Photography and Eating

Like all of these stories, it began with a problem. We watched as a young CEO in jeans explained to a reporter in a learned, excited tone: “We were looking for someone to go mushroom picking with in Berlin because we wanted to make a mushroom risotto and we couldn’t find anyone who could help us with that.”

The reporter nodded, following with the question “why did you choose Berlin for Gidsy?”

At 11am on Monday standing on Neue Schönhauser Strasse, we ring the bell for Roomsurfer. Leslie answers the door and gives us a quick tour of the two-room office. “So what are you taking the photographs for?”

The wall near the door is covered in post-it notes with words scrawled in marker. Wine, Love, Travel, God, Salad.

“Like Couchsurfing meets Facebook.”

“We bring people together with similar interests.”

After accepting a glass of water from Leslie, a delivery arrives from Amazon. “My French keyboard,” one of the guys sitting in the first room exclaims, smiling. The space is small, with fluorescent lights suspended above three groupings of desks. Talia from Spain sits in the far room with a vase of daffodils and two computers open. She explains the concept behind Roomsurfer, who uses it, and why Barcelona is their second largest market behind Berlin.

“Yes, I totally use it when I travel. And all of us at the office are hosts.”

Walking into the next room Talia says on script, “Roomsurfer is an online community whose final aim is to share memorable experiences, build new, meaningful connections and offer and find accommodations,” her hands moving quickly as she talks. We nod, focusing the camera on her colleague hunched over his new keyboard.

Later that evening we scroll through Roomsurfer listings. “There she is.” We stop at a photograph of Talia’s apartment on Skalitzerstrasse. Another vase of daffodils, a tan couch with a pink throw and a poster of a Greek island, maybe Santorini. “Let’s book a night with her.”

We continue scrolling. A friend of ours, Ilias, is renting out his one-bedroom off Hasenheide.

On Tuesday, with a backpack resting on his knee, a young entrepreneur describes an “a-ha” moment, starting again with a problem. The interviewer from Der Spiegel offers a cigarette. The coffees arrive, and the converastion shifts towards nightlife.



I told my daughter about Basso. We were walking past the golf course and the only answer I could come up with was Basso. I explained that it was easy to find a space for very cheap.

She asked me more questions.

I told her the spaces ranged in size, some large some small. I told her about the neon light fixtures, the circular tube installed on the ceiling of Mark and Kyoko, and the exposed wires of Cleopatra’s.

My daughter wanted to know if there were bathrooms in these spaces, I told her there usually was. I explained the layout of PM gallery, the loft built above the bathtub made her laugh. I told her there was a kitchen and a living room and that every morning there would be wet foot prints through the gallery from the freshly showered curator, this made her laugh. My daughter pointed towards the ocean, I nodded.

Who would clean up the foot prints she asked? I smiled down at her, imagining the toe prints of Julie Groche evaporating into the hot afternoon air. I told her that the people who ran the spaces would clean.

My daughter continued to ask questions. So they were like homes? Yes, I replied while trailing my index finger on a palm frawn, the spaces were kind of like homes.

I bent down to remove my shoes and my daughter leaned her weight on my back as she slipped off her purple sandals. How did they run the spaces? I paused, she asked again, how did they run the spaces?

I told my daughter that the spaces were like any business. Holding her sandals in her hand she looked at me, who worked? I looked at her and replied that often it was just people around who helped out, friends or lovers or house guests. She crinkled her nose.

My daughter scooped a handful of sand, we walked closer to the water, how could a business rely on lovers?

We met James Leary at the dock, he was wearing a light yellow te-shirt and his beard was growing out.

He sprung up to greet us. I asked him how he was, he smiled, his eyes flickering charged with something, “you know, good but busy.” I looked at him and tugged at his beard. “It looks good.”

The sun was reflecting off the glass of the tall buildings downtown and the whole city seemed engulfed in a camera flash. But we were on the edge, leaning on a metal railing with our weight falling towards the water.

Tuesday through Friday Ripley would teach sailing lessons in the harbor. My understanding of Manhattan was very rigid, grids, maps, numbers and obligations. Ripley’s boat glided in ways that pulled at the seams of my city.

(zoned out) The boat rocked back and forth loosening and tightening the rope that held it to the dock.

Matthew and Max insisted on picking up the furnishings for Dark and Stormies. Rum, ginger ale. plastic cups. Matthew was wearing all blue, and after signing a waiver we were handed bright orange life jackets. Ripley tugged and clipped us together, I imagined bobbing in the river.

Everything after that feels like a photograph, I remember James smiling with all of his teeth and cheeks stretched back. He politely refused a Dark and Stormy, he had work to do later.

(....really thinking....) I remember asking him, he said he was working on writing, a play or a paper.

Every time the boat rocked a drink would spill. I looked down and my legs were covered in rum.

It hit quickly, and I became sea sick. I closed my eyes. I needed to forget where I was.

I began thinking about the raves that I used to go to, ( -- cue music -- ) big warehouses, dark and loud. Ignore the feeling of my legs giving out and my stomach flipping. I could hear James laughing and smiling in the sun, Matthew was telling a joke about laundry.

The sickness the ocean had imparted upon my body was the new cool drug. I was riding the first big wave of mdma, pushing me from all that was comfortable. I scrunched my eyes and gripped on to the brass handrail. “Keep thinking about night clubs.”

The first night I moved to Berlin we went out to a club with lots of red and green lights, not dark enough, and filled with teenagers. We did shots at a tiki bar on the second floor.

I got in a fight with a British boy in drag in the bathroom line, he kept saying, “you don’t respect me because I’m dressed like a woman” while sobbing into a handkerchief.

My eyes were clenched shut. Each push of the boat sunk me farther into my own darkness. Max touched my back but I was gone, throbbing on acid. The sound of birds on the river lapsed into the thump of bass. Dancehall.

The boat continued to rock, I knew Manhattan was close but I needed to drown somewhere else. The Dancehall kept playing. My skin was cold and wet, I lay my head down on the side of the boat. Lasers, strobe lights, black lights, no mirrors, no clocks.

I was entering hell, the only option was to jump in the water. But no, I couldn’t do that, keep thinking about night clubs.

Angels, angels, angels, angels.

The thumping of a dance floor seemed to move with the rocking of the boat. Berghain, Panorama Bar. In the morning there was always enough room. The light from outside would stream in on beat with the window shades. Thump thump.

( thinking about an annoyed annoying memory....) The Bulgarian bar, not a club but dancing with a weird green strobe and too much to drink. I remember a very fat man dancing with me and bumping into my gin and tonic, I dropped the glass. The boat lurched, I clenched the brass rail, Max's voice echoed in, “I haven’t seen a show at the Gagosian in two years.”

I was stuck in flashbacks of drugs and nightclubs -- the only reference I had to my body as it slipped beneath the fiberglass bow.

Aids 3D DJing in a studio building, hundreds of people dressed for cold Berlin, dancing getting hot. Pushing back and forth on the dance floor, back and forth back and forth. I could feel water splash on to my face as the boat jerked forward. I was passed out on the floor of Watergate, a teenager.

Matthew was talking about a performance he wanted to do. I could hear him describing lights, describing costumes, but I was stuck in a basement on Avenue A spinning on the dance floor with my hands out. Spinning like a dervish in a small, dark, loud basement.

I opened my eyes, a flash, the Panorama bar, the club was lit and the sweaty faces of my colleagues revealed. James was reading from a novel, Matthew touching Max’s hair and Ripley pulling on white ropes. I closed my eyes, the sun spots dancing across my eyelids, reminds me of the eagerness and the vitality and the beautiful awesomeness of youth, so very awesome you know, youth is -- those shining, lovely bodies to watch them, to feel the light, to know it’s an ever present thing.

Thank you and Good night. Please enjoy the L’Occitane gift bag garnished with aromatic shampoo, crème beurre de karate lotion, perfumed silk paper and a brochure for our wonderful host, the Stedelijk Museum.

Hands in wet paint, Joe Kay and Matthew Lutz-Kinoy will hang a dozen photographs by Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff. The performance will take place after lunch, for an audience of the artists, the gallery, and several friends. Joe Kay will hold the drill between his legs, pencil in mouth, both arms bracing the frame. Matthew Lutz-Kinoy will stand back with hand on hip, the other hand holding a level. Loudly he will say "lower on the right".