Photoblog: BLO Atelier Arts Space

Last week, I stumbled upon Blo Ateliers, an art space that's been managing to keep "one of the most interesting and largest artist communities in eastern Berlin" hidden from me for the last four years, despite being right on my doorstep in Lichtenberg.  

It doesn't feel like you're going to an art venue; the road's cracked and flooded and leads towards what seems like the deadest of ends.  There are signs telling you to stop, that the yard's for rail employees only, even as a handwritten sign promises that there's an free exhibition on.

After a few seconds' hesitation, like the kind that I get before every new discovery made in Berlin (is this a new find, or is it all in my mind?) I went ahead in. 

A courtyard opened up and around each crumbling building in the complex, the litter of half-finished sculptures, DIY gardens and pointed statements written in graffiti and kept carefully clear of encroaching trees & vines.  All gradually offered clues that there was more than bureaucratic tedium going on in here. 

There was a free exhibition in the Ateliers' Kantine, a sparkly, glittery space gradually filling with people who were playing dress up with the zeal of a kid exploring their flamboyant aunt's attic, or their mad uncle's shed.  An exotic looking guy in a silk robe and oriental makeup pointed me in the right direction for the free exhibition, a sound installation in the back of the building.

It made the smallish space seem much bigger and complex than the four neutral walls suggested.  It seemed like an homage to an activists who'd been exiled or fled Berlin in the 1930s, and though I didn't really stay long enough to get the gist of his life story it succeeded in bringing a bit of history to life in this 1920s style industrial complex that seemed to fit in better with the past than the present.  Later, droves of people started turning up for a marriage ceremony that involved even more glitter and stage costumes, and left them to it. 

Blo Atelier does regular events on its stage and hosts occasional festivals.  It also has an open doors day at least once a year.  The people are so friendly there, I get the impression that anything going ont here would be one of the most inviting and least pretentious experiences one could find in a space devoted to the arts in Berlin.

The complex is located at Kaskelstr. 55 in Lichtenberg, in the alley next to S-Bahn Noldnerplatz. 


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