Author: Angles Collective

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 …

Sex Work in Berlin: Perspectives on the City’s Oldest Profession

Illustrations by Peter Wood, audio production by Julia Joubert, interviews by Sara Grossman, video editing by David Labi This piece is an ongoing series exploring the many sides of sex work in Berlin. We spoke with sex workers, researchers, activists and others who have interacted with the industry, to investigate its role and significance in our city. We will be updating this page regularly with our latest interviews, so keep checking back in.

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.

The Mystery of Wedding’s Kebab Street

Countless döner kebab shops line Badstraße in Berlin’s Wedding district. The untrained eye might think they’re all the same… but a group of Angles artists went deeper to discover how each shop plays a key role within this rich community.   Text by Austin Davis, illustrations by Annalisa Leinbach, photography by Christiane Okamoto. The third time I walked into Slzkern’s kebab shop’ on Badstraße, he was convinced I was a lawyer. I’d already been sitting in a corner booth for about a half an hour with his friend Ali, who moonlights for free behind the counter a few times a week, when Slzkern noticed I was back. “You lied to me,” he said, pulling a crumpled envelope out of his pocket. I’d met Slzkern about a month before when I visited on a busy Saturday afternoon to ask about his restaurant, Kebab Haus. We didn’t have the chance to get far thanks to an uninterrupted parade of people walking in off the street, so I had him write out his name in my notebook for …

Why Angles?

With an estimated one billion migrants in the world, we live in a time of great social and economic transformation. This transformation is perhaps best witnessed through the lens of the city — oftentimes the first place immigrants head when leaving home in search of work, accommodation, or social acceptance. Still, despite the cultural richness and economic benefits provided by these newcomers in urban areas, tension and mistrust are often unavoidable. Longtime residents may experience unease over changing demographics and unfamiliar communities — an anxiety fuelled to the extreme by political groups, media organisations, and other actors with exclusionary agendas. Berlin is a perfect crucible in which to study and document this phenomenon – and to attempt to reframe these exclusionary narratives pushed by the interest groups noted above. It is a capital city with all the features of the developed world, but caught at a peculiar stage of development. It’s not surprising – which other major city was brutally divided for decades between two drastically different regimes? Berlin has reinvented itself many times, but now …

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 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. Lê Hoàng Gia is a Vietnamese photographer who grew up in both Vietnam and Finland and now lives in Berlin. Gia specialises in conflict zone …