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From the S-Bahn ring to Breitscheidplatz at Bahnhof Zoo, the two Kantstraßes are a good 3 km long. They take us from the rough functional architecture around the Messedamm intersection into the Wilhelminian architecture of Charlottenburg to the ‘City West’.
I live around here * , a few hundred metres north of ‘Neue Kantstraße’ (which becomes ‘Kantstraße’ from Amtsgerichtsplatz).
In Kanstraße there are great venues – cinemas, pubs, restaurants, shops, etc. – I’ve always frequented since I’ve lived in Berlin. Since June 2020, I’ve walked down the street again and again in the evenings, sometimes just for a short bit, sometimes the whole length.
I stop somewhere and draw
Black ink is made of soot, water and a binder and it is good for lines, shadows and night. Watercolours are made with pigments and binders, water and they become coloured ink. There are ‘technical inks’, like acrylics and such, they are in felt tip pens and some glow, I paint streetlights with them.
With ink, paper and brushes I sit in the street. It takes me about an hour to fill a sheet. Time to look and listen.
I have arranged here these sheets (with the notes I took on the spot) geographically, from west to east, to match my walking direction along the street.
I draw them spontaneously, not in order. In the book,dates and times, summer, autumn, winter and spring are mixed together.
June 2020-July 2021
In June 2020, I visit McDonalds on the corner of Kant and Wilmersdorferstraße with my daughter. We go upstairs to eat and talk. We can go shopping now, we have all fought a pandemic together, restricted ourselves but now it will soon be like before. Outside, the early summer sun shines on the houses.
A day later I go back there alone and sketch the view. I like drawing a place repeatedly, I identify Kantstraße as my subject and now will return here more often in the evening to draw.
The pandemic had not finished, I draw through two more ‘waves ’, now in July 2021 the street is full again and we wonder how the autumn will be like.
The drawings in this book were all done after 18:00, ‘after work’ for many (e.g. me). Most of the time, at least by the end of the drawing, it was night and the sky was dark.
What doesn’t glow at night is grey, black, blue, purple. Lights are coloured.
People are on the street, walking, exercising, talking, shopping – if allowed – eating, drinking, watching a movie, dancing. Or they sell food and beer, drive buses or deliver food. Or they collect returnable bottles.
I am outside to sketch in ink.
#6 – 4 January 2021
At the western end of Neue Kanstrasse is the passageway underpass at the intersection with Masurenallee and Messedamm. At the moment, there are no longer any legible pedestrian signs. Instead, there are various objects that can be jumped over and slid along, and a large group of skaters are playing on them. You can hear their loud clacking sound outside far away from the tunnel’s exits
#8 – 4 May 2021
Jeffrey takes a break and we talk. He’s been skateboarding for far too long, he says, since ’97, but he enjoys it too much. They come down here when it rains. In good weather, they go outside, for example to a skate park near a youth centre in Spandau. In winter they are down here more often and also because of the smooth floor. Most of the time it works fine, but sometimes the police come. Generally nobody comes, only when there’s a trade fair and now sometimes because of the vaccination centre upstairs. Skating has been going on here since ICC was built in 1969, he says. We also talk about calligraphy (he’s learning at the moment), paper, swan feathers and brushes, anime.
#10 – 11 April 2021
Coming from the Messekreuz, Neue Kantstraße crosses the railway circle line (Ringbahn) and the motorway at the Ostpreußenbrücke. I stand with my back to the congress centre on the wall to the motorway. Cars, lorries and ambulances pass below me, alongside the occasional train with construction equipment (for track construction work). The street lamps make the drizzle appear yellow
#12 – 12 December 2020
There is a bus stop in front of the exit of the S-station Messe Nord. It is on the Ostpreußenbrücke in Neue Kantstraße with the Ringbahn between both lanes of the motorway below. I see a lot of sky above the motorway, a dirty dark blue. When trains pass by, the bridge vibrates.They bring new people to wait and regularly be swallowed up by the big yellow buses.
#14 – 1 December 2020
There is a snack bar by the motorway bridge. Currently one is not allowed to eat inside, but one can sit behind it at the base of the motorway railing. On the small car park there are rubbish containers. The sign on the back wall says ‘Snack Box’ which was the previous name of the snack bar, now called ‘Enjoy Kebab’, but the old sign is good enough for the dark car park. Through the trees on the square the advertisement of the Chinese restaurant ‘Sonne’ [sun] shines yellow – it doesn’t heat and neither does the (almost) full white moon in the sky above the houses.[sun] shines yellow – it doesn’t heat and neither does the (almost) full white moon in the sky above the houses.
