AAJ Press
Architecture & Design, Art & Public Space

Culture:City. Akademie der Künste, Berlin. 15 March – 26 May 2013

Berghain_After-Hours_Phillip-Kaminiak_3 The architectural exhibition curated and designed by Matthias Sauerbruch for the Akademie der Künste, Berlin discusses the relationship between architecture and the social reality of the 21st century and shows the impact of art and culture on cities and architecture.

Art and culture have in many ways become key motors of innovative and successful urban design and planning, without which the world’s metropoles would no longer be worthy of the name. The exhibition Culture:City encourages us to think consistently about the future of our cities from this perspective.

In what way does cultural activity change a city? How does it affect architecture? When do they strengthen, redefine or preserve the urban environment from decay? When do they can become a burden on public finances? Given the global competition between cities, dreams of glory and tourism drive politicians and property developers to erect spectacular buildings designed by star architects – for the purpose of creating memorable icons. However, these do not always serve local culture. What then are the alternatives to the “Bilbao effect” or “post Bilbao effect?

The selection of international examples presented – ranging from spectacular architectural and art projects, via the creative reuse of empty buildings and city areas, through to citizens’ initiatives – opens up a panorama of constructed concretisation of culture thus allowing us not only to take stock of the surroundings but also to evaluate and assess each individual case. Does the social, cultural and architectural rootedness in the city work and does this lead to new forms of cultural production? Or does the construction project merely represent a symbol strong on marketing, yet another island in a city’s public spaces characterised by increasing fragmentation?

Beyond the physical presentation of plans and models, this exhibition also offers its visitors a special insight: video tours complete with commentary as well as in-depth background information on tablet computers. These films d’auteur have been prepared by graduates of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. In this manner, it is possible to gain three differing perspectives in the exhibition room: that of the architect, that of the curator and that of the filmmaker.

The debate thus triggered is continued in the exhibition in the form of lectures, film screenings, concerts, sound installations and conferences.

Detroit-SoupDebating Culture:City

The extensive talk and conference program featuring the Culture:City protagonist starts with a lecture by Selgas Cano Arquitectos (winner of the Kunstpreis Berlin 2013, “architecture section”) and a lecture by Florian Beigel (“Großer Kunstpreis Berlin 2013”), followed by a series of lectures in cooperation with the Universität der Künste Berlin with Patrick Bouchain (Paris), Jacques Herzog (Basel), Francine Houben (Delft) and Daniel Niggli (Zurich) amongst others. The two-day symposium “Culture:Capital” in cooperation with uncube, Arch+ and the Technische Universität Berlin includes amongst others Sir Peter Cook, Giancarlo Mazzanti, Peter Eisenman, Willem-Jan Neutelings, András Pálffy and Enrique Sobejano. The conference “Shaping Contested Projects for Tomorrow’s Metropolis – Public Participation and Design Review” is presented in cooperation with George Thrush, School of Architecture, Northeastern University, Boston/USA. The panel discussion “Kunst als Entwickler öffentlichen Bewusstseins” in cooperation with Theatrum Mundi/Global Street invites Richard Sennett, Adam Kaasa and Wilfried Wang. As closing event Culture:City invites to the symposium on the restructuring of Berlin’s museum landscape: “Kulturvermittlung im Zeitalter der Globalisierung und des Wettbewerbs um Aufmerksamkeit“.

OPT_Centre-Pompidou-Mobile_5Architecture in Film – 15 Films about Culture:City

Fifteen films were made about different cultural buildings worldwide, exploring the function and consequences of the architecture and the buildings on local people by students of the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie (DFFB). This special reflection opens up a highly subjective perspective on the exhibition and the related discussion on urban planning, cultural and educational policy and the future of our worldwide knowledge society.

Featured buildings and places are:

Berghain (Director: Steffen Köhn, Cinematographer: Phillip Kaminiak), Centre Pompidou Mobile (Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Theo Solnik), Detroit Soup (Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Theo Solnik), Radialsystem V (Director: IJ. Biermann), Parque Biblioteca España (Director/Editor: Youdid Kahveci, Cinematographer: Carlos Andrés López Tobón), Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum (Director/Editor: Günther Franke, Cinematographer: Phillip Baben der Erde, Script: Josa Sesink), Guangzhou Opera House (Director: Simona Feldman, Cinematographer: Julian Landweer), Museum Gunzenhauser (Director/Editor: Hendrik Reichel, Cinematographer: Markus Koop), Inner-City Arts (Director: Christin Freitag, Cinematographer/Editor: Hanna Mayser), Zeche Zollverein (Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Cyril Schäublin), Palais de Tokyo, Director: Rudolf Domke), Metropol Parasol Sevilla (Director/Cinematographer: Polina Gumiela), Seattle Central Library (Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Cyril Schäublin), Tate Modern (Director/Editor: Julia Langhof, Cinematographer/Editor: Michal Grabowski), Kunsthaus Graz (Director/Editor: Fiene Scharp, Kai Miedendorp und IJ. Biermann, Cinematographer: Kai Miedendorp)

Culture:City interpreted by Akademie der Künste fellows

Meriam Bousselmi (fellowship in the Performing Arts Section) stages with “Truth Box”, a publicly confessional placed at different locations in urban space, Julian Busch (fellowship in the Architecture Section) comments with his a topographic instrument “Berlin Unseen” on forgotten places of Berlin’s cultural history; Nadine Fecht (fellowship in the Fine Arts Section) created a video installation “Close Reading”, and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (fellowship in the Fine Arts Section) installs the sound-corridor “Teque-teque, Surucuá, Arara” in the Tiergarten near the Academy.

Music in the cloud – A project in collaboration with ZKM | Institut für Musik und Akustik, DISK Berlin, radio aporee and raumlabor berlin

In the context of this exhibition, the “music in the cloud” project offers a broad spectrum of things that show how sound and urban space can interact on an artistic level. The program presents compositions specially created for eight cultural locations in Berlin such as Prinzessinnengärten at Moritzplatz, ExRotaprint in Wedding or ZK/U in Moabit, where they can only be heard on smartphones and GPS during May. The program is accompanied by sound installations and concerts. Mucis in the cloud is curated by the members of the Music Section Ludger Brümmer, Nicolaus A. Huber, Enno Poppe, Manos Tsangaris as well as Evelyn Hansen and Carsten Seiffarth.

Culture: City.  Catalogue

Accompanying the exhibition, a comprehensive catalogue will be published by Lars Müller Publishers, Zurich, edited by Wilfried Wang for the Akademie der Künste and includes essays by K by Ricky Burdett, William J.R. Curtis, Jochen Gerz, Nele Hertling, Kasper König, Michael Mönninger, Beatriz Plaza, Andy Pratt, Matthias Sauerbruch, Jan Schütte, Ingo Schulze, Richard Sennett, Alain Thierstein, Manos Tsangaris and Wilfried Wang.
In German and English by Lars Müller Publishers, Zurich,
232 pages, 426 illustrations, price during the exhibition €29.99, or €40 in bookshops

Culture: City. 15th March – 26th May 2013
Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin-Tiergarten
T. +49 (0)30 200 57-2000, info@adk.de
Opening hours Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 7 pm
Open on Easter Monday (1st April) and Whit Monday (20th May)


Filmstill “After”, Director: Steffen Köhn, Building: Berghain, Berlin © Phillip Kaminiak.
Detroit Soup. A monthly dinner funding micro-grants for creative projects in Detroit.
Centre Pompidou Mobile, France. Architects: Patrick Bouchain and Loïc Julienne. Photo: Loïc Julienne.


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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