a plan for a day

When I announced my engagement on small sight, I knew I wouldn't turn this space into a wedding blog, but I also want to share a few moments along the way. Planning an intercultural wedding and marriage leaves a lot of room for learning. I spent one morning in September running between the American and German consulates in Amsterdam to finally learn that all answers would depend on the German province in which we will wed.

After phone calls, clarifications, translations, and waiting rooms, Marcus and I now have all our paperwork in order! It now needs to be submitted for approval, after which we will be allowed to schedule an appointment at the registry office in Berlin. What I thought would be the most difficult part has actually been quite painless.

I wish I had better news for the yet-to-be-printed save the date cards and the yet-to-be-booked venue. My older sister has a lot of event planning experience and is encouraging us to finalize the most critical parts. Maybe it's because we're planning a Berlin wedding while being in Amsterdam, but everything is just taking a lot more time. In between, I have been gathering some visual inspiration for that day in April, which I wanted to share. If anyone has some tips on wedding planning, I would love some insight! How did you handle all the details and planning?

Photo sources: flowers, table, dress and bouquet, church.

if I were in Berlin...

If I were in Berlin, I would visit Gestalten Space to see Sarah Illenberger's solo exhibition in celebration of her first monograph. Gestalten writes:

Sarah Illenberger’s richly-detailed work opens up new perspectives on seemingly familiar, iconographically-charged forms and content. She expertly avoids imbuing her materials and subjects with artificial significance or forcing a meaning upon them. Instead, Illenberger’s penetrating creative eye reveals their true essence—one that has usually remained hidden just under the surface from our fleeting and routine everyday glances.

For another view of one of my favorite artists, check out the Freunde von Freunden interview and peek inside Sarah's home.

Weekend Links #8

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things that I have enjoyed, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed this week: 1. Spending time in Berlin. It never grows old. 2. Listening to the serene music of Breathe Owl Breathe discovered via NPR (pictured above) 3. Loving the photos of snow on Boston's Big Picture 4. Finishing (almost) the last Christmas shopping thanks to Etsy and Creature Comfort's gift guide (pictured below) 5. Looking forward to the Funky Christmas Market at Westergasfabriek today

Berlin Again

The previous week took me to Berlin, the last of many trips to Germany this year. The official count for 2010 is certainly over ten, with at least half in the capital, but the latest visit was the first for work. Spending the week interviewing photographers while working with a German company was a new perspective on life in a city that usually constitutes friends and fun for me. I was also able to witness the first snowfall of the year. And it kept falling.

November Travels

The month of November is here and I have several trips ahead of me. Friday will take me on a short trip to Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. The following week I'm off to London. The third week to Portugal, my first time in the country! Upon my return, I will spend one night in Amsterdam before heading for a weekend - and hopefully the Weihnachstmärkte, Christmas markets - in Cologne. And the final trip at the end of the month will take me to Berlin.

Most of the travels are related to work projects, but nothing sounds better than being surrounded by photography and stories in foreign lands. I imagine I won't need to unpack or put away my suitcase for the entire month (image from johnnyvintage).

Weekend Links #2

Weekend Links is a collection of the interesting bits and pieces that I’ve come across on the streets and online. The weekly post is my chance to share with you a few things that I have enjoyed throughout the week, in a list compiled during the weekend. I hope you enjoy them as well.

A few things I enjoyed online this week: 1. Looking at the photography from 1010, a photographic project with 10 photographs from 10 photographers taken on 10/10/10 (above image by Hilda Grahnat - what is it about cobblestone in Berlin that is so recognizable?) 2. Watching a short video about Tokyo (via The Dreamer gallery) 3. Wishing for the Juliette Hogan Winter 10 'so pretty it hurts' collection. Yes, it does. Especially with no stockists or boutiques in Europe (image below) 4. Listening to the lovely song Chaka Chaka by Las Acevedo on NPR Alt Latino 5. Watching this short video about desk spaces (via the post family) 6. Exploring Out My Window, an interactive multimedia project by Katherina Cizek (via @michabruinvels)

An interview with Anne Schwalbe

The photographs of Anne Schwalbe are subtle observations of quiet scenes, capturing subjects that seem to transcend a specific time/place/situation. I imagine this gives a viewer the opportunity to connect with the image in a very personal way, to do something with the image in their own moment. Intrigued by her images, I was inspired to do a short interview and hear more about her background and her inspiration.


Could you give a short history of yourself? Anne Schwalbe:  I grew up in Berlin. I developed my first black and white print in the 6th class. After school I wanted to do an apprenticeship at a photo shop, but nothing worked out. I decided to give up photography and study German Studies and Cultural Studies. That was not the right thing for me. During these studies I began to do photography at a little Lab for young people in Berlin. In 2003 I started to study photography at the Ostkreuz School for Photography with Ute Mahler and Werner Mahler in Berlin. Since then I work solely on photography.

The Sonic Blog described your work as 'typically German'. Do you think there is a 'typical German style'? How does your work fit into it? Anne Schwalbe:  I think there is a typical German style, but I never had the feeling that I really fit into it. Nevertheless, the Sonic Blog said that he feels that my photography is somehow typically German in a way he cannot label more clearly. I like this comment, especially that he can't describe my work.