#16 – 14 January 2021
The Neue Kantstraße embankment divides the Lietzensee in two parts. A concrete footbridge leads through a tunnel above the narrow canal that connects the two parts of the lake. The tunnel is illuminated and a little bit of light shines from the street lamps down through the trees onto the path by the lake. Every now and then couples pass by on their evening walks.
#18 – 13 March 2021
On the corner of Trendelenburgstraße and Neue Kantstraße, the Norman Deli is brightly lit and not quite tidied up yet. It looks warm, but it’s already closed and and it only opens for take away currently anyway. It’s windy outside the window.
#20 – 11 February 2021
The Edeka on the corner of Witzlebenstrasse is open late and it lits up the advertising post. There are posters for rock concerts that might take place later in the year.
#22 – 20 December 2020
The lights of the Amtsgerichtsplatz are reflected in the front windows of the boutique hotel dark lobby. The 60s tiled hotel is closed. At the bus stop in front of it, buses stop every few minutes.
#24 – 8 April 2021
On the corner of Amtsgerichtsplatz, there is a small house made of red-painted wood over a quarry stone base on Kantstraße. Inside, there is a crêpe shop which is closed.
#26 – 27 January 2021
FOTO Schilling – The shutter at the entrance is only lowered a quarter of the way (possibly jammed). A street lamp casts shadows of a street tree on the façade and pavement.
#28 – 18 February 2021
‘Grundbuchamt Charlottenburg’ (Charlottenburg’s Land Registry) is still written above the door of the house at Kantstraße 79, but it probably isn’t here any more. Back at home I find out that it used to be a branch of the district court with a women’s prison. Now it looks unused and has construction works in front of it.
#30 – 26 February 2021
On the corner of Windscheidstraße and Kantstraße is a kiosk with densely packed shop windows. There are magazines (Schöne Woche, Bravo, Bravo Girl, Geld Idee, Garten Idee and others), tobacco, stationery, comics (Asterix), decorative items, drinks of course, and opening hours. Those are not current, as a group of thirsty young men outside the door are astonished to discover.
#32 – 30 January 2021
A Hako Citymaster 600 with a snowbrush attachment parks at Kantstraße.
#34 – 30 September 2020
At the corner of Kantstraße/Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße. Behind me, there is a late night shop. From time to time people appear with drinks to have outside. In front of me runs still the pop-up cycle path, the establishment of which is ‘insufficiently justified’ according to a recent court ruling. It is well used by e-scooters, bicycles and food delivery people with their cubic backpacks on e-bikes.
#36 – 28 March 2021
The yellow sausage stall is almost at Stuttgarter Platz -‘Stutti’ – just like the late night shop I’m squatting in front of. People are standing in front of the shop, talking. The guy at the snack bar is drinking cocoa with his chips.
#38 – 28 October 2020
In front of the Asian supermarket on the corner of Kant-/Friedrichstraße serrated leaves lie about fallen. The supermarket is still open and light inside at first, at nine it closes and will soon be dark. In my field of vision there are only lime trees, but 15 metres behind me there is a tree, with leaves like those on the pavement – I think they are maple, or something similar, but based on a leaf photo on Instagram I stand corrected to the superior botanical knowledge: Quercus rubra, that is American oak or red oak.
#40 – 22 June 2021
At the junction Kant- / Kaiser-Friedrichstraße, almost midnight. It’s summer and warm.
#42 – 25 March 2021
On the side-walk in front of ‘Korean Chicken & Bowls’, delivery cyclists wait next to their orange box backpacks and people collecting their own takeaway food.
#44 – 21 January 2021
In the shop window of ‘Fitness Oase’there is a muscular plastic guy standing next to plastic containers, labeled something like ’nutri’ or ‘zero’. Next door, in ‘Café Pelmeni’, the food on the menu boards does not look ‘zero’. It’s dark in there, unfortunately. The ‘Open’ LED sign in the window of the ‘Oasis’ is also dark.
#46 – 22 April 2021
A bit of pavement, parked cars. Residents coming home.
#48 – 16 June 2020
During a visit to McDonalds, I was struck by the view from the top floor of the junction of Kant and Wilmersdorferstraße. Tonight I’m just here to watch – elegant rows of windows, historical lettering above the ‘shopping street’. In the fast food restaurant radio music is playing, now and then someone goes to the toilet here on the upper floor or employees clear away stuff, but nobody is bothered by the guy with the coffee and the ink cup..
