Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Copenhagen’s Boutique Doc Fest

Nov 14, 2013

B.East Magazine had the unique opportunity to check out Copenhagen’s buzzing CPH:DOX documentary film festival this week. It’s a more intimate version of larger documentary film festivals like Amsterdam’s IDFA, with a laid-back atmosphere that extends into the nightly concept parties at various theater venues across Denmark’s lovely capital.
We danced the first night away to hip-hop beats at a Vice Magazine party to celebrate Snooplion, the documentary on Snoop Dogg’s reincarnation as a reggae messiah. The beats were wicked, and so was the crowd, more open and less pretentious than hipsters at Vice gatherings elsewhere in Europe.
On a more serious note, the festival scored quite a coup by having Chinese artist Ai WeiWei curate a film programme under this year’s theme ‘Everything is under control’. To WeiWei’s credit, he spurns our current obsession with the newnew, to focus on classic docs like Leni Reifenstahl’s Olympia, and Italian auteur Michelangelo Antinioni’s hippie-era documentary on China, ‘Chung Kuo, Cina’.
Corporate provocateurs, the Yes Men, also curate a hard-hitting set of films, including the weird Interkosmos, a musical documentary on the East German space programme. Go figure!
Among the films we watched, the one that stood out the most was Somm, a fast-paced documentary about would-be sommeliers in the US, that portrays wine-tasting as a highly-competitive Olympic sport of sorts.
Cosy Copenhagen in the fog of November is an ideal setting for this offbeat documentary film festival. We’ll definitely be coming back next year for some wicked films and Danish rhubarb.

Árkád: Budapest’s Top Fashion Mall

When it comes to fashion style, Hungarians are described more as radical and creative. Every Hungarian in the capital city loves to experiment their attires to look more unique as compared to other Europeans. One big reason behind Budapest’s thriving contemporary fashion industry is the number of local designers that find ways to incorporate Hungarian culture to fashion. Among the top Hungarian fashion brands that find haven in Budapest are Instant Hungary, Lokalwear, and Printa.

There are a lot of promising fashion designers in the city and the place where their creations are found is at the Árkád Shopping Centre. This shopping mall, which is situated at the Örs vezér tere 25/a I. Emelet Street at District 14, homes several fashion and designer shops, drugs tores, bookshops, and supermarkets. However, what makes it stand out is the wide range of local brands that cater to those who are looking for unique and fresh fashion style. In the shoe department, there are Carpisa, Deichmann, Geox, Humanic, Kibabaya Store, and Monarchy. On RTWs, there are Gina Laura, ZARA, Devergo and Friends, Brendon Babaáruház, and Mayo Chix. Currently, there are more than 100 shops in the Árkád Shopping Centre, with more brands expected to come in the next few months.

The Árkád Shopping Centre is not all about fashion. The establishment also has fun activities that local or international tourists would definitely enjoy. The centre is now trying to become a complete shopping venue through a bingo salon. The people behind the project are riding on the shoulders of Árkád, just like how English bingo enthusiasts get a lift from Over the years, the UK bingo scene has survived because of the support by online bingo sites. Now, Budapest hopes to awaken its bingo industry through a deal with Árkád. Bingo is not really popular in Hungary and by putting a huge bingo salon in one of the country’s top shopping districts, there’s a big chance for bingo to become more popular.

Local designers who have their creations sold at Árkád can also reap fruits of this bingo salon project. Bingo today is played by people from different age bracket. The more people will go to the bingo games, the more potential customers that each shop in Árkád will have.

For Free: Communist-Era Mural in East Berlin

Visitors to East Berlin often admire the Socialist murals that adorn the walls of many buildings, depicting scenes of industrious workers proudly advancing their society. Now, one lucky Ostaglia fan can take such a mural home with them to assemble on their own wall – for free.

The city of Berlin is giving away two classic DDR-era murals. They are attached to the sides of government-owned buildings which are due to be demolished. One mural is by Walter Womacka, perhaps the most famous artist of the DDR. His 15-meter high mosaic, entitled Der Mensch, das Maß aller Dinge (Man, The Measure of All Things), is up for grabs. As is Lob des Kommunismus (In Praise of Communism), an 11-meter long painting by Ronald Paris, which currently sits in the ballroom of the former statistics office of the DDR (see below).

However, there is a catch: The new owner must pay for the removal of the murals. One art restoration expert estimates it will cost about 18,000 EU to disassemble them, and 13,000 EU to restore and preserve them. Interested? Apply here.

As a postscript, Womacka also created the wonderful mosaics which decorate the walls of the Haus des Lehrers (Teachers’ House) at Alexanderplatz. Womacka’s inspired murals make us question the commonly-held view that all Communist-era architecture is “ugly”. Visitors to Alexanderplatz would do well to linger for a moment outside the Haus des Lehrers, and from this vantage point observe the hiddeous new malls which now blight the corners opposite. Here’s what B EAST editor Joel Alas wrote about communist-versus-capitalist architecture, back in our ‘East Sides’ issue in Summer 2008:

“Architecture in the West today is just as bland as its Eastern precursor. In fact, today’s urban design seems to owe a lot to Soviet central planning. Prefabricated slabs of concrete remains the preferred material of use. Boxy, monotonous and anonymous designs continue to sprout like fungi in cities everywhere, even as the West titters and shakes its head at the mistakes of Soviet designers. Wait ten years until the paint starts to fade and the rendering flakes off, and the ironic similarity between Eastern mass housing projects and Western mass profit projects becomes apparent.”