Freitag, 5. Dezember 2008


Christmas markets have been springing up since early November. Trying to ignore them for as long as possible, a recent trip to Dresden's largest hoisted them rudely above of my sub conscience. The benefit of pushing yourself through hoards of distracted, indecisive shoppers at normal markets is the reward of finding bargains, specialities, oddities. Here, besides over-priced Glühwein, there wasn't a single remarkable product on sale. Even the food, despite the kind of hyperbole that would put McDonalds to shame, was dissapointing. The clutter that filled up the stands was tacky and outrageously expensive. The overall ambience was of excessive consumption, greedy colours and smells, a spontaneous and irrefutable landgrab.

Now in Berlin I see them everywhere. As if some deeplying pseudo-theological consumer angst has been awoken. Christmas is marketing without a brand; it's all the evils we associate with consumer capitalism, homogonised and hidden away in glossy wrapping paper. And it's done so well, because it's such a simple plan.

Indirect encounters are telling. Inebriated encounters are convincing.

The semi-disused car parks by Jannowitzbrucke are normally a familar hole in Berlin's landscape. A nighttime encounter with the christmas market, complete with ferris wheel, that now proudly, almost aggressively occupies the spot, was confusing and dissorientating. The temporary evolution from fenced off to fenced in happened too quickly, too seamlessly. It fitted the minds eye, rang true with memory and expectation, but cheated place. Lobotomised space.

Inside, at night, made things no clearer. Like going backstage the morning after a concert, or the day before, entering a husk. We were clearly out of bounds, but there was nothing to do, no reason to be there. The christmas tree and the ferris wheel loomed as dark shadows, unplugged from the grid, blind and dumb.

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