Author: Angles Collective

Sober Berlin: On tarot, sobriety, and the stories we tell ourselves

Text by Hannah Graves Illustrations by Peter Wood I moved to Berlin in September 2012 with a single suitcase of inappropriate clothing and 300 euros to my name. JJ, an owner of the tattoo studio AKA Berlin, had taken a chance on a troubled 27-year-old desperate to get out of the South Coast of England and offered me a job as a piercer. I gave up my apartment, sold my belongings, and never looked back. I had been in and out of the doctors’ office since the start of my 20s. I suffered from terrible depression and anxiety and was prone to panic attacks. I’d been told I would need to remain medicated once I moved to Berlin, but threw all my tablets in the bin at Gatwick, convinced that a total change of environment would surely be the solution. I landed with all the hallmark enthusiasm of someone who can be prone to bouts of mania. I threw myself into my new job and friendship group. I loved Berlin for her dive bars and …

Sober Berlin: On bondage, sobriety, and the beauty of vulnerability

Text by Vanina Tsoneva Illustration by Peter Wood This is the first instalment in our series on artists living sober in Berlin—and how their creative practises have helped them maintain sobriety. While I only partly remember the details of one particular drunk BDSM session, I will never forget the feeling of fear and anxiety to which I woke up the morning after. I sat in a cafe on a rainy day in Glasgow and was horrified by the fact that I didn’t remember chunks of the previous night’s experience. Did we use condoms? When did we actually start having sex? Did we really drink that much?

Poetry for Plants: Reimagining trees along the Landwehr Canal

In summer 2018 we put a call out for Berlin fiction writers and poets to produce 150-word pieces about plants found on the banks of the Landwehr Canal. Angles artist Charys Wilson did water color paintings of a handful of trees along the canal—tagged by number by the city—which we then assigned to the Berlin-based writers who reached out. See what these writers produced below (to be updated weekly). Tree #316 I am in your world now.My rules don’t apply here.My spirit is aching to reject this new space.An undercurrent of beauty keeps me on your shores.I use your strength to keep it from pulling.I feel your connection with this place.I want to talk with you but we speak in foreign tongues. The more time I spend here,the less intrusive I feel.I am moulding and growing myself in your image.Studying your slow, soft reactions to the breeze.Warmth is filling my body, my fear is almost gone.My mind is changing, now there is courage.I look at you, ethereal, and wish to belong. I live here now.Your …

Perspectives on Pride: The longtime activist who says the gay community lacks “solidarity”

Interview by Austin Chandler Davis Illustration by Annelisa Leinbach Thomas B., 53, is a freelance photographer in Berlin. He hails from Saarbrücken, where the convergence of his coming out and the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s led him into a life of political engagement. Newly single after a 25 year relationship, Thomas now finds it difficult to establish worthwhile relationships in a queer community radically different from the one he experienced in Saarbrücken. Can you tell me a bit about your life in Saarbrücken? It’s where I had my coming out, when I was 19 in 1984. I founded a coming out group through the Saarbrücken AIDS Help Center and everything sort of started there…Between ’87 and ’89, we lost a lot of people to the disease, and I just really felt a need to help. If you were already so active in the community at such a young age, is it safe to say that your parents accepted you being gay? My father had already passed away at that point, but it was …

Perspectives on Pride: The Berlin transplant who remembers when Pride was political

Interview by Austin Chandler Davis Illustration by Annelisa Leinbach Peter Cichorius, 64, grew up in Austria and Stuttgart, and eventually ended up in Munich after coming out to his parents at age 17. Arriving in the Bavarian capital in 1977, Peter encountered a city radically different from the conservative stronghold it’s known as today—although this atmosphere changed as the AIDS crisis took hold in the 1980s. Peter settled in Berlin at the turn of the millennium after two and a half decades in Munich, and discovered a gay community still geographically and ideologically divided between East and West—a dichotomy, he says, that was bridged as time passed by a growing apathy for political involvement among younger generations of gay men. When did you come out to your family and how did they react? I outed myself at 17 and they [my parents] had a classic reaction: I became the eyesore of the family. I was an only child, and my mother wanted to take her own life. My father ignored it all together and said that it was …

