Ber/Lon – A Tale of Two (Gentrifying) Cities

For centuries the cities of London and Berlin have been transformed and re-invented by people from all over the world, who have created vibrant cultures in local areas at the intersection of art and politics. Is this all under threat now, as creative and political spaces are eaten up developers and capital cities are overrun by the power of capital?

Join artists Joshua Idehen and Adelaide Ivánova, Johny Pitts and Joanna Legid as they confront these issues in the London and Berlin neighbourhoods at the forefront of change. Through multilingual poetry and prose, photography and music, Ber/Lon explores what is lost — what we lose — when working-class, multicultural areas become gentrified.

Where and When

LONDON

Wednesday 19 February 2020 at Candid Arts Basement, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ. Tickets £5 / £3 concessions

BERLIN

Friday 28 February 2020 at Literaturhaus Lettrétage, Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin

Left to right: Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivanova, Johny Pitts, Joanna Legid
Left to right: Joshua Idehen, Adelaide Ivanova, Johny Pitts, Joanna Legid

Artists

Joshua Idehen is a poet, teacher and musician. A British-born Nigerian, his poetry has been published widely and he has performed across Europe. His interest in the impact of gentrification and the closure of music venues led him to create the online fanzine anothergreatnightout.com, to celebrate Passing Clouds, one of the first venues he played in. He has collaborated with Mercury nominated artists The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet. The album Last Night with dance pop band Benin City was released in 2018 (Moshi Moshi Music). He is currently working on his debut poetry collection and a one man show.

Brazilian Adelaide Ivánova is a journalist and political activist working with poetry, photography, performance, translation and publishing. Her poems have been translated into German, Galician, English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. Her photos/texts have appeared in The Huffington Post (USA), Marie Claire (Brazil) and Modern Poetry in Translation (UK) among others. Her photo reportage can be seen in Kunst Museum Dieselkraftwerk (Germany), L’arthotèque Museum of Fine Arts (France) and Galeria Murilo Castro (Brazil). In 2018 her poetry book o martelo won the Rio Literature Award. She edits the anti-capitalist poetry zine MAIS NORDESTE, PVFR! with leftist poets from Brazil’s northeast. She lives in Berlin, earning a living as baby-sitter, life model, waiter and other alienating jobs. 

Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer and broadcast journalist. His book Afropean came out in the UK in June 2019 to critical acclaim and is being translated into German and French among others. He has received various awards for his work exploring African-European identity, including a Decibel Penguin Prize and a European Network Against Racism Award. He is the curator of the online journal Afropean.com, part of the Guardian‘s Africa Network and has collaborated with acclaimed author Caryl Philips on a photographic essay about London’s immigrant communities for the BBC and Arts Council England.

Joanna Catherine Schröder aka Joanna Legid is an analogue photographer capturing people, things and places through the lens of her camera. Born in Rwanda to a German father and a Rwandan mother, Joanna has lived in different places until she moved to Berlin ten years ago. With a love for the intimate moment between staged poses and a trained eye for imperfection, her photography focuses on portrait as well as documentary work. She is also the co-founder of heartxwork.com, a creative platform which assembles stories of Germans with a migration background as well as BIPOCs living in Germany.

A Speaking Volumes production with Lettrétage, funded by the Goethe Institute

Another Great Night Out – Joshua Idehen

It started with a web search for Passing Clouds, the iconic East London venue that was shuttered in 2016. If you’ve never been to a Passing Clouds night, well, brother/sister/friend, you missed out. I was trying to find info on the efforts to reopen any nights they were running at satellite venues, but the webpage was not there. The Facebook page was frozen somewhere in June. 

For poet and musician Joshua Idehen, the clubs and community spaces of East London are close to his heart: safe spaces where he hung out, met other creatives, made friends, first performed and developed as an artist.

As gentrification started to spread east of central London, these spaces started to disappear, and with them went the collective memory of all the things that took place in them, the art created and friendships forged. When the key venue in Dalston’s community, Passing Clouds, was forcibly closed, Joshua went searching for information about it and found nothing. Another Great Night Out was born out of the desire to archive, document and remember these lost spaces.

Joshua Idehen on why Passing Clouds deserves to be remembered

As of 2015, 50% of clubs, bars, pubs and social venues in London have been shut down. East London, like the once vibrant walls of Passing Clouds, has seen its colour run out, save grey and brown brick. These places were more than just watering holes for the city’s multicultural working/middle class: they were music hubs, arts spaces, community halls, social meeting points, landmarks and, most importantly, fond, favoured memories. London forgets easily, especially its counter culture, and in an age where everything is recorded, it seems a miscarriage of justice that there was no central place for people to find information and media on these vibrant venues and the important activities that took place in them. Another Great Night Out is a start at preserving, and remembering, and celebrating these places. We start with Passing Clouds.

Joshua on the genesis of the project

Speaking Volumes worked with Joshua to get a Heritage Lottery Grant to create the website which collects together music, photos, posters and artwork, and memories of people who played, performed and attended activities at Passing Clouds. To go along with this material, Joshua commissioned six poets who had connections with the venue to write work about their memories and experiences of it. As well as having the text of these poems available on the site, we filmed each poet reading outside the shut up and as so far unused Passing Clouds building.

Belinda Zhawi reads her poem remembering Passing Clouds

Head over to AnotherGreatNightOut.com to check out all of the archive material and commissioned poems, and keep an eye out for the next venue that Joshua looks to arhcive and remeber.

Generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, produced by Speaking Volumes.