Flea Market Chic Berlin Visitors Caught in the Lens

Berlin's Mauerpark flea market is a magnet for visitors to the city. It is also the subject of a new book of photos capturing people and their treasures and showing the face of a new, more international German capital.

Thomas Henk Henkel / Junius Verlag

Berlin's Mauerpark, built where the Berlin Wall once formed a very unnatural border between the city's western Wedding and eastern Prenzlauer Berg districts, is a major magnet on Sundays for people from Berlin and around the world.

In addition to an extremely popular karaoke party in a small amphitheater, the park is also home to one of the German capital's most bustling flea markets. It features high on the must-see list for "Easyjetsetters" who come to Berlin each weekend from the rest of Europe.

A new photography book published in Germany focuses the lens on modern-day treasure hunters at the flea market and their booty. Photographer Thomas Henk Henkel first came up with the idea after he and his son rented a stand to unload a bunch of stuff they no longer needed.

Henkel says he was trying to sell toys, but couldn't stop thinking about all of the fascinating people flooding the market. "It was like holding up a mirror to the world," he says. He then decided to exchange mental images for real ones and created a book dedicated to the visitors.

A Portable Studio

He built a portable studio -- literally a tent with black walls -- that he then erected in Mauerpark over the next 12 months. Each Sunday, when thousands of people flocked to the flea market, he asked them to pose with the treasures and junk they had snapped up.

Henkel met visitors from Berlin, New York, Belgium and all over the world as he photographed them. Beyond the flea market finds, the pictures also show a cosmopolitan city, one where the world feels at home. They also provide a hint of the small things in life that make living in Berlin such a pleasure.

"The Mauerpark flea market is a very special place, partly because of its location in the former death strip," Henkel says. Like many visitors, one of the things the 48-year-old Berlin resident likes best is that Mauerpark provides a bit of German living history. One can find Soviet hats and East German kitsch, but also products from a bygone era when things were built to last for an eternity.

"My traveling photo booth creates a special atmosphere," Henkel says. "For a moment, it frees people from the hectic pace of life in the big city."

"Treasure Hunters: People Seen at the Mauerpark Flea Market Berlin" can be purchased here.

Reported by Julia Stanek.


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