Perspectives on Pride: The club promoter who says gay activism still matters

Interview by Austin Chandler Davis Illustration by Annelisa Leinbach Bob Young, 56, grew up in the US but moved to Berlin at the end of the 80s—during the height of the AIDS crisis and just before the fall of the Berlin wall. It was here in Berlin that Bob came of age as a gay man and watched the “whole gambit of modern club development here since the 80s.” Today, Bob is a prominent event planner and founder of GMF Berlin, a popular Sunday night gay party near Alexanderplatz. We spoke to Bob as part of a three-part interview series of gay men who’ve watched Berlin’s queer community transform over time. As Berlin Pride—called Christopher Street Day in Germany—quickly approaches, Bob shared with us how the importance of the day has changed over time. Tell me a bit about those last couple years of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, when you had first moved back to Berlin. There was the Wall and it was a different world. [The gay spaces] were pretty developed…You …

Re-Mapping Rollberg Kiez with Neukölln Youth

In an effort to creatively engage with local youth in Berlin, members of the Angles collective planned, organised, and faciliated two arts workshops with teens at the Shalom Rollberg community centre in Neukölln. Shalom Rollberg is a community project that initiates intercultural encounters in the Rollbergviertel of Berlin-Neukölln, aiming to promote dialogue between predominantly Muslim children, young people and their families with the members of the city’s diverse Jewish community. The two Angles arts workshops came as part of a larger course teaching English language skills to the centre’s youths—all of whom are girls aged 14–16. The workshops aimed not only to foster English ability and artistic creativity, but also to help the students reimagine their own neighbourhood and the community within it. We too had the privilege of viewing Rollberg Kiez through new eyes! For the first workshop, Swiss painter Myriam Gross-Mail developed a large-scale map of the Kiez and led the youth through exercises to identify key places, encouraging them to re-envision the space in which they spend their daily lives and view the community …

Soundtrack to the City

In an ongoing piece, the Angles Collective meets some of the harmonious heros bringing music to the city’s streets. Street music in Berlin is a colourful, thriving scene. In train stations, on corners, in parks, passing ears receive communication from a bewildering variety of tones, styles, and genres. But who are the people pumping this sweet soundtrack into the air? Australian filmmaker and Angles Collective member Jordan Brown went out roving with his microphone, to capture numerous interviews with these unsung legends. Meanwhile Northern Irish artist Charys Wilson gravitated towards a famous busking spot: Berlin’s Warschauer Straße U-Bahn station. She created a cardboard replica of the station building. Because that’s just the kind of thing she does. The superimposition resulted in the following video, filmed and edited by David Labi: And Jordy’s full audio montage, featuring the stories of several Berlin buskers, follows: Find more of Jordan Brown’s film and sound work here, and Charys Wilson’s art work here.

Meet the Collective

Members Sara Grossman is a writer from California and the director and cofounder of the Angles art collective. She has written about campus LGBTQ issues, racial inequities, and international migration, among other topics. She is a writer and editor for UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute, where she writes about equity policy and social justice issues. David Labi is a writer, editor, filmmaker, producer, and cofounder of Angles. He has written fiction,  edited magazines, translated poetry, made documentaries and shorts in Argentina, Japan, and Berlin, and continues to explore different media and his city obsession through Angles. He is also founder of comms agency Good Point. Rasha Hilwi is an Arab Palestinian writer, cultural journalist, and blogger. Her texts are published in major Arab newspapers, in online media, and on cultural platforms. Rasha explores how people express their cultures away from “home,” as well as love stories within different political, social, and cultural contexts. Follow her on Twitter here. Jamal Ali is a musician, sound engineer, activist, and journalist from Azerbaijan. He has been living in Berlin since 2012, when he was forced to …