I once blogged about my writing practice and process, and I feel this is a nice dovetail: my writing desk and space. We all need to carve out our own little nooks in this world, and this tiny corner is mine.
This where I do all my writing: all my short stories, all my blogging, and all my freelance articles are done here, including a little doodling and reading now and then. I decorated it like this because I think it reflects me and my personality best. Some people prefer really modern, sleek, office-y, stainless-steel-type designs, and others prefer a kind of non-descript, antiseptic look. But I wanted my space to be peppered with all of the things that inspired me, visually and spatially, and all the things that really mean something to me.
For example, these are my Lebanese grandparents making-out on their front porch in Montreal circa 1948. I typed out that Bukowski quote on my typewriter. All the picture frames were bought from London flea markets, but a few I found discarded on the sidewalk. Who throws out gorgeous picture frames?!
That photograph in the foreground of the two 1920s women pushing the pram: I have no idea who they are. I found them discarded on the flea market grounds in Brussels right before the sky opened up and an incredible tempest washed everything away. I feel like I saved them.
Those are Belgian telegrams, and also some French postcards ad German letters, which I bought from their respective flea markets. I typed out the quote at the bottom, and I found the image of the typewritten quote at the top online and then printed it out on photographic paper at a pharmacy in London.
I got the antique iron keys from a friend who bought them for me when I was living in Copenhagen. I typed out the Dumas quote, and it sits on a small blue photo album from the 1940s that I bought in Paris. The vase & saucer I got at a London flea market, and the typewriter ribbon tin I bought at the Brooklyn flea.
The pill bottles in the foreground I got at a flea here in Toronto. The red-cover books in the background are all travel guidebooks from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. It’s so interesting to read about “where to find a public bathhouse in London,” or about how many Francs you can get for your Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Sovereigns. There’s even a section on why French customs strictly prohibits British matches from entering the country, but you can bring your own cigarettes. Also, air travel was so new, that they don’t really mention it. They only mention taking the ferry from Dover to Calais! The guidebooks have fold-out maps and even photographs. Looking at Amsterdam then and comparing it to now is such a mind-fuck.
That’s a Bukowski quote.
I bought that cigar box from a flea market in Düsseldorf. I put all of the small monochrome photographs that I bought from flea markets around Europe in there. A note about the photographs: I don’t know the people. I am assuming they’ve all passed, seeing as how their personal family photo albums were for sale on flea markets. I buy them because they look so happy. I like their faces. Also, sometimes going through private photos reveals some interesting secrets, as I wrote in an essay for VICE recently … And if they’re not in the cigar box….
… they’re hanging on my wall. From left to right, I bought him in Brussels, him in Copenhagen, and her in Paris.
That babe second-from-right is my Mum when she was 18. The rest, left to right, Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, and the child on the right is from Amsterdam.
These ladies are so old, they’re beginning to fade, but I love them all the more because they’re so bad-ass. On the left, I bought them in Paris and on the back it’s dated June 18, 1929. On the right, I bough her in Brussels, it’s dated August 18, 1922. She’s so fucking cool, I can’t even. I’m all out of evens.
Bought both from Brussels. Street scenes and street photography from the early 20th century are so amazing to me. I love the composition of the left photo! Right photo on the back is dated May 1942 and it says they just returned from shopping.
There’s my gorgeous bee-yooot. Read this for the story behind the provenance of this baby.
Some of the books that really moved me that are resting on my desk are All That I Am by Anna Funder, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
I feel like I become a different person when I sit down at this desk. Outside, I’m gregarious and silly and hungry and moving and yelling and dancing and what not… but here, I am something else.
I have a lot more upcoming publications yet-to-be-announced, but now you know where I was when I wrote them.
Remember to update your links and visit the new home of ChristineEstima.com!
You guys know I’m a huge flea market nut. I’ve blogged about the stuff I’ve found before. But the flea markets I used to patron in Germany when I lived there (specifically Cologne and Berlin) all carried lots of Nazi junk, which for a Canadian, is not something you ever get used to seeing. In this piece, I talk about the disturbing nature of these pieces, and also how they have affected me.
I feel like our morbid interests aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with those interests that’s important … I think learning from this stuff is a positive thing.
Click here or on the above photo to read it.
I took all of the photographs featured in the piece. The one of the framed monochrome photographs on a mantle is actually in my bedroom. Those couples just look so happy!
Fanks for reading, munchkins.
By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.
And I win.
Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!
Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.
Dancing on the streets of Bonn.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.
The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)
The Berlin eyes have it.
The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows
Art imitates life imitates art.
Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.
Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)
Where’s the Space Invader?
I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”
I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How… brave…”
I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”
I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”
How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.
How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen
How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)
Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…
Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.
