Trading Spaces: Jessica Bishopp in Berlin

Our series on how travel imposes on creativity - Jessica Bishopp in Berlin

Nikola Vasakova
April 25, 2017
Trading Spaces Explores The Notion Of Movement, Internal And External Changes Triggered By Travel. We Speak To Women That Have Traded Their Homes In London For New Environments And Find How It Challenged Their Practice.


When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back...exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind. (Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust)


I had a couple of ideas I wanted to experiment with and I wanted to immerse myself somewhere new. I was selected for DocLab Academy at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) last November where we experimented with interactive and innovative media and ways of storytelling using technology like virtual reality. I wanted to learn about game design and how that can impact storytelling and through research I discovered some successful studios doing that in Berlin and I love Berlin as a city.

Moving to Berlin, I’m learning all about how long you need to wait in line and how many forms you need to fill out in order to live and work there. Along with learning German, I’m starting a new project and volunteering at a refugee camp. The project I am developing is an interactive web based game inspired by refugees and created through collaboration with refugees, focusing on integration and removing the ‘refugee’ label and potential stigma that comes with it.

I am currently working in Honig Studios, a game design and interaction design production company based in Berlin. Like most people, I have been constantly bombarded by media about refugees, seeing that Germany appeared to be one of the main European countries offering to help and provide solutions, if only short term ones, and I wanted to learn about this, see it for myself and offer my help. The largest European refugee camp to have been created and organised is in Berlin at Tempelhof Airport.


Photography Jess Bishopp
How does the landscape and the feel of the city influences your work?

The buildings are lower than in London so you can see more sky and open space, I also love their pastel colour palette and brutalist block cube balconies; I want the architecture to influence my future projects.

Did you find any new influences in the city?

People – every refugee whose story I hear, so much can happen to human beings and they still manage to find the ability to smile and be compassionate to others.

Places – Tempelhof Airport; a building constructed by the Nazi’s, used as lifeline during the cold war for the delivery of desperately needed food supplies and now it is currently a refugee camp/centre.

Things – The high ceilings, tree lined streets & my bicycle

Colours – Pastel palette of the brutalist apartment blocks 

What are your favourite visually arresting spots in and around the city?

The canal in Kreuzberg has some beautiful spots. There is also a very visually experimental housing estate just behind Kottbusser Tor by the canal. Tempelhofer Feld, once a runway is now a huge open park where you can only see sky. The bridge by over the Spree at Warschaubstrasse is beautiful and resembles a castle. 

Do you have any favourite filmmakers that are working in Berlin right now?

I am still getting to know the city, I have been to a couple of really great film screening events by the Berlin Film Society and the week after I moved to Berlin it was the Berlin Feminist Film Week so I gorged myself on films, but so far they’ve been quite international films and filmmakers. I’ve already got a film list that I am working through, of films set in Berlin: Run Lola Run (1998), Victoria (2015), Sonnenallee (1999) and B Movie (2015). I have already seen Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (1987).

What will you take back with you when you come back to London?

Hopefully I will bring back some of this relaxed atmosphere and enjoyment in the day to day, and also the sense of shared responsibility that many people feel towards their community and refugees. I wish I could bring back some of the trees that line most of the streets, the cycle lanes and the eclectic brutalist architecture too! I have immersed and thrown myself at Berlin, that is something I will also take back with me; I will make sure I never take London for granted and continue to do new things, it is too easy to live in South London and never venture to East London, and Berlin has inspired me to explore more.

Jess' short documentary Platform 1 has been recently awarded Vimeo Staff Pick and she's recently directed an experimental short film for C4 Random Acts, co-produced with ICA and Dazed


Twitter: @jsbishopp