Arts & Entertainment

Berlin’s most famous nightclub reinvents itself with art installation

By Paula García Viana

Berlin, Aug 1 (efe-epa).- Berlin’s Berghain nightclub, known for its exclusivity due to kilometer-long queues and a security team famous for denying people entry, has been reinvented as an art installation.

Preventive measures against the coronavirus in March led to the closure of nightclubs in Berlin, the world capital of techno music, and with the situation around the pandemic still uncertain, many venues have closed for good.

Despite this, the most famous club in the city is back on the map with an eclectic sound installation, “eleven songs – halle am berghain,” the new project of tamtam, a duo consisting of Sam Auinger and Hannes Strobl.

The installation uses the huge concrete interior of the former power plant to reproduce sounds very different from those usually heard in the venue, creating a feeling of calm and rest uncommon in Berghain.

The “installation transforms the machine hall of the former Berlin-Friedrichshain district heating plant into a unique resonance space,” the event details read. “The industrial hall with the gigantic coal chutes hanging from the ceiling and its massive pillars is both a backdrop and a frictional surface.”

With the only light entering through skylights on the sides of the building, attendees enter a very large, dark and practically empty two-story space with a maximum capacity of 50 people, far from the 1,500 that would pile in on a normal Friday.

One of the exhibition’s curators, Markus Steffens, told EFE that limited assistance is also part of the experience.

“We could have put 150 people here,” he said in relation to the capacity currently allowed in the city for events of this type, “but for us this exhibition requires people to use the space, to move around a bit.”

For the artists and organizers, the space is more than just a building. Steffens described it as “an instrument” through which the sounds of animals, planes and helicopters reverberate through the loudspeakers and take on new meaning.

Despite the new direction the premises has taken, customers continue to flock to the venue. With the maximum capacity so low and no real time limit on those inside, many of those who queue to enter hours before it opens do not manage to get in.

Steffens said although the installation’s reception has been very good, many of the visitors only “come to be able to enter and see inside the building.”

Under normal circumstances, it is forbidden to take photographs or record videos inside, something that has undoubtedly contributed to the popularity of Berghain, with some attendees even boasting of just having seen the interior.

A few months ago, a website that allowed the user to test whether, under normal circumstances, they would be let into the nightclub went viral. As in real life, the result was mostly negative.

Now the entry conditions are much more relaxed – people just have to pay and wait for hours. But what is most enticing is the possibility of being able to see the interior of the building – and share it on social media networks.

The sober concrete structure with hardly any decoration (just an eye of the Egyptian god Horus on one of the pillars) arouses fascination among viewers with some, according to Steffens, coming “only to take a photo shoot.”

Visitors wanting to get inside for photo sessions or to enjoy the exhibition have only until Sunday, the last day the interior can be visited for now, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, open from Saturday is its garden, where fans of techno and the history of Berghain can again wait in line to enter, without any guarantee of success. EFE-EPA

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