“It’s So Berlin!” is a series that combines photography with comic style illustrations, to highlight some of the most common social, cultural and political issues in Berlin. From the perspective of two Palestinian visual artists, each image communicates a topic or a phenomenon that may be widespread and simultaneously unique to the German capital.
Springing from the usual sighting of free stuff “to giveaway” or “zu verschenken” as commonly known in the city, photographer Rasha Al Jundi collected images of anything that people usually leave on sidewalks or building entrances for others to take. In an attempt to reimagine a story around the abandoned free giveaways, artist Michael Jabareen stepped in with his cartoonish illustrations to add a sarcastic, comic and cynical twist to each image. Stereotypes are intentionally exaggerated through any introduced characters.
Through “It’s So Berlin!”, the artists aim to convey their love-hate relationship with the city, its spaces, different neighbourhoods and people. You will find some images to be very funny and others dead serious.
This is a tribute to the seasoned Berliner as well as the new arrival, especially the immigrant, who probably stumbled upon an abandoned sofa set during their first few days in this urban jungle.
theleftberlin will be publishing pictures from “It’s so Berlin!” every Saturday for the next 10 weeks. Each picture consists of the original photograph by Rasha and Michael’s cartoon. Rasha says: “I think it is more interesting to show the viewers the before and after images as the project is based on the principle of ‘zu verschenken’. It also shows the work that Michael put into the image and the transformation into a cartoon.”
Image 1: “Blind Orders”
In October 2023, while working on this project, a full on vengeful genocide was declared on occupied Palestine by the colonial Zionist army.
The accompanying extreme crackdown by the German authorities led us to repurpose this image to address the events that accompanied our process.
As Palestinian artists, we believe that we must use any piece of work that we produce to protest the genocide and the simultaneous repression against our existence abroad.
In this image, the abandoned item is a pair of boots.
Titled “Blind Orders” we take a dig at police violence that, from accounts shared on social media platforms during the production period, clearly demonstrate racism, extreme ignorance and plain yet evil stupidity.
It is illegal to ban any Palestinian symbols including our national flag and Kuffiyeh. Yet, starting from October onwards, many, including minors, have been rounded up and arrested for holding the former, wearing the latter or simply chanting “Free Palestine.” Worse still, there is clear and false conflation between Palestinian symbols and Nazi ones that at least one police arrest anecdote mentioned.
The scenes mirror those enacted by the Zionist occupation forces against Palestinians in occupied Palestine. Both regimes exemplify authoritarian colonial behaviour that is enacted with complete impunity.
Image taken in Neukölln, Berlin (2023).