Monday, March 25, 2013

Alice's Adventures in......Berlin, Germany!



This past week I went to Germany for the European Fulbright Mid-Year Seminar.  The German Fulbright Commission invited Alexander MacDonald (Fulbright Grantee in Ireland and a tap dancer) and I to perform together at the Gala during the conference.  We choreographed the piece in Madrid in January, rehearsed in Berlin, and performed at the opening Gala on March 18.  It was a blast to put the piece together and learn about each other's art forms and experiences with our Fulbright grants.


Here's the youtube video!



When we weren't rehearsing or performing, we experienced Berlin....

The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km section of the wall that was painted by artists from all over the world in the early 90's.  It is currently the focus of much political tension because it may be moved or destroyed in order to make way for luxury apartments.  I hope that does not happen; it's very powerful to see all of these images on the original wall in its original position....

There were so many paintings and they were all so different.  Here are a few:










And a video of a small segment:




Berlin is filled with Museums.  I went to three.  First, I visited The Pergamonmuseum in Museum Island.  It is filled with antiquities, including the Pergamon Altar and the Gate of Ishtar from Babylon.  It was awesome to see the processional way in its entirety:







Next up was the Musikinstrumenten-Museum, aka the Museum of Musical Instruments, which was ironically the quietest museum I have ever been in.  It mostly left me curious about what some of the crazy looking instruments sound like....




Lastly, we went to the Neue Nationalegalerie which is filled with my favorite era of art; postwar and 20th century...I apparently was so into the art that I didn't take hardly any photos there...but here's one work I really liked:

The canvas reads:
The content of this painting is invisible; the character and dimension of the 
content are to be kept permanently secret, known only to the artist. 

That evening I went to a Fulbright art show at the Staycation Museum.  Here's a link to info about the exhibition:  http://bordersexhibition.wordpress.com/vernissage/
The place was packed and it was awesome to be able to talk to the artists and hear about their Fulbright projects.  



Afterwards, Alex (Ireland), Daniela (Andorra), and Elizabeth (Slovakia) headed to a nearby bar and enjoyed some homemade African Spice Gin.  Great bar, great drinks, great conversation, great company!  Overall at the conference it was incredible to meet so many different people studying so many different things all over Europe; I made lots of new friends! :)

From left to right: Alex, me, Elizabeth, Daniela

The next morning I listened to the various project presentations at the conference.  A dozen grantees were selected to present their projects; the variety was astounding and every one's project sounded super interesting!  Here are few topics that I found particularly interesting:  

"Being digital and Green: Finding Solutions to E-Waste Problems in U.S./EU Perspective" by Natalia 
          Milovantseva
"Eradicating Malaria: Just a Dream?" by Jill Ulrich
"The Alchemical Orange: Rethinking Craft's Importance" by Victoria DeBlassie (She is in Italy 
          learning how to tan orange peels!)
"Civility and Its Discontents: Rudeness and Refinement in Modern Political Thought" by Dr. Douglas 
          Casson


Afterwards, I headed to KaDeWe which is the largest department store in Germany, and I of course headed straight to the top floor--the grocery store!!!!  I bought some kind of Stollen which was the tastiest sweet bread I've ever had, and I've had a lot of sweet breads!  It was filled with dried fruits and marzipan, and was somewhere between the texture of bread and croissant.  Yum!  

SO much mustard!!!!!!!
and sausages!!!!!!
and bread!!!!!!
 and pastries!!!!!


...then off to a picnic lunch in Viktoria Park/Kreuzberg.  This is a very large hill in an otherwise totally flat city, which means after an icy climb to the top, Alex and I got a great view of the city.

The view from the top. 

Looking up towards the hill and monument.  

And the best part of the park:

Building a Snowman















and GOATS!!!!!!



















Some thoughts on Berlin:

Memories of WWII and the divided city are present everywhere.  There is an eerie feeling of tension--of the city trying to rebuild itself and find an identity.  It's as if the wounds from the 20th century have not yet entirely healed; the scars at the least are present in every day life.  There are so many monuments and statues everywhere, it's impossible to escape the city's history.  The sounds of the trains and trolley cars and crows, lots of crows, seems to add to the eeriness.  Yet Berlin is full of a lively grittiness.  The contemporary music and art scene permeates the city.  I got to listen to a bit of jazz and see some of the smaller galleries--which reminded me of New York.  Overall, it's a fascinating city where you never know what you might find!

Gallery of Random Photos:
A very German bar where I enjoyed some German beer in Germany, finally!
Tiergarten.  You can see the flea market where I bought a beer stein in the background. 

Brandenburg Gate

Radio tower and my hotel to the right of it. 

St. Nikolai Kirche, the oldest church in Berlin. 

Oberbaum Bridge

Giant Crows!!!!

Berliner Dom (Cathedral)

A box of pretzels on the street, which is normal, because there are pretzels everywhere!







The Hauptbahnhof (or main train station in Berlin with the Reichstag in the background)



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