In Weimar Berlin artists and writers, like Christopher Isherwood and Alfred Döblin sought out Berlin’s underground in secretive communist cell meetings and proletarian bars in worker districts.
In post-war Berlin the underground became synonymous with left-wing student activism, later in the seventies and eighties with the anarchist and squatter scenes. After the fall of the Wall techno-driven hedonism dominated the Berlin underground.
We feel that the notion of a Berlin underground defined by pop subcultures, “die Szene”as one says in German, has run its course. The underground of yesterday has become the mainstream of today.
Nowadays in order to find Berlin’s true underground, one has to turn to the so-called Parallelkulturen – the murky immigrant subcultures which thrive secretly in shady Kulturverein cafes, Turkish weddings, Hinterhof mosques, and Ausländer concerts existing under the radar of Berlin’s mainstream media. Berlin Bazzar celebrates Berlin’s ethnic underground, and global musical ghettos, making the invisible visible.
We give voice to the Syrian refugee, the second generation Turk straddling two cultures, still a stranger in the land, the undocumented African immigrant isolated by a hostile legal system, anonymous people, interchangeable workers, the least protected of Berlin’s inhabitants.
We also report on music from all over the world as it is reflected in the ethnic makeup of Berlin. Our principle is collage, rather than melting-pot. Multiple points of view agglomerate; we keep the frames of reference multifaceted.
But, what, you might ask, is the point of a print zine in the age of the internet? Why not put out our magazine online and reach many more people, and not only in Berlin, but around the world?
It’s because we don’t aim to be ubiquitous in a sea of strangers. Berlin Bazzar celebrates the beautiful inefficiency of the print zine. And the beautiful inefficiency with which it makes its way in the world deepens the meaning of the message it purveys, we feel.
Berlin Bazzar devirtualizes the message, existing outside of the closed, flat and hermetic system of the internet. As such, Berlin Bazzar is an emancipatory gesture with an oppositional spirit.
We state that print is unorthodox. We buck convention by hitting the streets. That’s our strategy and that’s the full story behind our refusal to go online.
We rely on a people-to-people network of record store and bookshop clerks to get the word out. Berlin Bazzar is trust inherent. It thrives off points of physical contact.
The fact that we are a print zine means that we are small-scale and handmade. We represent freedom in small numbers. We believe in the power of community and endeavor to bring together bodies in space and time.
Berlin Bazzar is an unassuming, and yet at the same time, bold form of grassroots communication. We esteem the humanity of its readers, who are at the same time participants in our project.
Berlin Bazzar only makes sense if you participate. So do it now. Grab a pen and write the story that begs to be told.
(Caveat: This text was written before Corona, making it in fact, necessary to go online.)