Tacheles, Berlin. This is the scene behind the former department store-turned squat cum artist’s co-op. This is far from a new story, but it bears telling anyway. After the Wall came down, artists and punks and all kinds of loveable vagrants fled – not away from the former East, but toward it, sniffing out deserted real estate and setting up utopian enclaves organized around loosely defined principles of freedom and independence and anti-establishment glee. Tacheles isn’t unique in that respect. It is unique for the concentration of artists who set up workshops and actually produced art (as well as living in an almost performance-art style, not wholly private, not wholly public), but also for the nearly legitimate businesses that inhabited the space alongside the decidedly illegal residents – a cinema and a couple of cafes conducted business in the building that previously housed the department store.
Sadly Tacheles has lost its uniqueness as a squat that had survived gentrification. It was one of the last really well known squats standing until a few months ago when the owner of the real estate began making moves to uproot the inhabitants. This has been happening all over Berlin for years, but Tacheles seemed, to some, untouchable. Finally, the cafes and cinema up and left and eventually the city stepped in to help the owner of the property root out the artists and – with a touch of tragic irony – build a wall to keep them out.
This photo dates from January 2011, when Tacheles was still inhabited, though very quiet. Shot on 35mm Fuji Velvia 100 and cross-processed, which accounts for the rosy hue. Fitting, I thought.