My beloved Berlin pianist Nils Frahm played a sold-out show in Toronto a few days ago, and I was lucky enough not only to grab a ticket, but after the first song Says, he invited us to sit on the stage with him, so I was literally sitting at his feet as he played, a mere metre away. This is the fifth time I’ve seen him live in just over a year, previously I’d seen him in Cologne, twice in Copenhagen, and also Berlin. When you watch him live, you become entranced by his fingers and his arm muscles which seem to be moving faster than your eyes or your camera lens can see. Notice in the pic above how my camera can’t even keep up with his hands. He plays three pianos at once and pulls this amazing orgasm face when he gets really into it.
You heard me.
Anyway, after the show, I told him it was my fifth time seeing him, and he was like, whaaaaaaaaaaaat? I told him I even saw him in that play he did in Copenhagen earlier this year. And he was like, you’re here now? I said I just returned a month ago, and he was like, you never said hello after the other shows! He was delightful and I was a total fan girl. He’s adorbs and I want to fold him up and take him with me everywhere in my pocket…. or something.
Anyway, enjoy my pics from the show. I WAS SO CLOSE, YOU GUYS.
The toilet brushes were the best part.
This above and below is by Seth aka Globepainter, near Rue Mouffetard coming down from Place Contrescarpe. I love how expressive and bold they are, with the thick lines and rounded curves. And the childlike enthusiasm.
And the disappearing into walls…
Ha! Look at this slug trying to be a repairman! I think my favourite detail is the tool belt. I found this near Abesses metro station.
Nina Simone by Miss Me. The first time I found a Miss Me was in Montreal, but I also found her work in Berlin when I was living there this summer. She’s also in Paris! Good for her! Canadians are taking over the planet, just you wait. I found this in the hilly staircases of Montmartre.
TYPEWRITER PORNOGRAPHY. by WRDSMITH
J’ai demandé à la lune….
I suspect the artist behind this carebear piece is the same artist behind The Kiss (pixelated) that I blogged about last week.
The following, including this one, were all found on Rue Denoyez. The last time I blogged from Rue denoyez was 2 years ago, and this time the experience was much less enjoyable, because of all the disgusting sexual harassment that happens in the Belleville area. I literally had to run in, photograph, and run out. I was being hounded at every corner. Seriously Paris, fuck you. Do something about your sexual harassment problem.
Arbeit Macht Lazy, huh?
There was no artist name next to this one, anyone know who’s behind this? It’s great, wasn’t far from the Victor Hugo museum…
Ha ha ha.
It’s an animal menagerie at Porte de Vanves.
Check out my Paris category for all the wonderfully cool finds I’ve photographed over the years, from street art to writer-hangouts to relics of the past, and everything in between.
I’m pretty ashamed. I have wandered up and down Skaltizer Strasse near Kottbusser Tor probably a bajillion times, but I only recently found these two C215 pieces there. What am I, blind?
And not too far from the last C215 piece I found…
They were only a few doors down from each other too.
Get it together Estima.
Check out my C215 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
The last time I blogged about Mr Fahrenheit was in London, which is the only city I’ve ever found his work in, so I’m assuming he’s a Londoner. This past week, I found some of his stencils in the Friedrichschain area of Berlin, so looks like the man got himself a rail pass:)
Whenever I think of John Lennon, I also think of JFK and Indira Gandhi, who were also assassinated.
The lesson here, munchkins, is if you don’t want your children to be assassinated, don’t name them after an airport.
WOCKA WOCKA WOCKA.
Now I know what you’re thinking… Alice? Who the Fuck is Alice?
(see what I did there?)
(I’ll get my coat)
I’ve blogged Alice’s work before when I first found it in London, and now she has hit up Berlin. You cannot walk 5 metres along Skatlizer Strasse toward the Oberbaumbruecke without running into 20 Alice pieces!
This one was actually ON the Oberbaumbruecke!
Ah yes, this mirrors my life as of late. Oh dontcha just love those balmy Berlin nights…
Ahem… but enough about me… back to Alice!
“Der rote Engel” as they say. I found her one day, walking along Körtestraße in Kreuzberg, a street I had walked along many times before, but I had somehow missed her. Because I was looking down.
To find angels, you must always look heavenward.
She has the eyes of an angel. Look at the glistening glimmer.
I had never come across xi-Design before but I am now a fan.
Berlin is so hungover.
What a great night, and what a great time to be in Germany. Last night the Brandenburg Gate exploded in cheers, fireworks, chants, spotlights, and an outpouring of joy. The night sky burned brighter than the day.
How often does a gal get to be in Germany when Germany wins the World Cup? An epic experience indeed. Last night I was a witness to history.
Berlin is a place that, beyond all reason and dark history, resurrects one’s soul.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is shining, and the city awaits this little Canadian lass.
I haven’t photographed a RAE since Brooklyn, I don’t think… no wait, I think I found one or two in London. But YAY! RAE was here in Berlin last week and I photographed his stuff mere days after he had erected it. GO ME!
