Sunday, March 27, 2011

Housing in Berlin

Dessau | Kalle Koponen Photography

I'm working on a Berlin extension of my Sherwin Series. Being apartment-bound more than I'd like with a fussy baby, I'm thinking a lot about this city—its layers of history, the impact of 20th century housing policy, the psychological implications of these shifts, a resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration stances, my ethnically diverse neighborhood Kreuzberg and its dense sea of early 20th century architecture covered in graffiti. This graffiti becomes a texture: it is mostly immature tags and a quarter in English.

My husband forwarded me the photo series of how urban areas continue to change 20 years after reunification. One picture and a link to the series included above. He sent me this link after we were discussing The File: A Personal History by Timothy Garton Ash. After interviewing countless former Stasi, Timothy Garton Ash considers how the Stasi provided father figures for men who lost their fathers in WWII. With the policies of the Stasi well known by all people our age who grew up in Berlin, I'm also thinking about these layers of this city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thoreau, Castles in the Air

If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lebbeus Woods

Leave it to bldgblog to always take me where I need to go.

As I'm wandering around Berlin, taking photos of architecture to take The Sherwin Series to the next stage, I learn about Lebbeus Wood's film treatment for Underground Berlin. Then I stumble on this quote from Woods which is exactly aligned with the behavior of the forms in my 2010 prints.

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no "sacred and primordial site." I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then "melt into air." I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Boycotting Swiss Air

I normally don't make posts like this, but I feel the need to vent and help others avoid dealing with Swiss Air.

My husband Owen and I are in Berlin this academic year, funded by the DAAD. More about their programs here in case you are interested.

To make this adventure happen, last April we booked Swiss Air flights to Berlin on July 31, 2010, returning April 15, 2011 (because you can book further into the future), and it cost $1000 per person. They told us to call back after the new year to change the return flight home and that because of our circumstance, they would put a note in our file saying we could change once without a re-booking fee. We were told to pick a date when we thought we would come back. Our understanding was that this date was approximate and flexible so we picked July 30. They also said that we could add an infant ticket when we change the return ticket, and it would cost 10% of a normal ticket (also confirmed on the site:

This past Monday, we called to change the return, knowing that there would be a fee difference. Researching in advance, we learned that July 26 was cheaper, so we asked for that date, but learned that we would have to pay $250 per person in rebooking fees. What more? To have our child sit on our lap, we would need to pay $600 for an infant ticket (they say a one-way ticket in summer is $4000, 10% is $400 plus refueling and other fees). So we had to stick with July 30, pay the difference in price ($225 more per person) + the $600 for daughter who will 8 months when we fly. That's $1050 more! I'm never flying Swiss Air again. In the future, I'm taking even more meticulous notes and will insist on something in writing. Bastards.