Temporary Spaces by Martin Eberle

by Valerie MacEwan

5 June 2002


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forward ever backward never

cover art

Temporary Spaces

(Die Gestalten Verlag)

“I struggle to be brief, and I become obscure.”
—Horace, Ars Poetica

For ten years Martin Eberle filmed Berlin’s infamous club scene. These clubs, known as the “international benchmark for improvised coolness”, provide an incredibly rich palate for Eberle’s stark and revealing photographs. By reducing the temporary spaces to the bleak reality of their transient existence, the interior and exterior photographs expose the run-down facades and eclectic interiors as they truly were.

Human interaction is illustrated not through the photos but instead, as text, providing a surreal juxtaposition of life and death as the club-goer’s animated dialogue contrasts with the pictures of the abandoned spaces.

There is a sense of profound loss in the comments made by the club patrons, of affection for one temporary space now discarded for another. The Berlin club scene still exists, an underground movement of Ecstasy, alcohol, and raves, supported by Internet instant information accessibility. But this book is not a judgment call. It doesn’t celebrate or condemn, it documents. And it is an extraordinary documentary of a moment in time.

The descriptions read like obituaries, detailing the birth and death of the club followed by eulogies from its patrons.

“Why are my friends such finks?” New Year’s Eve 1998/99 t o November 2000. In the immediate vicinity of the Reichstag, separated only by the river Spree and a train track. Open just one day a week (like many others), in the beginning eve on afternoons. Surprisingly low room between two floor levels, to be reached via an old wooden staircase. On the walls tiny drawings and carefully attached flyers. The courtyard is somehow part of it (barbecues and lounging) as well as the room to the street which is intermittently used as a gallery space.

[comments] Every five minutes a local train passed. You watched the passengers and slowly but surely turned sentimental. Sebastian Sitting in front of the second window (open in the summer and to the right of the entrance) and looking out you could watch the bright trains going past. On the one hand this was very relaxing, on the other it meant you were somehow always moving. And it made you sad when you arrived and the space was already taken. Esther

Those familiar with my reviews know that I am unabashed in my appreciation of Die Gestalten Verlag’s publications. Perhaps one day they will create a substandard volume, but I doubt it. Temporary Spaces lives up to their incredibly high publishing standards. This full color volume has a padded cover reminiscent of a high school year book,which struck me as especially significant, because these temporary spaces, these clubs, were as fleeting as high school. It is a thought-provoking visual commentary, an “uneasy declaration of love for the transience and enthusiasm reverberating in the clean, architectonic accuracy of the pictures.” Not just a notch in any bibliophile’s belt, this one’s truly interesting and compelling—an amazing book.

GALERIE BERLINTOKYO “In those golden days good clubs had shitty toilets. When you wedged yourself behind the garbage bins in the couryard you know how great the berlintokyo had to be. Here we learned to piss while standing, analysed concerts and relationships with our trousers down, made new friends while shouting “it’s busy” when too many people tried to squeeze in behind the yellow container. Here we ruined long coats and shoes, drank away embarassment and vanity and always knew that washing your hands is something for lightweights. Imke

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