#50 – 27 October 2020
At half past eleven I drink coffee alone at one of the McDonald’s tables on the corner of Wilmersdorfer and Kantstraße and look through the window: Outside people drink milkshakes, eat and gesture.
#52 – 7 October 2020
The U-Bahn entrance on the southern side of the junction Wilmersdorfer / Kantstraße shines up yellow. From time to time, the lift takes figures down, visible through foggy layers of glass.
#54 – 19 June 2020
Friday night I sit by a street lamp near the Wilmersdorferstraße exit of the underground . Next to me there is a pile of electric scooters, their taillights shining red, ready for rent. To the left, people go to the underground or come out, and then the escalator starts, screeching.
#56 – 29 July 2020
At the crossing, Pestalozzi-/ Wilmersdorfer Straße is the ball fountain, which is compulsory in shopping areas. At nine o’clock some late shoppers are still walking around or sitting on the benches.
#58 – 29 July 2020
The construction fences of the building site in the direction of Kantstraße create a small square, with a cast iron drinking fountain within it. From half-past nine onwards it gets darker, passers-by head out or home or to collect bottle deposits. One guy is waiting for his mate, who comes out from one of the closed shops.
#60 – 25 July 2021
Sunday evening in front of the Shawarma shop by the bus stop at the Wilmersdorfer Straße intersection. A group of young men are standing together, only one has ordered food and they talk until he is finished before everyone gets on the bus.
#62 – 6 July 2020
On the sidewalk electric scooters with large insulated boxes behind their seats are parked in front of the restaurants . Tables are gradually moved in, it is already midnight. A man smokes one more cigarette before he drives away in his car. I am squatting on the cinema steps and there are scheduled times again in the posters displayed on its walls.
#64 – 8 January 2020
Friday evening, currently you can only look at Kant cinema from outside instead of watching something inside. Next door, in the restaurant, people are picking up food and a small van loads dinners for delivery. The sign above the cinema entrance has movable letters and wishes Health and Solidarity. And ‘without art and culture it is quiet’. – Yes!
#66 – 20 July 2021
The man at the next table in front of the ‘Bull Späti’ is very seriously engrossed in something. At some point he goes into the shop. A man gets out of the car with a bag of empty bottles and comes back a little later with full bottles and drives away. Another nestles a FFP2 mask out of the packaging before also buying his beer.
#68 – 4 June 2021
From today, it is again legal to eat outside without a negative rapid test, i.e. to stand around with open beer bottles in front of the Bull Späti.
#70 – 29 July 2020
At the corner of Kant-Krumme Straße there is a late-night shop with two short beer tables in front of it. Cars (or the like) on the sidewalk.
#72 – 1 May 2021
In front of the Shiso Burger on the corner of Krumme Straße and Kantstraße, customers and a few food delivery riders are waiting. They stand impatiently next to their bikes and keep looking at their phones, checking orders and planning trips. Other customers stand together in a holiday mood with a drink and eat their burgers.
#74 -22 July 2021
Through the window I watch the Korean barbecue restaurant Han BBQ being tidied up. There is still a little light, the restaurant has cooking stations at the tables, over each of which hang metal hoods. Stools made of tin barrels stand upside down on the tables, a young woman and a young man work intently. He comes out with one of the stools, I’m welcome to sit on it, he says. Thank you!
#76 – 15 July 2021
In front of the late-night shop Kant 123 there is now a couch made of Euro pallets covered with grey cushions. A tall man is talking loudly and cheerfully with two women. I can’t make out the language. He keeps going into the shop to get more beer. One woman sees me drawing and comes over to have a look. I’ve already drawn the man and she recognises him, she says that’s her boyfriend. The three of them continue to party. Now and then they come over to look at the drawing. I ask the first woman – she also speaks German – what language they speak together: Mongolian, no one would ever recognise that. One probably doesn’t hear it that often. She has lived in Berlin for a long time.
#78 – 25 May 2021
It’s raining and I stand in the driveway next to the new Lokma shop. A couple is smoking in here, waiting for the the rain to stop. When I finish, the two salesmen are sitting on the concrete base of the construction power line on the sidewalk. I ask them if they are still open, they are not, but one of them gets me a Lokma with hazelnut and white chocolate to try.
#80 – 17 June 2020
The Korean takeaway closes at 10:00. The woman, who had been waiting for customers in the narrow kitchen behind the sales window, comes out and clears the tables. I move with my Korean beer and my ink to the nearby power box, when she carries my bar table in too. The light goes out. A slim woman passing by slowly and unstoppably transforms into a black, massive and shapeless ghost before my eyes. In the dark I did not notice how wet the paper still was.
