PAC JOURNAL 10 weeks spent cycling from Holland to Hungary, researching how migration within and between cities impacts local visual culture. Interviews with design studios, coffee with architects, street parties with antifa and about 2000km of pedalling.
A TransEuropean Design Research Bike Tour.
The Hague Flags of Peace Windmakers Collective
Rotterdam De Bouw Studio Spass
Copenhagen Benny Henningsen
Eindhoven Phillips Legacy G / Sectie C
Cologne Onogrit Mario Frank
Basel Depot Basel ANTIFA The Dreispitz 2
Zürich ATLAS Studio The Pavilion of Reflections
Vienna T/abor Ai Weiwei
Budapest Art Quarter Budapest Blind Chic Collaboration 3
So don’t read to deeply into them, they’re set at 5 point (very small) type for a reason.
There’s a lot (really a lot) of crap blurted out straight from my stream of conciousnes, a lot of aggravating existential pondering, but I think there’s some level of interest in there too. And some funny bits.
They mostly chart my mood, the terrain, the album I’m listening to (made it through most of the contents of an iPod nano) and the occasional brilliant thought.
This also means there’s a lot of typos and horrendous spelling. I hope you enjoy that.
Precariously holding the bike with one hand and the phone in the other, or else leaning over the handlebar bag and squinting through the foggy plastic of the phone case.
Notes on the road.
Throughout my journey, I wrote little notes on my phone.
If you’ve read this far already, thank you, and I hope you profit from the rest.
Coming from a design background it made sense to me to focus on visual culture as a medium for approaching and maybe even measuring this. As I skimmed through cities I met with people who had moved from across the world to live there, and some that had been in the same place forever. All of them were aware of cultural movement in their area, even if it was just the pressure put on the culture by displacement and globalised an aesthetic. Although I was never in one spot quite long enough to properly get beneath the surface and tackle more difficult issues, I worked to find individual cases that contribute positively in some way. The goal was not to get answers or solve things, but rather create a discourse and a rough comparison between a select few projects/people that I stumbled across.
This project and trip came about for a multitude of reasons, catalysed by an increasing frustration with what was happening in UK and a desire to get out. I’ve seen a lot of positive initiatives happening, but they’re typically hyper local and operating in a bubble. Stuff like community spaces, arts and creative projects in cities — these won’t stop isolationism at a grand scale, but connect us in a multitude of small ways. So I wanted to get out and find more of these people, places and things to see how they shift throughout Europe, and as the identity of the city and people around them shifts too.
Flying there, renting a bike, and getting out to talk to interesting people about the project including meeting with Benny of Bureau Detours, as well as exploring and talking to others in the city. It was an uneasy and mistake-ridden start but it taught me what not to do for the main trip.
Copenhagen was that prototype.
Before I committed to this whole thing I wanted to check it would work.
Copenhagen â€“ a receptive
Cities are ever changing organisms. As people move through them neighbourhoods shift, public spaces morph and buzzwords of gentrification and democratisation are bandied about. I originally started looking into this field of research for my bachelors dissertation, as I felt increasingly cornered by and guilty about my role in gentrifying whatever city I may come to live in. Linjen is a project that I first came across at a lecture series called ‘City-Link — Right to the City’. Within a programme of talks about democratic spaces in cities was one by Christoph Lindner about a reclaimed piece of land that an organisation called Bureau Detours had developed in Copenhagen. This shipping container street was built to make use of an unused corridor of space between train tracks and other development in an area of Nørrebro that lacked a community hub or creative workspace. This prior research made it easy to choose Copenhagen as a first stop on this journey. Despite none of the Bureau Detours members being available to talk when I visited the site I did get to see the full space and make contact with the founder of the group who, although not directly involved anymore still works with urban spaces. It was with him that I organised to meet to talk about the group and the city.
Space Focus Amager Vest, Copenhagen Friday 8th July
BENNY â€“ DETOURS
Benny Jepsen is one of the founders of Bureau Detours; essentially a group of builders and makers who create urban interventions and alternative spaces in cities. Often they’re lo-fi and made with wood and simple tech, but all the members of the group have specialist skills, re-purposing them for a guerilla style of creation. It started when he and his friend just started travelling around Denmark and building stuff. Anyone was free to join them, and word spread organically. Steadily Detours became its own brand — technically it never existed and nobody owned it, but over time as the work they’ve done has become more legitimate, so have they.
“If you do stuff enough it will naturally be seen as and become what it becomes.” He doesn’t work with Detours anymore, having felt he had taken it as far as he could and it was time to move on to more experimental projects without the expectation inherent with Detours’ name.
I found Benny after a fairly confusing journey around the car park of a large convention centre (Bella Center) on the outskirts of Copenhagen. The company that owned the centre had commissioned him to create a new public intervention space there, so he was busy cutting wood, ripping panels off buildings and painting plans on the tarmac. I was greeted as enthusiastically as his emails had predicted, and he dropped work to have lunch and talk. Over Smørrebrød and coffee we discussed his current project, the ways that Copenhagen is developing as a city, and about urbanism and renewal’s effect on visual culture as a whole. I didn’t record it so sadly much of that wisdom is somewhere in my unreachable subconscious, but I retained the information about the convention centre site he was working on at the time.
The plan for the business centre was similar to other urban intervention type projects that Benny had worked on before: Locally sourced, often re-purposed material becomes street furniture and creates spaces to encourage interaction and makes a change in the pace of your day. This one though, Benny had bigger plans for. The following is paraphrased as closely to his speech as I can remember:
“They want the normal shit, but they’ve got no idea what I’m planning. This area has become corporate poison, there should be housing here, there are squatters all around but this whole area is policed. The building here is going to change everything. They think it’s just a few benches and flowerbeds, but no way man. You see all those panels missing from the metal building? I’m pulling those off and we’re gonna build a skatepark in the gap there. Everything’s gonna be covered in graffiti and all of the alt-left scene will come here and party. The street will become a new district in Copenhagen, run by us.” Something like that anyway.
That was Benny; and that was Copenhagen. It was obvious that the spaces he worked on really did make a difference to the people of the city, even if they only made a light impression on the physical fabric surrounding them. His energy was infectious. I was going to meet many more characters over the course of my trip, but some like Benny stand out both in their personal demeanour and their wordly impact.
@ behance.net/Oneliner detours.biz
It was the most sweaty and bedraggled version of myself that arrived at that first hostel in The Hague wondering what I had got myself into.
I got back from Copenhagen, finished University, saved up some money, finished planning, packed up my life in Edinburgh to head back South before selectively repacking my panniers and catching the boat to Holland.
So that was the beginning of it all.
but the beach is nice
Such a damp crotch
Bike is so heavy and itâ€™s so hot fuck
Last minute wifi
So much lunch
Meet Ollie, fun Edinburgh connection
Feel a bit intimidated by the other cyclists
This pain au chocolat is pretty homely in its sainsburys packet
The balance needs to feel right
I repack my bags again
My hair feels too clean, after the impulse to wash it really thoroughly as if thereâ€™s no shampoo for the rest of eternity
5 in the morning start for a weird motorway drive to Essex.
London - The Hague
The talk lead to question and answers which lead to a general discussion, before we drank too much and then climbed on the roof.
I met with the design studio Trapped in Suburbia with a discussion focusing on their project for the Just Peace Festival. I also spent time with a young art collective called Windmakers to talk about their place in the city. As well as interviewing and staying with them they put on an event for me to talk and launch the project which was an interesting way to mark the start of the journey.
Kind of the sophisticated city of The Netherlands, but nice because it has a beach. Itâ€™s an interesting one because quite a lot of the areas (Kwartieren) are fairly undeveloped but the centre is very commercial and business-heavy. You have to look quite carefully to find anything interesting there.
Flags of Peace Trapped in Suburbia design studio in The Hague on their project — Flags of Peace. I talked to Richard Fussey, who here answers the question: As a studio how do you interact with the community around you?
Project Focus Schreveningen, Den Haag Thursday 21st July
Well, the last thing that we’ve done that does that would be the Flags of Peace project. It was part of the ‘Just Peace Festival’ for which we do the identity, and is a city specific event. The Hague wants to be know as the ‘City of Peace and Justice’, because it has the Peace Palace here, and the International Court and all that sort of thing. So that festival is unique to this place and the people here. So we did the Flags of Peace as part of that. The idea came about because there’s not one official peace flag: the white one, rainbow flag, different icons for peace. The identity for ‘Just Peace’ the festival came from the flags, so we thought ‘what if we opened it up further and got a designer from every country in the world to participate?’ So the aim is to get one from every country. There were about 44 designs, 44 countries, and a mix of big reputable people, like Milton Glaser or Ken Garland, and smaller studios or design practitioners. The pier [on which the flags were exhibited] had become disused and empty but they reopened and refurbished it and it looks pretty smart. On the top they put all the flags, so there was 40 odd flags all along the top. You could see it from miles down the beach.
Images — Trapped In Suburbia
What was so successful was that it really got people talking about it. When we were stood there getting photos or fixing things people would walk past and whether it’s ‘I don’t like this flag’ or ‘this is a good one’ it was good that it actually started some kind of discussion.
@ trappedinsuburbia.com flagsofpeace.com
Flags of Peace
WIND MAKERS Collective Interview Zuidwal, Den Haag Friday 22nd July
Meeting with Windmakers; a small multi-disciplinary art and design Atelier based in The Hague. They talk to me about the city, how they work for it, and how it affects them. Lisa Laperre Janne van Gilst Lorena van Bunningen James Crossley
[Lorena arrives and joins the conversation] What do you mean, the different neighbourhoods? We were just explaining that you have really isolated sections like Laak, but Laak is changing a little bit, we have more people coming to live there and more students now, also because of the School. For example at Holland Spoor they build old small houses, I think in the industrial revolution to have workers houses. Now we think it looks nice but back in the day it probably looked really crappy. But for a long while it was used as AntiKraak, so anti-squatting, so a lot of people rent the buildings to anti-squat organisations, so it’s like temporary — — Because there’s a lot of empty buildings they don’t want people to squat them so they put people in there legally to protect them. So it’s really cheap, but when they have a new use for the building they can say that you have to leave in 2 weeks. Same in London, you sign up to a company that takes cares of loads of vacant buildings, stay there for cheap rent, maybe there’s heating, maybe you have to move to a different one after two weeks, but it’s cool way to live.
[The recording cracks into life mid-conversation as we talk about the different neighbourhoods in Den Haag] You definitely also know Laak. Yeah, it’s a very different area culturally. Where’s Laak? Where I live. The Hague is built up from smaller parts, and this [Windmakers] is really the centre part and then you have like the Regentessekwartier and the Zeeheldenkwartier, those are the richer parts, and then you have Laak, a district that’s a poorer part. These districts are there for a long time, so it’s something that people know, so when people say where they live they don’t say The Hague they just say Laak.
But around the stations they have a lot of places for students to live there. Also they do it to change the neighbourhood a bit, because of course.. These houses were at first anti-squatting. Then it was empty, we all thought they were going to demolish it, but then they give a boost to it and made it all new. Instead of the really small gardens you had there, they put a greenhouse in-between so they have a really nice chill place to be outside inside. So they made a really nice student housing of it, and it’s definitely an area where there’s also a lot of Turkish people, Moroccan.. Yeah and it’s at the border of Laak and Schilderswijk. So for these kind of projects they try to mix it up more, with students and others. So that space is just for students, it’s not for others?
Okay, and does it seem like those [areas] are ever really changing? I do think that Laak is changing, more young people are going there, it’s more a mix... — — With students because of the schools. Exactly. And they do these projects that are part of it too, they have this old building that’s empty, so because they don’t want people to squat it they put young people in it, to have a more dynamic feel there. What’s the reason that the areas are segregated? Is it a visual thing, the people there, the architecture?
No. So for example when I was looking for a house I think you definitely have these areas where you don’t want to live. A friend of mine tried one, she had this really nice house in a street in the Schilderswijk, not even that far away from the nicer areas, but she really didn’t like it. First she thought ‘okay this is nice, this is multicultural I can handle it’ but after a while she didn’t really feel comfortable there. So that’s why our friends all live in the same sort of area, like in Regentessekwartier, some live in Laak actually so that’s getting more popular as well. But I think definitely there are a few areas where you don’t want to live. You always have that in every city — — But in The Hague it feels really restrictive. I think in Amsterdam or in Rotterdam it’s more mixed. Even the other way around if you live in the Regentessekwartier as a poorer person, you might get looks if you go to the Albert Heijn and stand out from the rest of the neighbours. It’s very white, expats and rich people. It’s the same everywhere. Even though I’m still young and am just as much a part of the problem as everyone, I can see the areas in London that go from being cheap and undeveloped to being overpriced within 10 years. Everyone I know moves around the city in progressively wider circles. In Berlin it’s the same. Artists go and start galleries, and where galleries come, rich people come and rich people buy the houses near galleries and then it’s all too much. So you were saying that for this area, here is a meeting point, because you’ve got the expensive high street, you’ve got Chinatown, there’s the “not so fancy area”… How do you feel that affects your work, if at all? Because we mentioned that the gallery space is purposefully for the street, you don’t look at it from inside. So, do you think that the area around is relevant to what goes in there? Yeah, well we wanted to be [relevant] I think. We did talk about it when we started here, because we’re not here that long; since April or March . But when we started talking about the concept of the exhibition space, one of the first things that we really liked about it was that it’s a really multicultural area.
And there’s a lot of people looking inside because they’re interested in it. Basically the whole of The Hague passes through here because everybody goes through the centre to the stations.
Yeah it’s a straight line from Scheveningen to Holland Spoor.
And if they hadn’t been there nobody would go there. But now there’s a theatre there. But we can cycle round and see.
Exactly, if you would have a gallery somewhere else it would have an existing target group of people that live there, and here it’s really the centre so that way it’s really interesting. And it’s a transitory building inside as well as outside, because you’re guaranteed a year but you don’t know what’s happening after that right? No, because it’s a pretty big space probably they’ll do something really big here. Do you think they’d knock it down? No no, they’re never going to take it down. It’s almost like a monument because it used to be a factory, and they’re not allowed to do anything because it has cultural purposes. So they should put something cultural in here. I think there’s a lot of people interested. For instance there was this gallery, Nest, which is a little bit further out and they were interested in being here but it was too expensive. Also because they have a contract with the council, they get money from them, for being that area. For the city it’s important that the artistic things are not only in the centre but also a little bit spaced out. So there’s also some art in that neighbourhood. They had a contract of 8 years that they had to be there so it takes time.
