The transit lounge is the archetypal transit space, the point where the hyper-global + hyper-local coincide; a location which blurs traditional conceptions of geo-political boundaries, creating pockets of international space within the borders of individual nation-states. An in-between space, it exists relative to a fixed departure and arrival point, not to the area that surrounds it.

The Transit Lounge is a series of overlapping residencies for Australian and German artists and architects in Berlin. It is also a blog where themes relating to the project will develop, collaborations will be initiated and sustained, and observations on the city collected. The Transit Lounge invites you to participate in these transnational conversations by commenting on the blog.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

step 6

We are still in transit ... and think about authentic places.

Our visual introduction of the last days shows different perspectives of a historic place: „Dreilinden Raststätte“, designed by Rainer G. Rümmler (1929-2004) in the end of the sixties. Today the ensemble stands under conservation of monuments and historic buildings.

A short review on a transit route:

Dreilinden was an important official inspection point. Here the highway connected West-Berlin with West-Germany. Dreilinden was also named Checkpoint Bravo (by the Nato phonetic alphabet). Here was the entrance to the GDR.
One left near Helmstedt (Checkpoint Alpha) only then again the area of GDR. Dreilinden – Helmstedt was the shortest street connection between Berlin-West and the area of the federal republic and accordingly frequented. A distance of about 200 kilometers transit route.
Dreilinden is situated in the southwest of Berlin. The service area was a very important stop. A meeting place for tramper usually students who wanted westward. A place with a big bustle and a special atmosphere of anxiety and departure.

Today Dreilinden service station is a point which one can reach neither by the car nor officially on foot. Here the highway still goes past, but there is no exit. So this historic place has lost its function. An abandoned, a recollection place.

It is nonetheless an authentic location, certainly, not a museum, but it admits as a real point of contact reflections about past, present and future. A space, a vacuum which is in the middle of a movement network. Round this area, something happens, something is in movement. The driving past cars were already mentioned, but not yet the official place for Sinti and Roma on the ground of the former traffic jam space near by the border inspection point.
This camping facility for Roma and Sinti, travelling in Germany as seasonal workers in the month of May through October is the result of a gesture by the Berlin Senate. Still a provisional arrangement with minimal infrastructure. At least they pursue a school, accommodated in containers which is used obviously gladly by the children. To us very much sympathetically is the indication that Sinti and Roma are called outside of the German-speaking countries „Rom“. This term stands for human being and leads us to an abstracter view which is not necessarily bound to the direct place. Favour also has to us the poignant statement of a Sinti residing there, the freedom flows in his blood.
Perhaps this place is a metaphor which stands for the variability of not changeable believed political settlements, just as to be for the movement in the life without purposeful determination.

The whole areal seems to be a setting for the discourse on who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

So much for today


Katie Hepworth said...

"Why do we feel more pain looking at the image a destroyed bridge than the image of massacred people? Perhaps because we see our own mortality in the collapse of the bridge. We expect people to die; we count on our own lives to end. The destruction of a monument to civilisation is something else. The bridge in all of its beauty and grace was built to outlive us; it was an attempt to grasp eternity. It transcends our individual destiny. A dead woman is one of us - but the bridge is all of us forver" Slavenka Drakulic about the destruction of the bridge in Mostar, Bosnia.

A mostly unrelated quote, but it highlights the relationship of memory to place, and the architecture as a collective symbol and container of history.

in the case of the bridge, it was an deliberate act by one side to erase the memory of the other.

but at the checkpoint, its a more casual forgetting. Berlin seems to contain many forgotten memorials - both bad and good. the palace of the republic is now destroyed, hitlers bunker is unmarked.

Alma said...

and is there also a memory of sounds?

how does "dreilinden" sound? is there any vibration, are there any shadows of forgotten sounds there?

what's the sound of the street now? surely it changed when the "rom" came..

and what does "authenticity" mean in that case?
i always relate the desire to experience "authenticity" to the desire of tourism...

what was your experience in dreilinden?

such a lot of questions today...

grüße von alma

Alma said...

"The bridge" written by Franz Kafka

"I was stiff and cold, I was a bridge..."
Unfortunately I didn't find the text in English yet.
It's about a bridge that doesn't want to be a bridge anymore.
A very forgotten bridge, thats waiting for a pedestrian - til a wanderer comes and makes a very strong jump on it - the bridge wants to see, if it's a child, someone who wants to commit suicide... - bridge is turning around! and collapses at the same time...

a collapsing transit place that commits suicide....kind of gothic day today..

