Berlin’s art scene exploded after the wall came down and I was lucky to get a glimpse into some of it while visiting the city. Stumbled on Tacheles by simply wandering around the city and it was a real discovery where I ended up spending a couple of hours exploring all the floors, different studios and even hallways and bathrooms. What an experience! Sadly this place has been closed, so the photographs below (and I have many more) are documenting some of its histories now.
Tacheles was a former department store in the heart of Berlin that was transformed into an alternative art and culture center in the 1990s. Located on Oranienburger Strasse, the building was a prominent fixture in the city’s Mitte district and attracted artists, musicians, and other creative individuals from all over the world.
Tacheles was born out of a need for affordable workspace and exhibition space for artists in Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city was undergoing rapid change and many artists were being priced out of their studios and galleries. In response, a group of artists and activists occupied the empty department store building on Oranienburger Strasse and transformed it into a hub of creativity and expression.
The name Tacheles comes from the Yiddish word “tachles,” which means “straight talk” or “to the point.” This reflected the no-nonsense, DIY spirit of the project, which was completely self-organized and operated by the artists themselves.
Tacheles quickly became known for its vibrant and diverse range of artistic expressions. The building’s large, industrial spaces were perfect for large-scale installations, exhibitions, and performances, and the center played host to a wide range of events and projects. The ground floor featured a bar and café that was popular with locals and visitors alike, and the courtyard was often used for outdoor concerts and other events.
In addition to its role as an exhibition and performance space, Tacheles also provided affordable workspace for artists. The building’s many floors and rooms were divided up into studios and workshops, where artists could create and collaborate in a supportive environment.
Despite its success, Tacheles was not without its challenges. The building was owned by the city of Berlin, but the artists occupying it were not able to secure a long-term lease. This led to a long-running battle with the authorities, who were keen to redevelop the property. In the end, the city was successful in evicting the artists and Tacheles was closed in 2012.
Today, the building remains empty, a reminder of the vibrant and creative community that once thrived there. Tacheles may be gone, but its legacy lives on in the memories of those who experienced it and the many artists who were inspired by its spirit of collaboration and experimentation.
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PS. There are a lot more photographs from Berlin, so if you are interested I put together a little silent photo slideshow below:
Here are 10 lesser-known facts about Tacheles in Berlin:
- Tacheles was an art collective and cultural center located in Berlin, Germany, which operated from 1990 to 2012.
- The name “Tacheles” is a Yiddish word that roughly translates to “straight talk” or “getting to the point.”
- The collective was based in a historic building in the Mitte district of Berlin, which had previously been a department store and a Nazi prison.
- The building was occupied by the Tacheles collective in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall and was used as a space for artists, musicians, and performers to create and showcase their work.
- The collective was known for its provocative and politically charged art, which often addressed issues of social justice and inequality.
- The building was also home to a number of galleries, studios, and workshops, as well as a theatre, a cinema, and a bar.
- Tacheles was one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin and attracted visitors from around the world who were interested in its alternative culture and underground art scene.
- The building was the subject of a number of legal battles and disputes with the city of Berlin, which eventually led to its closure in 2012.
- The closure of Tacheles was met with protests and demonstrations, and the building remains a symbol of the struggle between artists and developers in Berlin.
- Today, the Tacheles building is largely empty and in disrepair, but its legacy as a hub of creative and cultural activity in Berlin continues to inspire artists and activists around the world.
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