Those of you who are on the hunt for street art, cannot avoid Friedrichshain; it is a stronghold for graffiti, stencils, cut-outs and installations of local, national and international street artists. In times of cold war and German division, Friedrichshain was a neighbourhood of the eastern part of Germany and part of the Capital of GDR. 2001 it was joined with Kreuzberg to Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and then the hype began and Friedrichshain changed to the hippest place to be for tourists and to live at. Gentrification moved in and even the last neglected real estate will mutate to built-up areas in the near future. The process has already begun; one building site follows the next excavation pit. But they are still there, in the streets, the discarded TV sets, matrasses, furniture and skeletons of old bikes. And the squatted buildings and alternative life plans too.
Friedrichshain is almost endless. I very often have made the mistake to start at Warschauer Straße, with the result that I didn’t get farer than East Side Gallery, Revaler Straße and RAW. These locations are packed with street art and always put the brake on my plans. I decided to avoid this area this time. Better start at Ostkreuz and walk Boxhagener Straße, to get more of Friedrichshain. Just around the corner, off the station, I was already expected by my Berlin guide Phatty, who was dressed in a judo suit, ready to defend my life. This kind of protection is not necessary, exploring Boxhagener Straße or Friedrichshain in the morning. Most of the shutters of bars and restaurants are closed, good for taking pictures of the paintings, which are hidden, when the shutters are open and only a few tourists were on their way. My way up Boxhagener Straße was stopped several times by those designed Litfaßsäulen, my Berlin friend had already reported of, some time ago. I was lucky to find a number of the old advertising columns, even if I have to say that I did not expect to find them untouched. At least I found one, designed by DAVE THE CHIMP, which points out the problems of non affordable rents and seemed to be highly respected. I reached Niederbarnimstraße and the renownd Cinnema Intimes in the late afternoon. The light already faded and I decided to come back again, to have a better chance to see this extraordinary wall with it’s paste-ups, stencils and installations with better lighting. How good that there was a nice restaurant & cafe at the cinema. As usual, I simply had forgotten to eat or drink.