Art, Music and the Unexpected: My Berlin Pop-Up

A female friend helps me avert indignity.

Some truths about Berlin, my second home: Artists can express themselves in almost any way they damn well please; police give you a lot of wiggle room until you cross the line; and young men will relieve themselves in public parks. Nonetheless, I was not expecting for all of them to manifest before me at once. Lo, one day they did.

On a harmless sunny day in August 2011, I did a pop-up performance and display, called an “Aktion” in German, there at Montbijou Park. It was a minor feat that it happened at all. They were about to tear down a three-walled building where they had just held a large juried public art show. Rain foiled me three times, but on August 26, the sun shone. The gig was on.

I hastily called a few friends, rented a PA, brought my art, and set up with my buddy Jaro Straub’s help. In front the Berlin Frieze,  a 96-foot wide piece consisting of 100 portraits I took one day on the street in Berlin, I ran through some covers: Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC, and Eurythmics.


The frieze in a gallery.

There were about 10-20 people there over the course of the 30-minute show, brought to an early end by complaints by the neighbors to the very tolerating German police, who waited as long as they could. A number of people ignored me, which also was fun somehow.

The main event, as it were, was the sudden interference of a young Berliner who decided to heed the call of nature then and there on the wall behind me as I performed. Apparently this wall had  provided relief to many. Perhaps the boy was hearing some sort of canine call to mark where he had before. To my rescue came Tatiana, Jaro’s girlfriend and herself an accomplished artist, who removed the dirty dog with his tail between his legs.

Thus, the gig had everything. Rock is a beautiful thing.

A full song, with some movin and shakin’:

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