The Germans are coming to DTLA, and they’re bringing their culture with them.
This year marks L.A. and Berlin's 50th as sister cities. To celebrate the milestone, Berlin and be Berlin present Berlin Lab at the Lot 613 event space located in Los Angeles’ Arts District on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 4-5.
The totally gratis two-day event features a curated collection of Berliner creatives in the fields of art, architecture, film, music, food and technology. Berlin Lab functions as the kickoff for Berlin Weeks, an event series taking place in various cultural locales around Los Angeles, with specialized programs including film screenings and talks, art exhibitions and the premiere of the television show Babylon Berlin.
The event uses both the indoor and outdoor areas of Lot 613 to host panels and workshops with discussions and interactive activities on topics including street art, German cinema, emerging music tech and the evergreen Bauhaus art movement. Southern California and Berliner host Isabella Mamatis’ famed Long Table, a newly established German tradition, functions as a communal space to exchange stories, in this case with a focus on immigration, over a meal. There will be film screenings, as well as performances by the classical music breakdancing troupe Flying Steps and Berlin-based Black Cracker and Simonne Jones alongside L.A.'s Anne Litt and Zøraya, from KCRW and dublab, respectively.
“The goal of Berlin Lab is to bring the Berlin vibe, the freedom and the spirit, to Los Angeles,” says Sarah Tietze-Kamya, the head of Berlin Campaigns and one of the organizers of the event. “The talks and panels are timed, but during the two days, you can explore Berlin and participate in a lot of exhibits.”
The highlights of Berlin Lab are the all-day installations, such as the Haus, a virtual reality tour of the five-story building that the Berliner street art crew Die Dixons transformed with their controversial work. Says Tietze-Kamya, “The Haus was the most spectacular street project Berlin had this year, and with 3-D glasses you can walk through that building. I did it today, for an hour, and I couldn’t stop.”
Another one of the untimed exhibits is the world’s biggest 3-D printer, from BigRep, as well as a 360-degree scanner from botspot where you can create a mini version of yourself. Germany’s revolutionary, interdisciplinary Bauhaus movement is featured in both its unique Tiny House microhousing exhibit as well as in the panel “100 Years of Bauhaus: How Do We Want to Live?” in which three points of view are represented by experts on the movement, including Van Bo Le Mentzel, the curator of the Tiny Bauhaus Campus in Berlin.
Of particular interest to Angelenos is the #PlayThisWall installation. #PlayThisWall is the creation of Berliner Matt Strobel and Rani Dar of Israel, who both have personal experiences with walls in their home cities. The wall functions as a music maker, that can be played on either side simultaneously by two people. There are six spots on each side of the wall that, when touched, trigger loops or samples.
“We made this interactive, collaborative wall to show music has no borders, no nations,” Strobel says. “You can play it from both sides and, even though you don’t see each other, you can be musically creative with one another. We have one in Berlin and this one that travels with us. It’s good that we’re here now because now you have issues with walls, and we’re certainly more than happy to show it to you.”
Berlin Lab in Los Angeles, Lot 613, 613 Imperial St., downtown; Wed., Oct. 4, 4-10 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 5, 11 a.m.-midnight; free. berlin-losangeles.com.