::01:: Staalplaat Store ::
:: by Elizabeta Lindner ::
Staalplaat store: the oasis of Berlin’s independent scene
The label and shop eventually moved permanently to Berlin. The label is now run solely by Geert-Jan Hobijn one of the original members of the collective. In 2004 the Amsterdam shop closed its doors for good in 2008 and is now firmly based in Berlin and likely to keep going full steam ahead thanks to its new owner Adeline Mannarini who took over in April 2019. She took over the shop from Guillaume Siffert who ran Staalplaat shop for over 10 years and turned it into much more than a record shop, adding self published zines and books from independent publishers, DIY publishing, and a whole range of prints and other items sourced directly from underground artists.
Vinyl records are back into fashion for collectors and amateurs, and for some of us vinyl never left – as is the case with the legendary experimental music store “Staalplaat” – founded in the 80s in Amsterdam by a collective of musicians and artists of the underground scene in Amsterdam. This independent collective and its label was vastly influential, collaborating with fellow creators of Amsterdam’s independent scene to organize events, and regularly broadcasting a radio show.
Nowadays (as the rent in Berlin grows sky-high and buyers of art and experimental works are small in number as always) it seems crazy to take responsibility for a store that carries products for a tiny number of consumers – which is why I met with Adeline for a chat to see what motivated her to do this.
When I first entered the store (where I am a regular), I was fascinated by the then exhibition wall which (literally) screamed graphic artworks by a young French artist who goes by the name Aude Carbone, who was present and I also got to speak with.
Adeline is no newcomer to the scene, which is exactly why the shop’s previous owner picked her specifically to continue the task of representing standout experimental artists belonging to both European and worldwide art, music, and urban culture.
Born in France and part German, she left for London in 1994, spending 20 years there. She studied art, then philosophy, worked as a photographer, author, translator, and editor, as well as working her main job in the distribution of art books at Art Data, gaining a vast amount of experience in the field. She also worked some years in a specialized art bookstore Marcus Campbell Art Books, with a focus in rare self published, collectable artist books. In this entourage of artists, authors, and small/independent publishers she quickly realized that these more specialist publishers needed more active support to get any access to vaster audiences beyond the then established distributors who were monopolizing that access to bigger retailers or museums.
This is why in 2012 she founded Anagram Books, a company for the distribution of contemporary art, theoretical, philosophical, anarchist, and other specific independent publications and presented these less mainstream publishers to bookstores, museums, at fairs and other events, in order to increase and widen their audience. She fervently represented these publishers, and kept working at the Marcus Campbell Art Books bookstore in London to make ends meet. This was a great support in the establishing and stabilizing of her own company, which, of course isn’t the most lucrative of enterprises in the business due to its specialization in underground and more political publications. But there is a different kind of success. Adeline says it herself:
“I’ve always believed it’s important to invest yourself and support the independent scene. We live under capitalism and people automatically think that if you have a company, you’re making money, but unfortunately it’s not quite like that in this field of work. Motivation was the driving force, yes, but after so many years your enthusiasm diminishes… but I could never give up what I love doing because through this work I’ve met some truly wonderful people with extraordinary literary and art projects, as committed to their work and to communicating and sharing their work with an audience, any audience.”
Keeping it up in a time of rising rents in Berlin is particularly difficult, making small independent oases like this an endangered species. Anagram Books had its own space on Lausitzer Strasse in Kreuzberg, near the canal, where Anagram Books lived the dream: at least twice a month they held events featuring and promoting publishers, authors, and artists, presenting their works and functioning as a meeting place in Berlin where people shared ideas and various groups formed. Now this dream is supposed to continue in Staalplaat, Neukölln. They have a one-year lease on the space, and no one knows what will happen afterwards. But if the lease is renewed, the back rooms will become a printing collective – right now they’re rented out as ateliers to artists and labels sharing rent and keeping access to low cost atelier space.
The shop has already housed its first solo exhibition and experimental music concert, which means the show goes on, both for Staalplaat and for Anagram Books, as well as the people who make them up, since socialization, networking, exchanges and events are the beating heart of the independent scene.
Aude Carbone’s exhibition is a great success and enrichment for the Berlin (and European) independent scene. After her solo exhibition in Brussels, the French artist comes to Berlin to present her work at Staalplaat. Her situation is the same as that of most who have decided to live their dream outside institutions. She has founded her own small publishing house “EpOx Et BoTOx” for small screen print editions and has published several of her own works so far, as well as literary works, fanzines and art anthologies by other artists.
Drawing is her greatest passion by far, and her detailed black-and-white drawings are then turned to color prints, showcasing this artist’s extraordinary talent and style. The morbidity spiced with humor and irony make her stand out, and the critique and caricature of contemporary life, expressed to the tiniest detail, burst out of the works leaving no audience untouched. You missed the exhibition, but you can get a whole range of prints and publications at Staalplaat.
If you are ever in Berlin, stop by – the shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 14:00 to 19:00st.
Kienitzer Str. 108, corner Weisestr.
(Note: the shop has now moved to Elbestr.28-29 in the backyard, closest UBahn: Rathaus Neukölln, Hermannplatz)
Translated from the Macedonian by Rinna Jankulovska
The Text was published first at Pop-Up – an online Portal for urban culture in Macedonia.
Staalplaat and SlovoKult collaborated in 2020 – for the Biennial of contemporary arts SlovoKult :: literARTour, organized by this online-magazine. We had the festival exhibition there and at the store you can find our publications, especially the very last copies of the first festival anthology 2018 and some works of art by artists who participated at the festival :: support independent arts and special stores like Staalplaat ::