As goes the age-old adage about any one place where you stand still for long enough, Berlin isn’t what it used to be. It’s a city that had seen countless regime changes since it was founded in the 13th century (not mentioning the three in the 30 years between World War I and II) long before it was synonymous with the emancipatory club culture that occupied the abandoned power stations, warehouses and office buildings post-reunification. Within the contemporary reality of accelerated capital, however, the very vibrant art and music scenes that have flourished around these often industrial or working-class areas has succumbed to the common cancer of gentrification and corporate crawl. Where once there were cooperatives, are now shared workspaces; where there used to be squats, now stand well-appointed pre-war apartments for rent on Airbnb.
At one and a half years old, Traumabarundkino does something different. It’s barely six months older than the new build on the old railway yard where it’s situated—between the Hauptbanhof central train station and government district of Berlin-Mitte—and yet it still holds space for the dynamic underground community it both supports and promotes. Wedged between a billiard hall, an architecture firm and a CrossFit centre, the relatively new hybrid venue has come to represent a haven of the old Berlin within the corporatised urban development around it since June 2018. The bar and cinema played host to 3hd Festival’s club night and screening program in October this year, where musicians and producers, artists and filmmakers performed and screened work in the dimly lit and grated interior. Hyph11E, bod [包家巷] and Sophie presented DJ sets, while Yen Tech, Curl and Akinola Davis Jr. played live in the encompassing multidisciplinary environment located on the East Berlin border.
Away from the usual subcultural centres of Neukölln and Kreuzberg, the diverse programming of Traumabarundkino has seen it collaborate with a spectrum of creative organisations and artists. It spans progressive showcases by CTM, Room 4 Resistance and LSDXOXO‘s Floorgasm event series, and the more established avant-garde of musicians like Alva Noto, Anne-James Chaton and New Age modular synth legend Suzanne Ciani. In its short history, coucou chloé, Golin, Faka and Giant Swan; Juliana Huxtable, Ziúr, Angel-Ho and Gabber Modus Operandi have played, along with a special event by Amnesia Scanner, Bill Kouligas and Harm Van Den Dorpel‘s Lexachast project. More recently, London-based producer Klein landed for the Berlin leg of her Lifetime album tour with Australian Bedouin Records artist Corin and Objects Limited affiliate Rui Ho. The list goes on.
Traumabarundkino’s relative isolation from the distinct networks and closed communities of East Berlin’s underground allows it to explore art removed of its usual context and in opposition to the venue’s very corporate environs outside. While the nearby Quartier Heidestrasse describes its mission as a “sustainable and future-proof” centre with all the amenities, this subversive pocket applies a similarly multipurpose approach to serving its entirely non-conformist ends. With an eye for running it independently in the near future, Traumabarundkino’s developing film program has screened Zach Blas’ rumination on internet-enabled state oppression and accelerated capitalism in ‘Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033’. Artists Constant Dullaart and Jesper Just have shown work too, while queer dance and fashion has also found a home within the unconventional confines of the bunker-like space on the margins.
In reverence to this spirit of community, collaboration and survival in the face of capitalism’s neo-colonial imperative, Traumabarundkino will be presenting a night of contrasts headlined by ‘Birmingham sound’ industrial techno producer Surgeon’s The Transcendence Orchestra project with Daniel Bean on December 13. Their ambient drone uses electronics alongside esoteric instruments to explore its effect on consciousness, in the same way that Caterina Barbieri and Carlo Maria Amadio’s Punctum support looks at perception within minimal composition and analogue synths. Beirut-born, Chicago-raised Club Chai artist Thoom reflects on the constantly shifting landscape of the politically volatile Lebanese capital through her tense constructions of Arabic percussion crossing themes of Midwest American industry. Closing with a specialist DJ set from sound artist and composer Hatam, the event is just one of many evidences that the radical potential of art is still there, you just have to look harder to find it.**