Archive for May, 2013

Blockupy Frankfurt stickers

Stickers and street posters for Blockupy Frankfurt and Blockupy Deportation Airport (also in Frankfurt) now blanket Berlin.





What I find interesting, though, is the contrast between these in 2013 (above) compared to these in 2012 (below).



Shouts and whispers

Some stickers shout.  Others whisper.  With 7,269 pipes and 113 registers, the organ at the Berliner Dom really belts it out.


Cute little paste-ups

Found these cute little paste-ups near Neurotitan Gallery, but it was too shady for the camera’s GPS geo-tagging setting to be turned on.  Paste-up directions can be found on the Activist’s ToolKit Wiki.




Bicycling around Berlin…

… is superb.


Berlin’s revolutionary past

I’ve read in a few different places about someone who gives walking tours in Berlin that focus on the city’s historical revolutionary past.  You can read Walk don’t burn: Revolutionary walking tours from the Exberliner and May Day Tourism in Berlin: Anti-Capitalist Tour Guide Offers Riot Sightseeing from Spiegel Online International, but also check out the actual Revolutionary Berlin Web site where they outline German Revolution and May Day Riots tours.  Here is the description for the German Revolution tour.

  • How Berlin workers toppled the Kaiser and ended the war in 1918
  • The workers’ movement and the First World War
  • Karl Liebknecht and the resistance against the war
  • The uprising in Berlin that toppled the Kaiser
  • Rosa Luxemburg and the foundation of the Communist Party
  • The January fighting and the murder of the Communists

I’ve asked if they could do a German Revolution tour, but we need to find another three or four people to sign up.  The charge for a three-hour tour is 10 Euros, so if you’re interested, the date is Sunday, June 9, at 3:00 p.m.  You can email revolutionaryberlin at gmail dot com for reservations, so please go for it!

This city is amazing….


Barbie’s Not-So-Dream House

A new 50,000 square-foot “Barbie Dream House” theme park opened in Berlin last week near Alexanderplatz, though it’s actually a huge pink tent made out of canvas and plastic.  The 15 Euros price tag for admission made it too pricey for me to go in (but I did have a Skipper doll when I was a kid).  I rode by, though, to check it out.


At the opening, a women’s rights group, Femen, protested the Dreamhouse as sexist propaganda, which you can read about at Protesting Pink: Barbie Dreamhouse Gets Fiery Welcome in Der Spiegel (May 17, 2013) and at Occupy Barbie-Dreamhouse on Facebook.  A group called Junge Linke created a sticker that is now plastered all over Berlin.


Mapping right-wing stickers?

Yesterday while biking along the Rathausstraße, a popular restaurant and shopping area in Alexanderplatz, I came across several anti-Muslim stickers that are too offensive to post on Stickerkitty.  I’ve been debating what to do and how to write about them in a neutral and ethical way.  Posting offensive images can be a dangerous thing, I think, even if I were to simply describe what was going on in the stickers (i.e., what is being represented and/or communicated).  The stickers were out in public and in plain view, but posting them online seems different.

I’ll share a little of what could be considered acceptable in this situation, though.  When I was there, I took a few photographs and learned that last year, right near where I was standing, a 20-year-old Vietnamese man had been badly beaten and later died.  A shrine with candles and flowers has been created to honor him.


You can read about the incident in The Local (October 15, 2012) and Der Spiegel (October 17, 2012).  At the time, the alleged perpetrators were identified as “southern Europeans,” though in a more recent story in Der Welt (May 13, 2013), six suspects have been named, with one, a Turk, identified as the main perpetrator.  He fled to Turkey after the beating and returned to Germany just a few days ago to be charged with the murder.

One of the stickers that I found in the area read, “Nur ein toter Muslim ist ein guter Muslim,” or “Only a dead Muslim is a good Muslim.”  Another sticker showed the silhouette of a mosque and the words above it, “Gegen Islam[i]s[i]erung” or “Against Islamization.”  Instead of the letter “i,” were tall minarets.  The sticker also included “2045 werden 52 Mio Muslime in Deutschland leben!” or “In 2045, 52 million Muslims will be living in Germany!” and a Web site for <pi news dot net>.  PI stands for Politically Incorrect.  That’s all I’m going to say about these stickers.  The others were much, much worse.

At the end of the block where I was walking, I found a recognizable sticker image from Storch Heinar that read “Hier Verschwand ein Nazi-Aufkleber” or roughly “Here disappeared a Nazi sticker.”  The sticker (though now in my notebook) did indeed cover an offensive anti-Muslim sticker.

Storch Heinar5-17-13

Storch Heinar, with his little Hitler moustache, is a word play on Thor Steinar, a German clothing company that has been criticized for a logo and other designs that are very similar to what were used on SS uniforms during World War II.  Thor Steinar clothing has been banned in government buildings and several football (soccer) stadiums in Germany.  You can read more about Thor Steinar in a previous post.  Doing research today, I found an informative article by Simon Englar that discusses right-wing clothing and a group in Berlin, Rechtes Land, which tracks right-wing and neo-Nazi activities across Germany.  According to Englar,

  • Rechtes Land, or ‘Just Nation,’ is a database of present and historical far-right activity that will be displayed geographically in a searchable map online.  Every beating, every murder, every bombing—Rechtes Land aims to cover it all, in a consolidated and accessible interface.  But the data mapped won’t be limited to events of official illegality.  Felix Hansen [one of the organizers] explained that the project will also map marches and rallies—events which are technically legal, but which play an important role in the far-right scene.  ‘Whether or not [right-wing] groups have broken the law plays no role for us,’ explained Hansen.  It’s with this understanding that Rechtes Land will pay close attention to the commercialized far right.  Brands like Thor Steinar… will be mapped, their networks of distribution exposed….  That’s a new level of exposure for the German far right—an exposure that will be meticulously catalogued and documented.  Rechtes Land follows a simple logic: exposure is necessary for awareness, for research, and, ultimately, for policy.  This strategy of exposure is particularly well suited to Germany, where the most successful far-right groups tend to be dispersed and obscure.”

