Michelle O'Brien


Warm beer, cold women

The final days of winter in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

Sepia glory

At the Neukölln Flowmarkt today I came across a worn old photo album. Inside were pages and pages of tiny square photos from what looked like the 1930s-60s, showing the history of a middle class German family in all its sepia glory – from weddings, birthdays and Christmases, to children playing, fancy dress parties and drunken celebrations. Most of the photos were not high quality but the images gave me an intense feelings of nostalgia and intimacy. How did these precious memories end up for sale at a flea market? The images below – simple snapshots from a Sunday stroll – were inspired by this old album.


Where the sweet birds sang

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”
— William Shakespeare (1609)

Berlin Art Hack

After a summer hiatus in Sydney and Vancouver, I was happy to spend my first weekend back in Berlin reacquainting myself with the city’s thriving art scene at Art Hack Day Berlin and its culminating exhibition Going Dark, hosted by the awesome guys from LEAP and co-presented by transmediale.

It was great to see so many members of Berlin’s art community out in force to support this event (over 500 I would guess), showcasing 20 works from 50 artists, all on the theme ‘Going Dark’. My favourite works were of the participatory variety, including the DARK LEAKS two-part installation where audience members typed their darkest secrets onto a computer on one side of the exhibition, whilst a tiny mechanical duck-like creature announced these (often bleak) confessions in a monotonous English accent in another room. Jeremy Bailey’s performative intervention, in which he auctioned off 5 of the exhibition artists’ Facebook profiles, was also a highlight.

The only downside to the evening was the fact I broke my 10 year McDonald’s fast by eating part of Kim Asendorf’s installation THERE WILL BE BURGERS. I’m disgusted in myself and can’t get the taste out of my mouth. I guess I was swept away in the victorious moment the installation was liberated from the plinth to the people. But never again.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Berlin Art Hack concept expanded for its next incarnation as part of transmediale in Feb 2014. Berlin: it’s so great to be back!

Frühling in Görli

The first real day of Spring, and Kreuzbergers descend on Görlitzer Park to celebrate.

It’s Bigger Than

A wintery Sunday of great music and a friendly crowd at Prince Charles, Berlin. Thanks to Dan and Lisa from It’s Bigger Than for organising such a fun event – and even better a fundraiser for Save the Children‘s Syria Appeal.

Ode to Winter

There’s no denying Berlin’s winter is long and hard. From October until April there is an almost total lack of sun, limited hours of daylight, constant below zero temperatures, and a colour palate limited to 50 shades of grey. Some days it feels like winter will never end. But it will, and it does – there is light at the end of the tunnel. So here is an Ode to Winter: grim, bleak, but also full of fragile beauty. A time for hibernation and reflection, shedding of old skins, and preparation for the rebirth of spring.

Weddingmarkt Kunst & Kulturmarkt

Weddingmarkt Arts & Culture Market at SUPERMARKT, Wedding.

East Side Gallery Protest

“Wowereit, das Denkmal bleibt!”
East Side Gallery Demonstration – Berlin, 3 March 2013


Yes, sometimes I leave Neukölln. A trip to Boxhagener Platz Flohmarkt, Friedrichshain.


A Wet Winter Sunday

A wet winter Sunday around the streets of Neukölln.

14:00: Eating my lunch as the sun goes down.

First Glühwein of the season last night at Berlin’s WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt. First Christmas market pics here.


First Glühwein of the season last night at Berlin’s WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market.

Today the winter coat came out for the first time since February.

Here are some photos I took last Sunday around the streets of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The light was glorious and it really felt like one of the last days of Autumn before the long winter sets in.

Final Autumn Days

The final days of Autumn in Berlin.


Rising as the sun sets.

Nowkoelln Flowmarkt

An Autumn Sunday of Tiny Art, vintage clothes, bad coffee, too many pastries, cute kids, great friends and cheap beers at Nowkoelln Flowmarkt, Berlin.

Autumn in Kreuzberg

A quiet Autumn afternoon of coffees, markets and sneaky beers with good friends for my first weekend back in Berlin after a big summer in NYC.

Stroke Art Fair

Getting inspired at Stroke Art Fair, Postbahnhof with my newest Kreuzberg neighbour, the lovely Em. Scheming up ideas for new art spaces, projects and exhibitions for Winter 2011/2012.

May Day

May Day, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 2010.

Every year Oranienstrasse comes alive with the May Day protest march and street fair. Things get ugly after dark with riots, burning cars and tear gas, but during the day it’s a family-friendly festival.


A day trip to Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), Berlin, 2010. This place has quite a history – an artificial hill with a Nazi military-technical college buried underneath, a former ski resort and a US National Security Agency spy tower. Read more about it here.


Photos from the deserted (and very spooky) Beelitz-Heilstätten Sanatorium on the outskirts of Berlin, 2010.

“The complex from the beginning of World War I on was a military hospital of the Imperial German Army. In 1916 Hitler recuperated here after being wounded at the Battle of the Somme. In 1945 the site was occupied by Soviet forces and remained a military hospital until 1995. Following the Soviet withdrawal, some sections of the hospital remain in operation as a neurological rehabilitation center. The remainder of the complex, including the surgery, the psychiatric ward, and a rifle range, was abandoned in 2000.” – Wikipedia