Raquel Olivas rounds up some of the best Berlin-themed Tumblrs…
Without doubt one of our favourite all-time Tumblrs, this project by Australian ex-pat and sometime STB contributor Zoe Spawton focuses on the eponymous Ali – a Turkish gentleman who walks by Zoe’s work each day sporting a new outfit. And what outfits they are! Not only do the photos here make a great argument for looking dapper no matter your age, they also chart an increasingly close (and chocolate-fuelled) friendship between the photographer and her subject.
This viral phenomenon may have started with Berlin, but after just a few days 15 other cities had their own version. There’s no secret to the success: simply combine generic GIFs with captions and situations that apply to your city. But it’s all about the wit of course, and WYLIB keeps it fresh. In keeping with the city’s post-Wende tradition of having two of everything, there used to be a more club-centric one called When You Really Live In Berlin – that died off, and has more recently been replaced with When You Are A Foreigner In Berlin.
We have already written about Chris John Dewitt, the English photographer who documented his travels to Berlin during the 1980s. Using an Olympus OM2n SLR camera, plus a swag-bag of lenses, Dewitt’s travels around both East and West Berlin show gritty and weathered scenes from a darker decade in Berlin’s history. This Tumblr is where he has been throwing all his images after revisiting and scanning images from his archives. Expect Trabants, DDR guards, protest marches and ’80s street scenes of students, activists and officials amongst occasional posts from other cities and travels.
Berlin is something of a dog-lover’s city. It’s hard not to notice these abundant canines (or, unfortunately, the mess they sometimes leave behind) either being walked, strolling along on their own – or waiting patiently for their owners to emerge from a supermarket or Späti. The nice thing about this Tumblr is that not only has it captured something of this latter phenomenon, but seems to have an unwritten rule that there should be no leashes.
Berlin is full of history as we know – and Old Berlin beautifully documents the city between the years 1870 and 1920, showing popular inner-city districts like Kreuzberg, Mitte, Charlottenburg in their pre-war incarnations. Among the many buildings and places featured here are many that were sadly destroyed forever during WW2.
Taking inspiration from the simple but brilliant blog Humans of New York, created by New York photographer Brandon Stanton, Humans of Berlin was born in 2012 and shows similar portraits of people who live in Berlin. Just like HONY, the site aims for a broad cross-section of the city’s demographic, and features quotes from the people photographed.
At first sight, Endbahnhof is just a collection of photos of U-bahn stations – albeit a very comprehensive one. Yet look more closely and this Tumblr is also very much about photography, lines, architecture and urban history. Started in July 2012 by photographer Kate Seabrook (another occasional STB contributor), Endbahnhof follows that good old adage that sometimes the journey is more important that the final destination.
Poor old West Berlin. Once the centre of all things cultural and artistic, the last two decades or so have seen it struggle somewhat for attention in the shadow of the burgeoning, trendy East. Although that’s changing of late, this Tumblr has long been championing the Wessi cause – mostly with nostalgic photos from the 50s-90s. There are some real classics here taken from a variety of sources (including Chris John Dewitt – see above).
Posters of Berlin started in June 2012 and is dedicated, as the name suggests, to documenting the myriad posters founded all over the streets of Berlin. Music, festivals, events, artists, circuses…it’s an urban compilation that, like many of these documentary-style Tumblr projects, has also successfully spread to other cities.
Just like it says on the tin: a Tumblr dedicated to shimmering images of the Hauptstadt. Trains, swings, cats, boats people, sure – but also leaves rustling in the breeze, rippling water, men fishing, flashing neon signs…all fairly hypnotising and a fun way to waste a few minutes.
Old pictures of Berliners was initiated by Ana Riaza, a fashion editor and photographer who lives around the corner from a flea market and collects, well, old pictures of Berliners. Since September 2013, she has been on a quest for images from various eras and from different parts of the city. She’s pretty adept at making the occasional interesting collage too.
Berlin in den 90ern started around June 2013 as a photography project about Berlin from roughly 1991 to 2002. This was a time when, following the fall of the Wall, the city was suddenly full of empty, neutral spaces. Soon after the city’s urban infrastructure started to change radically, and this Tumblr reminds us just how much has changed around us in the last couple of decades.
And now for something a little different – a progressively-minded Tumblr that focuses on systems for the domestic production of all kinds of goods for contemporary living, from electricity and biogas to food, heat and water. Run by Valentina Karga, with the support of the Universität der Kunst Berlin, you can find here photos and texts on various methods of food cultivation, cooking techniques that aim at non-processed foods, and the re-use of waste materials.
A fantastic visual blog by a Berlin-based UX (user experience) and user interface designer Mariusz Ciesla, who decided to branch out and explore Berlin´s street typography. His collection of images of shop signs, U-Bahn station names and words scribbled by adventurous felt-tip pen owners may well become another archive of vanishing words in the city. Plus, the blog shows you clearly that Berlin´s typographic landscape is just as rich as, well, all of its other landscapes, and that the letters from Berlin are always something to look forward to.
This funny and clever visual blog is the brain-child of Michelle Last, an artist and illustrator from the UK. She is also the author of a wonderful children´s book called Vincent The Vampire, a story of a vampire who prefers milk to the traditional beverage of his kind. Not a German-speaker per se, Last is struggling to remember and broaden her German vocabulary (who isn’t?). To help herself and countless others, she came up with a series of images to help memorise words and phrases. The only minus of her excellent blog is that her supply will never possibly match our demand.
As far as love declarations go, “I Hug Berlin” blog is a pretty impressive statement. It is also – literally – a series of warm embraces. The author, who remains anonymous, dreamt of moving to Germany´s capital for a long time, and when that dream finally came true, felt compelled to take Berlin in his arms. He is planning to continue doing so every single day now. So next time you see somebody cuddling the Victory Column or embracing the Staatsbibliothek, do not be alarmed. It’s just a guy in love…