After the successful launch of the project Art in Urban Space at Hansaplatz, the new edition of Art in Urban Space is dedicated to the second section of Karl-Marx-Allee and the adjoining residential neighborhoods. Four art projects selected via competition will be installed there temporarily from spring to fall 2021.
What stories does the neighborhood tell?
Art in Urban Space on Karl-Marx-Allee will illuminate the neighborhood’s history both in terms of urban planning and private life through a variety of educational programming revolving around the art projects selected for realization, which offer new perspectives on the district’s past, present and future while enabling people to experience the value of public art. Drawing circles, discussion forums on art in public space, guided tours and, in particular, programming created by the nominated artists will take place at the same time.
Inspired by the drawing circles once popular in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), an open drawing group will be formed in the summer of 2021 to explore the area and the newly created artworks through traditional plein air painting.
La Passante Écoutante (Walking and Listening – Karl-Marx-Allee)
During the winter months, we will develop a radio program in three episodes. The first will record a walk with cultural theorist Thomas Flierl and architect Georg Wasmuth, who will discuss the area’s history and beauty. The second episode will document a photo album conversation and reflect on life in Karl-Marx-Allee’s second section yesterday and today together with participating residents. In the third conversation, selected artists will discuss their planned projects.
The competition was initially inspired by the changes in the cityscape along the second section of Karl-Marx-Allee. Both the setting’s unique history and the architectural plans currently being made for it provide an exciting terrain for site-specific artistic projects offering new perspectives on the area.
The new buildings along what was once Stalinallee, particularly those in its second section (constructed between 1959 and 1971), were preceded by the demolition of well-preserved buildings from the 1930s that were no longer considered modern. The new development concept included various iconic structures of socialist post-war modernism such as the Kongresszentrum (bbc Berlin Congress Center), the Haus des Lehrers (“house of the teacher”), and the Kino International (Cinema International) as well as a combination of pavilions and residential buildings alongside them. Thus Karl-Marx-Allee’s second section became a model project meant to offer a high level of residential comfort with its two cinemas, the ultra-modern Hotel Berolina as well as restaurants and cafes (such as Café Moskau or Mokka-Milch-Eisbar). Until the 40th anniversary of the GDR’s founding on October 7, 1989, the street was a central location for its military parades and for mass political demonstrations held by groups such as the socialist youth organization or the federation of German trade unions. On these occasions, such as Republic Day or the May Day parade, bleachers for guests of honor were set up on either side of Karl-Marx-Allee.
After 1989, there was renewed controversy surrounding the development of the second section. In spite of several more architectural interventions over the last few years, the area’s open, relaxed, spacious and generously landscaped original character has been preserved to this day. The entire district can still be experienced as an urban development ensemble and functions as an important testament to urban planning in the GDR.
Art in Urban Space
Art in public space is a far-reaching and widely practiced form of increasing visibility and awareness of specific urban settings. Temporary projects can illuminate spatial or social circumstances in different ways, search for answers and create community building initiatives with long-term potential. Thus the discourse around art in urban space is strengthened and legitimized.
This is why the District Office of Berlin Mitte’s Department of Arts, Culture and History launched a comprehensive art project for the city’s Hansaviertel (2018 – 2019) at the recommendation of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe’s Advisory Committee for Art (BAK) in collaboration with the Senate Department’s Public Art- and Percent-for-art programs and is currently developing its continuation for Karl-Marx-Allee (2021).
To gather proposals, the city of Berlin held a closed, single-phase, anonymous art competition preceded by a Berlin-wide open call for candidates. The city of Berlin is represented by the District Office of Berlin Mitte’s Department of Further Education, Culture, Environment, Nature, Streets and Green Spaces’ Office for Further Education and Culture; Department of Arts, Culture and History. The process will take place in collaboration with the Senate Department for Culture and Europe’s Public Art- and Percent-for-art programs.
Sponsors: City of Berlin, represented by the District Office of Berlin Mitte; Department of Further Education, Culture, Environment, Nature, Streets and Green Spaces; Office for Further Education and Culture; Department of Arts, Culture and History;
in collaboration with the Senate Department for Culture and Europe; Public Art program and Percent-for-art program
Competition Management: Hauke Zießler, acting program director for Urban Culture and Art in Urban Space
Project Coordination: Annika Maus
Competition Coordination: Gabriele Karau, kk-archpro
Academic and Artistic Project Director: Susanne Weiß in collaboration with Bettina Klein
Translation: Moira Barrett