Ber/Lon – A Tale of Two Gentrifying Cities
Multilingual Reading and Performance with Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivánova, Johny Pitts and Joanna Legid
(Deutsche Übersetzung siehe unten)
For centuries the cities of London and Berlin have been transformed and re-invented by people from all over the world, who have created vibrant cultures in local areas at the intersection of art and politics. Is this all under threat now, as creative and political spaces are eaten up by developers and capital cities are overrun by the power of capital?
Gentrification remains a timely theme in many places around the world and one which particularly affects younger generations, who are being priced out of ‘booming’ cities. Both London and Berlin, which are continuously being transformed and re-invented by visitors from across the globe, are also two cities with great artistic communities. This tradition is, however, under threat as many of the local, vibrant – and affordable – creative spaces are steadily eaten up by development, all in the name of progress.
Artists Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivánova, Johny Pitts and Joanna Legid get together to confront such issues concerning the London and Berlin neighbourhoods at the forefront of change. Through multilingual and multimedial art, the project Ber/Lon explores what is lost — what we lose — when working-class, multicultural areas become gentrified. To explore this loss and its meaning the four artists have met up on joint walks around the cityscapes of both London and Berlin. What they encountered has inspired their artistic works of text and imagery which they will present at the Ber/Lon reading and performance. As a multimedia show, Ber/Lon utilises both multilingual poetry and prose, music, photography and film to express the impact of gentrification as witnessed by the artists.
Die Metropolen London und Berlin wurden über die Jahrhunderte hinweg immer wieder von Menschen aus aller Welt gewandelt und neu erfunden – Menschen, die an den Schnittstellen von Kunst und Politik kulturelle Communities erschaffen haben. Ist dies alles jetzt in Gefahr, wo Unternehmen städtische Räume in Beschlag nehmen und die Hauptstädte von der Macht des Kapitals überrollt werden?
Gentrifizierung ist nach wie vor ein aktuelles Thema an vielen Orten der Welt. Besonders betrifft es junge Generationen, die mehr und mehr von steigenden Preisen aus den boomenden Großstädten vertrieben werden. Auch heute noch werden London und Berlin ständig von Besucher*innen aus aller Welt geprägt und neu erfunden. Beide beherbergen auch einzigartige, vielfältige Künstlerszenen. Diese sind jedoch bedroht, da viele – derzeit noch erschwingliche – kreative Räume vor Ort nach und nach den stetigen Bauentwicklungen zum Opfer fallen, alles im Namen des Fortschritts.
Die Künstler*innen Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivánova, Johny Pitts und Joanna Legid haben sich zusammengetan, um die Problematik von Gentrifizierung in eben den Stadtteilen Londons und Berlins zu untersuchen, die am stärksten von Veränderungen betroffen sind. Durch multilinguale und multimediale Zusammenarbeit erkunden die Künstler*innen im Projekt Ber/Lon, was verloren geht – was wir verlieren – wenn multikulturelle Arbeiterviertel gentrifiziert werden. Um diesen Verlust und seine Bedeutung zu untersuchen, haben sich die Künstler*innen in beiden Städten zu gemeinsamen Spaziergängen getroffen. Ihre Erlebnisse und Beobachtungen haben sie in künstlerischen Werken aus Text und Fotografie verarbeitet. Mit einer multimedialen Performance aus mehrsprachiger Dichtung und Prosa, Musik und Fotografie drücken die Künstler*innen aus, wie sie den Einfluss von Gentrifizierung auf die Großstädte Berlin und London wahrnehmen.
Joshua Idehen is a poet, teacher and musician. A British-born Nigerian, his poetry has been published widely and he has performed across Europe. His interest in the impact of gentrification and the repeated shutdown of music venues led him to create the online fanzine anothergreatnightout.com, to celebrate Passing Clouds, one of the first venues he played in. He has collaborated with Mercury nominated artists, such as The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet. The album "Last Night" with dance pop band Benin City was released in 2018 (Moshi Moshi Music). He is currently working on his debut poetry collection and a one man show.
Adelaide Ivánova is a Brazilian journalist and political activist working in various fields, such as poetry, photography, performance, translation, and publishing. Her poems have been translated into German, Galician, English, Spanish, Greek, and Italian. Her photos/texts have appeared in The Huffington Post (USA), Marie Claire (Brazil) and Modern Poetry in Translation (UK) among others. Her photo reportage can be seen in Kunst Museum Dieselkraftwerk (Germany), L’arthotèque Museum of Fine Arts (France) and Galeria Murilo Castro (Brazil). In 2018 her poetry book "o martelo" won the Rio Literature Award. She edits the anti-capitalist poetry zine MAIS NORDESTE, PVFR! with leftist poets from Brazil’s northeast. She lives in Berlin, earning a living as baby-sitter, life model, waitress, and other alienating jobs.
Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer, and broadcast journalist. In June 2019, his book "Afropean" came out in the UK to critical acclaim and is being translated into German and French among others. He has received various awards for his work exploring African-European identity, including a Decibel Penguin Prize and a European Network Against Racism Award. He is the curator of the online journal Afropean.com, part of the Guardian's Africa Network and has collaborated with acclaimed author Caryl Phillips on a photographic essay about London's immigrant communities for the BBC and Arts Council England.
Joanna Catherine Schröder aka Joanna Legid is an analogue photographer capturing people, things, and places through the lens of her camera. Born in Rwanda to a German father and a Rwandan mother, Joanna has lived in different places until she moved to Berlin ten years ago. With a love for the intimate moment between staged poses and a trained eye for imperfection, her photography focuses on portrait as well as documentary work. She is also the co-founder of heartxwork.com, a creative platform which assembles stories of Germans with a migration background as well as BIPOCs living in Germany.
The project is created by Speaking Volumes - Live Literature Productions (London) in cooperation with Lettrétage, and funded by International Coproduction Fund Goethe-Institut e.V.
The event is hosted by Lettrétage e.V. in cooperation with: