Tuesday, 5 May 2009

To wake, lost. To wake, lost in another time, lost in previous years. To experience dreams which transport you unconditionally to previous networks and relationships, strange assimilations of retrograde attachments. to be come emotionally involved once more with those you had left behind. When a good friend recently visited from the UK, she had dreams, whilst sleeping on my tiny sofa in uncustomary evening heat, of old friends, old mutual friends. Last night I did the same. Our having spent three days together for the first time in many years, immediately provoked dreams of old friendships.

It was a good weekend spent with her, the weather approaching a state of borderline summer heat (although, seemingly, adaptation to new weather always takes a while). She visited galleries non-stop, while I stayed at home trying to complete a project I should have finished some time ago. In the evenings we took various visits to local neighbourhoods, the most memorable of which was on Friday, the first of May.

At the point where the crowd began to surge after the final demonstration lorry had pulled up to a halt and, out of nowhere, hooded men with scarves and balaclavas appeared from the web of alleys and courtyards surrounding Kottbusser Tor, I began to question the value of our evening's tourism. And yet, once the bottles had started spinning through the air, shattering at the feet of encroaching lines of armoured police, a theatre took place in which every actor knew their place. Limits were blocked out onto the streets, lines were written on placards as prompts, all the streets became a stage and the acts progressed right on cue, with darkness falling as a curtain call.

There were intervals out to the friendlier street parties, before reconnoitres back to the crumbling stand-off. The evening descended into running, pitched battles, shuttles from either side, burning rags stuffed into bottles signalled a thrust from those disguised in black. The other side retaliated, little groups of riot-prevention officers scuttling with extinguishers to the burning parks and roadsides. Then a parry once more, tear gas and batons, so they could reclaim the ground, remind everyone of exactly where the line of jurisdiction lay.

With fireworks exploding on the elevated rail-line and choreographed containment movements approaching on all sides, we slipped through the barricades, weaved our way slowly through the streets of dancing and headed back along the tree-lined river while the searchlights and rotors of helicopters provided a visual show for those at a distance watching through windows. Even the dissidence is planned these days, a Berlin friend told me. The freaks get to play once a year and everyone goes home happy.

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