Adrian Nabi, Friedrich Merz im Bierzelt und wie man netter wird

In the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, there is currently an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of this important municipal art institution. It is called Voicing Bethanien. There are numerous video interviews on display, featuring 40 individuals who have shaped this place and share their life stories – from growing up with a strict Japanese mother to being a child of Yugoslavian guest workers, growing up in Iceland, and the experiences of gay individuals in the cultural scene, and so on.

Sonya Schönberger created the videos. The Berlin artist explores „biographical ruptures against the backdrop of political and social upheavals“ in her works. And that is really not easy to consume because there is a threshold, as screens always seem so lifeless and headphones imply a transition into another world. And then the videos also undergo somewhat simplistic attempts at organization under slogan-like, almost empty terms such as „participating,“ „solidarity,“ or „coexistence.“ But they are truly good exercises in the most important human discipline: engaging with one another.

Natürlich fängt man meist erst mit denen an, die man kennt. Künstler und Musiker Wolfgang Müller vielleicht oder die Kuratorin Susanne Weiß von der ifa-Galerie. Für meine Berlin-Kultur-Sozialisation ein bisschen wichtiger war aber Adrian Nabi, von dem es auch ein Video gibt. Glücklicherweise, denn in den letzten Jahren fiel nicht selten der Satz: „Was macht Adrian Nabi eigentlich?“

He tells the story of how he got into hip-hop, how he got into graffiti, how he made money as a gum dealer in discos (true story!), how his parents separated, how he ran away from home, lived on the streets, how his father changed his name to sound more German. How he came to Islam, how he got into drugs, how he oscillated between prayer rugs and paid sex. And how he now reflects on his past aggressiveness. This is all very interesting if you are interested in broken life paths. And it is incredibly helpful to be open-minded and not make quick judgments about people. This is important for unity. And if Friedrich Merz had a bit of interest in being a nice person who cares about the world and the country, he would listen to these Kreuzberg stories that he recently excluded from Germany in a beer tent. But apparently he didn’t.

Therefore, let’s continue with Adrian and the wonderful things: What is more important is that Adrian tells us how he traveled to New York, conducted interviews with graffiti artists there, and brought all that knowledge back to Berlin. He met Stéphane Bauer, the director of the art space since 2002, and eventually convinced him that graffiti is now important. Bauer secured funding, and Adrian felt like a kid in a candy store, where he could fill his bag with treats: he invited all the important street art and graffiti artists, such as Banksy when he was still cool, and organized the Backjumps exhibition at Bethanien.

Afterwards, not only did the neighborhood and the hallways in Bethanien look more colorful, but as a young person, one also had the great feeling of being taken seriously in a subculture. There was a fantastic party in Bethanien, everything had a colorful lightness. And former so-called writers say that no one was more important for the scene in Berlin than Adrian. So it is really nice to see him again in this video. (Greetings at this point!) And it is also a very good reminder of the important and diverse exhibitions that have been created in this place. With what confidence Stéphane Bauer has let happen there over the years.