Survive in Berlin (Flashback 2013)
Survive in Berlin
When I came in Berlin during the winter 2012 - 2013, I started by walking the street day and night. Going straight on to talk to people, see how the city that was behaving at the end of it’s underground hype. After many random walks, travels in subway lines, loads of music, I met punks and their dogs in the subway station that led me to my main work “The Last Shelter”. But aside from that short portfolio, the story has always been deeper. I knew that Berlin and it’s margin was also facing a harsh reality: heavy winter: about -15°C down to - 20°C could be reached outside at night.
But many homeless and people in need I met where not living inside the Yurts or basic tents on the waste lands of “Teepee Town”, neither in Köpi. They would be in the streets in the cold, or with a home but they didn’t had enough money to buy food or hold on during the entire month.
I then did some research and found a Catholic Organisation called “Berliner Stadt Mission” which is an organisation emanating from the church to help people in need by providing food and “comfort of God”. They provide food each night and shelters to sleep for people in need. Approximatively two hundred people showed up every night at the doors of the organisation. (January 2013, stats must have changed by now.)
I mostly never showed these photographs because I thought they might have interested newspapers and magazines in Germany en therefore I kept them out. But as I was working and sending portfolios to them, I would receive these types of answers from the redactions:
” XXX sent me your work about "The Last Shelter". Really great pictures, they seem to be shot in the Bronx, very astonishing that they are from Berlin. Nevertheless atmosphere is very depressing, that could be a problem for a publication in XXX magazine. Aren´t there any cosy moments? “
I always kept calm and respectful with the redaction by email but in my head… Man… no there is NO “COSY MOMENTS” when you try to survive in the streets, when you lost almost everything, when it’s minus 20 outside, when you are addicted to substance to avoid the sordid reality of loneliness and poverty. There is no “COSY MOMENTS”.
Another editor once told me “Next time, try to go photographs butterfly and bumblebees” and then hang up the phone without any other type of answer.
Well anyway, we as photographers and journalist always have heard stupid comments about our reportage, I just think it’s a lack of respect and professionalism towards the humans and the situation we are talking about.
In the end, I just didn’t propose the story anymore and the pictures where kept low in my hard disk. I just always liked them. Here are few I wanted to share with you.
This was only one evening at the Berliner Stadt Mission, I went there twice. I documented the streets of Berlin and Teepee town for several weeks on my own. If you wish to see more of it just ask a questions in the comment section.
Thank you for reading,