The Undercurrents: A Story of Berlin

The Undercurrents: A Story of Berlin

by Kirsty Bell


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Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on September 6, 2022


Humane, thought provoking, and moving, this hybrid literary portrait of a place makes the case for radical close readings: of ourselves, our cities, and our histories.

The Undercurrents is a dazzling work of biography, memoir, and cultural criticism told from a precise vantage point: a stately nineteenth-century house on Berlin’s Landwehr Canal, a site at the center of great historical changes, but also smaller domestic ones. The view from this house offers a ringside seat onto the city’s theater of action. The building has stood on the banks of the canal since 1869, its feet in the West but looking East, right into the heart of a metropolis in the making, on a terrain inscribed indelibly with trauma.

When her marriage breaks down, Kirsty Bell—a British-American art critic, adrift in her mid-forties—becomes fixated on the history of her building and of her adoptive city. Taking the view from her apartment window as her starting point, she turns to the lives of the house’s various inhabitants, to accounts penned by Walter Benjamin, Rosa Luxembourg, and Gabriele Tergit, and to the female protagonists in the works of Theodor Fontane, Irmgard Keun, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A new cultural topography of Berlin emerges, one which taps into energetic undercurrents to recover untold or forgotten stories beneath the city’s familiar narratives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635423440
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 09/06/2022
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kirsty Bell is a British-American writer and art critic based in Berlin. She has published widely in magazines and journals including Tate Etc. and Art in America, and was contributing editor of frieze from 2011 to 2021. She was awarded a Warhol Foundation Grant for her book The Artist’s House, and her essays have appeared in more than seventy exhibition catalogues for major international museums and institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Tate, UK. Her approach to writing is rooted less in her degree in Art History and English Literature from Cambridge University (1990­–93) than in her hands-on experience with contemporary art production while working in galleries and curating exhibitions.

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