Berlin - Look at this city!
“Poor but sexy,” that’s how Berlin’s Governing Mayor once described his city. The German capital really is sexy, and not just for its scintillating cultural scene. This city realizes ideas other places would not even waste a thought on. A case in point is the C/O Berlin, an “international forum for visual dialogues” independently founded by three dedicated creative minds. Their cultural project has world-class format and finances itself entirely without state subsidies. It even attracts attention in New York and draws hundreds of thousands of photo fans every year
C/O Berlin was founded in 2000 as an exhibition space for photography at a time when the German capital already had over 175 museums, although not one devoted to photography – the lead medium of the 20th century, after all. Architect Ingo Pott, designer Marc Naroska and photographer Stephan Erfurt took advantage of the opportunity to create something completely new. In the central Berlin-Mitte district, they moved into a section of the former Imperial Post Office, whose historical walls still have plenty of patina today. Whether C/O Berlin will be able to stay here in the future has not yet been finally decided.
C/O Berlin: Oranienburger Straße 35/36, Tel.: +49-(0)30/284 44 16 61. Open: daily 11am-8pm. Admission: €10 (reduced €5, under 18s free). www.co-berlin.info
Up to 15 shows are staged here every year, many showcasing the works of world-famous photographers. One such is Annie Leibovitz, whose specialty are US celebrity portraits and who is almost as famous today as many of her models. Another is Gregory Crewdson, whose elaborate staging of his still lifes rivals only the attention to detail Hollywood directors put into their movies. In addtition to these, regular shows are held featuring the works of the younger generation of German photographers, for example, Sascha Weidner’s profoundly personal pictures. The C/O Berlin exhibitions sometimes even earn a critical review in the New York Times.
These days, the German capital also has its own state photography museum. The heart of the museum, which opened its doors in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin in 2004, is the extensive Helmut Newton Foundation collection. The new museum has in now way detracted from the significance of C/O Berlin, however. The exhibition space has gradually become a lively forum, where well-known architects, designers and photographers give lectures and participate in debates. It offers upcoming talents a platform and school students the opportunity to study visual media in a workshop setting. And now and again, of course, a party will be held here. No wonder that even the Governing Mayor (“poor, but sexy”) occasionally drops by.
Museum für Fotografie: Jebensstraße 2, Tel.: +49-(0)30/266 42 42 42. Open: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm, Thu -10pm. Admission: €8 (reduced €4). www.smb.museum
Photos: Knoll/laif, C/O Berlin (2), mauritius images