Berlin Wonderland © Rolf Zöllner

Fri, 11/08/2019 -
Fri, 12/27/2019

Pro Arts Gallery

150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza

Wild Years Revisited 1990—1996

Shortly after the Wall fell, subculture blossomed in central Berlin. Featuring previously unknown images and commentary from key protagonists, the exhibition Berlin Wonderland brings back to life an almost forgotten era while showing how Berlin’s Wonderland years made the city what it is today.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, artists, punks, anarchists, squatters, visionaries, and oddballs discovered the no man’s land behind it—a practically lawless zone in the heart of the city. The compelling photography in Berlin Wonderland brings this almost forgotten era back to life and shows just how much the city has changed since then. In the free spaces among the crumbling façades of old buildings unbridled creativity was unleashed and a variety of clubs, bars, techno parties, galleries, uprisings, and exhibitions sprung up. These new spaces became a magnet for young people from around the world, who flocked to the burgeoning scene. As these wild years may seem long past, their effect is still palpable and has made Berlin into what it is today.

The photographers Ben de Biel, Hendrik Rauch, Philipp von Recklinghausen, Stefan Schilling, Hilmar Schmundt, Andreas Trogisch and Rolf Zöllner were part of this process, and with their works they form the dynamics of change and this unique time of upheaval, resistance and new order.

The exhibition Berlin Wonderland is a project of the two curators Anke Fesel and Chris Keller. They both came to Berlin in 1990 and right from the start were active in various projects like Tacheles, IM Eimer, Schokoladen and Synlabor. Anke Fesel is a designer and operates the graphic office capa, Chris Keller is a musician and freelance photographer. In 2007, they founded the photo agency bobsairport and self-published the photobook »Berlin Wonderland – Wild Years Revisited« that is now already available in the third edition. In 2017, a second book called »Berlin Heartbeats« was published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The books feature photographs by Ben de Biel, Ute Mahler, Harald Hauswald, Rolf Zöllner, Philip von Recklinghausen, Hendrik Rauch and Sven Marquard among others.

The exhibition will take place from the November 8 till December 27, 2019 at the Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland. The striking photography in Berlin Wonderland is supplemented by interviews and quotes from those who shaped this subculture. The exhibit is presented by the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the German Consulate General San Francisco together with Pro Arts Gallery.

In addition to the photographies, there are podcasts available produced by Arndt Peltner including original footage of this vibrant time after the German reunification.

Arndt Peltner is an international journalist. He is founder, producer and host of Radio Goethe, a music show on currently over 40 College and Community stations in the US, Canada, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria and Namibia. Under the title “Wunderbar Together” he puts together several music stories that connect Germany and the United States.