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  • Naomi Kent

Buchstaben museum (museum of letters) & Berlin screenprint festival

I had barely been in Berlin for 30 minutes before a poster with a squeegee on it caught my eye and I had to take a step back and take a second look. It turns out there was a screen print festival on the same weekend I was there – pretty lucky!


Screenprint festival poster


The festival was held in a large gallery space at the mural clad Urban Spree, with about 25 outdoor market stalls. There was a range of artists from hobby printers right up to Banksy, Shephard Fairey and Bonnie & Clyde. There were workshops, live printing demos and a swap & meet, all held in a beautiful courtyard with street food vans & seating areas. I bought a great postcard.


The outdoor market stalls



I’d talk about my visit to the Bauhaus archives but it was a let down and not really worth the 30 minute bus ride so I won’t bother. Instead I’ll tell you all about the Buchstaben museum (Museum of letters); very similar to ‘God’s own junkyard’ but not quite as good. Nevertheless, no lover of letters’ trip to Berlin is complete without seeing this space which is crammed full of letters! I got there to find all the staff sat outside eating lunch and was told the museum would open in half an hour. I waited on the steps in 32 degree heat for it to open. Thankfully they had pity on me and let me in after about 3 minutes.

The museum is devoted to rescuing letters from public spaces, and preserving and exhibiting them in this museum. The first couple of halls are in darkness, lit only by the neon. Each letter or collection of letters is displayed with a bit of info at the side, such as the year of manufacture and its original location. Sometimes there would be a plea for help to find the missing letters too. In the side room are rescued letters waiting to be restored – piles and piles of them! They’ll need a bigger museum soon. The largest letter was just over 3 meters tall! There are a few letters for sale in the shop, but you can probably get them cheaper on eBay.


I also just happened to stumble upon my favourite screenprint duo, Anna & Christian (@g____h____) at their Berlin-based studio. Such a great surprise! Their technicalities amaze me, and here’s Anna with some of her work.


Anna


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