Camilla Lærke Mors

Camilla Lærke Mors is a Danish journalist and writer. She was an writer-in-residence in the spring of 2014 at ABA / Air Berlin Alexanderplatz.

The Wild Nature of Funkhaus

Hitler’s marble, traces of an old fire in the times of The DDR covered by black painted pillars disappearing in a baby pink roof. The history is present in Funkhaus Berlin Nalepastrasse. From 1956 till 1990 they were the premises of the East German broadcasting services in Berlin. Before that built to house a wooden factory, today the building, which consist of several sections and is the world’s biggest connected building on a 50.000 sq m area, owned by the Israeli property entrepreneur Albert Ben David, who is a part of a bridge building company for German and Israeli entrepreneurs with focus on sustainability called The JNF Green Business Circle. A German landmark and with the visitor’s eyes – mine, Danish, an artist-in-residence in ABA – a grand building caught and still alive in a timeless crumbling beauty with the secret life of the creation of art. Secret, as I cannot see, nor hear, what the 400 residents – artists, mostly musicians – in Funkhaus do. But I guess it can be many things, especially sounds on a big or small scale. Experimental, quirky, wonderful sounds or the well-known sounds of Sting and Daniel Barenboim, for example. My fellow resident Hannah Weinberger tells me that she has also done a project here ‘about sounds’. I never found out which, but it is because of her and the team behind ABA that I and around 12-15 other people, women and men, some children, are here on a sunny Sunday during my stay in Berlin. A ‘salon’ to learn about the Funkhaus. To discuss it. The latter can be difficult. Words like ‘fantastic’, ‘spectacular’ etc. seem so ordinary, but also the most obvious to use. To understand Funkhaus, it seems, is like grasping wild and beautiful nature – it is hard and simple. So yes, it is amazing to walk around the long aisles in section A formerly hosting the production of DDR 1 and 2, the music archives etc., to ascend to the fifth floor and see the big conference rooms and offices in polished mahogany, thick carpets and loads of chairs covered with blue fabric: The big bosses of Rundfunk der DDR resided closer to the sky. It’s also here – especially in the long glooming aisles – that the famous movie “Das Leben der Anderen” has been shot. As the perfect spot for framing the horror and wonders of history, the Funkhaus today is a popular film spot, but there are also opportunities to rent big or small places for piano rehearsal, music recordings, workshops and storage rooms. Our guide takes us to all four sections. To me the most spectacular is section C. Besides containing a big 900 sq m concert hall called the “Kultursaal” to host large concerts and recordings it somehow also combines the absurdities of history. The black painted pillars in the section’s lobby is not like the rest of the dominating Bauhaus style late architect Hans Ehrlich so profoundly designed all the section’s interior by. They are covered in many layers of thick black paint simply because there was a fire just before the opening in 1956. Western sabotage, it was said. And the floor is reddish and white marble collected from Hitler’s Reichskanzlei after the war. We end our tour in the ‘Milch Bar’. An original bar from the old days in section D with a view to the Spree. Here the former employees came for an afternoon drink and a snack and to mingle with colleagues. We sit down and we try to talk about the functions of a building like Rundfunk/Funkhaus. How to understand it, how to use it. For me, a great aesthetic experience too difficult to describe verbally so soon after and with a curry wurst in front of me, but certainly very much alive after leaving it.

Camilla Lærke Mors is a Danish journalist and writer. She was an artist-in-residence in the spring of 2014 at ABA / Artist in Residence Berlin Alexanderplatz, Memhard Strasse 8.