#82 – 28 August 2020
Another warm night in front of the Korean streetfood place ‘Sonkitchen’ in Kantstraße. People buy take away food or eat at the bar tables.
#84 – 18 May 2021
The food delivery lady waits on the step of the entrance next to the ‘Son Kitchen’ for food to be delivered while she checks her phone.
#86 – 16 June 2020
The ‘Kantgarage’ (behind me on the left) is having construction work done. The electricity for the works is supplied by a line connected to tubular steel posts. The posts are stuck in red-and-white striped concrete cylinders (which are comfortable to sit on). A recent yellow marked ‘Pop-up cycle path’ makes the Kantstraße available for cyclists without danger.
#88 – 27 May 2021
The construction site for the conversion of the ‘Kantgaragen’ is getting cramped for pedestrians, cyclists and cars. I am standing behind a beacon. Cars and bicycles pass me on the right and left.
#90 – 6 May 2021
Last customers are waiting in front of the bubble tea place. At nine it closes and empties out.
#92 – 3 January 2020
At the railway bridge over Leibnizstraße snowflakes are melting in the puddles. The windows of houses and trains shine yellow.
#94 – 22 October 2020
There is scaffolding on the house at the corner of Kant-/Leibnizstrasse. Beacons and construction lights are placed on the scaffolding posts to the right and left of the walkway passage for orientation. The opticians window, full of spectacles, shines brightly into the passageway.
#96 – 31 March 2021
There is a folding chair in front of the 24h-shop on Kantstraße between Leibnizstraße and Wielandstraße. The shopkeeper or his girlfriend take shifts sitting there.
#98 – 31 July 2021
There is a party tonight at the ‘New West Club’ next to this late-night shop. Only small groups of clubbers (with negative tests) are allowed in. The others wait and some come out to get some air and get drinks at the Späti. In front of it, party guests and late-night regulars sit next to each other. One guy is crouching on a beer crate next to the door. He ignores to the hustle and bustle and only moves to buy new cold beer now and then. He does not react even when police officers come and are not let into the club at first, and in the meantime the whole section of the street is cordoned off . After the police are finally let in, their checks are quickly over, apparently everything is in order, the party can go on. The Späti, however, has to ‘clear his terrace’ at two in the morning and the owner carries his two folding chairs into the shop.
#100 – 26 November 2020
Nine p.m. a house with a closed Chinese restaurant at street level, with balconies with lit windows above and Kantstrasse and a few leaves in front.
#102 – 15 February 2021
The restaurants on the corner of Wieland- / Kantstraße are closed. There is snow about and as I draw the houses on Kantstraße more and more small hard flakes fall onto the paper.
#104 – 9 June 2021
Tuesday evening. The tables in front of the restaurants are all occupied (inside is empty because tests are compulsory and it is sunny outside). People on the street look for free seats.
#106 – 31 October 2020
Motorbikes at the corner of Kant- / Wielandstraße. Across the street, restaurants serve their last dishes before Lockdown starts in November.
#108 – 2 September 2021
There is a plain modernist house on Kantstraße | corner Schlüterstraße. Access to the apartments is via access balconies along Kantstraße that run above a low glass façade that has been pushed outwards. It is all within easy reach, including the balcony railings, from the roof of the porch, with several layers of graffiti. Chic gastronomy shines through between the letters on the glass panes. I ask customers who keep coming out to smoke – a Japanese restaurant, 893 Ryōtei.
#110 – 23 December 2020
The dining room behind the windows is dark, the chairs are upside down on the tables. Around the corner, down Schlüterstraße, there is a bright shop, the ‘NGO KIM PAK’, that is doing takeaway.
There is a small arcade along Kantstraße, the upper floor cantilevers over the pavement at the corner. I’m sitting underneath it, about half past eight in the evening, on a planter. It is dry here, it is drizzling on the street. Passers-by. A man with two terrier-like dogs on leashes stops next to me and one of the dogs yaps fearfully at me. The man looks absently somewhere and stays there for a long time, the dog keeps yapping until the man moves on.
#112 – 9 May 2021
In front of the NGO KIM PAK. It’s almost summer, and where there are usually tables, people are squatting and waiting for food. Later in the evening I learn that this Korean cooking shop and the ‘Funky Fish’ next door are connected. They are run, just like ‘893 Ryotei’ around the corner and ‘Madame Ngo’ and ‘Kuchi’ opposite, by chef The Duc Ngo and his family. The Kuchi is also currently selling outside, the other restaurants are closed.
