Letter from Berlin
|Sep 28, 2020||5|
I’m working on a piece, based on a scrunched up old lady in a mask, who gets mown down by a cyclist.
She’s the last old lady in Mitte, Berlin, after Apple smash down the old folks home to build their fourth reich.
Does it need more?
Today, I’m sharing a recording with the Irish author, Rob Doyle, in preparation of us performing on Wednesday (flyer below). Also some photos.
It’s my absolute pleasure to be the guest of the legendary Danielle De Picciotto, host of the Blood of A Poet nights at the Volksbuhne, and artist, musician - she has an incredibly inspiring exhibition here at the Neurotitan Gallery, where I’m staying with Gil De Ray. Here I am spinning around it like Kylie. More pictures of the work on Cold Lips’ Insta.
Find Danielle however you like to find people, and listen to her music, particularly the recent Hackedepicciotto album that I’m very happy to make a tincy appearance on.
This residency finds me centre stage of my Eurodream school days, in Mitte, where I saw the wall between East and West ideals getting bashed down on TV in 1989. Made me grow up an optimist, as acid-house unity accelerated Everywhere thereafter. Now my native land makes me feel sick, gut shuddering in this last summer of Europe. I refreshed myself in German lakes, and the C-generation (Covid - thanks Martyn Goodacre) - will not know Europe as I have. They will not know what democracy was, or a world not stressed by climate destruction. As artists are called ‘unviable’ by the British government, it gives me great pleasure to become more of one.
I cannot thank Danielle De Picciotto for the kindest love, and also husband, Alexander Hacke (of the seminal noise group, Einsturzende Neubauten, and former boyf to one of the worst role models a young girl could have, Cristiane F.) He and Gil De Ray have been bonding, and it’s all very cute.
Das residency is very 90s - I find different street art and graffiti or stickers each day - after the street tours start downstairs. I have explored the countryside, enjoyed a Fat White Family secret show, seen great art in organised pavilions, and received much love for the poetry book I pulled together to bring here, but also to finish a phase, as the recordings of some of that work are coming…my band with Gil, called Vagrant Lovers - they feature Danielle on violin, and the one and only Malik Crumpler Ameer in response to my words. The first tracks are Ghosts of St Leonards, and Temple. I’m sharing them on October 31, and November 5.
My heart is drifting free, encapsulating a story here, more than writing it, sometimes it’s about the detours. Winter will allow those words to freeze over the page, as I get my teeth into the new job as Managing Editor at Ambit. In the meantime - I hope you enjoy all this mail sends you.
This photo is by Jason McGlade.
For your reference, I’m including the intro to the podcast script below…
And finally - thank you, to paying subscribers. Without you, I’d not have published Now Is Now, my poetry since 007, and more - it’s great to have it stocked here at Neurotitan in Berlin, but also coming soon to Rough Trade in London. If you’ve not received your book, let me know - unless we’ve been in touch - and I’ll be posting soon.
My debut novel was supposed to be out this week, but Covid. And what is life but enjoying the detours?
Stay strong, beautiful, and I will send fiction again soon, and recommendations for more.
This is Kirsty Allison in Berlin, on a balcony in the east, looking down towards the spree river with Berghain between.
I’m sitting with Rob Doyle, the author of my favourite book so far this year, Threshold. It's published in the UK and the US by Bloomsbury, so he takes throne as a leader in a new school of digital existentialist modernists, who take a post-millenial ego, and ask questions about the Author’s physical space on the page.
It’s a very self-conscious play, to be so self-aware of one’s musings as the main act of writing, that it becomes centre stage of a story, that riffs like Sun Ra between the realities of floating self-aware on a dinghy on a sea of cosmic pulp simulacras. The novel is always new, if it’s doing it right - it’s playing with something - doing something that’s not been said before. So in a Covid world - as fire tornadoes burn increasing street miliitias, and power struggles can be witnessed in the death scroll - there’s a new wave of The Author reflecting from a stage you recognise, as they explain What It All Means like academics, ingraining themselves to the page, channelling the white light, aware of the ironies of self from all sides of the prism. Certainly that’s the stuff I’ve been reading of late. Some of the writers come out demonstrating their problems, and personal privileges, or lack of them - so to get to the end of the pages, still liking the writer - is enigmatic, and masterful.
Rob Doyle is very tall, he appears at the door wearing a black polo neck and black pegs, looking total jazznik, because later tonight he’ll be on stage with a strain of the Fat White Family in Neukolln, playing percussion at a reassuringly fun evening, where the super-spreading qualities of the flute can be ignored, as we travel in an alt reality, away from the claws that birthed us all. Ex pat life, where universal globalisms of Me Too, BLM, Terf-wars, squish in the Q-Anon malestrom of denial and manipulations of the maleducated grip for sense and logic mean the novel has not felt as relevant and required in counterculture in my lifetime.
I remember Tessa Williams, one of my first editors, urgently passing me a copy of Trainspotting - its silver-skull cover becoming the book of the 90s. Heroin chic rose as Britpop banged the national drum, as a kind of distraction from the government reclaiming 'their' streets after the Neo-hippy threat of people raving their lives away, hugging in fields, and driving away in buses, like the ones pictured in the second Cold Lips book, Whos Fuckin Planet by Martyn Goodacre.
Threshold updates that cover, with a hologram, in an era where the individual is manipulated into the spectrum of hashtag identity politics, and good/bad - like/dislike polarisations mean we are the product, smashed beneath a data-driven duvet in a privatised society. 80% predictable, asking if that too is corrupted as any other statistic,the novel remains relatively data-proof, its nuance its strength, the unsearchable, between the lines facts being far truer than any single sentence or status update.
Thanks for listening. I’m making this on Sunday 27 September in Berlin. The music is by Gil De Ray. We’re on a residency in Mitte at the Neurotitan Gallery as guests of the wonderful artist Danielle De Picciotto - whom you can hear a past conversation with in the trenches of all your favourite podcast outlets, via Anchor, Spotify, iTunes, many more, and our own coldlips.co.uk. I also share these on kirstyallison.substack.com, where I gratefully send out thank yous of my new poetry book, Now Is Now, a collection since 007, to paying subscribers.
On Wednesday here, Rob Doyle joins me, Kirsty Allison, to perform in the gallery, with the writer and songwriter Kieran Leonard, of Saint Leonard - for a night of Modern Poetry. There are currently some spaces remaining, it is limited, and doors will close at 7pm. If you’re not in Berlin, we will be streaming on social from Cold Lips, Danielle De Picciotto’s and Gallery 46’s Facebook and Instagrams. Donations to artists are always appreciated. But likely you’ll be listening to this after, and I hope you’ll find a recording of this memorable occasion. The residency here has been wonderful - also come and support this space, Neurotitan - it’s the last remanent of the joy of reunification between East and West Berlin. After the wall fell in 1989, the free-for-all of the former no-man’s land in the area known as Mitte was attained by squatters in buildings such as Tascheles, now largely a hotel (a model for Shoreditch’s site of Red Gallery, that I wrote a book for), and Tresor nightclub in a former bank vault. Without records of previous families, lost in the war and partitioning, everything could be re-written. Neurotitan created a gallery space, bar, and arts spaces which remain underground, showing the works of Genesis P. Orridge, most quality street artists, and radical contemporary artists. Danielle’s show here is mainly work from the past 7 years - and I beg you to see it, buy it, support.
And I know this is sounding like one long cultural shopping list, but Rob Doyle’s book - Threshold, get it from an independent retailer, and keep an eye out for the forthcoming film version of his debut, This Is Ritual.