I have been thinking a lot about Berlin lately. These thoughts have been instigated by the loss of one of my favourite earrings.
I went to Berlin for 10 days at the beginning of this year. This trip affected me considerably. I am experiencing a sort of second wave of these feelings.
I have travelled to Germany a few times before, but I never made it to Berlin for one reason or another. I always intended to, but it just never worked out. Timing is everything. I truly believe that up until I arrived in Berlin for the first time, the timing wasn’t right.
From what I have read in travel guides etc, I knew that Berlin was a place for art. What I discovered is that Berlin IS living art. Berlin is a living organism. It’s not set in stone and always changing. In Berlin, art is now and it’s very much appreciated. Maybe it’s like what New York was in the 1980’s. Alive. You can travel all around Europe and see great art. but I feel that Berlin is one of those places where it’s obvious that today’s art is just as important as art history. Berlin is transformation.
From my travel journal:
I’ve had this idea in my head that Berlin has this sort of grey lense surrounding it, but as the day progressed, and the snow started coming down, I realised that Berlin is gorgeous. Fresh. Alive.
Berlin is very much in flux. It hasn’t quite become what it will be. Yes, it has a history, but, at the same time, it is still writing it’s history. That’s what makes Berlin exciting … and why we’re drawn to it.
Perhaps I, myself, relate to Berlin. A person with a history, but also a present and a future as equally important. This trip to Berlin wasn’t for the purpose of travel alone. I intended it as a creative getaway. I spent hours in Berlin’s endless supply of galleries and museums. I brought art supplies. I did something creative every night, even into the wee hours, when I would come home from the day’s adventure. This trip had purpose.
The timing– the beginning of a new year — lit the spark for the rest of the creative year. So now that we’re nearing the end of 2012, it’s probably the true reason why I have begun to reflect (again) on this particular trip.
If Berlin taught me one thing (well, it taught me so much) it can be summed up in this Youtube video which should be titled ‘OPEN UP.’ It moves me.
Opening up. It shouldn’t be so hard, but it is sometimes. Realising that art is a way of communicating, I began to find my voice again. It’s difficult at first– sharing. German artist Gerhard Richter says that art is created in privacy and is secret. There is a certain element of fear that it will be seen. Consequently, YOU will be seen. I guess getting over that fear is something that I have been working on this year. I am ‘in flux.’ The wall is still there but many parts are slowly being broken down. There are still many people in my life who have no idea I create art and I am certainly still hesitant to mention it aloud.
I am beginning to understand why this video of the opening up of the gates at the Berlin wall affects me (beyond the fact that it is a great moment in our not so distant history). However much (or little) control we have in the world, it is better to have a voice than no voice at all. In the essay “Art as a Form of Action” written by artist Mark Rothko, he suggests that art is a form of ‘social action.’ When an artist creates art, even if it isn’t understood by others, it is at least understood by one person (the artist) and therefore a form of self-improvement. Improvement of one’s self leads to a better society. So when I hear thousands of voices chant “open up” (in German) I feel moved because it makes me feel like even the hardest, seemingly impossible things are possible and worth the effort in the end. Maybe my art and self-improvemnt could extend further to someone else’s life and cause a positive chain reaction. Who knows. The only way for this to become possible is for me to join those other voices.
The fear of being seen or having a voice is the fear of criticism and rejection. This is always a possibility and I believe no matter how secure a person is in their voice, there is always that fear. This fear has hindered my own ability to share and open up in the past, but as I go along, I am learning that the process is just as important as the message of art. Not everyone is going to enjoy my art or any message it may suggest to them. However, the act of creating art carries just as much weight as how it is perceived and received by others. The act of self-expression is a reason to carry on.
Although I realised Berlin was having a positive affect on me while I was there, I didn’t realise how potent the impact would be down the line. Now, upon further (and distant) reflection, it is apparent. I would highly recommend this sort of trip to any creative.
Here are some photos from my trip:
Here are 2 drawings from sketchbooks while I was there:
I would love to go back to Berlin in the very same fashion. There are other places I need to go too. All I know is that my first trip to Berlin has changed me, inspired me, and motivated me.
I wasn’t very great at keeping up with my travel journal while I was there, but here is a link to THAT!