Berlin's alternative scene fights for survival

Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:03am EDT
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Txus Parras, who has been squatting in the Tacheles building in downtown Berlin since the wall fell two decades ago, says he won't leave it without putting up a fight.

Tacheles is one of many forums for alternative culture in the German capital facing eviction from quirky historical properties which property developers want to transform into luxury flats, hotels and boutiques.

"Berlin is changing in a negative way, and it's not just about Tacheles, there is a force out there trying to destroy the this city's freedom," said 47-year old Spanish-born Parras at his atelier in the former bombed-out department store.

"I am part of the artist resistance," he said, sporting clothes died with symbols for love and peace, nose and lip piercings and lime-green felt earrings.

"I am going to make things very difficult for these people."

Artists from all over the world have been drawn to Berlin since the end of the Cold War, attracted by open spaces, low rents and the charms of a city Mayor Klaus Wowereit once described as "poor but sexy."

Parras, who has taught street art worldwide but keeps getting drawn back to Berlin, says Tacheles once housed 200 artists with 130 nationalities.

The five-storey building was occupied by artist squatters shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and has since become a rabbit's warren of open ateliers, theatres and grungy bars. Walls are sprayed in layers of graffiti and plastered with posters, while a hint of marijuana lingers in the air.   Continued...

<p>People stand in the graffiti-covered staircase of the Tacheles alternative art centre in Berlin, August 7, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>