Sébastien Van Malleghem | The Last Shelter

Courtyard of Kopi, Berlin on November the 19th 2012
The Last Shelter

[T]he Last Shelter. Berlin, (2012 -2013)
Berlin is considered like one the hippest cities of Europe. It is renowned for its trendy nightlife, its underground sub culture, and its inexpensive bohemian way of life… I got lost in its streets, and I was emotionally touched by certain faces—those of people living out of the system.
People live in abandoned buildings and in the wasteland around the capital. I got to know the junkies that I met in the subway stations, the street artists, travelers and squatters. They choose to live freely. Many of them don’t receive help from the government, and they don’t pay rent. Often they don’t have access to electricity. Some left their homes because of “personal problems.” Others are drug addicts, drifters, or people just fed up with the system. This unlikely lifestyle is happening in the center of Europe, under everyone’s eyes. I started this project in October and November 2012 with a two-month artistic residency. I continued working on it in January 2013 with my own funds.

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Berlin is steadily closing off all of the buildings (like the Tachelese or Kopi) and the land used as shelters by these people. Some are being sold off to foreign companies. As their space disappears, the texture of the city is changing, and it risks loosing its edgy urban culture. Berlin is one of the last places where this kind of population is able to survive. But now, they are being evicted.

Lars is riding his bike inside the courtyard of Kopi, Kopernickestrasse, Berlin on November the 08th 2012. Kopi is an abandoned building squatted by all kinds of people, artists, punks, junkies, travelers, homeless, etc. They are all living together. The entrances of the courtyard and of the building are totally forbidden to tourists and foreign people, it’s obviously forbidden to photograph. They are not paying any rent.
Franck is drinking a beer close to the fire that he made few minutes before.The temperature was close to –10° on Jan 19, 2013. He raised the fire with gas and woods found in the streets.
Lea has been a drug addict for 20 years. Prenzelauerberg, Berlin on November the 5th 2012.
A young couple who decided to live out of the system because they had family problems, and couldn’t find any jobs, due to the crisis, Berlin on 24 November 2012.
People from Teepee town are sleeping inside their tepee. January 20, 2013
Tom is using a hammer to put out cobblestones from to ground to build his house, Berlin on November 23, 2012
An ex drug addict and her friends are playing inside the Moritzplatz subway station in Berlin, on October 29, 2012
Friga’s tipi, Berlin on the 13 November 2012
Friga the chief of Teepee town is going to a meeting, Berlin on January 18, 2013
Homeless inside the smoker area of the shelter managed by the Berliner StadtMission, in Berlin on January 22, 2013
A protest against the gentrification of Berlin near Kottbusser tor, Berlin on November the 10th 2012