Every last Friday of the month, cyclists meet in both large and small cities to take to the streets in convoy and as sheer mass. The principle of this gathering uses a rule of the road traffic regulations according to which a group of at least twelve cyclists is considered a vehicle and can, therefore, pass through a traffic light that turns red. Those who cycle in front decide where to go. The cyclists want to draw attention to the fact that even today, the car-friendly city from the last century is still a reality in many places. Thus, Critical Mass is a peaceful and solidary protest against the hegemony of motorized traffic in urban planning worldwide.
Critical Mass for Freedom and Movement
Through the City, Again
The Mobile Zebra Crossing is a portable device that can be deployed when encountering unwieldy street situations. Its purpose is to make it easy for pedestrians to traverse in places where there are no legal crossing options. However, because of the size and corresponding weight of the carpet-crossing, it cannot be used by one person alone. It takes many who must be willing to carry and roll. The crossing of an otherwise uncrossable street consequentially becomes a collective action, a kind of protest march. While this artifact may seem playful, it also points to the stubbornly persistent segregation of various groups in urban space. Celebrating the most sustainable of all modes of transportation, the Mobile Zebra Crossing engages in questions about how a just city for pedestrians might look.
Thomas Hirschhorn’s works address the challenges of our time. They deal with climate emergency and justice, consumer excess and alienation. Many of the geopolitical discussions raised by the artist, which we can usually hold at a distance, collapse over and upon us. We break in. We become part of the Hirschhornian cosmos, which so clearly says how important it is to take a stance. At first glance, the exhibited collage seems strangely sober, almost alienated. Values and attitudes, not solutions, are at its core. We seek simple answers to the multitude of questions in vain. Rather, the project is about establishing social relationships, acting together, the invention of practices that produce or change spaces.
The Street as a Protest Space
As the work of Crimson Historians and Urbanists shows, limiting roads to discussions of mobility would be negligent. After all, street spaces also act primarily as spaces of protest. The street, closed off and swept empty of traffic, becomes a stage for expressions of discontentment and dissatisfaction with state systems or political decisions. Crimson’s work speaks of these struggles as well as of the dynamics and forces that are revealed here. The future of protest movements, they argue, is closely linked to the street as a place of assembly accessible to all. But this understanding is not a given everywhere. What happens, for example, if surveillance gets out of hand? Or, Crimson asks, will this be the very thing that triggers new protests?
Small Fortified Buildings
We peer into a pit dug deep into the ground. In the middle: a last isolated house on a massive clump of earth. Nail houses, that’s what these structures—left in apparent wastelands—are called. For Ahmet Öğüt, these houses are »expressions of individual everyday resistance against strategies of state or corporate constraint.« They are remnants of hasty urbanization processes and, at the same time, speak of displacement. Öğüt’s model representations of the nail houses record this state of things as a warning. And so, resistance to the relentless global real estate industry and speculative land development is made visible in the long term and thus negotiable for others.