If there's one thing more difficult than getting into Berghain, it's taking a piece of it home with you. The high temple of techno has a notorious no-photographs policy, leaving keepsakes limited to dodgy "official" merch sold on the internet, photos of the bright stickers that cover your phone's camera, and for the particularly creative, sketches of what goes on behind Berlin's toughest doors.
Now techno fans can own a more exciting piece of club history. The gargantuan mural that graces Berghain's entrance hall is being dissembled ahead of renovations, and the artist behind it is selling the pieces online. Piotr Nathan's Rituals of Disappearance has been a part of Berghain since the club opened in 2004, and he doesn't want it erected in any other venue. So Nathan is selling all 171 of its lacquered aluminum panels online both as a preventative measure and to let past guests have a piece in their own homes. Moneyed guests, mind you: each section is selling for approximately US$ 538.
"The work Rituals of Disappearance is only to be fully understood in the context of the music at the club, the people who celebrate there, and the unique aura of the space," said Nathan on the website where he's selling the pieces. "To me it is therefore conclusive to dissolve the work and distribute it primarily among the people who have a connection with the Berghain." Given the club's worldwide legendary status, it's unclear how he's going to implement this no-randoms policy, but the sentiment is understandable.
Comparing the Berghain experience to "cultic celebrations of indigenous tribes," Nathan says that the dissolution of clubgoers' bodies and the religious experience of raving were a direct influence on his work. The mural itself depicts "a volcanic eruption, a desert storm with sand tornadoes, a sea storm with water tornadoes, and the rising of northern lights above a nocturnally resting village." Apparently some of its panels have been eroded by sweat, which is to be expected, given that techno's coolest club sometimes doubles as its steamiest sauna.
Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Thomas Angermann via Flickr