"The Beauty of Berlin,
its opacity, complexity, its heaviness,
the richness of its ghosts.
The abundance of good intentions that somehow went wrong.
The pressure of shame imposed by more and more monuments.
The obligation to remember, combined with surprising amnesia
(where did the wall go?)
How far it is removed from everything.
How refreshingly German it remains.
Its grey.
Its stubbornness.
Its lack of doubt.
The meticulous mediocricity of its new substance.
How old what was modern looks.
How fresh what is ancient.
How good what was communist.
How Chinese what is new."

(Rem Koolhaas, Content)

"Germany is an important country.
That's why we send our best people there.
Our people like to come to Berlin.
It's a fascinating city."

 

(Member of diplomatic corps in Berlin, Botschaften der Welt: Berlin Embassies)

 

A team project that pieces together the centre of the district of Mitte in Berlin, the model is made up of a series of individual tiles with each tile made by a different student and hand crafted from pine wood and veneer, resulting in a rich and impressive piece of collaborative work.

This individual tile is made up of the Reichstag and the commercial buildings surrounding it.
"Arriving at each city,
the traveller
finds again a past of his
he did not know he had;
the foreignness
of what you no longer are
or no longer possess
lies in wait for you
in foreign,
unpossessed places."

(Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities)

POSTER

The State of Germany has only been known as such for the last 140 years, and during this young country's struggle for unity Berlin has been at the centre of a very special confluence between politics, history and geography.

At its doorstep Berlin has felt the passing of the Empire of the Kaisers, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi Dictatorship, East / West Germany during the Cold War and finally the nation-state of Germany after reunification, each political power shaping the city according to their own world view6.

So where does the individual fit in between these battles of power? What happens to an individual's identity in a schizophrenic nation-state?

"Some Germans fear that the weight of the past misdeeds has made their fellow Germans uncertain what it means to be German and afraid to act in the name of Germany [...] although the late-twentieth-century crisis of historical confidence is not unique to Germans, they may lead the world in agonized self-examination."
(Ladd B., Ghosts of Berlin)

"By refuting traditional time and space, the modern society entered into a crisis of identity, which affected the notion of identification itself. Hence, rather than serving a community, identification became a matter of individual construction."
(Carmen Popescu, Architecture & Identity)

 

Retrospectively we see how history and politics have shaped a nation's identity. A clear example of this is illustrated with the Second World War, which affected and continues to affect the management of nations, down to the food we eat, the clothes we buy to the taxes we pay.

"It has become a political and social duty to apostrophise the Capitalism of one and the Communism of the other as the very devil, so as to fascinate the outward eye and prevent it from looking at the individual life within."
(Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self)

"A city is, perhaps, closer to being a self-organising system than a more conscious artificial creation such as an entire nation, which is the product of a particular historical monument and which may yet prove to be only of transient importance. [...] Despite how divided cities such as Beirut, Berlin or Belfast once were, the links holding a successful city together are more effective and more subtle than nationalism. Nation states look for homogeneity, yet the most successful cities are the most cosmopolitan."
(Deyan Sudjic, The Endless City)

EVOLUTION OF

FRONTIERS

Looking back at the history of Germany/Europe
and the countries of the Tropical Andes/South America,
we see that the notion of a nation state
is a relatively new idea;
surprisingly we find that as time progressed,
stability degraded.

Could this be one of the causes
for the current "identity crisis"
in South America and arguably in Germany?
With globalisation
obscuring frontiers and border lines,
does the identification of and individual
within a nation
become redundant?