It closes around nine. Two cooks, Jun and Timo, take a break in front of the shop, before they clean up. They are very nice and we talk. Today was busier than expected – Sundays are usually slow. I let slip that ‘despite the pandemic, there was a lot going on’. Timo gives me a rather distracted look and explains to me how it looks for restaurateurs – namely …. . He is also pleased that it now seems as if restaurants could open outdoors soon, but not too pleased. they have experienced a lot recently and are careful. (By the way, he is in favour of consistent protective measures, not hasty openings, and thinks that these would have helped a lot).
Timo used to do graffiti, but as a cook he no longer has time for it. I was allowed to have a quick look inside, it is a very nice place and will come back as soon as I can.
#116 – 29 July 2020
Kant- corner Schlüterstraße. It is very dark behind the closed kiosk. When I return in spring 2021, the kiosk has gone and the pavement is being replaced where it had been.
#118 – 7 October 2020
Under the S-Bahn bridge over Bleibtreustraße, there is a three car wide parking ban due to sewers work. But only until 6 pm, and yet noone looking for a parking space here want to park on my feet – I’m sitting on the curb (I don’t know if it is politeness or because there’s a ban again tomorrow at 7 am).
In front of the closed pub behind me, someone has made himself very homely with an umbrella and various stuff. When asked by passers-by, he kindly explains that he’s been living there for months, the pub doesn’t open anymore, there’s a new house coming up.
He comes to me to tell me that I am sitting in the piss. He – he points to a guy who sleeps on a mattress lying on the sidewalk – always pisses there. I have a piece of foam as seat cushion and now it’s too late anyway. Lucky, and true, he says.
#120 – 28 November 2020
At the corner of Bleibtreu- / Kantstraße. Now and then men carry empty crates from the corner greengrocer’s shop into a van. The van drives away and cars stop, the drivers order food from ‘Zaim Falafel’ (next to the greengrocer’s shop). Other people are standing in front of it, some eat and most wait – in the snack bar you only come to pay. It is cold.
#122 – 22 February 2021
At the bottom of the trunk of a street tree in Bleibtreustraße are small buds on fresh shoots.
#124 – 17 September 2020
At Savignyplatz there is a taxi stand with a queue of taxis and a call box. The cars leave about every quarter of an hour (mostly without passengers, but probably called somewhere).
#126 – 31 October 2020
I sit down on a bench in Savignyplatz, on the corner of Grolmannstraße. In front of me a mighty plane tree is growing out of its treehole. At first I only hear street noises, slightly muffled. Bottle (deposit) collectors pass by, one of them has a lighter and looks under the benches and curses, no bottles and he has burnt his fingers. Then I hear young people on the next bench, music and party-like talk. From somewhere else, men come from time to time, looking for suitable places to piss and thinking they’ve found some. Under the plane tree it is quite dark, city lights shine colour marks into the black and white.
#128 – 2 February 2021
‘Jeanne Mammen Bogen’ runs from a passageway in Grolmanstraße behind the S-Bahn parallel to Kantstraße and ends at Uhlandstraße in front of a construction site. A house on Fasanenstraße can be seen between the new building and the railway. When construction finishes, the path will probably remain.
#130 – 23 March 2021
Between Uhland- and Fasanenstraße, the window of a Tchibo shop shines warmly onto the pavement of Kantstraße. Red neon lettering is reflecting on the dark window of the bed shop next to it – ‘raB siraP’
#132 – 4 February 2021
I sit under the plane trees in front of the Delphi Filmpalast. The Quasimodo Bar is dark inside, posters of cancelled concerts are on display on the stairs to the jazz club. The cinema entrance is lit and closed.
#134 – 24 June 2020
Wednesday evening at ten o’clock the entrance to the almost always open ‘Verbrauchermarkt’ [consumer market] under the tracks between Kantstraße and Bahnhof Zoo is obviously illuminated. The Currywurst stand next to it is also open and it is warm and people are strolling by.
#136 -28 December 2020
Kant- / Joachimsthalerstraße. Down Joachimsthaler you can see the ‘Zoofenster’ and the train station. Primark in the basement of the building opposite bravely pretends to just be closed at the end of normal day.
#138 – 6 January 2021
Before merging into Budapester Straße, Kantstraße swings to the left, its extension to Breitscheidplatz is secured with ‘truck blocs’. The cinema and mall glow discreetly warm and try to get people in the mood for a reopening soon. A food delivery man on a bicycle with a thermo box is waiting at the traffic lights. He wears a thick anorak and his cap low on his face.