Derelict Public Spaces

Posted on October 30, 2011

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Fellow researcher Mariska van den Berg is joining me at ABA this week, her focus is on forms of appropriation of public space – artists, designers, architects or other civic groups claiming pieces of the city for informal use. Together we took a look at what is left of Skulpturenpark Berlin Zentrum, a stretch of former wall  ground that was claimed by a group of artists for temporary use as an outdoor exhibition spot. I think at the time (2007-2010) it was much bigger, now it’s a piece between Alte Jakob Strasse, Kommandanten Strasse and Seydel Strasse.

Much of the terrain has been developed in the meantime. We had to find a spot where there was no fence, but once we were in we were rewarded with a very nice hole that was dug by artist Erik Smith.

The importance of the hole – in art or any other area – can not be overstated. This one contains a staircase, which is even better.

The ‘Lands End’ billboard which was part of Skulpturenpark’s last show has now been appropriated by other artists.

We also went to Tent Station (Seydlitzstrasse 6), a former public outdoor pool which was claimed by a group of people who made it into an inner city camp site. The pool itself is used as a stage for parties and concerts, the top of the grandstand is used as a bar. Mariska interviewed two of the initiators and we were shown around the grounds.

Anyone familiar with work of the artist Marianne Vierø would have had a special moment of recognition at this spot:

It’s great when art and life share unintended formal analogies.

Our tour of derelict spaces claimed for informal public use ended, for now, at Flughafen Tempelhof. The vastness of this place escapes the capacities of my camera:

Here Mariska is scanning the horizon for a point of reference for her research.

We found some gardening and some miniature golf going on, but on the whole we thought Tempelhof’s informal use was best demonstrated by the enormous amounts of people skating, cycling, walking and flying miniature airplanes on the runways.

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