Though being born and raised in Berlin, the typical courtyards came to my attention quite late. Part of a major urban development plan, that dates back to the late 20th century, those courtyards were once conceived to ensure heterogenous, thus vivid social compositions. Believe it or not. Though we proceed to call them somewhat falsely “backyards” (see, we’re prisoners of our past) for this little series, we still strive to endeavour new specimens that leave us both surprised and excited.
The first backyard of this third part of the series is situated in Kreuzberg, not far away from the gallery district around Kochstraße. It belongs to a youth club that provides the kids with a wide space to legally practice their graffiti skills. My last visit wasn’t long ago, however, the walls completely changed over the weeks, since kids, youth and grown ups frequently overpaint older pieces. The paint already splattered of from the walls, revealing older pieces or even the paint-weary and brittle wall. Thick chunks of myriads of layers of paint covered the ground, spray bottle caps, disposable gloves and other equipment lay there scattered as well. Luckily, nobody was there when I took the photos; leaving the backyard a peculiar notion of rest, since tomorrow the sprayers would come back and once again, start it all over.
Finding the next backyard near Moritzplatz, however, was owed to good luck. Passing by construction workers who carried heavy material inside, curiosity got the better of me. I sneaked a peek just to find a narrow courtyard that was crammed with all sorts of construction material. A crane and some scaffolds, that was all this courtyard could bear. However, the sight of this neatly tucked away construction site was surprising, since it seemed that the residents daily routine wasn’t affected at all. People would simply find their way around the obstacles.
In any case, I was in a hurry. The third courtyard was situated in Schöneberg, close to the street-walkers’ district of Potsdamer Straße. While desperately looking for a certain gallery, I found this near-to abandoned building that appeared to once was a small shopping arcade. The front shops were vacant and so were all the other windows facing the courtyard. Only the backmost spaces still accommodated business, however, only cab hotline companies.
I wondered which shops once sold their goods there: fashion? Grocery? Children’s toys? No hints could be found. Today, the windows advertise cheap renting space. The courtyard served as a compound for said gallery to store some big art crates. The place was virtually abandoned. I wondered how many punters would seek the seclusion of this courtyard. The upper floors were still inhabited: which stories could the residents tell? I would rather not ask, this place was creepy and so I left, the building and the district. Some young whores looking the worse for wear eyed me on my hasty leaving. Boy, I was happy to reach the subway station.