KITSCH CALIFORNIAN SPACES with Helin Bereket
Helin Bereket is a photographer, originally from Istanbul and currently based in Berlin. She loves to capture minimalist architecture and colourful spaces. But the city streets of her home town don’t always provide the architectural excitement she craves.
In Berlin, she says, “there are many rules…the buildings look almost the same. No different shapes or colours…Of course there are exceptions like the Jewish Museum or the Reichstag dome…but I don’t think architects really have the chance to be that creative here." So, in order to find architectural spaces with the power to inspire her, Helin has travelled far from home.
She’s been to Denmark, New York City, Namibia, Morocco… Where in the world did the architecture appeal to her most? It’s a question she finds difficult to answer. “I liked walking among the skyscrapers of Manhattan as much as the Buddhist temples in Ayutthaya. The Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon impressed me as much as Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. Every space has its own dynamic and gives you a different feeling.”
But, she tells us, she’s always had an affinity with the kitsch element of American design and had always dreamed of embarking on an American road trip. “I love that kitsch aesthetic that I’ve seen in American movies and TV shows. I like colourful buildings, motel and restaurant signs in neon colours, retro diners…I wanted to see and shoot them.”
Back in 2017 her dream was realised when she spent three weeks travelling around California (with a little detour over the state border to Nevada and Las Vegas) exploring the colour and shape of this renowned part of the world.
Was her American road trip as colourful as she'd expected? “Yes, it was! Not only the places, but also the people and the lifestyle. It was warm, colourful, shiny and showy. But,” Helin continues, “being in the heart of capitalism, there's also a dark side; poverty that we don't see in the movies or on television. That’s the topic of another trip I guess.”
On this trip it was all about the colour and the kitsch. The first of many architectural highlights was The Petersen Automotive Museum in LA. “Long, stainless steel ribbons run around three sides of the building and over the top,” says Helin, “The metallic ribbons with the red building in the background create this incredible facade. And the shadow games taking place below also offer many different photo opportunities.”
“Since I like colours and shapes, Santa Cruz Amusement Park – a little up the coast from Monterey – was also photographically really interesting for me. Unfortunately it was closed when we got there. But I managed to take a few photos before a very kind security guard accompanied me to the exit.”
And nothing beats the vibrant colour she found in downtown Las Vegas – from hot pink classic cars to acid yellow poolside loungers to the bright blue of a motel facade. Amongst these low rise buildings and swaying palms, Helin was able to capture the kitsch summer resort vibe she’d been so keen to discover.
Great weather, incredible colours and retro design. Helin's American road trip ticked all the boxes. But she hopes to return one day to capture that other, less colourful side of California she glimpsed along her journey. We look forward to another instalment of Californian photography and seeing where Helin travels next in search of exciting shapes, colours and architecture.