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Zollkantine

Bremen has always been a city of trade. It’s documented that the Zollkantine, Bremencity itself was mentioned for the first time – using a similar name like today – in the 9th century AD. Its river ‘Weser’ has been one of the main reasons for the city’s foundation – as it allowed shipping. This was seen as a great possibility to gain a proper income – which caused people to believe in living a more pleasant life.

However, there have always been duties which had to be paid for trading national or international goods. One of the places this was done can be found in the beginning of the harbour area in Bremen. Today this place is called “Zollkantine” (“duty canteen”) and it is used by Musikszene Bremen. The duties and clerks were replaced by musicians and their art. They are offered to rent band rooms in the building in order to practice and improve their skills and songs. There is also a room for concerts and jam sessions which are organized by the musicians or the location itself. It became a place to fulfil young artist’s needs. Normally they have it hard to be recognized and get the financial and intangible possibilities to develop themselves due to the dependency of material benefits in the powerful culture industry. 

However, the building itself and its surrounding are pretty boring from the outside. The “Zollkantine” is situated in an area between several well populated quarters. The area doesn’t offer a lot besides factories, streets, a gas station, some residential buildings and former warehouses which are used as event locations. No highlights besides the screaming red of the gas station – like a lightening strike in a wasteland of grey, functional buildings.Zollkantine, Bremen

The rainy, grey sky and the cold winds which are blowing around my nose are framing the view I am offered this day in early February. While I am getting closer to the building, I discover another memory from the past: A ramp which most likely was used to check the loadings of trucks. Then I entered.

Leaving the entrance door behind me, I feel like being in another world. One that is hidden behind design influences of the German economic miracle. I am standing in front of the stairways which are leaving me impressed and speechless for a second. They are enlightened by the brightness of the light which is coming from a round dome in the ceiling. They have the charm of old movie’s stairways in villas. But the posh “red and gold” have been replaced by candy colours. A solid and indestructible railing is inviting me to move on.

I am deeply impressed by the chosen colours and the forms of the interior. The round and angled shapes which I can see. They work together hand in hand, as they receive their deepness by the contrasts of colours, lights and shadows.Zollkantine, Bremen

I find myself back in the 2nd and last floor. I see the round shape of the floor itself, the goods lift and the PVC-floor. The colour under my feed has an old, washed out grey. From time to time, some funky highlights appear in grey-blue and -red. Then there are these spiral stairs. As the stair’s big equivalent, it is also brightened by the light of the windows in the next floor where this way is guiding to.

As I go up, I see this “cockpit” of windows. For a second I am pulled out of my photo trip which is full of retro and candy taste. The grey Sky and a disillusioning view remind me again on what I had left behind me since I entered. However, I wanna go on.

I decide to go down on the other side. While I am already feeling like a little child in a candy shop, my photography heart almost suffered some irregularities, when I saw the beauty of the colours which covered the grey which I had left behind me again. The artsy windows made the outside become a still life in geometrical shapes. Each of the tiles – which remind me on the modern grid-style which is widely used for photo galleries – shows an own pictures itself.

It is a silent place. A place which models the outside. I don’t hear anybody playing, singing or talking. I am walking down on the grey stone tiles, take some more photos and decide to finish this grey day …

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