Life In Berlin: The Haus

May 2, 2017

In one room stand a pair of colossal feet and legs, as though a giant has burst through the ceiling of the building and is standing in the sky above. In another room, there’s a huge hardcore pornographic fresco created not with a paintbrush, but with spray paint. Another room is a dizzying geometric swirl of patterns created using colored tape.

I asked Kimo, one third of the collective Die Dixons, how to describe their latest and biggest project yet: The Haus.

“It’s a temporary exhibition, a galaxy of urban art where you can find different planets you haven’t seen before,” he tells me.

Inside The Haus, an art takeover by the collective Die Dixons.
Credit Courtesy of The Haus

It’s actually a former bank on posh Kudamm slated for demolition in June — Die Dixons managed to arrange an urban art takeover with 165 invited artists on five floors before it goes.

“We have Gucci, Prada, and then we have the Haus," Kimo says. "It’s 165 artists from 17 nations, all people we know or friends of friends. There was not so much time for invitations, we just had time to call people and say, 'We have cans, we have beer, we have building material, let’s do it.'”

It’s a total sensory overload. I step into an open closet filled with sand and bathed in blue light. On the walls are an intricately painted coral reef, above, the sculpted tail of a mermaid. That’s from artist Amanda Arrou-Tea. Her husband, Guillermo S. Quintana, an artist from Mexico City, also leads some of the guided tours.

“With kids, it’s, 'Woah, cool,' you know," Quintana tells me. "With adults it's, 'Ahhhh.'”

Many artists tell me basically the same thing:

“I’m a kid in the body of a 33 year old,” Quintana says.

A graffiti artist readying The Haus for its opening day.
Credit Courtesy of The Haus

“For some reason, I never grew up. It’s mad," says an artist that goes by the name Disturbanity. “Matthias Gephart is my bourgeois name."

He’s been in Berlin’s graffiti scene since the late 80s.

“The funny thing is, of course I have been confronted with the law and the police. Today, the city of Berlin has paid me several times to teach kids the art of graffiti. I love it — their smiling faces. Their enthusiasm is similar to mine. When a child is asking me, 'The B of my name, can it be an octopus?' I say, 'It HAS TO BE.' This is about fantasy.”

The Haus is open for visits and tours until May 31st.