In all honesty, I wasn’t looking for a RAE, we were just going for a stroll one night through Friedrichschain and found it by accident. Those are the best kinds of finds 🙂
Philip’s impressed. He insisted we snap this pic. Who am I to say no?
This ROA bird was in the RAW area of Berlin (near Revalerstrasse), and it looks really old, like his old style. I don’t know, but the fact that it’s still around is pretty sweet.
Maybe it was done hastily, and hence the kind of unrefined style?
Remember a few posts ago when I went hunting for the remnants of JR’s “Wrinkles of the City” from last year across Berlin? Here’s one that I missed, it’s at Warschauerstrasse, looking pretty worse for wear.
Here’s what it’s supposed to look like.
I’m just so impressed these pieces have withstood the elements and other graff artists!
Which I am.
Shhh, don’t tell.
Miss my plattenbau
I had to.
Check out my El Bocho category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around Germany!
The 48 hour Neukölln arts fest is very much like Nuit Blanche in Toronto, except it lasts for 48 hours, and it’s not in the freezing cold. Berlin has always been known for its arts scene, and for welcoming artists from all across Europe into their embrace, so this was a perfect way to induct me into the wonderful German hipster dudebro artistic experience.
Obvi, I adored it.
I got drunk on it.
I ate that shit up.
First we found these artists who gave us a tutorial on how to make street art stencils. Of course, I plopped down to make a masterpiece. *cough*
This was a guerilla poetry space, where thousands of newspaper headlines were chopped up for us, and we got to fashion poetry… like one would fashion an anonymous ransom note! Or like refrigerator magnet poetry. Or like found poetry.
And so on.
This was ours. “I think to be seduced is the right solution.”
This was someone elses. The wall behind it said “Courage is…” so this poem finishes the sentence with “…unlikely to result in vaginal dryness.”
I’ll get my coat.
Courage is… “What was going on in the East German sky without us.”
Chris, there’s a giant frog with a cell phone growing out of your back.
Then this tenor emerged from his balcony and sang Nessun Dorma to all of us down below. It was the crowning moment of the fest, for me.
There were 1000 origami cranes. There was a pillow fort where we affixed our adult dreams to. There were shopping carts woven into a circle. There were art-convenience-stores. There were angel-birds. There was sunshine. There was FIFA. There was dancing and music.
There was Berlin.
**Unless bearing my watermark, all pics are copyright Moneim Eltohami.
Kunsthaus Tacheles was a centre for artists, vandals, graffitists and other culture-jammers to gather in an old 1907 arcade that was partially demolished by the DDR, located near Oranienburger Strasse. It was officially closed down a couple years ago, and now it is completely blocked off and surrounded by fences, walls, hedges, and wire. There’s no way in. But on some of the walls that are still exposed, artists continue to tag.
Anyway, the other night I’m watching the object of my affection Benedict Cumberbitch … er.. batch.. Cumberbatch in the film The Fifth Estate, and I notice they filmed an entire section at Kunsthaus Tacheles before it closed down. They filmed inside and out. During the scene where they’re leaving, I noticed something that nearly made me spit out my tea.
And here’s the scene here:
HOW DID I MISS THIS WHEN I WAS WALKING BY?!
So I went back to try and find a way in, or maybe a ledge to perch from, or maybe just a gap in the wall so I could photograph it.
I went to every business surrounding the Kunsthaus and asked everyone if they had access to the fenced-off area, just so I could take a photo. No one could help.
Finally, I found a crack in the tarped-over fence big enough to shove my hand through. Camera firmly gripped in hand, I tried to snap as many pics as I could at such an awkward angle.
BUT I STILL NOW I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES THE FLOWER CHUCKER!
Check out my Banksy category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
Germans, in general, are super tall (bless ’em). Everyone towers around me because I’m a bite-size pipsqueak. So I’m wondering if local artist Mij K Do is trying to comment on the height of Berliners with his super-long-legged subjects.
In my last Roa post, I spoke of how hard I had tried to find more Roa‘s around Berlin and was coming up empty every time. But then a buddy over at andBerlin.com let me know that the Roa rats on Schoenhauser Allee were still there, even though I had struggled in vain for an hour to find them previously. I tried a second time, and bam. Instant Roa-gratification.
Aw yeah, that’s the stuff.
Look at the detail from each spraycan stroke. I can’t even. I am out of evens.
Check out my Roa category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
Since posting my last piece on El Bocho, I have found so much more of his stuff! It’s so great to live in a city where not only is the artwork on every corner, but you can become familiar with the artists and grow to appreciate their body of work.
He’s gone and I’m still here.
Who rips apart an El Bocho?!! Sacrilege.
Check out my El Bocho category for more of his work that I’ve photographed across Germany!
FINALLY SOME ATTENTION!
WAR IS COMING!
