The past year showed us that place and space are no neutral concepts. Instead they are sites of constant struggle, a playfield for power relations, politics. How to use space and place to empower those that need it, to make them part of the narrative? A place where nobody feels a trespasser. How to release this social capital so urban dwellers can create a new common grounds?
An interesting publication on this topic that appeared last year is Participation, Citizenship and Intergenerational Relations in Children and Young People's Lives
Last stop of educational project called Res publica reloaded, belonging to Lifelong learning program, took place in Dusseldorf from the 7th to 10th April 2015. The main topics of the meeting were: tolerance, integration, culture and political aspects of street art and arts in public space. People from three different countries had a chance to be a part of this experience.
The purpose of our meeting was discourse about street art and art in public space in the broad sense. Politics as content of cultural productions, and culture as expression of political views. People from Netherlands, Poland and Germany had the third chance to talk about political and cultural education with the help of street art. We all had something to learn from each other, share our experiences and reflections: European identities, contents and visions.
-We, as partners want to promote equal participation process of people from different background in the fields of culture and politics in the street art – explains Magda Jasińska, the polish coordinator, the represent of Villa Decius. – We also want to include the experiences in a process of lifelong and mutual learning between people from different countries and their reflections and ideas for next steps.
What we saw, what we heard, what we experienced
During our three-day stay we experienced and participated in many events, our timetable was fully-filled. However, some of them were outstanding, deserving special attention.
Marxloh is not as bad as people often say (my translation)– words of Mustafa, who guided us for Marxloh, the city district in the north of Duisburg. Marxloh has ups and downs, some people call it little Istambul, use to non-going-area. The main message of our meeting with Mustafa was difficulties and ideas for creative using of urban space. He showed us Weseler – a busy street which was full of diversity: many colors, smells and tastes from all over the world. We finished our trip in Mosque which was founded by the local Turkish/Moslem and German/Christian community together with the authorities at local, regional, national and European level. This is the best justification that the cooperation between the government and the local society is fruitful.
Being impressed by Marxloh, we went to visit Rheinpark in Hochfeld, (district of Dusseldorf). It used to be occupied by heavy industrial area, nowadays an impressive industrial space used in every possible way. Creating many facilities for young people to take advantage of, seems to be really innovative and effective. This is amazing and surprising how you can use a well-known place in public space by the city management.
The end of our day was the meeting with inspiring Charlotte Dahmen, theatre director. Her amazing project in cooperation with refugees is coming in June 2015. It’s going to take the participants into a journey through the touching stories of refugees, showing their life before and after escaping from their homelands. Meeting her was a big inspiration for educational work.
On the second day we had a great pleasure to meet one of the biggest street art artist, murals painter – Klaus Klinger. Thanks to his hospitality, we had a chance to explore his atelier. Klaus took us for a very nice walk through Dusseldorf. Many of his works made a big impression on us. Most of them have a political subtext. The great thing was walking around the Bilk –graffiti street, inhabited by refugees and emigrants. It is unbelievable how the appearance of surrounding influences our perception of the people living there (immigrants). Colorful walls make the street look nicer. Hopefully, they also make people living there happier.
Taking some aspects of our participation in the program into consideration, it should be emphasized that it had a positive influence on us, broadening our mind about the impact of the street art on life of people from different cultural backgrounds.
All people we had a chance to meet there, are focused professionally on intercultural learning and promoting cultural diversity in Europe.
One is for sure: there is a great creative potential in intersectional cooperation. All of us came back home, with the mind full of new ideas, full of inspirations.
-Experience, knowledge, culture I have experienced in exchange with people from other countries was unique- said Michał Staszewski one of the learners from Poland – I have spent really inspiring three days with also or even more inspiring people. Three days which were intensive, sometimes tiresome but for sure – worth it!
The aim of creation the intercultural dialogue to gain new knowledge and to create mentoring-relationship, was definitely achieved.
Blog by Paulina Świder
«When public spaces are successful […] they will increase opportunities to participate in communal activity. This fellowship in the open nurtures the growth of public life, which is stunted by the social isolation of ghettos and suburbs. In the parks, plazas, markets, waterfronts, and natural areas of our cities, people from different cultural groups can come together in a supportive context of mutual enjoyment. As these experiences are repeated, public spaces become vessels to carry positive communal meanings». (Carr, Francis, Rivlin and Stone, 1993, p. 344)
Project Die Sehnsucht nach Ebene 2 - Longing for level 2
The visit to Düsseldorf is already past us, but sometimes I would still think about this visit. In particularly the story about the bridge in Hagen. Although it was only a videotape we got to see, it still got me popping questions in my head.
First some explanation about the project. The artist Marjan Verkerk wanted to create ‘art in public spaces, where no one expects to find art’. With this motto she created this project which she realized with college Milica Reinhart. The project is named ‘Die Sehnsucht nach Ebene 2’. Sehnsucht can mean longing, nostalgia and homesickness. Ebene 2 is the name of the road bridge where the artwork is placed. The city Hagen is an medium-sized city in an industrial area in Germany, the Ruhr Basin. The bridge cuts right through its center. Over 80 different nationalities inhabit the district surrounding the bridge, and the area itself was very neglected.