There’s also another gallery that’s close to the students house that we mentioned, so it’s close to the station.. It’s a really weird spot. Oh is it LHgwr? I heard about that. Yeah they’re closed now which is a shame but it’s a really nice space, really close to the station so I think that’s the reason they were there. It’s interesting because it’s so multicultural and also because it’s really easy for people to come out of the station and see. Makes it more approachable. So I think, what I noticed last year, it’s interesting to see where all of these places have located themselves in the city. The Nest thing made me realise how it is engineered. What’s interesting is where they are in the city and how it affects the neighbourhood. There’s some totally different stuff there — — But I think that’s also why it takes quite a long time to find the right person to be in this space, because they want to have the right kind of organisation that can really benefit from this area and for the area benefit from it.
This building is huge so it should be a really big organisation. Something else that’s interesting is that we used to be in the Zeeheldenkwartier which is one of the most popular white areas to live right now, so there’s really nice shops and coffee places there. Almost all design shops. So the Design Quartier festival is also held there, and we used to be there and because we were in a space that was in the street we thought immediately that we should start a shop. So we actually started a shop there, and we had opening times and everything, and it worked quite well. We sold quite a lot of stuff and so many interesting people were coming in, and I got some interesting commissions through there. But there because it’s an already developed area, the people on the streets are design lovers; they’re rich people who are looking for art and for design to be the next big thing. So there were a lot of people walking around there, really interested in these pop up shops and that’s why it worked there. But when we came here we knew that a shop like that wasn’t going to work because the public that walks around on the streets is not the public that are going to spend money on that. And also because we have this situation with the front door that you have to call to come in… Ha yeah I still don’t know which buzzer is yours. We don’t even have one! Right that’ll be why then. There’s one in reception and there’s a button you can press to open the door because it used to be an exhibition space that was open every day. But if you go to the exhibition you have to ring the bell, you have to say ‘hi I’m coming for the exhibition’, and then they would let you in. It was really inaccessible. But because there’s a lot of commercial business now, with a lot of expensive stuff we kind of need it. And also we’re not really able to be open every day anymore. No not anymore. At first we really tried to have that because it was worth it you know, you could sell things and it would pay out in the end. But here it’s not really doable. So now we are open for events. There’s this route that passes by all these galleries like 4 times a year that we participate in. And in September there’s “Today’s Art”, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it? It’s a really big contemporary art festival and LustLab are renting the space downstairs to “Today’s Art”, so because there’ll be a really nice exhibition open, we will also be open because there are lots of people coming in. So we really changed our concept due to this place. And also because we are different artists than we were there. Because before we were more designers, more product based so there were a lot of things to sell. So we started with Windmakers last year, 2015, and started with 5 people who were almost all designers, I was the only artist/ photographer there. So we had a lot of products to sell. Then people left, moved to other cities and things like that so I found other people to be the Windmakers, and now it’s the 4 of us. Half of us are artists, and the product side isn’t happening anymore; we wanted to focus more on exhibitions.
Okay, and you also all do other stuff, and this is like, whenever you can come in. Yeah. But the whole thing of being together came from the necessity of being just graduated and in need of people to talk to, people to discuss work with and also the practical things because at our art school we didn’t get anything about taxes or whatever, you know we had no idea. Like last week I gave you [Lisa] a whole workshop on how to do your taxes, and I gave you [Lorena] one last year, so it’s really… It’s really nice to be able to talk about it to each other. And not just that but also being in a creative process, sometimes you’re so alone and nobody says to you ‘you have to go there and do something today’ so it can be very difficult. Then when you know there’s other people around you can talk to them. It’s very rewarding. Especially when you’re slightly different ages, and do different disciplines — — And come from different backgrounds. Because at first it was all KABK people, from the art academy here and then Lucia joined and she’s an expat actually, from France, and she was already a bit older and she’s sort of our business genius, because she did business school as well, so she has a lot of commercial experience. And then Lisa joined, she just walked in once in our old space and she wanted to do an exhibition, and she graduated actually in Gent in Belgium, Graphic Design, but I really liked that we had different nationalities and not only from KABK because
here you have these clicks of people that are like all KABK. Everybody that we know has studied there, so it’s nice to have other views and other disciplines in there as well. Does KABK have a strong influence in the city or does it keep to itself? Like if you look around and you saw a poster could you tell that style? Yes for example like Nutshuis, for their posters. It’s an exhibition space, they do films and lectures, and they always ask someone from The Hague I think to take the picture for their posters, and the design is also done by a graphic designer from the Hague, and their posters hang everywhere. Then here it’s good because we have more opportunities. But you mean more style design or more visual culture? I mean either, just if they have a strong footprint and they’re part of the culture of The Hague. I think they do. I don’t know so much about Graphic Design though. More just that if you drove in the streets here then I could just point out some spaces to you that used to be Ateliers, by people that we know, like more in that sense, you can actually see how KABK sort of…
There are some festivals like Rewire and “Today’s Art”, quite big in The Hague which all focus on contemporary art, but Rewired is more art science, sound and music. Like interactive media. I think The Hague is very rich with that because (I think) that it’s the only city that has art science as a course; at KABK. And for example when I went in July to the graduation show here, and I think that the most interesting thing is art science and interactive media design.
But that’s just logic because it’s all the art academy. For example Rietveld has a very strong visual language in Graphic Design, it’s really a thing that people see Rietveld. But I don’t know if The Hague also has that.
Also because it’s very young and new.
I do think that photography here is really a well known discipline. It is pretty weird the number of academies there are in The Netherlands for such a small country, we have one in every city, but I think that every one of them has specialities. I think photography, I can almost see from photos that it comes from KABK because it’s really into documentary, really a style that you have there. It’s always the technical part because it used to be a technical school as well which then merged into the art academy and I think in the photography world you would have KABK as a really big influence.
And Rewire wouldn’t exist if they didn’t have those studies here.
Yeah but then you have the problem that a lot of people that study in The Hague actually live in other cities so it doesn’t really affect the city so much. A lot of people actually live in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, because they come to The Hague and then they don’t think The Hague is so interesting. I think especially with commercial photography there’s a lot more people in Amsterdam. It’s a lot more interesting than to be here.
I think that if they said that this building was going to be empty and demolished —
But I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing. No not at all.
I suppose anything interactive you’re going to engage with more, than just looking at it.
Exactly it’s very rich here. So I think maybe that, for the rest I don’t know if there’s something standing out more than in other cities. Do you feel a sense of responsibility both for this building and for similar things in the area? Would you take part in campaigns if you heard about something happening to a building and try to push for it?
— Or if they try to make it another giant H&M we would protest against it. I try to have some kind of influence on the council as well, I mean when we have a registration as a foundation we get subsidies from the council, but the things they ask for are almost impossible for someone as small as we are. They want the whole programme and everything. So once I had this talk which actually came from the council which was nice; someone
just called me and asked what my vision was for the plan that they have. They really wanted to know my opinion on whether it was realistic or not. I had to explain to them, ‘okay we’re super small, we can’t really do this’. They really wanted more smaller initiatives like us to apply for subsidy but in the end it was always the bigger ones that got it and I told them like ‘yeah but that’s because you’re asking too much of us’. We’re not there yet. So unless they can use you and say ‘look at these people’ and use all the stuff you’re planning they don’t want to give you anything. And for this empty space, we also had a lot of ideas.
I really feel responsible for this building but also for sort of bringing something to the area with Windmakers. Also to get new graduates to engage with the city because that’s a hard step to take. Because there’s a school and there’s artists who’re already settled but the way to there from the school is a big step and therefore also we want to be here. And that’s also a reason I think why a lot of people leave after graduating and I don’t think the city actually wants people to stay here, so in that way I do feel responsible to do something to try to keep people here and keep it interesting. And you think that art and design project spaces, if they’re made to keep people here, you think that would just have a good effect or do you think that could be a negative thing as well, if that changes the demographic of an area. I think it is good. There’s one really big organisation called Stroom who organise exhibiitons and give a lot of subsidies. But you can sign as an artist or designer and then you can get a lot of help from them. So they are here to make the artistic climate stronger, and to stimulate people to stay because you can only be part of Stroom if you actually live here. So in that sense they try to keep you here. It’s funny how it works because I also wanted to move but then I thought also ‘okay if I move then I can’t use them anymore’. So it keeps you in the city because you can benefit so much from them. Yeah and I think Stroom’s quite unique if you compare it to Amsterdam or Rotterdam. They have subsidies there in a sort of similar way, but not like Stroom. And I think you could say that Stroom sort of influences the visual culture as well because if companies from The Hague want to search for an artist to do commissioned work they can go to Stroom and they help them find artists. Basically what they are is just you have artists, and you have the normal world, and Stroom really wants to be the mediator between the two and bring these worlds together. We don’t know how to find clients or people that want to buy our art. Like you [LB] for example found an exhibition. 24
But they don’t support any design. If they feel that you already make money in any way, then they don’t want to help you. They’re really meant for autonomous people that don’t have any other income — — Just enabling art for the sake of art. Ya they really want to support that. But at the same time they are changing a little bit, because they are part of Design Quartier with some designers. For example my boyfriend is a fashion designer and has a collective that’s really on the edge of art and fashion, but they all get funding from Stroom. So they’re maybe the first fashion designers that have funding from there. Maybe because they’re so much on the border? But they are selling things, they’re also making collections that they sell so… Yeah I think Stroom’s changing. It’s funny, because talking to you now about Stroom makes me realise how important it is. I knew how important it was but even more, it’s really good that it’s here.
@ facebook.com/windmakers instagram.com/windmakersdenhaag
Feel very possessive over my bicycle
Sit in the sun and watch the dyke boats
Found art chairs Ladder chairs, they’re the best
I’ve got a lot of time to cycle not a very long way
Found some funky red velvet draped on a fence
Delft is a place. That is little
Greasy phone screen marks also increasing
Suncream layers increasing
so cycling how about this
And the party on the beach bless
Pretty psyched with how the Hague went, such rad people
It’s properly nice today
Fixed the rubbing pannier with a little chunk of wooden floorboard and some duct-tape
The Hague Rotterdam
The journey properly starts
Feels like a totally different city, like actual roads and stuff
looking forward to seeing Charley
I feel a lot more white than I did in the hague
Find a raised park with lots of families barbecuing and stuff
Timing is an interesting thing
Gonna get through a lot of desert island discs on this trip that’s for sure
Also interesting but not quite viable for in-depth study were visits to some interesting re-purposed spaces like a car park that is now a club, an old tram flyover that is now a community park, and an abandoned water-park that is being transformed to be a hub for the blue economy and start-ups.
I visited Studio Spass — a design duo who’re rooted in the city and its developing identity; and I met the founders of Rotterdam’s Museum Plein events — bringing culture to wider audiences with a local focus on the international diversity.
Used to be one of Holland’s rougher cities with lots of shipping and industry, but that’s moved away from the centre now. The warehouse space it has left behind is being portioned out for different uses including tech, start-up and miscellaneous creative endeavours.
Event Focus Museum Plein, Rotterdam Monday 25th July
For a long time the centre of Rotterdam was empty. After the city was heavily bombed in the second world war (in a mistaken raid after the Dutch had already capitulated), a master plan was put into place by the city planners who had been keen to redevelop the city anyway. The plan was an American style car centric city, with shopping and working done in the centre, and housing predominantly in the suburbs. It wasnâ€™t until recent years that the city realised it was important to have more people living in the centre where the level of squats and crime had been rising. Development schemes have been put in place, hopefully for the better.
When I cycled past the museum platz, it looked from afar like a run-down wooden playground. Strange structures littered the tarmac and the odd ubiquitous shipping container framed the perimeter. Heading into the enclosure I found Sibe and Ineke, both of whom worked on the space; Ineke leads the project with her company Stichtingdeloodsen, and Sibe creates the identity and contributes to the physical building and website programming under the title Notdef. The citywide festival of building (the 75th anniversary of rebuilding after the world war) was centred on this square. It provided space, materials, a bar and food for the public (particularly children) coming from surrounding neighbourhoods to create whatever they wanted with the scrap wood, and to learn about building the city.
Being right in the centre of the city, the square is a melting pot for the various cultures in Rotterdam. Although there does seem to be a slight barrier between nationalities, demarcated by shop signs and the people in the streets, that seems to be changing. The museum and this festival specifically hope to attract all demographics. Ineke wants to push past the usual discrepancy caused by the cost of museums and the predominantly Caucasian controlled art world. Talking to Sibe and Ineke they gave me a short run-down of the areas and development in the city. Overall there seems to be a feeling of optimism. Building, creativity and the ever changing nature of the city is obvious both here, and out towards the harbour where the shipping industry has recently vacated huge swathes of warehouses. This space is rapidly becoming the housing for the artist studios and new startups, all contributing to the fabric of a new Rotterdam. With so much space to play with, development here should be positive for everyone.
@ stichtingdeloodsen.nl notdef.org
IN CONVE ATION WI STUDIO SPASS 30
Studio Focus Witte de With, Rotterdam Monday 25th July
I met with the Rotterdam based Studio Spass to talk about their work, the influence the city has on them and how it has changed. The images on this page are part of the identity for the international art festival ‘De Wereld van Witte de With’. Jaron and Daan elucidated on some of the finer details:
“For this particular project, basically the German curator thought of a plan of how to create an identity for the festival. Because the theme of the festival was about the streets and the curator wrote a really nice statement about it, we translated that concept into a design which was not only focusing on printed matter, but something that would stand out in the streets. Really have impact on the festival itself. So that’s how we came up with the idea of creating these sculptures. So like urban intervention. We were very fortunate that a project like this was possible. Very often these public art festivals have budget cuts, or production-wise it’s not possible, or for security reasons it can also be dangerous to have very large structures in the same place as large crowds incase of winds or storm. Or with alcohol with people climbing on them. There’s lots of things you have to take into account. Also all the wires that are underneath the streets, that was a whole nother level. You can’t go too deep because there is all the sewage, phone wires, electrical wires, internet wires, I didn’t know there were so many wires. And so many people in the city depend on those, so if you start going into the ground there’s a lot of responsibility.
