Competition 2016/17 The Middle in Nowhere

Art in the Underground between Central Station and Cottbusser Platz 2016/17:

Until 18 Sept 2016 presentation of all entries for the Art in the Underground competition in the project space station urbaner kulturen.

Call for submission, extract:

Short Description

The call for proposals of the international, open art competition Mitte in der Pampa in the frame of the long‐term project Art in the Underground of the neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (nGbK) aims at realising site‐specific art projects in the areas of the underground stations of line 5 (2016 and 2017) and line 55 (only 2016) and their surroundings. The starting point of the artworks should be a station between Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) and the station Cottbusser Platz, but they can also relate to the surroundings of the stations. Preferred stations are Hauptbahnhof, Berliner Rathaus, Kaulsdorf‐Nord and Cottbusser Platz.

The nGbK is interested in artistic works dealing with questions as to the relationship between centre and periphery regarding its effects on large‐scale projects, civic participation and the design of free areas in the urban space of Berlin. The works should address the connections between the periphery (colloquially called »nowhere«) and the city centre (»Mitte« – Middle – is the name of Berlin’s inner‐city district but is also to be understood in the sense of a model of social classes. How can interstices be perceived, how do people live in the various urban spaces, and how do they relate to each other.

The U5 line currently connects two major infrastructure projects: in the historical centre the extension of the U55 line with the construction of three new stations and in the periphery the conversion of the newly‐named „Kienberg“ station for the International Garden Exhibition IGA 2017 in the Borough of Marzahn‐Hellersdorf. Both projects have considerable effects on their respective surroundings and are flanked by wanted and unwanted public participation. The Middle in Nowhere asks spatially, socially and politically about how decisions are made in the centre and implemented in the periphery. What relationship do centre and periphery have to one another and what self‐will might surface in the periphery.

In 2017 the U5 line will become the official shuttle for an estimated 2,4 Million visitors to the IGA 2017. At both ends of the line citizens are demanding the green spaces remain intact. As part of public participation for the redesigning of the area above the future Berliner Rathaus Underground Station in the centre, a majority voted for the retention of the existing green space rather than for construction. In Hellersdorf residents are protesting against construction work in the Kienberg nature reserve for IGA 2017.

What is expected of the artistic works
The projects should refer to the specific circumstances of one or more stations and their surroundings between U‐Bhf. Hauptbahnhof and U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz and be conceived as site‐specific. They should deal with aesthetical, spatial and sociopolitical relationships between the centre and the periphery and respond to urban, cultural and economical developments. The call seeks new formats for negotiating how we live in urbanity – be they installational, interventional, participatory and/or performative, made by individual artists and/or groups, during short or long stays on site, by reacting to specific moments to developing new relationships with places and people. Work should be realised in and/or around stations. The competition organisor recommends the Hauptbahnhof, Berliner Rathaus, Kaulsdorf‐Nord and Cottbusser Platz stations. A large area of open land at U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz station and the exhibition space and work space at U‐Bhf. Kaulsdorf‐Nord provide additional locations for the realisation of projects.

Places for art
Underground Stations
The U5 line currently runs from Alexanderplatz under Karl‐Marx‐Allee through the Boroughs of Friedrichshain and Lichtenberg affected by the processes of upgrading and displacment, above ground through the single family homes of Biesdorf, through the East German housing estates built between 1977 und 1990 in Kaulsdorf‐Nord and in Hellersdorf, to renamed U‐Bhf. Kienberg – Gärten der Welt (formerly U‐Bhf. Neue Grottkauer Straße) now being redesigned as the IGA 2017 station. In 2016 the U5‐extension from U‐Bhf. Alexanderplatz to U‐Bhf. Hauptbahnhof is also part of the call: including the three stations which are already in operation Hauptbahnhof, Bundestag and Brandenburger Tor (on the U55 section) and the three stations under construction Unter den Linden, Museumsinsel and Berliner Rathaus (called Projekt U5). In 2016 and 2017, the station after the IGA’s 2017 U‐Bhf. Kienberg – Gärten der Welt, U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz and the adjacent large area of open land between Maxie‐Wander‐Straße and Carola‐Neher‐Straße will provide two further locations for the call. In the Hauptbahnhof, Bundestag and Brandenburger Tor Underground stations work can be postioned for example on the stations’ walls. The Unter den Linden, Museumsinsel and Berliner Rathaus stations are under construction and work can ony be positioned here outside the building sites. In the stations between Alexanderplatz and Tierpark work can be positioned for example on the billboards behind the tracks. In the stations between Biesdorf-Süd and Cottbusser Platz work can be positioned for example in the windows of the staff room buildings on the platforms (except U‐Bhf. Neue Grottkauer Straße)

