Prison reforms, fair national budgets, justice for immigrants, the appropriate determination of tax burdens, the eradication of racial segregation in schools, the fight against corruption, or the questioning of police surveillance of the broad public—all of these are topics for the Centre for Artistic Activism (C4AA). What is unique in their work is the combination of art methods and formats with social movements. In workshops, seminars, summer academies, and other programs, they discuss the motives and working methods of different groups together with artists and people who are primarily active in social movements. This is intended to sharpen demands and organize actions in a more directed manner. Everything else, according to the founders of the organization, would be an unforgivable strategic mistake.
Art and Activism
Be Heard: The Right to the City
The Chor der Statistik was brought to life in 2019 by musician Bernadette La Hengst and experimental architecture collective raumlaborberlin. An open call attracted people who wanted to sing about the challenges of urban development processes. The specific reason for the choir’s initiation is the ongoing transformation of the long-empty Haus der Statistik in Berlin. The jointly developed songs raise questions, address fears, and formulate demands. And so, the choir sings about displacement and the right to the city, it articulates problems around rent increases and the privatization of space. Singing together and public appearances are equally protest and demonstration at the same time. »For a better future,« says the choir director, raising her baton.
A Refugee Hotel in the Heart of Athens
The City Plaza Hotel in Athens’ Victoria district stood empty for a long time. In April 2016, an initiative, together with stranded refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and many other places, occupied the building. They transformed the 126-room ex-hotel into a residential complex and managed it themselves. In doing so, the project is a demonstration of the practice of economic and political solidarity with refugees. Thus, it was also a center for the fight against racism, borders, repressive migration policies, and social exclusion. After thirty-six months, the experiment came to an end in 2019. Despite the project’s brevity, this building in central Athens, as well as the activities that unfolded there, represent critically important topics to all of us—and not only in times of crisis.
Diversity in Club Culture
The young Berlin collective No Shade seeks to change the music and club scene in the long run. For example, they strive to increase the representation of female, non-binary, and trans DJs and visual artists in the club scene through the organization of a regular club night and a series of training programs. The collective also wants to better network the various communities, crews, and club-goers to build a more solid foundation. These networks, support mechanisms, and tools are essential for keeping the sometimes fragile, often precarious, frequently isolated, and mostly parallel-existing systems alive and further strengthen them by creating moments of solidarity.
Tracing Colonial Histories
For about five years, an archive has existed in Amsterdam, revealing that which is buried and rarely told. It makes visible (again) eradicated and suppressed voices, histories, and stories. Building on the legacy of the Surinam-born and later Amsterdam-based social scientist Waldo Heilbron, a center for (post)colonial history was established. From this base, hegemonic and Euro-centric historiography is expanded upon with other aspects, data, and facts that paint a more differentiated and multi-perspectival image of global developments over the last 400 years. As a place for collecting, researching, mediating, and producing knowledge, The Black Archives demonstrates how history can be oriented differently and, step by step, supplemented and expanded with exactly those missing and suppressed voices.
A Model City of Memories and Dreams
That the houses assembled here seem to be thrown together is because the individual buildings, as they stand there, do not necessarily exist as built structures. They are memories mixed with visions of one’s future four walls. Built by refugees from Iran, Syria, Morocco, and Pakistan, World City, as the project is called, was created together with Berlin-based association Schlesische27 and other organizations. This global city of a different kind is both speculation and dream: about a future without borders, the city as a process of dialogue and its polyphony, of which there’s still too little to date.
Initiative for a Cooperative Future City
Berlin-Tempelhof Airport building: 312,000 square meters of total floor space. Concreted apron: 236,000 square meters. Tempelhof Field: a vast 355 hectares. For twelve years, flight operations have been suspended. Since 2009 the buildings, including the airfield, have been owned by the State of Berlin. In the intervening years: discussions and processes about what to do with this massive area. The collective, which has been working from the former gatehouse of the airport since 2018, joins many others with the demand that whatever transformation happens, it must be for the common good—fit for our children’s children. This means: Making the city of the future and developing new imaginaries demand planning with care for humans and non-humans, but also with respect for this planet.
Due to out-migration, the city of Görlitz has shrunk by a quarter of its population since the 1990s. In 2008, a research group of the TU Dresden and the Görlitz city administration dared an experiment to attract new people to the city. Temporary living in Görlitz should reveal the qualities and potential of this place. Probewohnen, Stadt Erleben, and Stadt auf Probe, and now the fourth edition of the project is underway. Those interested can try out living in the city and get to know the networks in the cultural and youth sectors. They can use shared workspaces as well as workshops and thus directly explore new social and professional perspectives.
A Model Project for Refugee Integration
Former mayor Domenico »Mimmo« Lucano of the southern Italian municipality of Riace was co-founder of the association Città Futura—City of the Future. In collaboration with aid organizations, he took in refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Palestine, and Lebanon. With this came state subsidies that were then also invested in the village’s infrastructure, which—many today believe—would likely have died out without the new residents. And so, together with the locals, abandoned houses were repaired. The newcomers were also introduced to local traditions of glass making, ceramics, and embroidery. But from the beginning, there was resistance to what was seen as an idiosyncratic approach, which finally led to the project’s collapse a few years ago. Lucano was accused of malpractice, abuse of his position, and had to leave Riace. In the meantime, however, he’s back forging new plans.