Images — Studio Spass
We got quite good responses, lots of people taking pictures of course. Most of the sculptures made a statement or asked a question. We didn’t need people to answer that directly. But I think it provoked interaction. It was nice, and other projects came out of this too. The area that this was in was just this [perpendicular] street, so it was quite concentrated that amount that we put in. We wanted to do more actually, but it was not possible. It started at the water, and ended up at the end of the street. So it was maybe 500 meters of official festival area, and we used every single spot we could think of to put something up.”
Their current studio is in the heart of the city just off Witte de With Street. We talked about the journey they have taken since being in the city, from their first studio to the current one and the initiatives that keep the city changing: â€œOur former studio, on the Hoogstraat not so far away from here, was a squatted building we had for like 6 years. There were a lot of artists and designers there and on the first floor we had a space where we organised exhibitions and events, screenings, everything you can think of. We had a little bar, sold some drinks. It was an open door so anyone could come in. But because the city is on the rise now, the area is getting developed so we had to move out of there which is how we came here. But we had a stake in the area, and tried to give young people â€“ especially students from the art academy â€“ give them a platform for exhibition, to show their work. So it was really low profile.
Also when we started up the studio we were in charge of a little group that organised an event to create contact and networks between different kinds of creative people. You could just come to these events, they were called ‘Tosti Treffer’ so we would provide grilling irons, bread and some drinks, and all people needed to do was bring ingredients. Then from there by creating their own sandwiches, they would exchange their ingredients and probably end up having a conversation. So it was quite successful and we organised it each month at a different location so at the same time it was a way to take a peak at somebody’s space and organisation. It was creating a cultural network. After a few years we passed it on, some friends of ours are organising it now. It was part of an organisation that I was part of. I really felt responsible because at that time Rotterdam had a really bad image, and lots of higher educated people moved out of the city after graduating and I felt responsible at least to do something to make other people see the potential that I saw in the city. I think more people did, and really in 10 years it changed from people saying ‘Oh.. you live in Rotterdam, how come’ and now everyone’s saying ‘Oh you live in Rotterdam it’s so nice.’ It’s really changed.”
@ studiospass.com festivalwww.nl facebook.com/tostitreffer
Warmshowers is a bit stressful already but ye
Packed up and left as quickly as possible and I’m safe and free and he didn’t eat me!
Watch a bit of a film. Seems ridiculous but I have a laptop and nothing else to do.. in a tent.
Don’t want to go outside in-case the weird man comes back
it rained a bit more so hiding in tent again
Cutting my fingernails
and berating myself for over-thinking and writing too many lists.
visual culture /
changing cities /
Sit in the tent feeling unhappy for a bit
freedom of movement /
Walked away and sitting eating tucs and cheese slices and a pepper.
The journey here brought my first night camping (an interesting experience), as well as the realisation that I really had quite a lot of time alone ahead of me. I simultaneously spent hours pondering and listing the goals of my trip:
Don’t know what he said to me when he left the little enclosure but it spooked me enough
There’s a creepy man here who’s tent seems like it’s been here forever
Found the first paalkamperen
Judging the distance
Feel uneasy with how far I can get
Dutch bike paths though
An actual journey setting off
It’s a sweet city to explore with big old industrial buildings that have been transformed for new uses. The whole thing was basically built as a campus for Phillips electronics, every house from the big bosses’ in one neighbourhood to the factory workers’ blocks in another. Yorit Kluitman explained more in my interview with him.
Eindhoven was quite delightful. I stayed with my first warmshowers host (couch surfing for bike tours) which was an amazing experience. Such kind hospitality and incredible stories from Mathieu. It was also a good place for chance encounters, as I met Jetske & Michael randomly and not only talked to them about their work but also went out for a few too many drinks with them that evening.
Designer Focus NRE site, Eindhoven Friday 29th July
— Philips’ Eindhoven Legacy Yorit Kluitman is an Eindhoven based Graphic Designer who works on local and international projects, as well as his personal series ‘Tussen Steden’ for which he cycles throughout Holland to photograph the graphic environments between cities. I meet him in Velosoof café in the East of the city and while waiting I admire the bikes lining the walls, wonder about the quality of the music playing, and after a few minutes see him swinging into view on a slick track bike. We greet before grabbing a coffee and sitting down to talk.
JC: So this place is cool, is there a big community that comes here? YK: Not yet it’s pretty new, the area here is being developed right now so it’s a little bit hard to reach and find, and it’s holiday season so a lot of people aren’t around. But it will develop. And that area and this plot is changing and has some design studios and stuff? Yeah my next design studio will be on this plot. Okay cool. So the guy I’m staying with, I’ve been talking to him and he was saying a lot of the old Phillips space is being taken over by young businesses and creative spaces and I went over there and had a look around. It seems like a giant version of what this area is going to be. What impact is it having and how long has it been like that? Philips has owned the area since 1910, and then stopped in the 90s and abandoned the city a bit. But all the houses and the neighbourhoods are all from Philips. So they structured the whole city, and did a really nice job of looking after the workers.
So the city was a campus, they basically owned it.
Yeah one big campus. The Design Academy in the centre is an old Philips factory and the design department is still there. 36
The guy I’m staying with here is actually an old light bulb scientist. Oh nice yeah. He’s retired but he’s got that kind of stake in the city and has seen it change over time. But what about the period in the 90s when it wasn’t used? Yeah the area Strijp was called the forbidden city because it was still tense. Then they started demolishing some pretty good stuff. Then a few pioneers started companies in the old factories. The city saw the potential for recycling the old buildings and the main characteristics of the city. Now they see the commercial benefit of it. They’re mega developing all of the buildings. In 20 years it will be all McDonalds and crap. But for now it’s good or do you think things are already going downhill? No for now it will stay good because times are changing and people keep on getting more aware what’s important and what’s not. But in the end there are developers that are paying for it now and they want to see their investments returning. So the ones that are cool, that’s because the city still owns them and they’re giving cheap rent to start-ups and stuff?
Yeah maybe a bit. There’s a lot of government and individual owners. The building where I’m working is from the local government and the rents are low. Strijp is medium, it’s not super expensive but it’s doable if you’re a start-up. And is there a lot of movement in and out of the city with that? Although there are creative spaces do they change a lot and do new people come in to take them or..? There was a time that all the students from The Design Academy and all the other creative industries went away to Amsterdam and held media conferences there. But now you see a lot more people with the intention to stay for a longer time here. There’s enough space, rents are relatively low compared to Amsterdam, and there are some bigger companies coming to Eindhoven. There’s a really big technical campus in the South of Eindhoven, and they have the most patent applications worldwide, so there’s a lot going on there. And how long have you lived in Eindhoven? Yeah all my life. My mum worked at Philips and my dad at DAF, another big product company. And you’ve seen it change the whole time. Yep. Do you think that visually, even things like poster culture and shop fronts and things like that, has there been a change over time, like a local trend or is it constant or just follows global trends? There’s not much going on in Graphic Design, it’s way more Product Design. So still an influence from Philips. Ya because their design department is still here, and a lot of people from the high-tech companies used to work for Philips. And because the university is so product focused. I think just the few cities that I’ve been in so far, it’s clear that, because I came thinking I’ll look at poster design, and I’ll look at shop frontage and thought that that’s a big thing in visual culture but actually there’s so much mix already and influence from globalisation that it’s more the space and the architecture that seems to shape the city. So areas like Strijp and the port areas in Rotterdam, and in the Hague there are some areas like Laak that were not as good and had been segregated by the city planning for immigrants to live in but now they’re being promoted as cultural areas in a positive way. So the idea of freedom of movement and people moving around is now reversed. There are still positives and negatives to it obviously, which is part of what I’m looking at. The idea of freedom of movement— to what extent is it a good thing and can it go too far when people move too much.
Yeah everything gets blurry, mixed up. Do you think there’s an Eindhoven proud kind of feeling here at all? In a way. If you go to another city you immediately see you’re in another city but it’s everything. It’s the street furniture, it’s what governments have for lampposts, and every city has its own line of products.
Every city has its own little microeconomy. All the local designers make the city in a way. Some things are regional plans, and then national plans. If you go into Germany you immediately see the difference in everything. Every city has its own style in a way. I don’t think everyone’s really conscious of it, more subconscious. So if there were spaces like this and you heard about this sort of thing as a designer, do you think you’d feel a sense of responsibility for the city or how it’s presented visually. Yeah, it’s nice to get involved. There are a few organisations here that do that, but I’m constantly working hard for all different clients and don’t have the time to represent a certain idea or concept in an area for a longer haul. I’m more focused on short term projects. And because I’m cycling that’s not a fixed thing so I’m always travelling around. But with a few friends of mine I did some squatting or over the years developed certain places. I think 5 years ago if you were busy then and you developed a certain place in the city then you can now benefit from it. But now you’re a bit late to the party. Things settle a bit, this is one of the last areas being developed from scratch. And does it seem that the people that move here are already in the city or is it new people coming in? There are a lot of outsiders because the Design Academy attracts a lot of people from around Europe, but it’s nice to see people from other countries developing certain places in the city and I don’t think I have more privilege to anything than someone from outside. They have a new way of seeing things, things I don’t see because I’ve been here so long. They can make something surprisingly good out of it. Do you think your cycling around and seeing the country in that way has altered your perspective? You’re focusing specifically on aesthetic aspects of the landscape, but how do you think that’s changed your perception of the country? The perception of distance is the most obvious thing. Because Amsterdam is not that far away, a few sandwiches and you can cycle to the city. And Rotterdam is even closer, and I can cycle to Germany, to Belgium. I think a lot of people from the cities don’t know the potential of the land around. I’ve definitely heard the cliché of the Amsterdamer Yorit Kluitman
who’s never gone outside Amsterdam and thinks everything’s so far away. Yeah and a lot of Amsterdamers are really focused on that. Everything you could wish for is in Amsterdam, but it’s really small. Big cities are really tiny villages in a way because they’re living on a really tiny area. Walk 50m from the house to here, from the supermarket 50m. If you live in a little village you have to travel a mile to the supermarket and a mile to your relatives. Do you think that shows in the pockets that develop in Eindhoven? Because in Rotterdam it was quite clear, this is a Moroccan area, this is a Muslim area, this is a white area. Do you get that here too? A bit less, but Rotterdam is pretty scattered around, there’s no real city centre but the neighbourhoods are certainly based on the different income levels of the residents. Here it’s a bit more blurry, fewer poor people but also fewer really rich people. Rotterdam has some really exotic shop fronts and crazy streets, but Eindhoven is comparable. It has some streets with other cultures being mixed and so the visuals are also really mixed. Every city has some rules of what you can do with your frontage and what not. I think that older cities have more rules, you’re really restricted, but Rotterdam it looks like there are almost none. All the different areas with crazy typography. Like in the Strijp area, although I didn’t know what I was looking for as soon as I saw one sign I could tell straight away that it was a repurposed area of the city that probably had cool stuff in. Some had gone for distorted or grunge effect type, or of they had a shabby space already then they put something slick on top but I don’t know how that impacts the identity of area.
will have absorbed influence. Do you know if there’s any examples in Eindhoven that do stand out, that’s more of a local thing? Eindhoven is a bit of an identity-less city in that way. There is not a lot of design coming from Eindhoven. There are all the Design Academy tricks, the crates and that kind of styling with the black typography on white with a black outline around it coming I think from the fashion industry more but it’s globalised. I went past one building and all they had done was put a stack of pallets outside and that’s all they needed to denote the fact that it was a creative space and not a factory building. It’s obviously a global thing, but I did still see lots of independent shops when I cycled through earlier. In the Strijp area? There but also in the centre, further on from the station. There’s a few pedestrian streets. The pedestrian streets are all globalised. The red stones in the pedestrian area is a no go zone for me. Creative people hate it with McDonalds, big jewellery companies. On the outskirts of that area there are some nice things but within the red streets it’s not good. But that’s something that’s commercially successful and won’t change? No it’s changing a bit because internet shops are competing with them so a lot of them go bankrupt and other companies won’t jump into the gap so the city is coming up with new solutions so like living in that area or living above. So the city is becoming more a living area than shopping.
The prices will go up. But it seems like a cut and paste. Anywhere, any city, as soon as there’s a place like this that’s being developed. You see that in London, all the fancy coffee shops look like each other. Somebody started it somewhere, maybe it was a coincidence or a solution, they didn’t have enough money. A lot of bigger companies want to copy that identity and feeling.
A lot of trends that you see here are developed during [Dutch] Design Week. People steal our ideas and it’s always three years or five years later that bigger companies will see the light and think about an idea and it’s mostly stolen from years ago. Because there’s so much around to see, it’s hard to do anything different when you subconsciously
There’s a lot of student housing near the train station and I don’t know if that’s just because the university is there but that must have some effect on the population as well when they’re such a transitory group of people. Do you think that local people are more likely to work with local designers or does it not make a difference where someone else is? It’s easier to grab a coffee with somebody who’s close around. But everything in Holland is close by. The only border is the language so Germany is more difficult to work with than Belgium because they also speak Dutch. But you tend to stay within the English speaking countries. I’m gonna focus myself on Eindhoven for the next few years because that’s where my long-term better clients are. The rest of the conversation devolves into chatting about the geometric nature of the Dutch landscape, graphic design and steel bike frames before it’s time to move on again.
@ yoritkluitman.nl strijp-s.nl velosoof.com
G Studio Focus Tongelre, Eindhoven Friday 29th July
I met the members of G by chance having cycled out from the centre of Eindhoven looking for a design group called Collaboration O. Their studio is in an industrial area that fell into disrepair before being taken over by artists. Having worked out that Collaboration O werenâ€™t at home, I started talking to a group of people sitting at a bench outside the warehouse next door. Two of those, Jetske and Michael, run a practice together within a collective called G, and told me about the area and how they came to be there.
Like many in developing cities, the industrial park was left unwanted and empty until artists and designers started to trickle in. Jetske and Michael attended the Design Academy in Eindhoven centre and along with a group of friends needed more studio space so started renting a warehouse. Dividing the cavernous interior up they helped each other build their own individual segments, mostly subdividing into a ground floor and mezzanine, allowing communal space for larger tools in the middle. It really is an incredible build, and the results of productive studios are everywhere with hand made furniture and bits of old project littering the area.
When delving deeper though, it seems that similar to some of the Strijp area on the other side of Eindhoven, this plot is reaching a tipping point too. The owner, a single family, noticing the increasing interest has started developing the space again. Michael expressed his displeasure with the white painted parking lines that popped up where once there had been a haven of ungoverned black tarmac. More interesting to me though is the appearance of branding at the entrance to the estate.
