Friday, January 22, 2010

Flexi Fünf

Looking at these pics from Wednesday's DJgig at El Mundo, I start thinking of Potemkin (pronounced potjomkin as part of the pleasure, then try and say Kleine Ulrichstrasse five times quickly), the only good bar in Halle-am-Saale. Mind you I was there last in 2007.

In 2007 Halle was like wading in lukewarm milk. I had followed my friend Anja there, she had an exhibition, her last before she moved on to performances and installations and a great book project that I'll tell you about once it's released (I can't wait!). Halle had in my view become quite preppy and commercial and mundane.

I lived there in 2004, before I had taken to photos. Then it was quite lovely - so poor, dark and boring. Everywhere beautiful houses and tiny pink palaces falling apart. Every second house was restored, and every other dark shambles. Ghost tram tracks led straight into walls of buildings - a photo opp waiting to be ceased.

I lived in a bad part, that wasn't very bad. The flat was heated with coal ovens. You had to go down to the basement and chop wood and shovel coal to commence the slow heating process. I couldn't handle the axe and was allergic to coal dust, so Norman my flatmate and landlord kindly prepared the ovens for me so they would be on when I got home. I slept on the floor on a mattress next to the oven dressed in all the clothes I owned including two overcoats. When I took a bath I went into the tub still dressed. Slowly as the water defrosted me I'd peal the layers off. Outside my window was the helicopter platform for Europe's biggest hospital specialising in car accidents.

All of this I miss kindly - though I don't want to go back. I'm still in touch with Norman and saw him last this summer. I'd love to see his wife Renata, their kids and Russian dog.

Potemkin. A tiny bar with round marble tables and black silk wallpapers, a crowded dark corridor, perfect. Should you ever pass by Halle, have a coffee, a drink or a meal. Or take a walk along the river or a peak at the castle that holds the art school. Halle also has a theater where actors play alongside puppets as big as themselves. And three beautiful old cinemas, and absolutely nothing there is in English.

PS. A portable city. Magical lovely.

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