carnival of cultures

one of my favorite strange events in berlin is ‘karneval der kulturen’, or carnival of cultures. i shot a number of videos on my camera while i was there a month ago which hopefully helps to explain why the event is so bizarre. what i appreciate most about it is the lack of separation between parade and spectator. it’s really easy to enter the procession and follow a group, and is even quite acceptable. the event is functionally a spectacle devoted to the idea of a cosmopolitan multiculturalism, one which ignores the obvious and deep history of imperialism and exploitation. but mainly, it’s a party and most people seem happy. there was one situation that i thought i recorded on my camera but alas did not, in which a man flashed some sort of passport at the palestinian participants and then threw water at them and subsequently his water bottle. there was a brief pulse towards confrontation that was quelled through intrusion of other participants and spectators, but a bike was nearly thrown. i’m glad that no one was hurt, but the incursion was both terrible and completely unnecessary. the streets get trashed, vendors sell whatever the idea of culture and/or heritage means to them to the throng, and the throng swarms and buzzes about, unfettered by police or lack of points of sale. i enjoy engaging in intentional spectacle as boundaries are quickly redrawn. i don’t normally take many photos of people’s faces, but there is an inherent permissiveness involved in performance. some of the performers for various cultures were simply stand-ins who wore the costume yet were not of that heritage (or at least seemed not to be). but everyone had fun. many danced.




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