Although the name â€˜Sectie Câ€™ continues the theme of non-identity it still serves to quantify the area. Jetske told me that it took ages of consulting with the residents, the owners and a designer to find something that everyone was happy with. But no matter what it is, it marks a change. An influx of more commercial artists has changed the tone of the area. Michael quipped that anyone with a plasma cutter can make money as an artisan craftsman now, glancing towards a frontage with stencils cut out of old oil barrels. The problem with this is that the original practitioners in the complex begin to loose interest in the space. Their invested time seems wasted as decisions go in directions opposing to their preferences. 42
Jetske had to leave to take a phone call, so I asked about the work they’ve done elsewhere in the city. Michael told me about community project in an historically down-market residential area in the North. It has recently become very desirable, but the council is keeping close control of the development. They wanted to decrease crime, reuse buildings and integrate the communities in the area. So when Michael and some friends made requests to move into apartments in the area they were given a community service contract.
Images — verswoenselwest & google maps
VERS [Fresh in English] was the name that the group of artists and designers gave to an old supermarket space they were tasked to re-purpose. Michael’s group used the supermarket space for different activities including a gallery, kitchen and meeting space; steadily becoming a neighbourhood hub. After a time the impact this had on the area became positive enough that the contract with the council was dropped and the design group were allowed to live normally in the area. Although they, through this programme, were able to integrated with the pre-existing largely Muslim population, now this positive change has got to the usual tipping point of yuppification. You still have to follow an application process if you want to move there as the council controls the young and ‘up and coming’ demographic, but the prices are high and the shop units in the supermarket all have matching signage.
@ martens-visser.com sectie-c.nl http://verswoenselwest.blogspot.nl/ woensel-west.nl/Celsiusplein
Was chased by a tractor
My scrotum is comfortable and the saddle silent
There’s more hills towards Germany
I saw a hill
The beer when I arrived at Schicke Muetze bike shop was much appreciated and so was the chat with them.
The day I cycled in was boiling and involved aggravating detours. It felt like the first time I had had to work a bit to make the distance in a good amount of time. My first border crossing passed with little ceremony.
Prior to the ride I hadn’t really planned to visit Düsseldorf but after a firm recommendation (and it fitting with my vague route) I made the journey.
The whole city is like one big station perhaps.
The other thing that struck me was how people living there saw the city — living there primarily due to its central location in Europe with good travel connections.
As a whole, maybe because I didn’t have much guidance, struck me mostly as a practical place. A proper city for sure, kind of gritty, but without the tangible sense of identity that some of the other places I visited had. The museums were great though; and I’m sure once you get involved in some scenes it would be properly interesting.
The primary visit I made in DĂźsseldorf was to a â€œdesignâ€? group called denken3000, and the rest of the time I spent just investigating the essential visual culture of the city, as this was the first place I had really noticed a tangible sense of human to the street visuals.
Studio Focus Unterbilk, DĂźsseldorf Monday 1st August
I encountered denken3000 in DĂźsseldorf through an introduction by Jordy who I had met in The Hague. denken3000 is a design group that creates events and concepts, generally for social good. I met one of the members, Mirko Podkowik first at an event he was holding with his music label at the Akki-Aktion & Kultur arts space in the East of the city. It was a little intense after the dayâ€™s 8 hour cycle from Eindhoven so I went and took a nap in a park before meeting them in a crazy Greek bar later in the evening. We became acquainted briefly and he let me sleep on his giant sofa. I spent the next couple of days exploring the city, visiting some arts spaces and eventually their studio. It was very white and strewn with the remnants of past projects and I wished I could have been there longer.
As a collective d3kâ€™s work spans mediums and communities. The above website is that of a film festival in DĂźsseldorf for marginal groups to meet each other in an equal setting. On three dates in summer 2016 d3k projected the films in open air as well as serving food and drinks of the cultures that were represented.
The image on the right is the website for the Wall of Sand initiative, which fights against the Moroccan wall of sand that isolates the people of the Western Sahara. Pledging money aids the effort, and purchases a bag of sand or a brick from the wall. Breaking it down grain by grain. @ denken3000.de ja-hallo.com wallofsand.org 52
To see the wonderful family von Leyla
Time to move on
Not sure I really want this beer
Sitting on a bench drinking a beer
Made it to the forest next to the house but I can’t find the gate so I’m trapped
There’s lots of buildings that could have cool shit in them
The back roads in-between nothingses and stuff are weird
Smells really bad
There’s a bunch of industry inbetween though.
The ride to Koln is super short
Leaving the aubergine household, too soon for busy people.
Dusseldorf - Koln
I went to quite a few exhibitions here too as well as just meandering. It felt like a place of meditation, and I think the weather sucked a lot of energy out of me. That and being weighed down by delicious food made by Claudia and Hossein. Bless.
It rained 100% of the time that I was there, but I guess that’s better than it raining while I’m riding. I had a couple of stops booked, one with Onogrit Design Studio, a playful identity studio that have a lifetime of connection with Cologne. The other was an joyful character named Mario who got in contact when I messaged on the Köln International School of Design facebook page. I talked with him about relocating and the small creative groups currently flourishing in the city.
train into cologne centre - sit in a seat near my bike - the ticket inspector inspects me - won’t speak slow enough to understand person next to me helps with translation - they want to fine me - i say i didn’t know i had to buy a bike ticket can i buy it now - she says no only fine - i say i don’t understand i didn’t know - person next to me says i should just get off - train starts slowing so i get up to leave - inspector gives me evil eye and moves on - old lady a few seats down gets up and puts a 10 euro note in my shirt pocket - i try to protest but she quickly sits back down - the person translating for me says she was embarrassed by behaviour towards a guest in the city - i thank them both and leave - i’m left halfway to my destination - luckily near other projects that i want to visit - a bike repair shop in a studio complex that a friend of a friend recommended - going in i find the bike workspace - meet friend’s friend jeremy - he shows me around and tells me about the space - it has become an island of creativity - after looking around we find a dishevelled looking guy sitting near the exit - i’m told that he’s working for an urban design masters - we talk about the city as a brand - being at the periphery - socialist utopias - cookie cutter design - and monopoly rent - marxist geographers - right to the city - tells me to look up david harvey - promises to email me but never does - thank him and move on into the city to find onogrit.
FIRST STEPS IN THE CITY - MIXED EVENTS OCCURRING
Images â€” Onogrit
Studio Focus Altstadt, Köln Tuesday 2nd August
Onogrit Design Studio
is hidden in a basement through a courtyard that my phone map doesn’t register. I step over a collapsed drunk man to enter the square and wade down some stairs to be welcomed by Daniela, Alix and Janina. We talk about their work, the greater identity of the city, as well as current states of isolationism in society.
Daniela: The things that we did for our own studio, where it says ‘From Cologne with Love’ for some post and stickers we sent out; I think is the only project that has a very strong relationship to the city we are in. Alix: Well I was thinking about how our network works. We’re quite well connected, and bring a lot of jobs through knowing people who know people. Because people trust you you then meet someone else from that network. One really nice story is that before I started Ono did a website for an architecture studio, which helped their business a lot. Then the architects bought a table from a guy they knew, and told him about their new website. The wife of the furniture guy does PR for another architecture firm and then Ono got the job for them as well because they heard such good things. All of this happened and then they met the same lady at a party somewhere else. It’s cool because there’s real people behind it and you get to meet them. They actually come to the studio, and we can work really closely with them. The closeness is really important, so what the city shapes is how we work with people rather than the actual output. Daniela: Yes, so I don’t think we approach projects differently if they’re ‘for Cologne’, we’re just looking for the best solution. Onogrit
Daniela: I think Cologne is also a very politically driven city, people really try to show their opinion. We had a ProNRW demonstration here, it’s like a radical right party. They had a meeting in the city and they wanted to demonstrate their power. After it they decided to take a boat trip so they all went on the boat, here in Altstadt and took the Rhine down to Düsseldorf. When they came back all the people who allow boats into the harbour refused them entry. They said ‘oh no sorry you are not welcome here’, so they were not able to dock. Then after they went somewhere down the river far away from the city centre the taxi drivers saw them coming and all said ‘sorry but I have to go home now’.
Daniela: We have some galleries in churches, there is Sankt Peter where sometimes they have weird stuff in the middle of the church. They are very open to that. Close to here there is a church that has neon lights on its turret that say ‘don’t worry be happy’ in the evening. They have a very important art collection and are known for supporting local artists for the last hundred years. For example if you go inside the church they only have chairs so that they can get rid of them and have an open space for exhibitions. We also have Kolumba, the museum that is very closely attached to the church so there are several examples. And the architecture is amazing, it’s Peter Zumthor, he’s the master of light. It’s probably the most beautiful building in Cologne.
So this is how we try to show that as a city that we don’t agree with certain intolerant values. It’s what I think makes this city interesting and attractive. It’s not the visual appearance of Cologne that is important, it’s this.
Alix: I live in Düsseldorf, so my level of understanding of the city is very different to Daniela. I love that city, but Cologne has some stuff that I enjoy which Düsseldorf doesn’t. It’s a little bit rougher in the sense that it has a lot of spaces that are a bit less rules orientated. In every city that’s maybe less clean or liveable, there’s the other side in that some things are really fun, in the messiness of them. There are spaces that are open without regulations. Galleries, music, venues, parties, this is definitely an advantage of this city. It’s a little bit more chaotic in Cologne, even though Düsseldorf also is, but it has a reputation of being open, and Düsseldorf doesn’t. There has more of a reputation of being chic. It’s not really, but it has that thing. Whereas Cologne, ask anyone, they’ll say oh it’s really open. It’s more friendly.
Daniela: We don’t have too much migration within the city like in New York — The extreme where first it was the meatpacking district where all the artists were, and then Brooklyn, and then outside Brooklyn not Williamsburg anymore. We don’t have it in this extreme way. We have some trending areas like Belgisches Viertel, Südstadt Ehrenfeld; I grew up in Ehrenfeld, it was far away from being a hip neighbourhood when I grew up there, but it was always a very diverse neighbourhood. Alix: Didn’t your grandma say that she was disappointed that your parents were moving to Ehrenfeld? Daniela: Yeah because it was more like a working area, and she lived on the other side of the Rhine in Deutz which at that time was a better area. Of course we have some areas where the rents got higher in recent years. So young families have to find other places. Ehrenfeld is still kind of a mixture, we have one area in Ehrenfeld where a lot of designers are, so all the shops and all the creative studios are in one street or two, and the rest of the neighbourhood is more Turkish shops and Italian shops. @ onogrit.com pro-nrw.net
Walk and talk with Mario
Designer Focus Brüssler Platz, Köln Wednesday 3rd August
Cologne being quite a small, open city makes it a good place for small organisations. It allows groups without a wide reach to have a tangible impact on the local visual culture. Mario Frank, a designer living in Cologne, works with a couple of these fringe groups. He agreed to meet me at Brüssler Platz to walk and talk about his work, and about my project. Obviously it started raining though, so after a few minutes trudging and admiring the square we headed into Hallmackenreuther café for a coffee. Both of these locations and others he pointed out while we were walking such as Café Fleur form an important part in the local culture. The square is a hotspot for unregulated night-life in the city with large groups congregating there until the early hours. The café though is something really special. Totally 50s Art-Deco with huge Miró-esque neon lines on the wall and strange thick grey granite surfaces. At first glance it looks past-it, but then you see DJ decks under the staircase, on trend drinks behind the bar and realise the role the space actually plays.
16 / 10 / 14
Jul i a Tr o m pe t er
S p r e c h d u e tt e
W W W . L A N D I N S I C H T . K O E L N
LESEREIHE FÜR JUNGE L I T E R A T U R
LESEREIHE FÜR JUNGE L I T E R A T U R
Images — Land in Sicht & Mario Frank
1 4 / 0 4 / 1 6 CAFÉ FLEUR LINDENSTR. 10 2 0 U H R
MAGDALENA SCHREFEL SVENJA VIOLA BUNGARTEN J O N A T H A N B Ö H M K A T H R I N J I R A DLL TIPPGEMEINSCHAFT
W W W . L A N D I N S I C H T . K O E L N
W W W. L A N D I N S I C H T. KO E L N
Land In Sicht and is a project that makes use of these spaces while supporting new and emerging spoken word artists. Inviting both local and internationally recognised writers to read to a mostly young audience, it contributes to the fabric of the city by keeping people coming and going constantly. Mario’s design work echoes that defining transitory nature of the organisation through an identity which is seen predominantly in the posters pasted all over the city. The logo shifts and blends into the artwork, with a more substantial change put into place at the end of each year to keep it fresh. Although it’s just a drop in the ocean of the city’s visual fabric, it is another addition in the makeup of the overall open-minded identity. And it’s this that he said he loves the most about Cologne; unexpectedly finding it here having moved as a second choice after Berlin. The authenticity of the city and lack of pretension due to the lack of international attention allows these small projects to flourish. Within two years he has built a network of people and places that make up the circular economy of the grassroots cultural scene. Our meeting was cut short when he received a call that the music project he co-founded, Kollektiv 33, have just been asked to play at a festival on the weekend (2 days away) and they have to build their own stage. Case in point. The connectedness and size of the city allows for spontaneous creativity. Where else would he be able to find a stage fitting and tech crew so fast? Finally, after taking a minute to extol the positive effect of festivals as a holiday from the system, he said bye and headed back into the strange summer rain.
@ coform.at dreidrei.org soundcloud.com/kollektiv33 landinsicht.koeln
Seen some og type today too
Koblenz looks nice but shitty signs and grumpy people
Still struggling with measuring time and not rushing
Enjoying speaking German again, got enough for basic discourse so lunch was good
The art museum was shut
The boat guy was cool, bright white smile
Hammer down the hill a bit
Emerge all covert like jumping over the fence
The camping spot worked, felt a bit weird and damp and my digestives are still a bit buggered but we’re okay
Hope I can get across the river tomorrow and go to the art museum
Pushed bike a fucking big hill. I kind of want to camp up here but not sure how it’ll go. Drachenfels. Kinda worth it
Fixed my gears! Success, got rid of an annoying noise all by myself
Tried to work out where the ice cream shop in Bonn was but couldn’t
Koln - Frankfurt
Similarly we went to paint in a skatepark on one side of town and found it to be right in the shadow of the monolithic European Central Bank. Maybe the city has a vigorous cultural diversity plan in action?
