DISCLAIMER: This post is ridiculously late (I'm blaming a combination of laziness, work and a busy-busy trip to the UK) and sadly the Olympus Photography Playground has now been and gone, rendering this review largely irrelevant.
Since the success of Olympus' 2013 effort, the Photography Playground is on it's way to becoming a bona fide Berlin institution. Housed in the Opernwerkstatten in Mitte, the two month exhibition draws mammoth crowds, largely on the basis of it being a) free and b) a really easy way to bump up your Instagram likes.
The concept is simple but sublime - meander through three floors of surrealist landscapes with a camera in hand and a selection of artsy poses at the ready. The stunning installations are as diverse as they are breathtaking. Rotating mock-baroque apartment interiors, fluorescent light paintings and DIY recycled material mirror mazes are just a few of the offerings from local and international artists including Dean Chamberlain, Leandro Erlich and Anna Burns. No, I've never heard of them either, but by all accounts they're Very Big Deals.
Sadly, we didn't get to explore as many of the installations as we would have liked to, as the unexpected two-hour queue threw our already jam-packed schedule into disarray. Even after the long wait outside, many of the smaller or more elaborate pieces had their own sub-queues. This actually works in your favour if you're not strapped for time, as your pretty snaps don't get ruined by a confused man in cargo shorts accidentally straying into your shot. For Oli and I, however, it rather took the sheen off our experience. We were only able to spend about 40 minutes exploring the labyrinth of eye candy before I had to leg it to Yogaraum, where I was needed as a background hula hooper for the German TV show Taff (don't ask).
The Playground also allowed you to rent and trial the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 for free in the super photogenic surrounds, and then gave you the SD card when you left. This was brilliant and awful in equal measures. On the one hand, exploring the seemingly endless selection of settings and filters was hugely enjoyable and surprisingly user-friendly, even to a technophobe like myself. My personal favourite was the grainy black and white filter, which lent even the most pedestrian of our photos a hint of retro glamour. On the other, I think my savings account is about to receive a crushing blow. I hadn't even considered buying a new camera before I stumbled into this well-lit wonderland, and now all I can think of is getting my hands on a mock-vintage snapper with over 15 'art' filters.
Fuck you Olympus, and your beautiful, horrendously elaborate marketing strategies. Now where's my debit card?
Betti Baudelaire xxx