Wild Years Revisited 1990—1996

Shortly after the Wall came down, subculture blossomed in the middle of Berlin. Featuring previously unknown images and commentary from key protagonists, this exhibition brings back to life an almost forgotten era while showing how Berlin’s Wonderland years made the city what it is today.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, artists, punks, anarchists, squatters, visionaries, and oddballs discovered the no man’s land behind it—a practically lawless zone in the heart of the city. The compelling photography in Berlin Wonderland brings this almost forgotten era back to life and shows just how much the city has changed since then.

In the free spaces among the crumbling façades of old buildings unbridled creativity was unleashed and a variety of clubs, bars, techno parties, galleries, uprisings, and exhibitions sprung up. These new spaces became a magnet for young people from around the world, who flocked to the burgeoning scene. As these wild years may seem long past, their effect is still palpable and has made Berlin into what it is today.

“We were in a realm of possibilities where dreams could come true. Each day was a fresh adventure. We were possessed by the collective urge to create something new. We encouraged, inspired and challenged each other. For a brief and precious moment, different rules applied”, stated Jochen Sandig.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is time to tell the visual story of an extraordinary time in the Mitte district’s history that only few experienced. The striking photography in Berlin Wonderland is supplemented by interviews and quotes from those who shaped this subculture.

Photos: Ben de Biel, Hendrik Rauch, Philipp von Recklinghausen, Stefan Schilling, 
Hilmar Schmundt, Andreas Trogisch, Rolf Zöllner

About the Curators

Anke Fesel and Chris Keller

They both came to Berlin in 1990 and right from the start were active in various projects like Tacheles, IM Eimer, Schokoladen and Synlabor. Anke Fesel is a designer and operates the graphic office capa, Chris Keller is a musician and freelance photographer. In 2007, they founded the photo agency bobsairport and self-published the photobook »Berlin Wonderland – Wild Years Revisited« that is now already available in the third edition. In 2017, a second book called »Berlin Heartbeats« was published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The books feature photographs by Ben de Biel, Ute Mahler, Harald Hauswald, Rolf Zöllner, Philip von Recklinghausen, Hendrik Rauch and Sven Marquard among others.

Currently they are initiating the musuku – Museum of Subcultures in Berlin. The first exhibition Islands of Utopia will be on show in September in Berlin.


The exhibit is presented by the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, San Francisco.