City Grips is a collective photograph show put together by Berlin Mafia Members, Valentina, Naïma, Patrice, Elisa, Felix and Antonio.

Berlin is for some of us the place we call home; for others it’s just another city on the map, another item to cross off of the bucket list. What makes someone leave their homelands to establish themselves in Berlin?

We are Berlin Mafia so it’s all about Berlin. We are also of here, but not from here. So we ask ourselves: why are we here? Why are we staying?

City Grips, is about that feeling of being captured by the city, a condition of belonging. This grip happens to us regardless of whether we were forced here, if we chose to come here, or if someone how we simply founds ourselves ending up here for a reason we can’t confound.

Like a living entity or a plant that grabs you, the city seizes us unawares. We all have a different feeling and a different angle in how we see the city. The city grips us all in different ways depending on how you choose to live your life, the place you establish yourself and the people you meet on the way. Berlin is rarely the same thing from one person to another, our experiences all being unique.

To probe why this might be so, we are working together by asking ourselves the same question: how does the City grip you? In order to answer this question we reached the idea that by experimenting with photography in the surroundings that we hold dear, before then sharing this work with each other in a Berlin Mafia collaboration, we might find a coherent answer. By sharing these photos and visuals among ourselves, it is hoped we can confront our points of view. This process help us to evolve together as we complement each other.

 Fraenkelufer, 8

A formerly squatted house of the 80’s was one of the first places I called home in Berlin.
It is a beautiful building facing the Spree, with a white facade and high ceilings, a few steps away from a crowded Synagogue.
In the place there lived a thousands lives. It has been inhabited and displaced several times for different reasons over the years.
The Project is about this place and how it welcomed me during this time. Some of the pictures were taken there during my stay and other pictures are staged. I have reproduced the house as a doll’s house to host inside all the memories that are bonding me to this City.


Walking by night in a weirdly quiet part of town. Wandering the city, playing a hunch turning right
or left, thrilled by the thought you might once again step in front of this peculiar place you didn’t
Berlin is full of these urban landscapes. The still ones, the boring ones. Neither pretty nor ugly. Just
full of something you couldn’t describe. All seems trite and yet you stop, staring at your surroundings.
You can’t help thinking something is bound to happen. Something has to occur.
It could be a movie set, a crime scene or the everyday corner of your block…
Here is the perfect point for your fantasy to run wild.
The narrative potential of the city that bonds me with Berlin and its streets.

Antonio – The Wall

No other city in today’s Europe says street art like Berlin. In comparasion with London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and so on and so forth, Berlin is today the capital city of Graffitti and Street Art in Europe. The history of the wall, the East Side Gallery, the abandoned houses and apartments during the war, the bombed corners; they all have something in particular: they all are painted by young people screaming for freedom.

Either because of the history of the ciy itself, or rather because the Berlin Police Department doesn’t have the budget to protect the walls, many artists are coming from around the world looking for that next white canvas on the wall. There they might paint a message of unity, antifascism, freedom, or just their names… These people are not going anywhere, they’re here to stay.

Patrice – Berlin is my home

For the group exhibition City Grips, I will show a selection of photographs that were produced since my arrival in Berlin. It will be a very personal selection of how the city gripped and still grips me, in that matter that I found my home here. Berlin as “Home” has for me a very intense and special meaning since I have been searching for home as long as I can remember – as a child forced by the decisions of my mother and with growing up by the urge to find my roots, identity and where I actually belong. By the nomadic life my mother lived since we fled the GDR just months before the wall went down, it was hard to understand where I belong – changing places of living, schools and friends made it impossible to adapt and fit in in the current environment and with people.

When I finally left to live on my own I was already adapted to a kind of nomadic lifestyle and started searching for the place where I would belong to across Europe, always with the feeling that it will be somewhere else. Finally I found myself with my wife in Berlin and immediately felt home. The atmosphere and history of the city is incredible even though it feels sometimes like a melting pot of lost souls – but  it is exactly that which drew my attention. I’m not different, I’m not an outsider – I belong here; here I feel comfort, happiness and most of all I feel  at home. I arrived. I don’t need to search anymore. Within this city of structured chaos, people from all over the world with all their hard life stories that finally brought them to Berlin, it is the intense, maybe sometimes careless but optimistic atmosphere and lifestyle which grips me every day. These feelings I try to capture in the photographs that document my Berlin – the “city grips” that make me calling this city “home”.


Elisa Sanchez.
I seek in City Grips an opportunity to research the reality of what attaches me to Berlin. Human connections are a central part of my work and my motivation to pursue a story through the reflection of my own. The important men and women of my life took me to very different geographic paths, and on them I’ve often relied for my decision making. Moving to Berlin is also as a result of an important human link and when this link is vanished, I find myself at a tipping point; in this city, and in need for answers. In this project, my piece is a collection of portraits of my closer Berlin connections. In them, I explore how the city grabs each individual. Each one takes me to a very different personal space, a place in Berlin that has been their own and tells me how they’ve ended up held by the City’s grip.








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