Walk with Irina Novarese


“The Novel of Alfred Döblin Berlin Alexanderplatz is the starting point: the “map“ to observe Berlin. The novel is set in the working-class neighborhoods near Alexanderplatz in 1920s Berlin.
Döblin’s epic tale concerns a small criminal, Franz Biberkopf. It begins when he is released from Berlin Tegel prison, paralyzed by fear in having to face his life again in the infernal metropolis. This time, he swears, Franz Biberkopf will be a respectable man, ein anständiger Mensch; this time, he’ll stay far away from crime. But he can’t. He wants to believe in human goodness, but the part of the metropolis he knows, concentrated in the mean streets around the proletarian Alexanderplatz (“Alex”) in East Berlin, grinds him down.
Using montage techniques closed to Döblin work – multiples points of view, newspaper articles, songs, speeches – a kind of performative experience will lead the participants in a walk between Alexanderplatz and other venues of the metropolitan life narrated by Döblin.
Shifting between facts and fiction, between the original 1929 plot (considered one of the most innovative literary works of the Weimar Republic) and the contemporaneity of Berlin, a new geographical and historical space will be constructed through the visual perception of the existing and the “real”. Irina Novarese


AT: The main topic of your practice starts from your fascination for the fictional space and its perception.
What suggestions can offer a city like Berlin?
IN: When I speak of fictional space and its perception I am not referring only to physical space. Berlin is not the city that I feel more connected with this concept. The urban area of Berlin is actually surely and deeply imbued with historical “elements” that distance from what is fiction in order to come in contact with a very strong reality, especially the past one.

AT: You live in Berlin since many years (more than 15?). Your research is based on the observation of the metamorphosis of the perceptual experience of social space, and how the context in which we operate may influence the previous conception and the perception of a subject and its environment. Berlin has certainly undergone a change in this period of time. How did you perceive it and how did it influence your research?
IN: I live in Berlin since 12 years and within this time I’ve seen the city changing dramatically. It’s funny to hear the same assertion made by people who are living here since before I came. They said the same to me.
You feel this change continuously, more or less fluid, depending on different situations. I‘m thinking about the social metamorphosis in districts whose population got very diversified in recent years: for example, Neukölln, where I lived when I arrived. It has become a completely different neighborhood from that period: see gentrification of course. These are changes which then lead to relate in a new and different way (although not always positive) with those who are the new social context within the city.

Irina Novarese (1972, Torino)

After her studies in the Academy of Arts in Turin she worked for the Museum of Contemporary Art Castello di Rivoli in Turin, for the educational department.
In 2000 she moved to Berlin bringing forward her artistic practice, presented nowadays in solo and group exhibition on a international level. In 2008 she terminated the Master in Art in Context by the University of the Arts in Berlin.
Her work can be described as multidisciplinary: the conceptual process is deeply connected with the visual or tangible playing on a wide spectrum of media among which are video, photography, writing, drawing. The relationships between reality and enactment. fiction and fact are the elements she uses to experiment with the plausibility of the stories, the identities related to them and which kind of information we need to trust the narrator.
Through her interest to the participative work, she is active in different artistic groups and works as curator of Hydromemories: an interdisciplinary project on the theme of water, which concretely supports the constructions of water wells in Africa.

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Photos: Art & Tours, Walk with Irina Novarese, 28 June 2013, Berlin