The Place to Be. Nightclubs in Berlin 2013–2020


Julie Chovin

Year: 2021
Format: Publication; 220 pages, 30 × 12,1 cm, Swiss brochure, thread stitching
Text: Boris Grésillon and Séverine Marguin
Language: German, English, French
Design: Studio Daniel Rother
ISBN: 978-3-907112-29-8
Price: CHF 29.00

Between 2013-2020, the artist Julie Chovin photographed around 220 nightclubs in Berlin. She based her work on a ‘club list’ published on the City of Berlin’s official website. The title, The Place to Be, is the slogan the City chose for its marketing campaign. Chovin appropriated the questionable title of this campaign for her book and took the list as a starting point for her photo project.

The Berliner-by-choice sought out the clubs’ locations, which are spread out all over the city: from 1a Lauschgift to Berghain and Puro Sky Lounge to Zur Klappe. However, Chovin’s photographs do not document the interiors or detritus of the nightly hustle and bustle. Her focus is on the exterior facades and entrances, which are located on the streets and are often surprisingly inconspicuous. Taking a frontal view of the facades and the locked club doors, Chovin photographs her subjects in daylight, staging them as part of an urban environment rather than places of intoxicated ecstasy. She captures an everyday view of the urban club landscape, documenting places that in some cases no longer exist – or will soon cease to exist because they have become victims of the gentrification process. Some clubs had already closed when she finished the series at the beginning of 2020 and more have likely followed since then. In retrospect, the photographs make it seem as if the artist had predicted the lockdown: the deserted images underscore an anxiety that the formerly vibrant Berlin could soon exist only in memory. The book features 220 colour illustrations accompanied by two texts: Boris Grésillon takes us briefly back in time through Berlin's techno history and Séverine Marguin describes Chovin's club archive from an urban sociological perspective.

The book was designed by Studio Daniel Rother; its idiosyncratic format is reminiscent of a city map. The design concept picks up on the artist's serial way of working and gives a sense of the city's vastness. The photographs are superimposed in full format, with additional images cropped to the left and right of the photographs. The club locations frame the photographs as GPS data.

Book review Berliner Clubs vom Lauschangriff bis zur Klappe by Michael Guggenheimer

Article by Etienne Diemert in the Revue TK-21

Radio interview