For Way Too Concrete IV, I presented a photo documentation and text-based inquiry into the mysterious changes that, in recent months, had affected Berlin’s advertising columns – at the start of 2019, large numbers appeared wrapped in a single coloured layer of paper, with some disappearing altogether not long after. Entitled “No other German ever had as many monuments as Ernst Litfaß”, the presentation took the form of a letter about the history of the advertising columns, addressed to their creator, and explored the implications of new forms of screen-based mediation of the city.
“Despite your dislike of messiness and your attempt to curtail this aspect of Berlin’s character that so offended you, it is it through disorder and random intervention that the columns have manifested a sort of resistance in the face of impending doom – even if, for some of them, the battle is ultimately unwinnable. Since I took that first image in January, I have gathered many more. The sight of completely unblemished coloured columns has become rarer with each passing week.
These have ranged from adverts for ceramic studios to more journalistic endeavours, from calls to protest to further meta references to the fate of the structures themselves, which seems to rather underscore the “social” life of these columns and their users and the differences between the glue-and-paper approach versus the posters-trapped-behind-Persex model. The former is more social than the latter, which seems fitting to your original intentions – early press material announcing the arrival of the columns depicted enthusiastic urban readers, physically surrounding them, literal pillars of the community.”
Way Too Concrete: Footnotes on the Spatial is a semi-regular series of screenings, lectures and discussion exploring aspects of spatial production, representation and perception – finding comedy in the academic, and the profound in the banal. Way Too Concrete was founded in 2017 by Ian Warner, Fiona Shipwright and Sandra Bartoli.