Hannes Gruber has a calm, unassuming manner. He does not tend to talk too much, does not like to be in the spotlight. And if you stay silent with him for a long time, it doesn’t get uncomfortable. Difficult to imagine that someone might feel uncomfortable in their presence. That makes him an excellent host, among other things.
He describes himself as someone who likes to bring people together and push things – and he does. Current project is a streaming service for artists who lack stages and earning opportunities due to the coronavirus pandemic – working title “Wash Your Hands, Please”.
Since March 2019, Gruber, together with “partner” Karsten Konrad, has been co-operator of the Mysliwska bar in Kreuzberg, named after a Polish sausage because the original operator was Polish. The bar is not mistaken for a butcher shop in Poland either – the peeling plaster and the nicotine-soaked furnishings speak a different language.
The Mysliwska has been around for thirty years, and partner Konrad has been there for twenty-five. His main job is professor of sculpture and multimedia at the University of the Arts. Gruber himself is an artist. He sometimes performs, paints, assembles and extends his pictures with living people who behave like objects. In 2013 he published an art book entitled “Patient”. It shows drawings of empty hospital beds, these “objects standing between sports cars, high-tech, illness and healing that nobody wants to go into, but which are actually there to make you feel better.”
It is almost imperative, he says, to continue this series today, but at the same time it is difficult not to slip into the macabre with the topic. Today, that is, in the corona crisis, in which hospital beds awaken all too clear associations . And in which not only the bars, but also the entire cultural sector is on standby.
But because Gruber is someone who likes to bring people together and push things, it may be harder for him to stand still than many. For a long time he has organized social theme evenings, discussion groups, exhibitions, performances by musicians in changing locations. With him, as well as the comedians Freddi Gralle and Anna Beros, a weekly stand-up comedy series had just started in Mysliwska, then the virus came. “Comedy in particular,” says Gralle, “relies on the immediate reaction and the laughter of the audience like no other art form. Comedy as a video cast, so being funny in a vacuum would hardly be imaginable. ”
Gralle and Beros are also involved in “Wash Your Hands, Please” and are working on ways to technically solve the interaction – be it with just a few people on site or with a direct answer option over the Internet. )
The vast majority of Berlin’s artists, whether comedians, musicians, performers in the broadest sense, live precariously. For example Sven, which is actually called quite differently. Sven is a paradigm that many Berlin artists follow. He cleans in small clubs and bars, where he also plays DJ sets at night. It happens that after the gig Sven packs up his DJ equipment, maybe drinks a beer at the counter and philosophizes about music with other guests, and then, when everyone is out, takes the broom out of the cubbyhole, hot water into one Letting the buckets run and sweeping the trashed floor, wiping sticky areas and clearing the toilets of urine, vomit and everything else that can go wrong during a night of drinking.
When Sven leaves the bar in the early morning, he’s already finished work for the second time. Because of Corona, he lost both incomes at once. Sven stands for many Berlin artists who officially do not exist as artists, whose livelihood consists of numerous small jobs. The tax office probably doesn’t know him, health insurance companies have never heard of him. And if, as is considered, artists get a support to bridge the time-out, Sven flies pretty safely under the radar and doesn’t see a cent. Until Hartz IV is approved, his reserves do not suffice either.
With “Wash Your Hands, Please”, Gruber wants to create an opportunity to perform and earn money for people who, like Sven, are under flying the radar. Corona-proof, because online and with a payment option, presumably on a donation basis, which is realized via a crowdfunding platform, for example. “People are not only interested in finance, they are stage people who want to get back on stage,” says Gralle.
Premiere should be on March 28th, preparations are in progress. “We are holding talks with a number of agencies, scouts and people from our environment, such as Ran Huber from ‘AmStart’, to bring well-known artists with radiance on board who can help their colleagues with them,” says Gruber. Many have long been associated with the Mysliwska, but have now disappeared into uncertainty.
A bar is always a focal point of social circles – if it is closed, many interpersonal relationships disappear. “The bar has been around for thirty years,” says Gruber, “for many regular guests, it has long been something like their actual living room. So it’s also about sending a sign of life from us, the bar and the people from here. ”
The stream premiere is scheduled for March 28th. If it goes well, it becomes a series. If you want to follow the project, support it, or participate as an artist yourself, you can get more information on the bar’s Facebook page.