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Top 5! Enjoy Berlin culture in captivity

CULTURE TIPS! Berlin's cultural centres might be physically closed, but that doesn't mean you have to binge on junk TV in your quarantine pad! Instead, enjoy Berlin's virtual offerings - there are plenty. Here's five to get you started.

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Photo courtesy of the artist and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Olbricht Collection, Photo Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf. Catch Nicole Eisenman’s “Mining II” on a virtual visit to me Collectors Room Berlin.

This time of social distancing and isolation might seem to bring with it a cultural dry spell: theatres, concert halls and museums are closed until at least April 19. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to junk TV or chores around your quarantine pad. Here are five great ways to enjoy Berlin culture from home. 

1. Catch a performance!

International production house HAU (Hebbel am Ufer) tends to have a wide range of offerings from theatre and dance to music and art, but since performances in their physical locations have been postponed, they are now operating as a “social theatre laboratory.” Over the coming days, they’ll be adapting workshops, shows, and music for the digital sphere and streaming it all on YouTube. Learn about how “cephalopod intelligence is alien intelligence” watching filmmaker James Bridel’s Se ti sabir, or take part in a tutorial on how to create an Instagram face filter with media artist Alla Popp, both available now as VODs. If you’re missing live music in Berlin, be sure to check out the brooding electronic chaos of Tadleeh tonight (March 20) at 11:00pm. With the breadth of topics and formats HAU has to offer, there will surely be something for everyone.

2. Check a concert!

Mitte concert hall Pierre Boulez Saal is keeping the music alive through this global intermission by streaming a selection of their past concerts for free. Practice some auditory escapism by finding your best speakers (or headphones!), closing your eyes, and listening to the sounds of a different time. Starting Saturday, March 21, at 6:00 pm, you can see a performance celebrating French impressionist composer Claude Debussy, or watch the Great Britain based Belcea Quartet perform Schubert on Monday, March 23, also at 6:00 pm. If you prefer a more visual experience, you can take a tour of their hall here

3. Stream an opera!

The box office of Deutsche Oper Berlin is closed for the time being, but in true spirit of “the show must go on,” they’re offering a programme of on-demand video, with each production available for 48 hours from their homepage for free. Escape the confines of the city and follow a cast of characters through a village’s seasons with Janácek’s Jenufa, put on by German stage director Christof Loy, available through March 21. From then until the 23rd you can enjoy Wagner’s Rienzi, based on the life of Nicola Gabrini, an Italian populist who outwitted nobles and spread anti-establishment ideals. If you have kids, or are just in the mood for something lighter, you can watch Brigitte Dethier’s The Snow Queen through March 24. Be sure to take a look at the DOB’s online schedule to stay informed about what’s on next.

4. See an exhibition!               

Their physical space is closed until further notice, but me Collectors Room Berlin is offering you a free digital visit of their two current exhibitions: Gerhard Richter – Abstract works from the Olbricht Collection, including 29 paintings and prints by Germany’s most famous contemporary artist, and MOVING ENERGIES – 10 years me Collectors Room Berlin (both through May 17). The virtual tour recreates the collector’s private rooms in large glassed in stage sets stuffed with mostly contemporary pieces by the likes of Katharina Grosse and Cindy Sherman alongside other finds, including a 15th century etching by Albrecht Dürer as well as French Art Nouveau vases and romantic landscape paintings. It takes a bit of patience to identify what you’re looking at while navigating through the Google-based interface, but lists of the works make it possible. On your ‘visit’, you can also check out a video tour through Olbricht’s famous Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) with English subtitles. And to top it off, there’s a digital scavenger hunt worksheet for kids too covering the current exhibitions.

5. Raid the library or book shop!

If you’re short on reading material and have already made your way through EXB’s March issue (get your free PDF solidarity copy on exberliner.com if you haven’t already), you can still use Berlin’s public libraries to access e-books (though this ‘shelf’ has been raided already, only 33 books in English available at the moment!) and audio books (looking better with more than 500 English titles for all ages and from all genres, including some classics that have probably been on your watchlist forever) through the Overdrive platform. If you don’t have a library card, you can get a one-year membership online for €10 (pay with debit or credit card) and you’re good to go!

Alternatively, support your local book shops, which can order you any book you like overnight and in some cases (including Kreuzberg’s Dante Connection, Prenzlauer Berg’s Uslar & Rai, and Pankow’s Pankebuch) have set up their own bike delivery to bring them to your doorstep.