Long-term readers may recall that the name “Strange Flowers” was originally inspired by some tortured Expressionist verse penned by 20s Berlin provocateuse Anita Berber to accompany her dance routines (“strange flowers and greenhouse plants, painted people and listless sounding bells…”). The doomed performer occupies a special place in our hearts, so it was particularly exciting to learn that a new “Anita-Berber-Park” was to be dedicated in the Berlin district of Neukölln, just a few blocks from Strange Flowers Towers. It occupies a now deconsecrated cemetery, an offshoot of the burial ground across the road where Berber herself was laid to rest in 1928, aged just 29. While the park was being readied, local papers were outraged to find that earth movers had inadvertently dug up graves, cracking open urns and sending ashes of the deceased flying around. Frankly it seemed like the kind of morbid Grand Guignol scenario that might well have ended up in Berber’s poetry.
Excitement at this new development soon shaded into regret when it transpired that said dedication would take place when Strange Flowers was taking its summer holiday. Nonetheless I duly cycled down on my return to capture some views of the area, which I present here. Still intact are the landing lights for the adjacent, and equally de-commissioned Tempelhof Airport, indicating just how low the planes came in on approach, no more respectful of the dead than the jets buzzing Böcklin’s inspiration off Corfu. Otherwise the park is dominated by a handsome avenue of plane trees, although some parts have – in honour of its namesake? – been left wild.
And while I may never shock the bourgeoisie with my naked dancing, and have left it far too late to die of dissipation at a young age, your writer does now have something in common with Anita Berber – this afternoon in Rathaus Neukölln I became a German citizen.
Goddess of the night
Strange Flowers guide to Berlin (part 2, part 3 and part 4)
Dances of Vice, Horror & Ecstasy
The Anita Berber lifestyle collection
AB is back again
The rose and the bomb