And here's the drawing that resulted from my sketches:
The memorial and museum itself was quite amazing. I'd been there before on my previous trips to Germany, but that was before I'd read all these books on the subject of the Third Reich and had full context. Not only that, but I had the opportunity to make up for the lost photos from my last Europe trips with the sculptural half of the museum. This part of the museum is above ground, while the actual informational exhibits were underground. I found the atmosphere of the sculpture ruined by other tourists, unfortunately. There were at least two big tour groups when I got there. Some of them were playing Marco-Polo inbetween the stones, some were clambering all over them and jumping from place to place. They were laughing and carrying on. I'm quickly learning that the worst thing about visiting places like this is the other tourists. Anyway, I still took a bunch of pictures of the area.
The first day I went to this area, I got lost. I had to get to the museum by 2:30 to make the last English tour of the day, and I missed that mark considerably. On top of the fact that I spent too long at the East-Side Gallery area, and the fact that one of my train lines was running late, the Lichtenburg train station that I got off at was so confusing to navigate that I ended up exiting the station in the wrong direction, adding almost 20 minutes to the walk without knowing it. I took a tram the rest of the way and then started ambling around looking for the former prison. On the way, I passed abandoned buildings with smashed windows and covered in graffiti, tons of GDR buildings, and almost no people. It also started raining, significantly adding to how creepy it was. Certainly an art-inspiring mood, but I was so cold that I didn't take many pictures.
Admittedly, I still feel like I'm struggling to produce artwork at a steady pace. Knowing that the city of Berlin is all over me is enough of a distraction that I'll realize at the end of each day that, though I've spent plenty of time wandering and going to museums, I barely have time to really crack down on the actual art.
I've gotten good starts on five larger drawings. Two of them were just super simplistic exercises. I did a diptych of sorts using the so-called "Ampelmenschen" that are famous in Berlin. They're a subtle carry-over from East Berlin, from when the wall was still in place. Due to popular demand, they survived the "Western" post-GDR assimilation and are still all over the place in Berlin. They certainly didn't survive the communist element, though--the Ampelmenschen motif is all over merchandise here, and just about every gift shop I've seen is crammed with Ampelmenschen stuff. Actually, there's a chain of stores that specifically sells that sorta merch.
Up until then I'd been feeling like I hadn't been doing nearly as much art as I should have been doing. I still often get waves of feeling like I'm not doing well enough or only making so-so art, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of this as my trip here goes on.
I went to Checkpoint Charlie as well, thinking that it would seem like more than a tourist trap now that I had learned a lot about the history there. Nope. Not even worth posting pictures of the area. Its still a boring tourist trap with a reconstruction of the security checkpoint, featuring actors dressed as US checkpoint guards who you can take pictures with. Also an installation sign with a huge photo of an American soldier looking Eastward and a Russian soldier looking Westward, as would have been the case in the cold war days. And of course, the big sign reading ˇˇYou are now leaving the American Sector!ˇˇ I've now seen the real signs for this, so there's no need to get excited over fake ones. :)
Other than that, I've mostly just been picking favourite buildings of interest for my project. The former Luftwaffe HQ/SED administration building, where riots and protests were carried out and quashed in 1953, is a strong point of interest and I've done several sketches already. Other buildings with similar history interest me in the same way. Structures from the time of the Nazis and East German government, as well as buildings destroyed, damaged or abandoned during these times are also interesting. I think I'll soon be going underground for some bunker tours with guides. I'll try and do more actual drawn artwork, but with all this stuff to see and do, it's hard to keep focused. At least I'm able to take some photos along the way.
Here's some photos from my urban exploring to leave off on: