Creative work

Back in Munich, trying to make the ugliness pretty

Three weeks of »workation« in Brittany are three years short of what I think would make me okay to come back to Germany and not instantly feel like »Oh sh·t, I just don’t want to be here. Please, can someone turn the car around!« I have missed nothing about this city, I never really have, except maybe clean toilets. Yup, that’s pretty much it. That is all Germany has to offer.

Munich isn’t for me

On a fundamental level I get nobody who wants to live here, unless you come from like a super-hot or super-hostile country. But there are people from Sweden living in Munich. Not in Berlin (I understand that, Berlin is it’s own thing). But Munich. Blows my mind.

When I come back »home« (the definition of that word is lost on me), I feel like I want to take the next train elsewhere. I feel like before a dentist’s appointment or before I have to make an annoying phone call to the tax office. Yeah, that. I think, Germany and I are just done.

On the other hand, I also ask myself: Is it just because I can’t or won’t spend money here? Would it be a wonderful experience, if I’d go to coffee places all the time, hang out by the river, shoot photos, bla bla bla. Like, if I had grown up here and I was in my 20s, would I like it better? And I don’t really think so. I have to think of my hometown and I would choose to live there, despite the baggage, because there are better hiking trails in the area, the people are friendlier and the food is cheaper, better and not supersized. So no, I think it’s just not a match for me. My favorite city in Germany will always be Cologne. It is dirty, honest and fun. Munich is clean, up-tight and snarky. Berlin has an art scene. Munich has an art buyers scene.

Trying to make ugly stuff look pretty

Anyway, I decided to try make the most of it. As in: see depressing situations more as challenges. I find that whole idea kind of nausea-inducing, kind of sleazy marketing manager-ish or motivational coach-ish to be… I don’t like these pathetic speeches, the pep talks people see on Grey’s anatomy. That never works in real-life. Not that anything from that show does, but you know… Pep talks are movie bullsh·t. In real-life people just think you don’t get them and don’t want to hear about their problems.

So I am not giving myself a pep talk. I am giving myself a »F·ck it, whatever, at least try!« talk.

My first step to this is to accept changes. Some I can’t. Like gentrification, that is a thing that will just always bother me. But others are okay, even though you think they are awful at first. Like Instagram videos. For such a long time I just didn’t want to make videos. Even though I did, on YouTube.

I was like: Dude, I am not good at this. I can’t film everything I see. That’s boring as hell anyway. And then I saw all these boring 20sth shots blowing up. Girls in »depressed aesthetic« clothes in front of subway trains passing through. I mean, we did all that sh·t already, none of it is fascinating to me. It is kind of calming, but it’s not special, not fancy, not artsy. It is artsy to a 20-year-old, because they romanticize every dumb sh·t. They think pictures of toilets are pretty. Boy, do they love their dirty toilet shots…

I am past that phase, so I don’t get it, and the feeling of not getting it is inherently a sign of being a boring adult. I don’t know what’s worse, being an adult or not being a stupid 20sth that takes toilet photos. Both has its reason to exist. But it’s also kind of fun to mock these kids, to mock the naivety and undepravedness of the ones that are so in love with their a··less incomplete pictures. The ones that argue about what art is, when I am in a place where I just don’t even give a sh·t anymore. Sure, I might have an opinion. It’s probably something like »Sorry, that one-liner a toddler can draw, that isn’t art, it just is.« But at the end of the day, do I really care what is sold as art today? Not really.

The things I care about have nothing to do with definitions. I don’t care about words and the endless babblings of GenZ, but I think it is interesting to see what younger people do and what they like. Because I remember that, when I was younger, I always felt so misunderstood. And I believe that is how it is. Now that I have a kid, I do not want to be the kind of parent who is on the other side. I want to grow with her, not apart from her. And in order to do that, you need to immerse yourself in the life and visuals and emotions of young people.

Coming back to an ugly and mostly boring environment is hard, but you can take moody pictures of twigs anywhere, really.

When I look at Munich, or Germany, I only see baggage. I see that country I am done with, the place I want to get out of. My kid does not see that. She just is. She lives here and does not know how ugly it is. She did not attend daycare in a historical building and finds it tragic that all daycare centers look like lego. That all new houses look like lego. She likes lego.

For me, no, I can’t just take pictures of these new things. It won’t work, I just know too much. But I can try to not focus on them. Not focus on the ugliness. When I was 20, I would walk around with my DSLR, shooting pictures of toilets and trash cans, and that’d make me happy. That moody backyard. And what I see is that all of this is still there, it has never gone anywhere, photography has not changed a bit, y’all still like the same pathetic sh·t. So why not embrace it? The only difference today is that I have to make a video to reach people, instead of a single photo. It’s actually not much more work.

And when it comes to Munich, that brings me back to the idea of seeing things as a challenge. Munich is a huge challenge for me. It is easy to go to some touristy spots in the early morning, when they are empty, and shoot some epic video. Booooring. I will not do that.

But it is actually hard to find really pretty spots, old houses, houses that say »Nobody tore me down yet!« It is hard to find dirty cafés, without Mac Book people and a digital menu. (Boy, I hate that sh·t. When they hand you a barcode because it’s »more eco-friendly«, while really the sole reason they do it is for being lazy. Dude, I will open a café, just to make a point and create a beautifully designed menu, you f·cking cretins!)

The world is slowly becoming more ugly. It has been for a while. But online, there is a community of admirers of the pretty old things, the calming aesthetic of a moody dark street without people. It has always been there.

I don’t think you can find this in any city. Germany has really ugly cities, and Munich, technically, isn’t one of them. To me, it is probably more about this whole »Karen on steroids« mentality folks seem to have here. I like my freedom and not being bothered by strangers about stuff that nobody in any other EU country cares about. But Munich certainly has beauty. The challenge is to find it. Let’s see if I can find the energy to do this…

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