Die Brücke
Ich war steif und kalt, ich war eine Brücke, über einem Abgrund lag ich, diesseits waren die Fußspitzen, jenseits die Hände eingebohrt, in bröckelndem Lehm hatte ich mich festgebissen. Die Schöße meines Rockes wehten zu meinen Seiten. In der Tiefe lärmte der eisige Forellenbach. Kein Tourist verirrte sich zu dieser unwegsamen Höhe, die Brücke war in den Karten noch nicht eingezeichnet. So lag ich und wartete; ich mußte warten; ohne abzustürzen kann keine einmal errichtete Brücke aufhören Brücke zu sein. Einmal gegen Abend, war es der erste, war es der tausendste, ich weiß nicht, meine Gedanken giengen immer in einem Wirrwarr, und immer immer in der Runde-gegen Abend im Sommer, dunkler rauschte der Bach, hörte ich einen Mannesschritt. Zu mir, zu mir. Strecke Dich Brücke, setze Dich in Stand, geländloser Balken, halte den Dir Anvertrauten, die Unsicherheiten seines Schrittes gleiche unmerklich aus, schwankt er aber, dann gib Dich zu erkennen und wie ein Berggott schleudere ihn ans Land. Er kam, mit der Eisenspitze seines Stockes beklopfte er mich, dann hob er mit ihr meine Rockschöße und ordnete sie auf mir, in mein buschiges Haar fuhr er mit der Spitze und ließ sie, wahrscheinlich weit umherblickend, lange drin liegen. Dann aber-gerade träumte ich ihm über Berg und Tal-sprang er mit beiden Füßen mir mitten auf den Leib. Ich erschauerte in wildem Schmerz, gänzlich unwissend. Wer war es? Ein Kind? Ein Turner? Ein Waghalsiger? Ein Selbstmörder? Ein Versucher? Ein Vernichter? Und ich drehte mich um, ihn zu sehen. Brücke dreht sich um! Ich war noch nicht umgedreht, da stürzte ich schon, ich stürzte und war schon zerrissen und aufgespießt von den zugespitzten Kieseln, die mich so friedlich immer angestarrt hatten aus dem rasenden Wasser.

Detlef Kathrin Thomas said...

dear bloggers - hallo alma,

the atmosphere of 'Dreilinden', especially at the gas-station sites, is the atmosphere of an abandon place - surrounded by the 'Autobahn'. Therefore you hear the typical sound of permanent traffic.
Your question : what is the meaning of an 'authentic place' - is interesting
- and, if you think about it, leads to several further questions.
- is an 'authentic place' a place where you go while you visit a foreign country and hope to find something typical about the culture of that country?
- is an 'authentic place' a place where an important historic occurrence took place
- -where you find a memorial or monument?
- can you indicate a landscape as 'authentic'?
- will we ever use the term 'authentic place' regarding the virtual world - like a blog or chat-room, a computer game or whatever the technology will create? Thomas

One aspect seems important to me: I believe that `authentic places´ always belong to the past and are determined by a lack of substance. The thrill is to imagine the lost reality, to detect it, to complete the former reality in your mind. Although those places are unique, you have to know about what had happend there. Without basic knowlegde the `authentic place´doesn´t speak to you. I would deny, that there is a special atmosphere a priori. Only being vaguely concious of what might have happened there you are capable of arranging and sorting all these layers of colletive memories in your mind. Detlef

see you - wendsday?

jodi said...

I think you're right detlef, it's difficult to experience the 'authentic place' in the present.
Simon Schama in 'Landscape and Memory' talks about experiencing the world through the archive of the feet, not as a distant historical story but as an embodied physical sensation of a location.

Last time I was in new york, I kept waiting to feel that definitive moment, 'yes, here I am in new york' but it didn't look like the city I saw on the tv or in films, so I watched seinfeld for a while but the streets outside still didn't feel 'real'. Then I took myself up to a rooftop in brooklyn and listened to the PJ Harvey song (You said something) and could see the five bridges, and that was the moment of ny authenticity - but it was artificially induced.

Is it a casual forgetting, or a deliberate one? maybe not seeking to erase but to evade the memory. The image looks like a postcard from the 50's, aged technicolour, it evokes that sense of movement and space you mention, echoing a different time.

It was interesting spending time in Slovakia and Hungary last year, I dreamed of hearing wild gypsy music played in the streets - but the Rom were silent and mostly absent, and the music pumping out of all the cafes was the same eurotrash. The 'authentic' music I imagined could only be heard as a cultural performance that took place in theatres and concert halls, it didn't seem to have a life on the streets anymore. Just as the Rom had been driven out of town for lighting fires in the living room of their houses; or put in jail during communist times for refusing to go to work. The only time I saw any gypsies was from the train, a flutter of clothesline in the forest, and driving over a bridge opposite the nuclear power plant.

I have that Franz Kafka story in english somewhere but it is lost in layers of papers in a box somewhere in storage. So, here is the babel fish translation, there is something lovely about the literal interpretation and inability to find english equivalents to some german words.

In English:

The bridge I was rigid and cold, I was a bridge, over an abyss lay I, on this side was the fussspitzen, beyond which hands in-bored, in crumbling loam I had festgebissen myself. The laps of my skirt blew to my sides. In the depth the icy Forellenbach was noisy. No tourist erred to this hard-to-travel height, the bridge was not yet drawn in in the maps. Thus I lay and waited; I had to wait; without falling can no once established bridge stop bridge to be. Once against evening, it was first, was it the thousandth, I white, my thoughts always does not giengen in a confusion, and in round against evening in the summer, more darkly the brook always always rushed, heard I a man step. To me, to me. Distance you bridge, sets you in conditions, gel-changeless bar, bears for you entrusted, the uncertainties of its step same imperceptibly, varies it however, then give you to recognize and like a mountain God hurl it to the country. He came, with the iron point of his stick beklopfte he me, then main header he with it my skirt laps and arranged her on me, into my buschiges hair drove he with the point and let her, probably far around-looking, for a long time in it lie. Then however I dreamed it over mountain and valley-jumped he with both feet me in the middle on the body. I erschauerte in wild pain, completely ignorantly. Who was it? A child? A Turner? A Waghalsiger? A suicide? A Versucher? An annihilator? And I turned to see it. Bridge turns! I was not yet turned, there fell I already, I fell and was had already torn up and aufgespiesst from the course-sharpened flints, me had so peacefully always angestarrt from the racing water.