Open land at U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz
The large area of open land between U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz, Carola‐Neher‐Straße, Maxie‐Wander‐Straße and Auerbacher Ring will be the competition’s central place of activity. This open area is well‐used by residents. Wide ranging contradictions can be interpreted on this open land. With this place’s geographical proximity to the IGA 2017 and the call’s timing parallel to the IGA’s 2017 preparations (2016) and opening (2017) in mind, the terms »International«, »Garden« and »Exhibition« should be investigated and questioned from various perspectives here. In regard to the origin of its inhabitants, Hellersdorf is a district characterised by many different nationalities: In addition to a growing number of people with a migratory background and refugees, there also many Russian‐Germans live here. The mixing of cultures is not very visible and not all residents of the district grasp themselves as international or want to be seen as such.

During the national election campaigns in 2013, the facist NPD party used the newly opened refugee home on Maxie‐Wander‐Straße in Berlin‐Hellersdorf as a place of populist agitation and public uproar. The party instrumentalised the neighbours and the media for their dirty campaign and bombarded the area with „Maria not Sharia“ posters. The home which suddenly found itself in the centre of the conflict is located near U‐Bhf. Cottbusser Platz and is surrounded by East German Plattenbau housing, the Regine‐Hildebrandt‐Park, a sports hall, the U5 youth centre and a new housing construction site. The large area of open land that lies between is part building land, part wild undergrowth, part newly planted trees, has a small football pitch and is crossed by numerous informal trodden footpaths.

In 2000 a school was demolished on this site as part of the Stadtumbau Ost regeneration programm. There is legislation for the land to be built on again one day. Towards the Underground station, there is an installation out of aluminium its weathered text stating that the first signs of settlement in Hellersdorf where found here of during an excavation: Hellersdorf’s past, present and future interconnect. Forms of local appropriation and direct communication can be initiated on this open land, particularly by the realisation of process‐based work.

The call sees this open land as a »Place Internationale« for exchange, discussion and a coming together of the residents in 2016 and 2017. New ideas about publicness could be developed here. An artistic proposal which involves the organisation of a call for residents’ ideas for this open land is preferrable. Artistic proposals which concieve and impliment various forms of appropriation and dialogue on this open land and its direct surroundings are also preferrable.

Project space station urbaner kulturen
The project group Art in the Underground has been running the project space station urbaner kulturen in a former shop on Kastanienboulevard near Cottbusser Platz station (from 2014 until 2016 near Kaulsdorf‐Nord station). The space has accumulated a core audience during the last two years of activities and it is vital to the project as a contact point for residents, initiatives and artists and as a way of communicating the work locally and as a stimulus for people engaged „outside“ in the periphery. It has functioned so far as a homebase, an address, meeting point and place for debates and presentations, as an archive, as plant storage for gardeners and now and then as a studio space to produce work.

The nGbK project group Art in the Underground is responsible for assisting the selected artists. All proposals submitted to the call will be exhibited in the station urbaner kulturen.The space can be used by the selected artists as an office, residency and production space. The project group will contextualise the selected art works with a programm of events and diverse presentation formats in the station urbaner kulturen and communicate them to its neighbours, local residents and a Berlin art public here. Artworks which are partly produced in the station urbaner kulturen and/or which use it as a meeting place and a presentation space are preferrable.

The space has 80 m2 exhibition and/or production space, toilet, kitchen, work and/or storage space. Technical equipment, supervision and the necessary basic infrastructure is provided for exhibitions and presentations.

The Underground stations, station urbaner kulturen and the area of open land will create the corners of an imaginary triangle for the competition, places to be connected by the selected artistic interventions both physically and mentally. It is possible for example that the realisation of a selected work or project begins in the Underground, continues on the open land and is mediated in the station urbaner kulturen.