Folke Köbberling

Nachbarn auf Zeit

The kick-off of Folke Köbberling’s work Nachbarn auf Zeit (Temporary Neighbours) consisted of a sheep demonstration with nearly 200 sheep which started at the House of World Cultures (HKW), passed Bellevue and the Berlin Victory Column, and ended at Hansaplatz. The demonstration drew attention to the precarious situation of itinerant shepherds, as well as the dire condition of our cities, where cars are given more space than humans, let alone animals. The demonstration took place in cooperation with the shepherd Knut Kucznik. The Federation of German State Sheep Breeding Associations (VDL), the Federal Association for Occupational Shepherds (BVBS) and the Sheep Breeding Association Berlin-Brandenburg were also present.

The motto of the International Building Exhibition (Interbau) of 1959, which conceived the Hansaviertel as the "City of Tomorrow", draws a connection between the sheep and the Hansaplatz (the district’s central square). What does the city of tomorrow look like in the face of climate change and rampant species extinction? Five sheep remained in the Hansaviertel for a month after the demonstration - as temporary neighbors - to draw attention to this question. The lawn next to the Hansa Library was converted into a sheep pasture with a stable. Local residents took care of the sheep: they became sponsors of the animals and fed them, took them to the pasture in the morning and brought them back to the barn in the evening. While “taking care of the sheep" the neighbors often got to know each other for the first time, or connected on another level. The idea of ​​the "social green" - a core idea of ​​the Interbau - was revived in this manner, as the green space was turned into a place of social interaction. In addition to the 200 sheep, Folke Köbberling also brought along 400 kilograms of their raw wool that had been shorn in the spring. The stable was clad with wool - and therefore turned into a seemingly archaic, sculptural contrast to the modernist rigor of the square’s architecture. The wool was worked in three public workshops, which also discussed the properties of wool as a material, as well as its fatal loss of value. Beyond its use for clothing, wool is also a sustainable material for insulation or acoustics. However, due to the lack of demand for raw wool it is currently not a profitable business: the sheep shearing and the disposal of unsold wool are more expensive than the gains.

Köbberling's work questions the potential of art in urban space from a conceptual, legal and ethical point of view. Do the sheep fall under §11 of the Animal Protection Law because they are "on display"? Are the participating residents the actual work of art, while the sheep are merely grazing?


– 14.09.2019, 12:00


Creation of banners and slogans for the sheep demonstration on 15.09.2019.

Meeting point: Hansabibliothek

– 15.09.2019, 14:00

Sheep Demonstration with 200 sheep from Haus der Kulturen der Welt to Hansaviertel; demonstration rally with Sheperd Knut Kucznik (ca. 15:30)

Meeting point: lawn west of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt

– 15.09.-15.10.2019


Grazing area for five sheep on the lawn next to the Hansabibliothek

– 17.09.-02.10.2019

Wool-working workshopswith Folke Köbberling and guests. Please bring a bucket! Registration required:

17.09.2019, 16:30-19:00, with Almut Eppinger, costume designer

28.09.2019, 15:00-18:00, with Folke Köbberling. As part of the art festival Ortstermin 2019

02.10.2019, 16:30-19:00, with Yolanda Leask, textile designer

Meeting point: Hansabibliothek

– 21.09.2019, 16:00 Lecture

by Folke Köbberling – (in German) Wool as a model for holistic processing.

Meeting point: Gemeindesaal