Tacheles, Berlin

Tacheles was built in 1908 and begun life as a department store. It went bankrupt with 6 months and after a richly varied history of uses and changes to its design (not least in part assisted by the war!) now houses a self-organized collective of artists.

I visited this graffiti drenched building in the heart of Berlin at the end of August this year. Having gratefully taken my quota of impressive and imposing German buildings that could have been sculpted from the mind of Edgar Allan-Poe it was a welcome contradiction.

There were more than a few moments that took me back to the asylum and I think as a location it held the same appeal to me, whilst some of the art drew me in the majority of the graffiti is most attractive by its sheer mass. Layer upon layer of spray paint, stencils, scribe, tags, hearts, names, dates and countries of the artist’s origin. It’s difficult not to consider the people who have wandered its halls and stairwells and somehow reassuring to feel that almost all who marked their territory here must have shared a particular ideology. The appeal of adding your own small section to this vast collage of humanity makes perfect sense.

As a character I see Tacheles as the archetypal tattooed lady, born fresh and clean with high expectations but never quite able to fill it’s role, it was used and abused throughout the war, suffered extensive damage but remained standing tall and ultimately was made beautiful by its own layers of ugliness.

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