Look at photographs tracing the early days of post-reunification Berlin via its squats and subcultures in Mitte and beyond, from the photo book Berlin Wonderland
"Once upon a time, Berlin-Mitte was a wish fulfilment zone," writes David Wagner in Berlin Wonderland about the early 1990s in post-reunification Berlin, when subcultures and artist communities blossomed in squatted buildings with no phones or central heating.
Journalist Ulrike Steglich recalls the shock of monetary unification: "Literally overnight we found ourselves in a different country. I don't know how they managed to swap out all the goods in the stores within two days. But on 1 July 1990, the entire world of Western consumerism had arrived in the East," she says.
Some of those featured in the book recall the installation of two MiG planes in the centre of Berlin. "A friend of mine who ran a junkyard near Rudesdorf tipped me off about these two MiGs that had been abandoned in a forest and that nobody seemed to care about any more," says artist Peter Rampazzo, "so a group of us drove out there to have a look around. It was a restricted military zone – full of signs about getting shot with live ammunition without warning. But the whole area really had been abandoned. We found the two MiG 21 jet fighters in the middle of the woods... News about the discovery found its way back to the Mutoid Waste Company, an international artist collective. The next thing we knew, the MiGs showed up in the centre of Berlin."
"Getting the MiGs to Berlin was no easy task, not least because they weighed two tonnes each," explains the Mutoid Waste Company's heavy equipment specialist, Tom Diezel. "We used semi-trailer trucks and a mobile crane, all of which were cheaply available from East German construction companies at the time. After loading up in the woods, we rumbled into the city in a convoy with the jets and the heavy equipment. Nobody stopped us. It was a fortnight before the armed forces realised that two of their MiGs had gone missing. But by that time, the aircraft had already been turned into anti-military works of art."
"It was an extremely rare kind of time bubble," recalls author and director Peter Zach. "Everyone on the inside enjoyed being there, and people on the outside just stared in astonishment."
Berlin Wonderland traces the early days of post-reunification Berlin in previously unseen photos from 1990–1996. The book includes images from a raft of photographers, and voxpops tracing memories and the development of the scene, from early squats like IM Einer, through to bombastic found art and industrial theatre at Tacheles.
Berlin Wonderland is published by bobsairport. Photographers included are Philipp von Recklinghausen, Ben de Biel, Rolf Zöllner, Hilmar Schmundt, and Stefan Schilling.