THE TEMPORARY CITY
Text by Michaela Heissenberger
Photography by Oliver Kern
The temporary city is Berlin. The temporary city is in and above and between
Berlin and fills up the gaps that history has left there: interspace where what
used to be no longer is and where tomorrow there is going to be something different.
Some day, all these gaps are going to be filled up and given over to permanent
use. At the moment they offer latitude, space for movement, free space which
provides the city with air to breathe and extraordinary views.
The temporary city has been existing since the fall of the Wall in November 1989. There are differing opinions as to when its heydays were reached, the only definite thing is that it is not going to be around for much longer. The fact that it has today generally become tangible - even under a variety of definitions - seems to mean that the end is looming.
The temporary city is easily found: it is concentrated along the fault lines of the Cold War and proliferates everywhere where the bomb holes, the border strips and the economic ruins are not at the centre of attention. It takes over the no-man’s-land, the fallows, the building gaps, the provisional and makeshift solutions and even fills the construction sites of the permanent with temporary life.
Above all, the temporary city is a thought space. Those who have been young in East Berlin, during that strange year when the old order was no longer valid but had not yet been replaced by a new one talk about this absence that left space for experiments with both shivers and nostalgia. Today, ten years on, you can still breathe the emptiness here. It is this atmosphere that attracts people to Berlin: those who love the emptiness and those who are looking for emptiness in order to fill it.
Translation by Patrick James Grabolle
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