Interesting how this mapping relates to my geo-tagging project, too.  I looked at Rechtes Land, and markers identify where right-wing activities have taken place (marches, demonstrations), who were the organizers, their mottos or chants, how many participants, etc., as well as news items and a rich collection of historical Nazi sites and more contemporary post-World War II monuments, museums, and documentation centers, such as the Topography of Terror.

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What a great way to learn about the political history of the city.  I’m going to ask people at Rechtes Land about the anti-Muslim stickers I found.  Maybe they will want to add photos of them to their Web site.

Geo-tagging in Berlin #2

Geo-tagging digital photographs is getting easier and more complicated.  My new and evolving work flow goes like this.  Rather than photograph any or every sticker that comes my way (it’s laborious to turn on/off the GPS settings every time, and I come across 100s of stickers a day, anyway), I’m learning to photograph stickers at a particular location and let that group of stickers tell the story.  Yesterday, for example, I was walking along Torstraße in Prenzlauer Berg and came to a corner café with signs that read “BAIZ Bleibt!” (or “BAIZ remains”), a phrase I’d already seen on a handful of stickers.  According to their Facebook site, BAIZ is an “alternative cultural institution in the BAIZ Sandtorstrasse… punishable by the purchase of the house by the investor group Zelos Properties GmbH.  But that we, the guests, not resign ourselves!”  (Sorry for rough Google translation.)

I took a left onto Christinenstraße and Lottumstraße situated a few blocks near Senefelder Platz (hello, birthplace of lithography in the 1790s!) and Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (hello, political revolutionary in the early 1900s!).  It’s captivating to feel the magnitude of history at any given corner in Berlin and one of the things I love about this city….  Just think: printmaking and politics (i.e., the great-great+ grandparents of stickers) go back hundreds of years right at this locale.

While there, I photographed about a dozen political stickers, which you can see on my new Stickerkitty map.  If you click on any of the images on the bar along the bottom of the screen, it will show you where on the street the photograph was taken.  Here is one of the stickers with the “BAIZ Bleibt” motto.

BAIZ Bleibt

Other than the rash of political stickers, there was nothing out of the ordinary along this quiet stretch of the neighborhood.  A few bicyclists rode by, and parents were walking home with their kids after school.  The big elephant on the street, however, was a huge multi-storey crane working on a building demo and/or renovation.  Construction workers loaded their cars at the end of the workday.  Cranes and construction workers are ubiquitous in Berlin, but now I understand why the stickers were there to protest urban development.  The geo-tagging is giving me an opportunity to look at the time and spatial placement of stickers in a new way.  I like how the quantitative data leads to a qualitative description.

Geo-tagging in Berlin #1

The geo-tagging on Stickerkitty’s map is coming along slowly.  It takes a little while to set the GPS on the camera, so I need to be careful out in public so as not to draw attention to what I’m doing.  Not that anyone really cares, but I like to keep a low profile.  It’s also taking a long time to load photos onto Flickr, though that might be a slow Internet connection.  The few I’ve loaded so far are showing locations perfectly!  The next thing to do will be to figure out how to tag with words and whether to limit subject headings to 20 or 30, or just tag at will (which has never worked well in the past).  I’ll tackle that later today.

I awoke before dawn to the sound of a fox barking on the grounds of the nearby Bötzow-Brauerei, and Alexanderplatz was pretty deserted this morning before the busloads of tourists arrived.  I picked up about 50 stickers in two hours, including: Violent Frustration, Capital Grind Chaos; Wir sind die letzen 10% … und bleiben hier!; Artgerecht statt ungerecht!; Fight for the Cuban Way of Life; and Berlin bleibt hart.

Berlin bleibt hart

Geo-tagging with Stickerkitty’s Map

I’m developing a geo-tagging component of my sticker project using the newly released Canon SX280 digital point-and-shoot camera with built in GPS.  It’s not a very fancy camera at all, but there was a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning figuring out the GPS settings.  Note: don’t bother with the wi-fi and/or smart phones.  Thanks to Carole at work for figuring out the details!  Today, I finally loaded my first image onto a Flickr map that reads right down to street level.  I.e., Flickr can read the EXIF data (including the GPS coordinates) in an image file and then place it on a Google map.  During my upcoming trip to Berlin, I’ll photograph stickers in different neighborhoods over time and then tag the images with subject headings, type/genre, artists’ names, etc.  The name of the Flickr site is Stickerkitty’s Map, and it’s pretty bare bones right now, but I’ll flesh it out in the days ahead.  Here is a test of a geo-tagged stencil from Potsdam, NY.

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Flickr Photos

May 2013