The city itself was pretty fun, little bit weird how the red light district surrounds central station, and then a menagerie of massive sky scrapers surround that, but I guess it makes sense for prostitutes to be within walking distance of overworked businessmen.
I left Cologne with no plans except a place to stay in Frankfurt.
Did talk to a nice girl in a lunch spot with a good view of the planes though
Need to stop caring and just enjoy the journey
Didnâ€™t stop at a nice place for lunch because of the number of kms, again
Dry the river
Took a piss off some tall stairs
Packed up fast
Saw Mainz more, church and gallery and Rewe
Feel a bit drunk
The town is actually quite cool
Met nice people who ordered dinner for me
Hated the last bit of the cycle into Mainz and the campsite looks crappy but fine
Did I listen or think at all so far today?
The calmness clinging to my mind since Cologne leached into the stop in Frankfurt, where my staying with Phillip dictated my experience. Potentially the most relaxed human in existence, he lives on the edge of the city in a little house that when he moved in was in ruins. Instead of paying rent he just had to fix it up, and so he created an idyll in which he now lives and makes art. Each morning he would make porridge, and I would pick fruit from the garden (you get to the best berries by clambering up a ladder onto the roof and leaning out over a cavernous pit of brambles and nettles). We did some exploring, drinking, painting and gardening and it was good.
I sent an email to a guy, who I then met before going to the beach with him and meeting another guy, who gave me details of a guy who I stayed with, and whoâ€™s friends I met, one of which put me in contact with this guy I stayed with in Frankfurt.
The best part was where I stayed though. Or with whom I stayed I should say. Or the connections made in order to meet him. The path of contact went:
But bumped into Oli and Alix who were also at Kiel and have quit their jobs to travel round the world on bullit bikes
Nice afternoon cycle with them to colmar
A punchy one to get me through the last bit. Freaked out slightly and dived for a stealth camp, it feels okay
Sad about chilli so texted Claudia
All its gut
And thinking about future, mess clean mess mess clean mcleanmdeam
Thinking about people
Camped at the lake, worth 6.50?
Tyler the creator
Decided not to push on
Went to the Kings church in speyer
Did 4 instagrams hiding in cafes
Met the nice lady
Didn’t have so much to say today
Was fucking rainy
Freiburg was pretty nice, had a wander then picnic and a beer before zooming back out to wildcamp under some hut I went past before
Yeah yeah yeahs
Singing and podcasts, bit of hill but regular food
Said bye, ate while hiding from the rain and then had a soggy but pretty enjoyable ride to Freiburg
Up earlyish, really enjoyed looking around Colmar, I think partly because I had the option of staying with them but it was nice that being on my own to appreciate the town was a choice not a fact
Pool and river and shower and then sat with them at the restaurant with wifi
Got to campsite and was expensive but nice, need to stop caring about expense
Good chat, makes so much difference
Lots of saddle adjustments
Led Zeppelin 3
Keep seeing prostitutes in bras waiting to be picked up
Down the German side and cross over to French, but of a diversion mess but made it and started on the canal before stopping quickly for lunch
Got everything sorted in the morning before leaving around 12 from Kiel
See the Rhine number again
Feeling pretty at ease with the whole cycle touring thing though
Kinda sad to leave Phillip, don’t know when I’ll see him again, I liked meeting him
Feeling pretty mellow
Lady of the sunshine
Super chill decided to take three days for a 1 and a half day journey
Behind the train station
The front of the station is a beautiful renovated glass dome, but the back is a mess. Caravan park, dump yard and industrial wasteland; people were congregated around limp tables and a Resto du Cœur (a soup kitchen and shelter) located there. It didn’t feel right to try to talk to them when I had no way of staying to help. Nawras had told me that Refugees don’t want to come to France because there isn’t as good support as in Germany or Scandinavia. It shows.
I learnt that he had originally come to France as a refugee 20 years ago and is now unable to go back. When telling him about my project he told me that there was currently a refugee camp behind central station that I should bare witness to.
Another stop on the Southwards part of my journey. I met with an enigmatic artist called Nawras at a place on the edge of the city called Zone D’Art. It’s a slowly crumbling studio complex which from what he enthused, seemed to be a good representation of the art scene in Strasbourg as a whole.
Perfect for reflective climbing and exhilarating decent
Left gloves in tent but no biggie
Nice to get somewhere early so it doesn’t matter about finding a place to stay
And I’m looking forward to going for a ride with papa a lot when I get home
I think I’ll buy milk when I get to Strasbourg
I think there’s a gap in the market for artisanal cheese slices, convenience AND delicious nutritious wankyness
Nice being in France
Thinking about William, really hope he’s good
Actually happy I think
Found an amazing lunch spot concrete sculpture about half way at 11.45
But good ride
The path went a long way into bleached French towns
Found some Corbusier?
Spesh after a nice breakfast in the sun
Still can’t sleep but pretty psyched right now, full of good thoughts for the future and past. Connections to people and possibilities
Tomorrow will see how I feel
I don’t know
Still trying to make myself chill but maybe I’m just doing it for the money? If no enjoyment then no point, why make yourself immune to something unenjoyable
All will be better tomorrow
And another campsite
And then all went bad
It was a pretty special place. I met some beautiful people, including Lukas, an artist who let me sleep in his tattoo studio. We made music with chunks of metal in the train yard, listened to hiphop on his Romanian friend’s turntable, released scrap boats into the river, ran away from hornets, ate roti and drank cheap beer at the daily Depot Basel exhibition. He introduced me to the far left groups of the city like Schanze, and transitory areas like the Hafen and Dreispitz with street parties, squats and skate parks.
After that brief stop I left Strasbourg for my final southwards stretch via some smaller towns towards Basel.
D E P O T So much for the milestone of reaching the Swiss border. It’s completely undefined, partly due to the unnaturally clean industrial outskirts of Basel. I stop to take the now customary photo of my feet and bike top tube roughly where I guess the division should be. Passing through them, the different layers of the city are demarcated by changing colours and building materials (and increasing navigational difficulty). I approach the road I’m hopefully staying on in a housing co-op with a mysterious tattoo artist who I messaged once, a week ago, and hope still exists. Just before reaching the turn-off to his street I glance to my left and see some activity around the base of a demure looking building and decide to have a closer look. Swinging off the road I attract the attention of a girl who appears to be organising little bits of wood in patterns on the pavement. When I ask what she’s doing she smiles (I assume I’m not the first to interrupt her today) and explains that she and two other artists are working in this building on a two-week residency. Each day this week they are creating an exhibition that reacts to an element within the space or in the surrounding area. Pretty excited by the idea, I tell her I’ll come back when the exhibition opens later to talk more, before pressing on to find where I’m staying.
D E P O T Space Focus Voltaplatz, Basel Friday 19th August
Images â€” Depot Basel & Depot Reise
R E I S E
Later, cycling back over to the space that I learn is called Depot Basel, I see the three artists sitting in deck chairs outside the front window. The installation now spreads around the perimeter of the frontage. Inside, a projection coats one wall, a television lies on the parquet floor displaying an infinitely spinning basket, and photos and shards of mirror are scattered around. Once back outside I grab a seat, am offered a beer and start talking with the girl I met earlier. Her name is Simone and she explains the project and urban politics in Basel.
An hour or so later I extricate myself from the low chair, promise to come back for the following show tomorrow, and head back to my strange lodging, hoping someone has left a door open. @ depotbasel.com onlinedepot.ch depotreise.tumblr.com
â€œSchanze is an occupied freely and met day to day donation and everybody demolished the place for a to move out. now we are group, which goes to to cook for the people. food-sharing or we make cook for a good reason, for people who fight for more that our world also can non-commercial.â€? Project Focus Hafen, Basel Saturday 20th August
kiosk where people cooked for lunch. you paid just a was welcome. then the city new building and we had an anarchistic autonomic festivals or demonstrations our food we get from dumpster-diving. so we people who need help, for rights and for showing function non-profit and â€” Milla Groberty Antifa
Schanze (through Lukas my host) introduced me to some of the rest of the alt-left scene. These groups in Basel are strong, thanks in part to the location on the borders of France and Germany, and (so far) the abundance of affordable housing and land used for squatting. Wasserstrasse, Klybeckstrasse and the Hafen area were just those that I experienced while I was in the city. Roads owned as cooperatives, street parties and constructive community efforts. It all has a slight outwardly hippie film, but is quite beautiful when you’re inside it. The artwork for these groups is dotted throughout the city; layered on doors and electricity boxes bearing (mostly) positive messages. Although some do use a more contemporary graphic language, they definitely have roots in traditional lofi aesthetic. It’s the first place I’ve been that the visual culture has really felt strongly represented by the print on the streets. It’s a democratic dissemination of ideas and events.
The Dreispitz is an area in the South-East of Basel that has gone through several periods of change, most recently from an industrial area to Basel’s branded ‘up-and-coming’ district. However unlike many such neighbourhoods that submit after a lengthy process of gentrification, this one has had a kickstart due to the entire plot of land being owned by a single Foundation. This organisation was created to manage and distribute the huge amount of land left to the city by a wealthy Basel businessman — Christoph Merian; so what was private land is now owned by the City of Basel to use as they please. Quite suddenly the places where industrial train sheds once slouched now boast bold architecture from Herzog & de Meuron and (to poorly translate their website) ‘is to become a new urban district with the neighbouring neighbourhoods better networked with the aim of creating two new, lively neighbourhoods’. It is quite an astonishing place to visit, easy to see the potential. So far the role it plays in the culture of Basel is slightly unclear. Although steadily gaining popularity it is deemed slightly too far from the city to be a regular place for locals to hang out. Although I disagree about the actual distance, the landscape that surrounds the central square is stark, feeling a long way away from the centre in spirit, if nothing else. There is something that doesn’t feel welcoming, but rather clinical. Modern and brutal architecture can be breathtaking, and even be inviting in the right situation; the Dreizpitz however still feels a little raw, and the new buildings loom rather than shine out from it.
Space Focus Birsigviadukt, Basel Monday 22nd August
Images courtesy of Hauser & Schwartz
Hauzer & Schwartz Design Studio have played a part in designing the identities for many of the initiatives in the area. Talking to them at their city centre studio, housed in a strange building that also contains a swimming pool, I learnt about that process as well as about the Dreispitz as a whole.
These identities all work together towards creating a greater cohesive language for the area: Dreispitz, Rakete, and Oslo each taking a space near to the central square. Just as their identity now shapes the area, so did the area shape the identity, taking cues from the architecture on both an aesthetic level, and in the way it is constructed. Simon Hauser explained that theyâ€™re fortunate in Switzerland as, similar to Germany and The Netherlands, there is a lot of store set by the design of something. Therefore when working on identities for public institutions like Dreispitz or other of their larger accounts such as the Kaserne Cultural Centre and Basel Sinfonietta, Hauser & Schwartz are given a certain amount of freedom as well as reasonable payment. These big institutions can be quite open minded to experimental branding that would never pass consideration in a more culturally conservative country.
Our conversation moved on to talk about space in Basel as a whole. Contrasting to the aesthetic and purpose of Dreispitz is the Hafen area, or UferstraĂ&#x;e. I had already visited the old harbour and could feel how different it was to the Dreispitz; but only when talking to Simon and David did I understand properly the divide between the Merian foundation pushing the Dreispitz unnaturally fast in comparison to the steady evolution around UferstraĂ&#x;e. Although development is rapid everywhere, it seems that the Hafen has thrived in the early and middle stages of changing usage. The hand poured concrete skate park is well known only to those that know already, but it has set the tone for the venues that have popped up around it. The feeling of excitement at finding something so genuinely grassroots and natural lasts just long enough to savour before wondering how long it will last. The tacit acknowledgement of the ephemeral nature of this place becomes, at least for me, a part of its identity.
It would definitely be easy to visit Basel and not see either of these alternative sides of the city. They are geographically distant, and are (so far) not present in the visual makeup of the rest of the city. Although Iâ€™m sure this will and already is changing, for now it is existing within its social, geographical and political bubble.
dreispitz.ch hauser-schwarz.ch basel.com/de/Media/Attraktionen/Hafen
Basel - Zurich
Continual thought of ‘ I could sleep there’
Remembering the Swiss rental car smell
I’ll take some time to draw today, the scenery and paths are delightful, different to the nice but no love German ones
Ideas for names remembered from the night before last
Transient Fleeting For a moment Passing By
Delightful time crisscrossing the Swiss German border
(But first remember to draw the boats and document the climbing and the railway)
Hot and Swiss Zürich
Fuck yes eternal life at 50kph and 500m
While here I visited a design studio called ATLAS where co-founder Jonas talked about their work and placement in the city. I also met with Boris Gusic, an architect who had a hand in building ‘The Pavilion of Reflections’ for Manifesta Art Biennial. We pondered the role of temporary and public spaces in the ever-changing fabric of cities.
Zürich seemed like a paradise. Basel only felt a little Swiss but here was very. They even have sign-posted roller blading routes.
Studio Focus Limmaplatz, Zürich Thursday 25th August
A Zürich based conceptual Graphic Design studio — I met with Jonas, one of the founders, who explained their way of thinking.
Our conversation jumped around and spanned a plethora of topics. So rather than a lengthy description, here are some key thoughts in delicately bulleted points: •
The economy in Switzerland allows for experimentation, less pressure, an interesting or open design brief doesn’t necessarily mean poorly paid one.
They see doing low paying work for positive clients like giving to charity. It gives directly rather than earning the money another way and then donating it.
ATLAS sees design as a service.
There is a sense a community of designers in the area, and that they feel a service towards the city.
Zurich has a tight design community which leads to a sense of positive competition and a shared advance of knowledge.
The area of their studio is nice but close to Langstrasse, a street that cuts through the red light district.
Jonas doesn’t feel that ATLAS’ practice is specifically influenced by the area in which they work.
Their studio is a converted big office of a construction company. The studios are just there temporarily before it’s converted again into apartments.
Atlas have moved their studio all over the city, jumping between various temporary spaces.
Generally ATLAS try to produce work near to their studio, keep it local; however it is the content of each individual project that defines ‘local’. Production is part of the design, so printing in China becomes part of a project’s concept.
There is one project that I was particularly interested in, which Jonas talked me through in more depth. The transcript is on the following pages along with images of the publication that contains the full project. Atlas Studio
“The city of Zug approached us to create the identity for an arts festival. At first we were like what is this idea? We didn’t get it — they didn’t succeed in making the connection. But eventually we found a title for the exhibition that made sense for us and then the whole crisis with refugees started getting international attention. This gave the project relevance. That gave it more meaning, we understood them, and a series of events fell into place to make this project work.