Over two years the artists held extensive interviews with female migrants (the participants) about memories of their home country, of war, love and loneliness. Their memories were a mixture of their biography, life as a migrant and country of origin. During the interviews they also talked about colors, the colors of their memories. Through the use of these colors their memories became more visualized and personal. After the interviews Marjan and Milica got started with the colors every participant chose and their stories and memories, and they created a color pattern for each single participant. Then Mirjam and Milica drew the color patterns life size on the bridge, and after a half year of painting the artwork ‘Die Sehnsucht nach Ebene 2’ was finished.
For me at first it sounded like a good and kind project, but then I started to get a little bit sceptic about it. Did the people wanted their neighborhood to become a color festive? Maybe the migrants already felt left out in society, and this project would underline that thought. With this bridge they would become even more visualized for society, when they already are, and maybe not always in a positive way. And how can a bridge help a neighborhood flourish? I kept wondering all these negative questions, and kept wondering what the feelings of the migrants were. Did they even liked their own color pattern, and could they find themselves, their memories and stories in it?
After our trip to Düsseldorf, I returned home and sometimes I would just think about that color bridge. So after some research on the internet I came across some really positive feedback about ‘Die Sehnsucht nach Ebene 2’. It turns out that the migrants really felt one with their color pattern, and even said; ‘That’s mine, that’s my painting!’. They are proud to be part of the project. And after it finished in 2009, the neighborhood did flourish. Music projects, theater- and dance productions and even a movie were follow up projects that established in the neighborhood. The bridge brought movement to the city Hagen, and people even say: “Who doesn’t support this project isn’t a real Hagenaar”. A successful public space if you ask me.
Dusseldorf 8-9 April 2015
One way function workers
Teeth Muscles Size
Let science play a role
Made in Marxsloh
It's like Carrot and Sugar bread
Meeting the Mosque
Learning how to wash before praying
A man is sleeping
Reflection: "We" do not wanna be seen as social workers who work with "difficult" young urban people. On the other hand we invest also a lot of time in social skills and communication. Trust and believe.
How can we make that more visible without devalue our artistic profile.
Other associations find it hard to work with such a diverse group.
We see it as a strong force.
Religion as topic interesting
Range of age
Inviting guest teachers
Performing in Public Space
We are here
Meeting the Park
Green Oasis at the Rijn
Big concrete Walls with graffiti
Old Fabric portraits
Social project restaurant
Horace Hero of the day
A shamed of not speaking English
Audio tour refugees stories
The owner of the story
The value of a story
Artistic Refection with Yassine
Is there a place for the nerd at DEGASTEN?
Confronting young audience on explicit scenes
What about the Neighborhood safari don't go in the niche of a niche.
Maybe you have more in common then you think.
See it from the perspective from youth.
Lost in Sunny Dusseldorf
Walk the street art tour
Him and Herr
Beer and Bitches in the atelier
Meeting half Dutch promoter Robbie
What a fine place and spaces
Insects, Political Puzzles,
Hamburgers growing out of French fries on walls of colorful houses what a beautiful surrealistic street.
Benjamin and Sandor painting love, los and juice hip-hop against sexism...
At night at the Jazz club in Köln music sounds good and calm.
Watermelon men from Herbie Hancock
The look of love, the Pharcide The Drop...
Sleeping on the train...
Kraków – Zabłocie. We spent the first half of the day on a guided tour through the Zabłocie with Michał Pałasz. He showed us its nooks and crannies. We saw some pieces of alternative street art hidden in the bushes next to the railway track, famous Schindler's Factory and Museum of Contemporary Art. We could hear some stories from the past, find out more about district's structure and changes it is now undergoing.
This trip to Krakow was the most multidisciplinary work trip that I ever had. In terms of the professionals that we have met, the trips and workshops and of course the diversity of the city. The 3 days in Krakow were pretty intense. We had a full day program which was diverse in all aspects. I felt like a sponge, because I wanted to hear, see and meet all, on a personal level, but also for creating further cooperation’s for DEGASTEN.
The literary trail on the second day was interesting because the KBF has the task to find new ways to promote reading by putting it in public space. The walk was very interesting, but because I didn’t have an introduction why this project was started, it was hard to reflect on the projects the KBF had started in the city. Later on while having lunch, I found out that Urszula was trying to find new interactive ways to promote reading with young children. This was a task that I had while I was working at the Dutch School Television SchoolTV. Ursula and I have discussed several methods on digitizing children’s books for children’s TV programs, in order to promote reading with children and their parents. In the Netherlands, this project was a big success. I have connected Urszula to a company that digitizes children’s books for educational purposes. Here’s an example of a digitized book.
Marzena’s presentation on making ‘New Urban Legend’ stories and short movies with children was nice. With DEGASTEN we always create new performances by working with youngsters. By listening to their stories, by watching their movements and looking at their development, DEGASTEN creates multidisciplinary stories and performances. I think we have a lot in common with Marzena’s way of work. Unfortunately there was not much time to talk with Marzena about her vision, her working style and artistic values. I have invited Marzena to visit DEGASTEN in Amsterdam, so that we could teach her about constructive ways to collect and create stories with a big group of children. And she could teach DEGASTEN to work even more multidisciplinary, by mixing video art and the stories of children with theater.
By Farnoosh Farnia – youth theater DEGASTEN
Res Publica Reloaded team
During the exchanges our team of learners will blog daily about the discussions, experiences and new insights.