Archive for February, 2012

College Art Association annual conference presentation, tomorrow!

The title of my paper is “WTF.  It’s Only A Sticker.”

T/err/ouristen raus!

Tourism and gentrification are on the rise in Berlin, with an estimated 20 million overnight stays in 2010 reaping nine billion Euros.  And the city hopes to grow that number to 30 million, according to the German newspaper, der Spiegel, which will make Berlin the third largest destination point in Europe after London and Paris.  In the past ten years, entire districts, especially in the former east Berlin, have been re-defined on the one hand by an influx of foreign tourists, yuppies, and backpackers and a growing number of cheap hostels, open-air bars, restaurants, and clubs, and on the other side of the spectrum, luxury condominiums, high-rise hotels, and sky-rocketing rents.  “Tourists are terrorists” and “Berlin hates you” are expressed in the stickers above and below.


By contrast, a company called AirBnB has created a new “welcome tourists” campaign, as seen in the sticker “ein Herz für Touris” or “A Heart for Tourists” (not pictured) whereby locals can rent out rooms in their homes to travelers.

We see street punks in hoodies, throwing rocks presumably, in the purple sticker below, which translates roughly to “the district is dirty; on the road against gentrification.” 

And this sticker announces a “city takeover” panel discussion and workshop to strategize against rising rents and call for a socially democratic and radical housing policy.

Anti-gentrification is more than just rhetoric, however.  A German Web site  Brennende Autos: eine Chronolgie der Brandanschläge maps over 600 Mercedes, VW, BMW, Audi, and Opel cars set on fire in Berlin between 2007 and 2010.  The Exiled Online writes that “[these] fires were completely in keeping with the increasingly rancorous anti-gentrification activism that also spawned the anti-tourism movement.”


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