Kunsthaus Tacheles

Stumbled upon what seemed like a massive squat, but turned out to be one of the world’s most famous art communes.

Kunsthaus Tacheles is an epic 9000 square meter building coated inside and out with art and graffiti. Gigs can be held on the bottom floor in the massive cellar and various basements, and as you go up the five floors you’re welcome to walk in and out any of the rooms that house the artists workshops 24/7. Bits and pieces are for sale, there’s a few stalls but at it’s core is the art community who live in the abandoned rooms with their gear, working on new ideas and creations. Built around 1900 it became a department store, then briefly a Nazi prison it was taken over by artists when the Berlin wall came down.

The vibe of the building is hard to describe, there’s certainly no London equivalent. It’s rugged, smells like piss, no doubt overly touristy from what it was originally, but incredibly inspiring. I’m not an artist but was very tempted to takeover a room and do something in it for a few months. Not sure what but to contribute somehow felt I wanted to contribute something to it, and against working and taxes etc. When we walked out in the gap between the two main buildings that make up Tacheles, some guy had quickly set up decks and a rig in a tent (couldn’t have been more than 45 mins) and hidden at the back of it seemed to be blasting German jungle for his own amusement.

Eviction was scheduled for April this year, but fortunately the city went up in arms with a staunch refusal and protests. Walking around Berlin you’ll frequently see ‘I Support Tacheles‘ stickers, flyers, photos, street art, benefits – the whole works.

Rather unfortunately however an anonymous donation of 1million euros was offered via the landowners to share between anyone who vacated of their own free will, and a large part of the community, including the cinema and gastronomy, took them up on that offer.

Big ups to those who stayed on – over 80 artists who’ve vowed to remain with the support of the city’s people – continuing work in the building, still holding gigs and exhibitions as they see fit. There was some brilliant (as well as some average and disturbing) works going on. Alexandr Rodin had the entire 5th floor hosting his work when we were there yesterday. Evidently it’s become a bit of a tradition that the Minsk born artist takes over level 5 for a small portion of each year since 2001.