What are some things/people/moods that inspire your work? Anne Schwalbe:  Emptiness, abstract things, monochrome paintings, sculptures, nature, silence, fun, to be in the middle of the nowhere together with people I like.

Nature is recurrent in your photos. Where does this interest come from? Anne Schwalbe:  I grew up in a town, but I really need to be in the nature. In a city there are too many cars, people, noise and not enough trees, silence and empty space.

I really like how you focus on the details and get really close; showing a lot by showing just a little. What is the motivation for this? Anne Schwalbe:  Thank you. It just developed. It was not my plan. I am interested in these things.

How do you think people experience your photography? Anne Schwalbe:  So many people, so many ways.

Die Stadt. Vom Werden und Vergehen

While in Berlin last weekend, I attended the opening of the exhibition Die Stadt. Vom Werden und Vergehen (The City. Becoming and Decaying) at C|O Berlin in partnership with Ostkreuz. The exhibition features photography by 18 Ostkreuz photographers who have 'embarked on a search for the essence of present-day urban realities'. It was a long-term project that covered 22 cities around the world, depicting urban growth and decay. The exhibition runs until 4 July. Above image: Pactrick B. Mitchell, Leland Hotel, Detroit, USA, 2009 by Dawin Meckel/Ostkreutz

Travels in Germany

Enjoying a festive time in Germany! I am currently in Berlin where the snow is falling fast and 2010 is drawing near. Have a Happy New Year!

Weihnachtsmarkt an der Frauenkirche in Dresden.

A view of the Elbe in Dresden.

Der Reichstag, house of the Parliament in Berlin, with flags flying.

Snowfall in Berlin, outside the Wintergarten im Literaturhaus, my favorite place to enjoy tea and a book.

Twenty Years Later

mauer mob November 9 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the reunification process of East and West Germany. To remember the occasion, the British performance artist Martin Butler has initiated 'Mauer Mob 2009: Recreating the Berlin Wall'. At 20.15 on November 9 in Berlin, people will line up along the path where the wall stood to recreate its presence.

The Berlin Wall project is about creating a "temporary monument of reflection". When it was created, the wall was one of the clearest man-made divisions of people with different ideologies. For the 20th anniversary of its deconstruction we will rebuild the Berlin Wall, not from steel and concrete, but from people. To remember when Berlin became one again after decades of separations - physically as well as in the minds...

To join the 8279 people already registered, visit the Mauer Mob site and choose a location (via Bas at OY).

Bauhau Turns 90

bauhaus Last week in Berlin, I headed eagerly to the exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of Bauhaus. A few days before, I had read an article in The Design Observer criticizing the association of IKEA with Bauhaus:

"In the first half of the twentieth century, design reacted to industrialization, world wars, poverty, inflation, and class divisions. The Bauhaus arose out of a reaction to disastrous world politics and the inhumanity of urban living conditions, from the bullying architecture of the powerful to the class divisions perpetuated by luxuries only the rich could afford. By contrast, IKEA has evolved over time to refine a much narrower, and perhaps humbler, mission: to make home furnishings look good and cost less. The Bauhaus responded to the social urgencies after the First World War. What has succeeded the social inspiration of the Bauhaus is the business inspiration of retail giants like IKEA, which pursues a business model for the global marketplace.

Today, with the crash of world markets, design must more fully confront and re-evaluate its role in global business. This is what Bauhaus principles are all about: taking stock of the present states of technology, business and culture and crafting reasonable designs for the way we live now. A glut of cheap, uniform products in the marketplace can no longer be a virtue of global business. To pursue Bauhaus principles in the future, IKEA will have to increase the personalization of its products, improve ergonomics, reduce wastefulness and increase quality in order to create lasting value for the consumer."

Yet, the exhibition in Bauhaus, especially Christine Hill's DIY Bauhas installation, took on a lighter spirit. Focusing on the proclamation "People's needs instead of luxury needs" by the second Director of Bauhaus Hannes Meyer, she takes a less harsh view of IKEA.

"Some mostly leftist designers may protest, but IKEA had and has achieved the pioneering influence on a broad spectrum of buyers that, as one of its central goals, the historical Bauhaus would have liked to achieve."

Perhaps the danger comes when we believe that the pioneering influence Bauhaus wanted to achieve was merely a specific design style, rather than the manifestation of political and social goals that would in turn shape design principles and the consumer's mentality.

Viva la Kunst

Seoul As I prepare to head to Berlin on Wednesday, I thought I would resurrect one of my great life mysteries. While I was living in Seoul, I spent a lot of time in Hongdae, an artsy neighborhood in the north with some of the best graffiti in the city. I spotted the above work one day, thought it was interesting, and snapped a photo.

Two years later, while in Berlin, I saw the exact same work in Kreuzberg. I did a double take then and there. When I returned to Amsterdam, I tried to find out who was behind the graffiti, but without luck. Deciding, a few more years later, to make one more attempt, I came across this Gridskipper article today discussing the street art in Berlin. Last on the list of prominent Berlin graffiti artists was SP38 and an almost identical image. Mystery solved!

He's apparently French born, living in Berlin, and has apparently been in Seoul at least once. Although his website is down, you can see more of his work on Flickr. See you in a few days Berlin!