So basically what this project puts side by side are two groups of restless people. Ohne-rast means restless. So one group is the refugees, the war refugees, who are restless because they have to get out of their country to find a new place to live, a new place to work, and they’re traumatised. When they’re moving they’re on the go, but more on the run. And then the other group of restless people is those who are here, kind of in the first world. That are restless because they are busy with fitness, getting more money, being more beautiful, being more productive and so on. So it’s a restless mental state, it’s always optimising existence.
So it’s those two and then those two groups kind of clash. We feel it a bit more now. Each one dealing with their own problems, and then there’s tension also. So somehow that was really an interesting starting point. Then we thought about where, restless it’s on the move, it should be maybe a movie, animated pictures. So we turned towards youtube and there it’s just this weird pot-pourri of things. Clips of news channels, clips of how to make your milkshake, how to exercise, how to make yoga, some interviews of refugees and ISIS messages. It’s just a platform, a pretty democratic platform. And then sometimes those things appear next to each-other in a weird way. So we decided to use screenshots of those clips, screenshotting the actors and the
main characters. These scenes which were the faces of refugees and the faces of locals. These were used to confront people on a poster or invitation card. The whole exhibition also involved some projects with refugees. And Zug is one of the riches states in Switzerland. It cuts taxes for international institutions or brands, so there’s a lot of money, a lot of wealth somehow there. So it was kind of a perfect place to make that statement.”
@ atlasstudio.ch ohnerast.ch
THE PAVILION OF REFLECTIONS & STUDIO TOM EMERSON 86
Architect Focus Lake Zürich, Zürich Friday 26th August
JC: I’m interested in your involvement with Manifesta, and there’s a couple of other projects I was interested in from Studio Tom Emerson, and your thoughts on Zurich. For me coming to Zurich, Manifesta is a huge presence and I haven’t seen the city without it. This [The Pavilion] is a temporary building, unlike the rest of the Manifesta spaces. How do you think this temporary space has affected the identity of the city with Manifesta? Boris Gusic is an architect who co-founded Gruppe Architectural Practice and teaches for Tom Emerson Studio as part of ETH Zurich’s Art and Design programme. I’m meeting with him to talk about their project ‘The Pavilion of Reflections’ which formed part of Manifesta 11 Art Biennial. Sitting on the floating platform in the hazy sunlight we talk about Zurich, Tom Emerson, and how he sees the urban space as a living organism.
BG: I think it’s given quite a mark. The fact that you said that arriving in Zurich that Manifesta was present, it’s partly due to this Pavilion. I think it builds the bridge between the city and between this temporary institution that has set up, the biannual. So it has made it somehow visible, also to people that are not interested in art. It brought it out, because there’s no flags of Manifesta. There are of course posters and if you’re interested you know all the venues, but, they still stay hidden without this [Pavilion] somehow. The regular banker passes by the Kunsthaus or the Helmhaus and just sees there’s another show on. Now there’s a Manifesta poster which means if you’re looking for it you will see it, but if you’re not interested you won’t. This [Pavilion] here became somehow a strong point for Zurich, and also recently the phone directory got out, big fat book, and The Pavilion is the cover. We didn’t submit anything, it’s just like it’s got its own life, also for the city annual report, The Pavilion is on the cover. So it means it has made its way into the institution as a a city. A visual identity of Zurich. Therefore I’m wondering what is going to happen to it because it’s a temporary building so it’s due to leave at the end of September, because the Zurich film festival which is also going to take place from mid-September asked if they could use it and they can, so it’s going to be part of that as well. And then there were a few villages down the lake which were interested in having it, because you could just ship it down. We dragged it here and you can just drag it back down somewhere else and it would be cool if another village which doesn’t have a public bath keeps it for a while. And I think, I mean it’s a temporary structure, it will not last forever, the wood is untreated, the steel is untreated. But you could use it I think for another few years. There’s a few issues with engineering, because it’s made as a summer Pavilion which means there’s no snow loads calculated; but I think one could work it out so it gets another life somewhere else. That I think would be quite interesting identity-wise to see what happens if the Zurich Manifesta Pavilion, for us the Studio Emerson Pavilion, moves somewhere else and gets into other people’s hands. What will they do with it, what will the communication be with it, how will they react to it. That will be quite an interesting thing. And otherwise if it doesn’t get a second life what will be the public opinion, is there gonna be a debate on ‘shit why didn’t we keep it’ because it seems quite well appreciated. I think it’s gonna make a void in the lake a little bit because it became an accessible space, it’s a public space. Of course you have to pay entry but it’s not a huge amount. It’s a pity you have to pay I think it would have had a completely different life if you didn’t. The Pavilion of Reflections
A lot of the temporary spaces in the cities that I’ve been to, like even here I went and visited a design studio called ATLAS, and their studio is near Limaplatz. It used to be a construction company’s office and it’s artist studios now and they’ll make it into apartments probably at some point. Do you think it’s still important for cities to have these periods of transient changing buildings, or do you think it’s becoming predictable and damaging? No I think it is important because a city is transforming all the time.
A city is an organism and there’s no one person that makes it which means it’s not one thing at a time, there’s lots of things going on simultaneously. And of course there’s moments when things become unused or derelict, and through the inhabitation of these places new things can come up. It encourages a level of emptiness which can then be filled by certain other things. It can add to a city’s quality or problem. Voids can also be inhabited by lets say problematic uses. You had ‘Needle Park’ in the 90s. It wasn’t really a void but it was a place somehow given up on and not frequented enough and therefore a drug scene could develop in it. It was mayhem there. It was horrible. Dead people hanging around more or less. So it’s as much potential as it is a danger, but it depends how it’s developed what kind of idea gets in there. Then I think also the city can react or private owners can react because they see ‘wow this thing is working’. I think it has to have a mix between the users and the owners in the end that some how makes a win-win situation and then it’s interesting. I guess they must pay rent to the building company. They don’t pay a huge amount of rent otherwise their building would have stayed empty. The company probably doesn’t have the commission yet, they’re still in planning for these apartment blocks and therefore it becomes good for the owner and good for the user— a young office like ATLAS or I know other architects who are in there. Former students of ours have occupied workspaces, even during studies. So it becomes affordable and possible for people who usually couldn’t get this but through that another company might be established which then employs people, pays tax, creates revenue, and the whole system feeds itself to a certain extent. The question of this off space or temporary things, can often be misunderstood or misused. Sometimes it gets in the hands of the wrong people that don’t do much with it. Like in Zurich there was a big squatter scene; it’s now diminished a little bit. It could have been quite interesting but there was also always a problem with it because they damage the whole thing. They lived in a house and it’s kind of molested in the end. It’s taken apart and you can’t do anything else at the end. To repair it would be too much effort. I heard that it’s not that difficult to squat in Zurich. I stayed with a guy in Basel who’s got friends living in squats here and there’s a loophole in the law that once you’re there and there’s no immediate need for you to leave they can’t make you leave?
Yes and no. I’m not 100% aware of the laws. I know it’s possible to squat which means there are loopholes like that. I think as long as the premise is not used for a certain amount of time and there’s no plan to use it if you squat you have the right to stay as long as you fulfil this. Which is an interesting model I think. I’m completely up for it, so in that sense squatting is sensible. As long as there is a situation where people benefit and nobody takes the damage; if private or public institutions take damage then it’s problematic. And also people leave when they’re asked to. Yes, again this creates damage, if you’re late for your development and people can’t get paid. I mean I talk a lot about money it’s not all about money but It’s a driving factor behind things. Yeah. You used the phrase city as an organism, and as I’ve been travelling and looking at different things that make up visual culture in cities it’s clear that it’s such a diverse thing. It can be a graphic identity, but it can also be the architecture, it can be the urban design, where people congregate and the development of mindsets. What do you think of the identity, what defines Zurich for you? I think Zurich is not a really beautiful city, architecturally. I think what Zurich does well is infrastructure. You can feel even here the lake is an infrastructure, the river is an infrastructure. They know how to deal with that stuff and really can use it to a maximum. The fact that it’s clean water and you can jump in in the middle of the city, you can just take your clothes off and go. It’s a huge quality. In London you can’t do that, in many other cities also because of the industry you can’t do that. But then also how it’s done, the recreational bits alongside it. It has benefited from temporary moments, like further down the lake, Seefeld, is artificial ground; so all these buildings stand on former lake surface. It was filled in at the end of the 19th century when they took all the gravel from excavation (every building has a basement), they let people throw all their stuff to fill this place up. In 1939 there was the national exhibition which made the lake available. Then the 50s made this park, but at that time the lake wasn’t used to bathe and swim, it was more for strolling around, aside from the baths. Then only like in the 70s, 80s, during the student riots, a different movement and a loosening up of the culture and view of the city we got the Rotefabrik which is an important cultural hub. It was a good place to be and there were riots all over the city because the city didn’t do anything for young people. It was all bourgeoisie. So the youngsters went on the street and burned things down, it was called Zurich Brent — Zurich’s on fire, led by architecture students. They then apparently got banned out of the city up on the hill. A new campus was built there. But then in the 80s it flipped a bit. People started swimming and this whole place got rethought. It took advantage of things that had happened like the exhibitions that had formed nice gardens. For things that weren’t intended for what they’re used for now, they became interesting background, there was already infrastructure there which got rethought. That’s what I mean the
city is an organism, somebody drives a specific thing but this then gets rethought in a later stage when culture changes to a certain extent. Language changes all the time too, the same with a city. So it’s infrastructure: lake, river and public transport. The public transport hubs like Limaplatz and the Bellevue, there’s beautiful buildings there, very well taken care of. They’re spaces you can meet in and I think this makes the identity of Zurich. It’s not so much the buildings, if you go to Basel there’s much more interesting buildings, Lucerne there’s nice scenery. Zurich in that sense is not beautifully built. Talking about cities that are beautifully built, I read a bit about the work that you did in Glasgow. From what I read it seemed that you were looking at the areas that used to be industrial and are now underused, and imagining how that could change. I was curious how you as outsiders, I mean I know architects and designers have subjects they haven’t had experience of before, but how you approach that as a project compared to approaching something in Zurich like this Pavilion? So the studio started 6 years ago and one of the projects is Atlas, of which one location was Glasgow. We start a project by going to a place, and observing it. Feet on the ground, eyes in the head, we’re there. Each of the students does a drawing and one photograph, during three weeks or a few days. It wasn’t just looking at the industry that was there, we tried to look at the city in all its components. There’s an archive bit, there’s an infrastructure bit, there’s a building bit and there’s a nature bit. Nature includes topography, geology, forests, parks. Archive usually sums up the whole thing and looks back into history. They try to find a case study, a building, a place, on all scales from 1:1 to 1:50,000. In Glasgow they looked at an historic map of why Glasgow became the port because it’s actually the winds that made ships travel faster from the US. It was the fastest harbour you could reach at that time.
conditions would it need. What’s the public space in a place like this where the weather changes every 15 minutes and you can see the clouds coming. In 15 minutes it’s gonna rain and then it’s gonna be nice again and then it’s gonna rain again, and it rains from underneath and from the sides and everywhere. So how can their public space develop. But this was then a later stage. The trip there consisted of drawing what they observed, according to a set of rules with the same rules. They only had line drawings, the photograph had to be one photograph. I think this created a very subjective view of it. So you’re limiting your method of collection, and then working around those limits creates something new. Somehow, but what it makes is fragments of the city. When you know a city, you look at it in a certain way. As an outsider, you see it differently, and these limitations create fragments which a Glaswegian would try to reassemble and not understand. Maybe they would think ‘wow why did they spend two weeks drawing that building that’s such a crap building’. Then you start to uncover new things. I think for our students it’s usually better when we went to another city that when we did quite a bit of this work in Zurich. It becomes a different approach to it because you know it but you don’t look closely enough. So an outsider can see different things. The whole of British classicism was done by a Scottish man Robert Adam, by looking at Split in Croatia. So he basically looked at the Diclesions Palace there, drew it up, invented a lot of things in it, just completed the drawings of ruins which were how they were and he brought it back to the King of England and this somehow was the manifestation of British classicism. So the British Museum has the thinking of the Diclesions Palace from Split. So places benefit from each-other. If you went to Tokyo and you come back to London or to Edinburgh you brought your new Japanese shoes, you could start a trend. I think all things happen like this. That’s why I mean it’s an organism that gets new things in, you eat something else and you get fat, or you do sports and get slim again. The things profit from each other. One of the factors that I’m looking at is the globalisation of visual culture, how cities are all becoming the same, ubiqutous.
For the whole of Europe? I think it was for the whole of Europe which made the UK grow more. So it made sense why shipping and industry became so important, why the slave trade came in, and exporting machinery. It made sense why the city became one of the most powerful cities in the world. But then it also looks at how one of these ships is made or how one of these buildings is made. What is a drawing room for drawing these machines, what kind of light
There’s a coffee shop just across the street which was a tobacco vending place that could be anywhere. It’s the Starbucks thing that spreads all over. The culture of ‘cool I’ve seen this thing and want to have it exactly the same way here’. Things become way more accessible and I think the Robert Adams thing, the guy travelling to Croatia coming back, was a big thing. Right now you want to build a house and ah I’ve seen this thing
The Pavilion of Reflections
in Argentina which was completely amazing lets do it like that. Then it’s only the local building laws that restrict you from doing such and such but you still bend it. It can be problematic but it can also bring amazing things. I passed through Strasbourg on this trip, and the people there see themselves as Alsatian. They’re not French, they’re not German, they’ve got their own language and a different identity. But the people I talked to there were very much of the mindset that they do want to share and mix that, and although it might fade away as more outside influence comes through, it’s not something they want to keep shut up. It doesn’t seem that Switzerland could really close itself, especially due to the location it is in with such big influence from Germany, France, Italy, and the language as well. It does stay very open and although there is an isolation factor in the non-EU politics. I don’t know how much effect that has on identity down to a personal level but it doesn’t seem like a country that’s close-minded to ideas. Yes and no. It depends I think, all on political streams. There’s people proposing that we should build a wall around Switzerland because we have this functioning thing, why do we have to share things with other places. This is also one of the reasons why Switzerland is not in the EU because it didn’t see the benefit from joining the project as they would loose more than they would get. They thought ‘let’s stay out and see how it goes’. It’s a very Swiss thing. Scared of new things.
