Accompanying The Shadowboxing Woman

schöneweide

On Schöneweide

The novel shows us two different Schöneweides: a snapshot from the 1970s, when the area was part of East Berlin’s industrial heartlands, and a  post-industrial landscape with a faint glint of hope in the early 1990s.

The area grew up alongside the factories backing on to the River Spree in the late-19th century; tenements housed the workers, shops and bars along the main road saw to their basic needs. Public transport brought in workers from other parts of the town (later borough) of Köpenick.

The last major production facilities there closed in 2005. The cable factory mentioned in the novel is still in operation, albeit on a much reduced scale. Although the jobs have fallen away, the area seemed unexpectedly lively when we visited in summer 2010 – small workshops have moved into the abandoned factory premises, sushi bars and fitness clubs added a splash of colour. Schöneweide is still poverty-stricken, but public investment and local enthusiasm have made it a more pleasant place to be than during the 1990s.


Schöneweide

Schöneweide

In the middle of the shot is a factory gate, in front of it people in working clothes, perhaps twenty of them. The posts of the entrance are yellow brick, and alongside the street run tram tracks rather than a pavement.

Photo: Katy Derbyshire


Schöneweide

It’s not until the last moment, just before my eyes go to turn back to März, that I discover the reels. Huge wooden discs, joined into pairs by an axis, roll from perception to recollection, looking for a point of contact, some kind of hollow where they might get caught and come to rest.

Photo: Katy Derbyshire


Schöneweide

Schöneweide

SchöneweideWe follow the tracks to a crossroads, cobbled with roughly hewn stones framing a tangle of tram tracks leading in different directions, some opening onto dead ends.

Photo: Jason Danziger


Schöneweide

Schöneweide

SchöneweideBeneath a web of low-hanging overhead tram cables, we leave the bridge, cross at the crossroads and turn into a strangely halved street.

Photo: Jason Danziger