Berlin’s famous Tacheles, a sprawling art center housed in a former department store, was effectively shut down this week, as the owner of the building, HSH Nordbank, moves forward with plans to sell it.
Tacheles is a five-story, partially bombed, concrete building in Berlin’s Mitte district. Artists began squatting in the space right after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and in the twenty-plus years since, the building grew into a symbol of the city’s alternative, artistic counterculture (as well as a tourist destination).
But times have changed, and in Der Spiegel‘s words, Berlin “has moved on.” The German paper writes:
For years, Tacheles was a firm fixture on tourist itineraries. It exuded a nostalgic atmosphere of Berlin as it was immediately after the fall of the Wall in November 1989. Visitors came here to get a taste of the city in those carefree, anything-goes days … But the trashy center, a colorful blot on the face of an increasingly commercially oriented and streamlined Berlin, is gone forever.
For a New Yorker, it’s hard not to see a parallel of sorts with some of the grungier, more DIY spaces of old, alternative Downtown New York, which have given way over the past decades to pristine, white-walled galleries.
Some 40 to 60 artists showed work in Tacheles, and many of them were on hand Tuesday morning to protest their eviction, with one man playing the blues on saxophone and two others wearing black and humming a funeral march. ”We are bowing to force,” said artists’ spokeswoman Linda Cerna.
The city will apparently allocate part of the building to be used as an arts and culture center — but we all know it won’t be the same. Below are a few more photos of this amazing space that we found on Flickr.