Alex in the Summer – BE Vlog #001

Getting out of the house at 5:30pm was a last ditch effort to salvage the day. I shoved my camera in my bag and got out onto Gormannstrasse. It’s hot, the sky cloudless and it has brought out bicyclists, tourists, and lots of young people looking fit, healthy, muscular. I have given myself an arbitrary task of shooting about 20 video images. What is interesting? What makes a compelling shot? Finding beauty in Berlin requires some reframing of my aesthetic ideas. Now I am walking along Karl-Liebnicht Strasse near Alexanderplatz.  I glance across the street at St. Marienkirche and rising behind it the symbol of Berlin, the Fernsehturm. Contrast. That’s one of the answers to this riddle. The late 60’s futurist, utopian tower pointing to an Earthly worker’s paradise and the Medieval (albeit reconstructed) steeple reaching heavenward. Two competing visions of transcendence. Crossing the Strasse I walk toward the Neptunebrunnen – and find a shot of the Beaux-Arts fountain, celebrating the great rivers of Prussia with a GDR-era office block looming behind it. Watching the waters of the fountain, my thoughts turn to the season. Now I train my lens on people. The rhythms of human beings outside in the summer: languid, unhurried, curious about the goings-on around them, taking photographs, letting their children run free and discover. I approach a bathing and play fountain in front of the tower and watch children and adults thrill to the jets of water that grow and shrink and soak them and watch their shock and delight at being doused in the late afternoon summer heat. Now I have decided that Alexanderplatz is enough for me today. There is plenty to see there, Group dancing near the station, the world clock with it’s spinning planets overhead, largely ignored by the throngs of shoppers, commuters and tourists on this late Friday afternoon. It is the time of summer for children to exult. But summer is not endless here. School is only a few weeks away. It’s hard to remember that Berlin is not always like this. The days will get short, and the bitter cold will return, and all this greenery will disappear, and the fountains will be turned off. Those stark, Communist era structures seem to yearn for the cold.  I have come to Berlin hoping to restore my artist self. Today I harvested a few images. This is not yet art but it is a foundation.

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