So the abstaining from war is a big part of the identity of the whole country. I think so, it definitely contributes to the overall vision. It’s very hard to say what is the visual identity of Zurich. Because it’s made up of so many things. The balance of permanence, and temporality. If that’s a word. But that’s the main thing that I’m looking at in terms of how important is it. Language is a good metaphor for it. You can invent things like that. I understand what you mean which means it could be a word— why is it not? Maybe it doesn’t exist in the dictionary but it seems like we need it because you just needed it to explain something. It’s also quite interesting if you don’t know the language exactly so you start making up words. We very often do. We have people from several places in the studio or the students which are Swiss speak in English and they make up words which are super precise in the end but they don’t exist in the dictionary. The question is should it exist or should it not. Maybe it’s just a temporary thing for that and the same with temporary uses in cities. Language has come up quite a lot while I’ve been travelling. It seems like no matter what the conversation, it will develop and think about dialects. I met some people from an area near Flanders in Belgium when I was in The Hague and their dialect has a declension for yes and no, like I you he she they, so everything is a different no like no na ne, depending on who’s saying it. That’s the one thing that they want to keep going.
That’s what happened with Brexit as well. But the other way around.
Or the Japanese they don’t have a no, if you don’t want any more food you say Choto which means you want so little more that it’s nothing.
Yeah, based on misinformation, it was the mindset of why should we be part of that when we could be closed off and safe.
The winds can change. It can destroy places and it can make them flourish. The global factor is huge, it depends how everything else around it goes. Switzerland’s wealth was not made from within it seems, a lot of it is profiting from foreign capital being a safe haven. But maybe it’s also made by itself because it made its own laws and rights so that it could withstand the third Reich back then. It probably had collaboration but wasn’t specifically part of that. And it stayed a safe haven during the Second World War as well. It didn’t expose itself, and that was probably a clever move in that time, so you don’t have to start from a ruined country. But this is all still part of its visual culture as well; because not many European places have medieval parts intact. You don’t find that in Germany or England. I also think that architecture from the 40s doesn’t exist in other places really because not much was being built. In Switzerland you still find it.
The conversation winds itself to a close as Boris has to prep to give a talk to a delegation from Japan who’re interested in the Studio Emerson’s approach to teaching and temporary spaces in cities.I hope the structure will remain, moving up and down the lake and creating surprising moments in the lives of those that encounter it.
@ emerson.arch.ethz.ch http://m11.manifesta.org/
The Pavilion of Reflections
Listening to one DID while waiting for Robert and Heike by the lake and Blanche Marvin and she said that every city ever built was built on a river, but not enough songs are about rivers
Or race to meet Alex and Olli ?
Take a train?
Not a great mindset
Keep wondering what is the quickest way to Vienna
Met some guy who showed me a good place to swim (not the nuddy bit)
Taking the afternoon very slow
The white stripes - white blood cells
My tshirt got splashed and a lady saved it
Sweet swimming spot
Rheinfels was average
Still not sure but enjoying it more
Weird night, I think there was a storm but not sure, nice spot though
Sitting at a camping spot with a beautiful view and not knowing what to do
Melancholia, and maybe heat exhaustion
Strong feelings of why am I doing this, it’s a pretty long way to go still and I don’t know if I want to
Because they’re from London
It’s just gone 15.45 and parents are gone. This is a pretty weird feeling, i think it’ll take a while to get back in my pace
Zurich - Konstanz
Dunkel Franziskaner unt topfenstrudel mit vanillesoße
I need a purpose and I need security/routine
I don’t think I’m good at travelling
I can’t turn off
Is it still the wild camping aspect that’s making things difficult?
This is a nice town so why would I push on
I want to experience and travel and BE
It’s so hard to make myself stop and feel good about it
Wasn’t enjoying it after an hour
But it’s so hard
Time to slow down
Then I’m doing it wrong
If I’m thinking ‘why don’t I just take that road instead of the path it’s quicker
I probably could manage
A part of me wants to get to chiemsee and meet Alex and Olli
It’s 3 and I’ve kinda been rushing all day
Local natives - g m
Pretty fantastic morning
Found camp spot and then gangster allgäuer speti for meckatzer
Amazing mountain view dinner spot, I think I’m learning when to stop
Sun and one more dip
Back on with podcasts
Sun came out perfectly at lunch at alpsee with a swim and pleasingly dry tent
but pretty nice
Cows tail flag when shitting
Get me to Salzburg
I can tell my rough bearing by the angle of the roofs with solar panels
Dallying on my own isn’t so fun
I want to have my project in my mind again and have kind of an end goal
And I think that’s okay
I think I’ll push hard to get to Salzburg
And occasional speed thrill
Just pleasant satisfaction
I don’t have that much to enjoy
But no other person to challenge or to support me
Alone challenge is speed or slow
I can enjoy that for a bit on my own, but need challenge
No destination, maybe set a limit of how far each day we can ride and spend ages finding amazing camping spots
I want to try cycling again but with someone else, maybe in France
The ride from Zurich to Vienna was quite incredible and quite brutal. Brutal more-so between Konstanz and Salzburg, incredible more between Salzburg and Vienna. It can be hard to appreciate the view from the top of a mountain when there’s no one else there to share the pain, or even just appreciate the effort it took to get up.
Not quite as classic as confessions
Smashing it with 3 stacks and fergie
Black Eyed Peas
Coming back onto the bk route with the rest of usher
Met a friendly donkey
All worked out, nice change from wild camping
Sitting in my tent in his garden now
Very glad I pushed to catch up with him and chatted
None of the hills were enormous and met Deitmar on the way
That was chill
It will be chill
I will enjoy this
The trek through the hills begins
Thank god German signage is back though
One last dip in Bodensee at Lindau just before the German border
Good swim lunch and reverberations though
Austria is just as hazy and bumpy as its neighbour
For some reason i thought the hills would kind of be left behind in Switzerland but no
I think it goes down to a mix of my stubbornness and of having to do the right thing
And doing things alone in general
Thinking about me travelling
Food and calm and it’s okay
Not too much stress finding a spot
Kept cycling til 7.30
Measurable progress, easy satisfaction
Cycling felt really good, strong
Lots of DIDs
Deepest darkest Bavarian farmland
Bad shortcut but got through and ten massive downhill section
I think my mindset changes again
Late at this point, an told that the weather will be bad from Sunday night
Didn’t really work
Tried fixing bike
Super clear water
Made it to tegensee, had to work hard to hold off hunger
But then the path turned to shit and Bowie turned me mad
Off again and Bowie sounds great
Had coffee there
Small village nice area interesting job
Life philosophy - choose all the things you like now make that your existence
Had a good chat, he was born in Dresden and has done a few things like New Zealand and London, wanted to be a vet but no
Offered to fix rack
Sitting on a bench eating breakfast when Chris walked over and talked
Rack broken but will hold
Calm pack up
Today will be good for travelling
Also it’s bright red. It’s posters were all over the city, standing out noticeably from the cobblestones.
One place worth mentioning is the Salzburger Kunstverein, located in the Künstlerhaus. It’s a gallery space that stands out wildly from anything around it, as well as any other galleries I’ve been to. There were no staff and the exhibition traipsed loosely around a circle of corridors. Studios and organisations also had rooms within the building, meaning you never quite knew when the room you were peaking into was part of the gallery or someone’s office.
I only stopped here for a couple of days and had my mind on other things than research. It turned out to be a special place with miraculous people.
This is how wild camping should be
Leisurely breakfast of nougat bits
Skinny dip and a scrub in the ensuite
Gently return to consciousness
It’s special because it’s fleeting
I can still feel it in my throat
It’s hard saying bye
I want to climb mountains
Will I keep moving around or stay put
Watching the sun set over mondsee
Got rid of my first tick of the trip
Nice call with Maman
Testing Austrian hospitality in plain sight
Stopping early at a camp spot
Found some sweet caves when swimming
Gave route advice to some friendly Australians
Something of a bliss moment arriving at mondsee 1.19 into 50ft
Probably the easiest most beautiful stretch I’ve done
To fit the mood
Salzburg - Vienna
Each is so individual and counjurs different memories and responses
The smells this morning are incredible, so strong and blending into the next
Dark or light, time constraints, bothered to find a hiding spot?
The other stops early and prepares a hidden location, perhaps moving on for a drink before returning later
One hides in in the open, trusting relative darkness and sparse/ sympathetic population
Stealth and wild camping vary
Nice moment riding through mautern seeing some young couples on mopeds, those are end of summer times to cherish
But it was okay to ride into sunset with
(because iPod and sweaty thumbs don’t work)
DID - baroness Hollands ‘when you take a girl on a date walk through a muddy field and then climb over a stile and if she can’t don’t bother with her because she’ll be of no use to you’
Take some time and the afternoon is delightful
This fucking headwind
Not sure how I thought I could do 200k in one day
Elbow - ssk
Radio head - tb
Along the way I stopped at the lake of a town called Gmunden and got talking to some local guys. They looked shabby in a good way. I ended up staying with Alex and Hannah for two nights, basking in the sun by the lake by the day and drinking with them all into the nights.
And it was stupidly beautiful.
Austria felt quiet. Good for swimming naked.
Through the Alps.
Drawing some bags ya know
An early camp keep chill
Everything and nothing, or nothing and everything (stability/ experience)
Austria is my favourite for cycling, perfect riding
My chemical romance
I’ll see Alex and Hannah again
Another delicious breakfast
People. Hardship. Community
Everything in perspective
Music as memory
T-Football connection with Käsi
Chill day at the lake
Today took an interesting turn after swimming in the Traunsee...
Why have I not been listening o jake and Amir the whole time
Remember to draw front bag plan
Liking this pace of travel
Ice cream and wifi
View giving me goosebumps
The radio dept
Soybot riso printer Vienna
Recommended looking at Roland Girthes cycle research, and her own ‘Fish Stories’ dissertation
Met Lisa, seems like a cool lady
Small moments of urban culture
I love getting back to the city and noticing the little details again
Timings just seem to work
I think Austria is a good place for nakedness
Designer travelled for 20 months working and wrote a book about it - google
Jojons envie refurs
Bath in Budapest starts with an s
Met pling Til and Britta
Grizzly bear - yellow house
Cinematic orchestra (look up roots manuva one)
I stayed with a wonderful lady, Lisa, who works as a writer and translator having jumped ship from America when she was 18. Her historical, cultural and political knowledge was fascinating to soak up, and her stories were pretty decent too. One of the plans I had was to investigate the Ai Weiwei exhibition, and it turned out that she had been the translator for the catalogue so scored me some free ‘journalist’ tickets. The other was to see some new initiatives and how they’re working in a city full of old culture (and thinking). T/abor is one such place that I have featured in these pages.
Getting to Vienna was a treat. Bitter sweet because it marked the end of the last long journeys, but the little details of the city, the hot concrete, not so much the navigation or noise, but it was good.
T/abor Space Focus Taborstraße, Wien Friday 16th September
I contacted Unos having seen their work online as part of urban art and design projects in Vienna — Building platforms for discussion, creating installations for festivals and initiating learning programmes. It’s a catalogue too broad to cover here, and when I contacted them they were in the midst of setting up for a new exhibition in their project space: T/abor. I attended the launch, briefly talking to them but mostly just marvelling at how such a beautiful and central space could be put to use by an organisation that makes grassroots urban installations. As well as the physical space, I think their description of it (...and google translate’s reading of that...) is notable. A manifesto for a room. It’s only a small feature, but I think a good example of another version of creative use of a city’s space.
Initiation of the T/abor in Taborstrasse 51/3, Vienna The T/abor is an open laboratory for other forms of interaction with resources in urban everyday life, promotes transdisciplinary cooperation, develops, experiments and makes multiple projects with a commitment to society and a fantasy for the worlds that lie in and behind the things. The T/abor answers the question of the repositioning of the viewer between work of art and reality, illuminates key concepts such as participation and interactivity and explores changes in our selfdetermination, which affect all aspects of the life of the present. The T/abor is an open laboratory, workshop and forum for the consolidation of this topic. It stands in a tradition of Beuys' "Office for Direct Democracy", but also looks for current possibilities of interference, of changing social and political processes. In the T/abor is thought AND done. The rooms of the T/abor are used for commissioned works, workshops, exhibitions, own and joint projects, for the production of works and their sale.
Images â€” Unos
TRANSLOCATION — Exhibition Focus Belvedere, Wien Wednesday 14th September
— TRANSFORMATION ✽
❀ While I was in Vienna Ai Wei Wei’s ‘Translocation — Transformation’ was exhibiting at the Belvedere Museum and 21er Haus. It focused on migration and the refugee crisis, responding both directly and indirectly to this situation. Although spread out across multiple buildings, the central installation was a giant letter f made from rafts of floating life-jackets in the Palace pond. This piece was the second in Weiwei’s well publicised refugee series to use life-jackets. I thought it might be an interesting situation to talk to the public, learning what a potentially less liberally minded person would think of this statement of damning events being placed in the Palace. However in practice, no one wanted to talk to me, and out of those that did very few knew who Ai Wei Wei was, and out of those that were still talking to me at that point, even fewer wanted to engage in the significance of the artwork. I suppose that that’s relevant, and gives an answer to what I wanted to find out in a way, but it was a bit demoralising. Ai Weiwei
@ 21erhaus.at/en/aiww21 belvedere.at 104
To my eye the pieces in the 21er Haus building were more poignant than the f. All artefacts from past centuries in China, Ai’s displaying of them here, as well as the fact that he is an exile himself from his (and the objects’) country of origin, gave them a new subverted meaning. An enormous wooden tea house structure, hundreds of broken teapots and tightly compressed blocks of tea leaves in the shape of houses. The way the items are displayed feels almost clinical; diametrically opposed to the organic, hand-crafted nature of the materials and history embedded in them.
Whenever I stumble upon something as relevant as this, it tends to lead to a chain of meetings and events that are equally interesting, but sadly don’t quite fit in the narrative, or the pages of this document. Stories of 80s journalism, 21st century design, temporary living spaces and uncorked wine will have to be conveyed in person rather than in the pages of this publication. The final thought that I left Vienna with however, heading towards the Slovak border, was of the time I found myself in. Not so long ago Austria marked the edge of the free Europe. 50km of marsh was all that stood in-between Vienna and the communism of Slovakia. Now the line is demarcated by just a café and a casino; things seemingly transplanted from neither country, into a location that gives them new meaning. Perhaps that strange non-place is still one that means a new start for refugees, now from countries further East than the former Soviet bloc.
