Alina Grasmann
KOKOON Favourite Places

Coney Island - New York

Alina Grasmann is a 29-year-old German artist, born and raised in Munich, where she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Alina used to live in New York - here she took part in the artist residence program of the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn from 2017-2018. Her head is in Munich, but her heart is still in New York. Here she guides us to her favourite place in the iconic city. 

Alina Grasmann is wearing Violet Dress - Sand Check

Where’s your favourite place?
Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York

Why is this your favourite place?
In my work as a painter, I’m interested in places that are somewhere between fiction and reality. That’s why I often find American sceneries so inspiring - they look sort of staged but are still a part of everyday life.

You’ll find that kind of scenery at Coney Island, which has a very special place to my heart. It’s part of beautiful New York but also very different from everything else the city’s famous for.

I love its kitschy boardwalks and amusement parks. It feels very real and in no way build especially for tourists. It’s like walking in a childhood dream; walking down the beach with its plastic palm trees and passing the ferry wheels and hot dog stands with their colourful flash lights. But at the same time, it feels a little bit absurd and run down.

Coney Island, with its fascinating history, is a controversial place that attracts outsiders. Just as it did in the past, having been the centre for various freak- and side shows in the early 20th century. It’s a place where the most diverse people have meet, a place that has always attracted artists and it has always been the base of countless stories.

Going there I first off see the kitschy American scenery, but I also feel its history and all those stories that have been told through time. For me, that’s the best experience.

“If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the World.” - George C. Tilyou

When and how did you experience the place for the first time?
My best friend took me there, when I was visiting in January 2012. Beaches are beautiful all time of the year, but the beach at Coney Island is more magical to me when there are fewer people around. Everything looks so sleepy and industrial out there in the winter time but visit at night and you’ll experience the kitschiest sunset ever.

Things you usually do when you’re there?
I stop by Nathan’s Famous, the first restaurant of the hot dog chain founded by Nathan Handwerker in 1916. I don’t eat meat, but I’ll have one of those giant sweet “homemade” orangeades and take it with me to the beach. 

I remember reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, where she talks about going there with Robert Mapplethorpe (friend and photographer, ed.) and they would share a hot dog sauerkraut because that was all they could afford. I love walking in the footsteps of people and artists I admire. And I’ll try to picture the place as they would have experienced it.

Is it a place you like to visit by yourself or with someone?
I never go there alone, but I’ll for sure try it someday.