I TELL YOU, IT’S COMING!
Don’t mind me…
A street art photographer-blogger like me always dreams of photographing the work of Os Gêmeos, and even though I have travelled the world over, I have never been fortunate enough to find the Brazillian brothers’ works! UNTIL NOW!
Os Gêmeos BABY!
This Moonman, located near Kottbusser Tor, is by Ash.
The Pink Man, near Oberbaumbrucke, is by BLU.
These two massive murals on Schlesische strasse are also by BLU.
I’m pretty sure this is by Miss Van. It was near the East Side Gallery.
Is that my beloved Vhils? Why yes it is!
My beloved C215 and his signature kitty-cat.
Is is a peace sign, a high-five, or a fuck you?
What we do know is that it’s by Case Maclaim
The last time I photographed Miss Me was in Montreal! Had no idea she’d been here!
It’s my beloved Jimmy C aka James Cochran!
Jimmy’s heart (obstructed by some idiot’s fat head).
And Jimmy’s lovely tribute to Anne Frank.
And my beloved Stik! (Yes they’re all my beloved…. WHAT OF IT?)
More Stik behind bars.
And Stik behind trees!
Ain’t that the fricken truth.
Bending Berlin Baby! And it’s a picture of Bender from Futurama! Space Invader has a version of this in Brussels, which I photographed last year, check it out! This is by street artist ambush and you should check out his website!
That’s good advice, you guys.
Well if it isn’t my old Cologne-pal Decycle. I photographed this exact same piece over in that forsaken city, but glad to see he’s taking up a much more civilized and cosmopolitain area.
Jessica Rabbit. “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
Well, it doesn’t say much, but it’s to-the-point and I salute it for it.
I found this near Hermanstrasse in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin.
Last year, JR hit up Berlin for his project “The Wrinkles of the City” where he pasted his famous oversized portraits on some iconic architectural specimens found throughout the historic city. But unlike his Inside Out Project, these were portraits of the elderly, or at least, “more seasoned” people, in an effort to show the beauty that comes with age. I wasn’t able to come to Berlin last year, but I’m here now! Considering that street art usually has a very short shelf life, it was thrilling to find many of his works still visible and in great condition one full year later!
This was on the side of Ostbahnhof, across the street from the East Side Gallery.
This was also across the street from the East Side Gallery, but no one seemed to notice it. People were so consumed with taking assinine selfies next to the Berlin Wall, they didn’t bother to look around.
This beautiful find of Salvador Dali was up on Gustav Meyer Allee. I had to hop a fence or two to get these shots.
See the hand? If you have ever taken a photograph with JR, as I have, you know that this is his hand-thingie-sign-whatchamacallit. I got it wrong when I took my picture with him in London. Anyway, when I found this huge piece, as you can see, it was covered by construction.
This is what it’s supposed to look like when all of this scaffolding isn’t obstructing it… bastards.
This piece used to take up the entire side of this building. I guess it didn’t withstand the elements very well.
This was on the side of Soho House, on a huge East Berlin boulevard that seemed oppressive and deserted. But I love how the fernsehturm (tv tower) in the background gives the wheatpaste a dimension and depth… and also GRAVITAS (i think that word is kind of silly, but it fits in this instance)…. gravitas.
This was underneath a bridge, near Friedrichstraße station. This one survived the elements pretty well! Yay, bridge-protection!
Unfortunately, the rest of the JR pieces around the city were untraceable to me… I searched for many of them but came up empty handed. Either they’re gone from the elements, or I had the wrong location information. But I’m happy these lovely pieces have survived a year!
Check out my JR category and my Inside Out Project category for more of his works that I’ve photographed around the world!
Ah, my true Belgian love, Roa. I had read on the blogs that he had made an appearance in Berlin a few years ago, so I set out to find his works. This is the only one that remains… a huge mural near Kottbusser Tor. For those of you who don’t know Roa (and really, if you don’t know Roa, please take a few mins to check out my Roa category for a huge selection of his works that I’ve photographed around the world), his work explores the circle of life amongst animals. He likes to portray animals either in a state of feeding, a state of death, or a state of decay, but it’s never gross or obscene, it’s always a tribute to the beautiful circle of life. In addition, unlike some other street artists who rely on stencils or posters or tricks (nothing wrong with those by the way, I adore stencils and posters!), all of Roa’s pieces are done with just a spray can and a helluva lot of talent.
As you can see the animals are dead, and have been hung up to dry, much like they are in shop windows in Chinatown. So it might be safe to assume Roa is showing how these animals didn’t die of natural causes, they were killed for their meat. This is less circle-of-life, and more the gritty, cruel world of the meat industry.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful piece, and considering all of Roa’s other works in Berlin are gone (or at least, I have struggled in vain to find the rest and could not), this is definitely something that should be appreciated whilst it’s still there.