures graffiti reading ‘Drugs Kill’. As with real life, however, the book isn’t limited to nightlife in Berlin; Broner also includes images from Paris, Milan and Miami, where he meets his friends and the same kind of debauchery ensues.
Next up are Annette Hauschild’s Last Days of Disco and Ralph Mecke’s Naked Jungle, both of which continue the series’ trajectory of presenting Berlin, its architecture and its inhabitants through the intimate lenses of some of the city’s most well-known photographers.