Donnie trumpet sound
He started off as a pair and then split with girl friend
Dry the river
Feel quite emotional this morning
I love that place
Autumn 100% makes me think of Richmond park
On the way anyhow
Must be tough
Talked about touring loneliness
Met nice Canadian guy
I think I feel nostalgic
I’ll make it work
Budapest hasn’t been that forthcoming for advance contact
Not sure about the project but I’ll make summin..
I think things have worked
Last day tomorrow
The dogs still bark but maybe it’s a tad friendlier
Also I think I like Hungary better thank Slovakia
Makes tent cosy though, can appreciate it more when totally at peace
It’s getting chilly
Lots of hot water to drink makes a difference too
Super hot shower
V glad I got the campsite
Too much road and greyness
Today was tiring
I’ll probably never be in this place again
Stopping at the weird cafe for a coffee
Interesting to think about what it means, and why I have a sense of apprehension of going beyond in my head
Met an Aussie couple at the border
Only 120m above sea level now
Tailwind and downhill
The sun came out though
Maybe it’s always Autumn behind the iron curtain
It is a strange artificially straight road though
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to comprehend a border like that
Trying to think about the gravity of this part of the journey
Less than a day’s ride from Vienna is Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The things that stood out there were how hilly the city was, the Soviet style architecture and one particular rooftop bar. Most people I met were just pausing in-between Budapest and Vienna, so I suppose not much has changed as it sits between East and West. I made a couple of connections but in the end I also just breezed through between the two neighbouring larger capitals.
For a mixture of reasons
I don’t know what’s next
I don’t know when I can do his again
It is long and flat
Matthew é White
I had a nap
It is warm enough in direct sunlight but the wind whips the heat away
Zaófia’s place is nice too
Getting a good feeling from this city
It is an absolute luxury
I’m sitting off the path in a Slovakian field and can feel myself slowing down
Internet and info lady said Slovak side better so staying until later
Will try the Hungarian side maybe
Like cycling through soup
Kendrick black hippy
I’m not very hungry
But there genuinely does feel a difference of mindset
Occasionally I can get to a human connection beyond the language barrier
Not sure about the vibe of the people still
But I think tomorrow will be a lot harder
Haven’t seen a single other cyclist today
I’ll never know but it feels quite right
I hope this was close to my maximum potential
The ride to Budapest was interesting. The quality of the paths made it more like surfing through rice crispies than cycling, and the weather was getting noticeably colder, but that felt right knowing that this was the final push. Budapest was to be the last stop, and it really felt like final destination as I drew near.
Outside of the more focused research I did there a few things stood out to me from the culture of the city. The ruin pubs — a cliché, but they do have an impact on the city; the genuine use of markets — maybe I’m just naïve and this actually is a normal thing that I’ve missed; and the baths — again, cliché but they do genuinely form part of the Hungarian routine.
My time in the city was spent predominantly cycling the route back and forth between the centre and an area called Art Quarter Budapest. I felt a strange connection there, even though it could easily have been overlooked next to the vibrancy of the rest of the city, and found one final story to tell in a collaboration project by Blind Chic design studio.
Wish I hadn’t rushed in but that’s the compromise with commitment
I think maybe the most important or beneficial part of this trip is time
It does make me think that I better make the best use out of what I have
Had a nice pause for lunch but so Gil for the crappy last bit of riding roads into the city
Chance the rapper
I like this path
The weather warms with the music
Excitement for the future
Quite beautiful here
Why the distinction
At this point borders seem utterly pointless
Hungary is now just on the other side of the river
The people I’ve met
Muse stole this sound
Beehoven’s 7th would be great to ride to
Radiohead - ok computer
Crossed a pretty impressive dam
Art Quarter Budapest
Space Focus Budafok, Budapest Friday 23rd September
Art Quarter Budapest is a building that provides studio and event space for creative enterprises. Located 20 minutes by bike from the centre of the city it forms an island of art and design within a barren wasteland of industry and suburb. I meet with the co-director Wolfgang Bartesch to talk succinctly about his vision for the spaces and feelings about the political climate in Hungary as a whole. Up on the roof of the building we can see the main city in the distance, and building sites all around us.
JC: So Art Quarter Budapest is pretty much on its own here as a creative space? WB: We are an island in an industrial area of this district. There is another studio house in the neighbourhood but I think totally by coincidence because the lady who’s running it is in the cultural business in Hungary for ten or more years, her father owns the property so I do not think that she moved here because we are here. So you feel that it’s quite an insular thing on its own in this area, there’s not a big creative scene here. I think the creative scene in the area is concentrated on our project. And you think that it’s close enough to the city for the exhibition tomorrow night [a performance of the 4D Spatial Sound Institute along side another Atelier’s exhibition] to draw a lot of people? I hope so but I know that the distance to the city centre is an issue. I think it’s a bigger problem here than it would be in other cities. I used to live in Berlin and I think there to travel 10km within the city is not an issue. In Budapest, especially for Hungarians, not for foreigners, it’s really difficult to get people out here. Even though the public transportation is excellent, actually the infrastructure is very good. But there are so many programmes in the city centre that people are just too lazy to come out. And the bike path as well that I came on. It could be better. I think it’s actually done very badly. As long as you’re next to the river it’s nice, you too often have to cross big streets so you can’t just go. I don’t know why they did it that way because the path next to the river is big enough. But bikers are not a priority here, maybe later.
I know that there’s a lot of empty buildings in Budapest as a whole, I was told maybe 40%?
There are a lot of empty industrial buildings, but I think the reason that they are empty is that people who own them are still waiting to make a decision of what type of development to be. So spaces like this are still important, you can’t just say I want a studio and go and find a space. No I don’t think so. I read that at the moment there isn’t an issue with spaces developing too fast and changing the area. That things are progressing at a good speed? I think that is something that happens more in the city centre. For example this area with construction has not caught that movement yet. And what about movement in and out. The people who have studios here, are they generally Hungarian businesses or do people come into the city from outside? We tend to have artists working here, they live in Budapest and come out here to work. When we have spaces we rent out to companies and they use the space as workshops and offices. We prefer companies from creative fields.
Art Quarter Budapest
Is there a lot of collaboration that happens within the space? I know that there is. There’s an architect and a design company that do development work together. I know that Bagaboo and Blind Chic work together, when I need Graphic Design I know which artist can do it for me. I’m interested in the idea of identity of cities. For me being an outsider and happening to know about Art Quarter Budapest, it sounded like quite an official thing, it sounded like an area of Budapest that’s a creative spot. The name actually was a coincidence. We had a guest from Germany from a very prominent residency institute in Stuttgart. He wrote a concept for me, and he called it Art Quarter Budapest just as a project name. Then one of our artists here made a good logo for the name and we decided to stick with it. But what we are doing is unique in the city. There’s not a second place with studios and a residency programme and with creative companies operated from here. There are far smaller residency projects, much smaller studio house concepts in buildings that are waiting for development in the future. What we are doing is a long-term concept. How long has it been here so far? As active as we are now 4 or 5 years. For this property we don’t want to change it later on even if the property market develops into houses. So you care about the space, but if this keeps working well would you look for other areas? No this is enough. It is a passion project but the passion has to meet the business part as well. We don’t get any support from any fund or foundation or institution so we have to make sure that economy-wise it works. We’ve just developed another 16 studios. They’re used as bedrooms for the residencies now but in the future will change.
I’m also interested how in some of the cities I’ve been to, there’s very much a tangible sense of identity. For example Cologne considers itself to be the open city, open-minded, and that reflects in the way in which some of the businesses there brand themselves and opperate. Do you feel that Budapest has some kind of overall feel to it? Maybe rooted in the city’s history or mindset? I think you would have to ask a Hungarian, I grew up in Bonn and moved to Berlin and now I am here. But what about in your opinion?
My problem, that stops me giving you a good answer, my problem is that I’m too deeply affected by the politics going on in this country. Hungary is not a country to which I would move today. If my business weren’t a property I would leave straight away. I’m sure you have heard what is going on now with the referendum [a yes or no vote on whether to accept the EU refugee quota. Hungary’s Prime Minister is against accepting them and the country is largely planning to boycott the election]. That is far away from political opinion, left or right, it is just awful. Therefore I cannot answer your question regarding the identity of Budapest because the identity of the whole country is going in the direction of what we had 70 years ago.
Art Quarter Budapest
After talking on the building’s roof terrace Wolfgang takes me on a tour of the area. As well as looking into some of the studios, both occupied and under construction, we walk up the hill behind the old Brewery. Here we find ramshackle single story houses surrounded by overgrown grass and piles of rubbish. He tells me that these buildings are occupied by homeless families and individuals. Since they acquired the plot AQB has been trying to support those that wander in by allowing them a permanent address, free electricity and administrative support. Homelessness in Hungary is a huge problem thanks in large to the complete lack of support from the government. There is no funding for food-banks, housing, rehabilitation or social programmes. In fact there’s very little social security at all, due to the corruption that is (supposedly) rife within the government. The levels of discontent are growing as the arms of the essentially singular political party constrict more and more tightly. State controlled media ensures that they are re-elected time and again by the large (and mostly elderly) portion of the population living outside the metropolitan centres. So dire is the lack of genuine competitive democracy that the only other option is to vote for the “Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt” — The Two Tailed Dog Party. It was started as a joke party in 2006 with its primary activities being street art and political satire, but they are now the only credible opposition and fight for recognition against the state. Huge numbers of volunteers illegally paste up their posters as the only viable and democratic way of communicating in this quasi-dictatorship. Although you can feel their visual impact in the streets, it is unclear whether they will be able to have any real political impact under the current regime.
@ aqb.hu ketfarkukutya.com 112
Art Quarter Budapest
Blind Chic I originally found out about Art Quarter Budapest through researching Blind Chic, a design studio based there. Having discovered them years before and finding they worked out of Budapest it was always in the back of my mind to make it there one day. Blind Chic’s primary output is backpacks and alternative urban cycling apparel. Although that may seem removed from the research in this publication, it is the way they portray and identify themselves with Hungary and with Budapest that interested me. While I was in Budapest they were holding an exhibition for their 5th anniversary as part of Hungarian Design Week. The show was made up of a display of their past bags as well as tables of free bagels. One bags that I hadn’t seen before was a collaboration piece with artist duo Borsos Lőrinc. This pair of fine artists work in a studio next door to Blind Chic so a collaboration was inevitable, and the process and meaning behind the piece seemed worthy of sharing.
Project Focus AQB, Budapest Saturday 24th September
Images and text â€” borsoslorinc
Taking cues from both the aesthetic and the process of Borsos Lőrinc’s work — the ‘Terra Nullis (Primavera)’ series, the Blind Chic collaboration was developed. With the black paint dip treatment the bag is obscured to more a form than just a functional piece of fabric. I also think it’s interesting that where a dialogue behind the painting that inspired the collaboration might be easily dismissed, the story behind the bags feels open to a more attainable level of political engagement. Maybe it’s a stretch, but having just talked to Wolfgang about politics and media blackout in Hungary I felt that there was an inherently political nature to this creation. It was interesting to see what working in the AQB studio space had created; it wasn’t that something pure had been stained, but rather completely hidden.
“A symbolic wormhole opens from the value crisis of contemporary societies directly into an imagined paradise.”
Images — Blind Chic Photography — Vékony Dorottya
Didn’t do a karate kid rebirthing of the self after-all
I guess I was still stressed
Fuck the bike box, wish I hadn’t got stressed
Anyway flight time
Don’t think this Hummus is hummus
They’re bearable but not good
Eating those last rheinlander brod that I got totally sick of in the Netherlands in the queue
And twisting the fucking pedal the right fucking way to fucking get it off
And ikea bags
Bike shop boxes
It all came together
The End. Now What?
I hope that, having read this far you’ve gleaned something of the experience I had, and of the climate and ideas happening throughout Europe.
I don’t think I got close to even recognising the negative effects of migration. The speed that I travelled, although not fast, meant that any effort to make a connection on that level would feel false, as I appear, snap my photos and then cycle off again. That will have to wait until another trip.
I also wanted to see and learn more about design and place in Europe. I wanted to get an idea of how people feel about the places in which they live, and how they use their skills to influence those places. I wanted to make a connection between creative people and spaces in cities, maybe helping by showing what was possible. Globalisation can work both ways after all.
I also just wanted to cycle really far. That bit was a success.
Now that the rest is done, I still don’t think I know what that final thing is.
“Final thing from me”.
While compiling this document I’ve had an almost empty text box on this page the entire time that said only:
Thanks to these individuals (and many others I’ve forgotten). Whatever your role was, I appreciate you: Mike Inglis Zoe Patterson Del Romano Merlin Froth Neil McGuire Ian Sharman Orlando Lloyd Jules Bec
Mirko & Alicia Seb
Leyla Claudia & Hossein Dani (Onogrit) Mario The urban guy Jeremy bike guy
Robert & Heike Deitmar & family Chris Keely
Edinburgh University Pannier The New Metropolitan Bone Shaker Neil’s bike shop Ollie from the ferry
Alf & Kirsty Gmunden boys (and Hannah) Anya & Bart Lisa Guys I made friends with at the exhibition The girl at the 21er haus exhibition
Phillip His druggy friend Guido
Ivan Trapped in Suburbia (Richard, Pem) Windmakers (Janne, Lisa, Lorena) Jordy
Alex and Olli
Charley & Bjorn Studio Spass (Jaron, Dann) Sibe, Inneke
Lukas His Romanian room mate Markus Milla Simone Depot owner Hauser & Schwartz
Mathieu Yorit Michiel and Jetske
The German guy who helped with my bike
Blind chic Wolfgang and his partner Szofie Budapest bike shop Mook Archie Louis Grace & My dear parents
The central topic of this publication is the issue of movement within and between cities. Although far away from the real migration of refugees in Europe, my journey in the inverse trajectory is intrinsically linked to that of many of those fleeing crisises. If you feel motivated in any way to act for or contribute towards you and your city’s role please look up local organisations, speak to your council, and support groups like: 1st Edition Copy no. / 100
safepassage.org.uk detentionaction.org.uk redcross.org.uk
In summer 2016 I cycled from Holland to Hungary over 2 months. The aim was to look at creative migration within and between cities, and the...
Published on Dec 1, 2017
In summer 2016 I cycled from Holland to Hungary over 2 months. The aim was to look at creative migration within and between cities, and the...