The exhibition at Galerie Zwitschermaschine presents the history of 156 Potsdamer Strasse and its tenants from 1847 until today. The exhibition organisers have lived in the building themselves for many years and went in search of its past and revealing life stories for the show.
Where the backyard stands today, there was a "clover patch" in the 18th century, in an otherwise boggy scrub. A small, naturally grown pasture for the cattle of the Alt Schöneberger. The first house on the property was completed in 1854, the second, which still stands today, in 1885. A noble widow general was the owner of the first house. The owners of the second house changed rapidly. The house was also an object of speculation.
The house reflects the whole of contemporary German history.
In the years since 1844 until today, countless people have lived there. How many children were born here and how many people died in the house?
Among them were many artists, writers and singers, such as the writers and early women's rights activists Jenny Hirsch and Franziska von Kappf-Essenther. Or Franziska's husband, Paul Blumenreich, writer, playwright, theatre director. He founded the "Theater des Westens". Today, these people are all but forgotten. The exhibition wants to recall their stories.
But the research has also brought to light the darker sides of the theatre's history. For example, the Cameroon Hinterland Society organised its first expeditions to subjugate whole swathes of Cameroon from here.
Due to its location on one of the city's main axes, the house has a particularly chequered history.
Apart from the well-heeled tenants in the front building, there were cafés here continuously from 1906 at the latest, such as the Dutch Café, probably one of the very early gay cafés in the city. After the Second World War, the tenants were mainly craftsmen, small entrepreneurs. The area turned into a red-light milieu. The "Hotel Potsdam" on the Hochparterre becomes one of the first brothels in West Berlin.
When the Wall was built, the once important shopping street became a dead end. And at the latest when the drug trade gained a foothold here, many of the "normal" citizens moved out and the exhibition makers Mari Cantu and Marian Kiss moved in with friends and their small children at the beginning of the 1980s. From this time on, history is mixed with personal memories and documents that are part of the exhibition. Their stories are closely connected to that of the house and the parallels to some of the tenants 130 years ago cannot be overlooked.
Finally, some of today's residents are portrayed - they talk about their relationship to this place and its newly discovered past. It tells of continuity and continuity.
daily from 16:00 to 19:00