Olalekan Jeyifous calls his partly dystopian-looking collages, which deal with urban transformation processes, visual conversations. By exaggerating existing situations, he aims to increase the visibility of those people and settlements who often go unheard in planning and fall victim to urban development. He sheds light on the intertwining of hegemonic structures, shows how architecture perpetuates the power structures of colonialist ideologies and then itself becomes ammunition in the arsenal of colonial power. These different perspectives and narrative strands are also reflected in this collage of the European city. After the systematic exploitation of its colonies, it stands here as a colonized entity itself that not only tells of these systems but also of greener futures and stories.
An Afrofuturist Vision
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.
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.
Who Builds Our Cities?
The Fair Building project is about precisely those who are often forgotten when architects or public figures talk about spectacular new constructions or large-scale urban planning. In contrast to the film industry, where every role, no matter how small, is listed in the credit roll, architecture tends to keep a low profile when it comes to the work and the workers whose labor allows for buildings to emerge: workers who are employed in precarious conditions, workers who temporarily live far from home in inhospitable places, workers who ply their trade on unsecured building sites, and workers who toil away for days and weeks that are too long. These are the people who play the lead here.
Architecture’s Second Life
The work of Rotor and Rotor Deconstruction (RotorDC) is not concerned with the construction of buildings or cities as we know them. Instead, the office develops strategies for the careful deconstruction of houses slated for demolition. Materials recovered through these processes of dismantling are re-claimed and offered for sale on a website. The spectrum is broad and ranges from cabinet handles to oak parquet, from lamps to porcelain washbasins, from glass blocks to floor tiles. Rotor’s general aim is to raise awareness of existing assets and create a legal framework for reuse. Many local authorities now use the collective’s handbook when considering new lives for existing public buildings.
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.