Transferring Other Spaces

by Maria Trunk

Transversal, artistic and intellectual strategies between past, present and future as in the case of the industrial heritage site Quelle in Nuremberg, Germany.

The urban is a symbolic space. What we can see, hear and smell in our daily lives affects our bodies, minds, relationships, and feelings. All impulses, from edges, places or buildings up to the sound of the garbage truck every Monday morning at 7 am, form the narrative of our lives. And in combination with memories, these influences are deeply connected to our thinking of the past, present and future. 

Especially heritage sites are glued to the past. Everyone is more or less knowingly affected by it: Visitors, pedestrians and neighbors, specialists like historians, archaeologists, urbanists, architects, designers or artists – for some of them the past of these sites is obvious. Some have special interest or knowledge, but most of them just feel the years filled with relevance. Heritage reflects former significance, rise and fall of economies, cultural achievements or urban developments. It tells stories about people; about their destinies, hopes and fates. These stories and memories, the historic lessons, are resources of urban development as well as of regional identity. A Moreover, they can be revived, interpreted and transformed to new life.  

Today, more and more independent cultural initiatives accept this challenge for new life and diversity. These initatives create heritage revalorisation concepts as an alternative to the common hyper-capitalistic, hyper-professionalized, hyper-automated, hyper-informed, hyper-controlled, hyper-regulated urban environment. They use low-threshold reconstruction, independent collective organization and forms of artistic and intellectual production to handle the past, present and future.  

Often, this challenge turns out to be a never-ending story. Like a sticky mass that lames bodies and minds of yourself and your collective. If you try to catch it, the mass becomes fluid. Moreover, if you try to escape, it will become the highly adhesive chewing gum during tough discussion meetings that rise repeatedly, between the critical points that are often been heard. 

The Chewing Gum Effect 

However, after chewing for a certain time within an intuitive and open-minded experimental process, every strong initiative creates its strategies to make bubbles out of it! These bubbles help to dance the revolution; to overcome the heavy weight of the past without forgetting it. The following description of artistic strategies from the “Institute for Applied Heterotopia” tries to emblaze this “Chewing Gum Effect”. 

„Now we are at the top of the so called Heizhaus Building, [a part of] Quelle [building complex], the former warehouse and logistic head quarter of the company Quelle with – at saisonal peaks – up to 10.000 people working inside. It has closed its doors in 2009. From 2010 until 2016 there has been intermedial use by 200 creatives inside. Since the end of this inspirational time, you and 40 other creatives of the so called Quellkollektiv are working here. 

The experiences, terms, projects, initiatives, your ways of working together, are an object of investigation for several years. We caught some interest in you as a research on your methods and the consequences that this has for the design of the Quelle revalorisation concept. In some months, the revitalisation of the new Quelle will start. It will follow the concept of a “city in the city”-complex – an urban laboratory. Private investors, city administration, social and research institutions try to create a best practice of an autonomous urban planning complex where people live & work together in progressive and independent ways.“

This experiment is a chance; is widely discussed and will be a big challenge for all contributors. The revitalisation slogan is „Open be the Reason of Rebuild“. For this purpose, I will conduct a long-term research on you and your colleagues. My analysis is called „New Forms of Artistic and Intellectual Production“. Therefore, I will try to find out the key aspects of spaces, infrastructures and social forms of the project Heizhaus. There are official plans to invent your strategies in multiple ways. Officials recognized that your ambitions are the politicization of ones own life – That´s it. This thinking is important for a resilient democracy and we want to accompany this process.“ 

From the heterotopian video 

„Transferring Other Spaces“, playing in the year 2022 

Performed by Christian Weiss and Maria Trunk  

Video by Flashfabrik & TomLeather &Chris Weiss 

06:10 minutes, September 2017 

Heizhaus, Nürnberg 

The Transfer of Other Spaces 

The performance „Transferring Other Spaces“ is a helpful “Chewing Gum Strategy”; an articulation method for an agenda of progressive transformation of spaces and their destiny as well as within this process also for social transformation of their surroundings. During the creation process, the performance turned out to be a cultural optimistic call, an inspiration and encouragement for all. How deep “Other Spaces” affected ones identity, became obvious through confronting the interviewee with personal questions. For a person with regular employment, housing, family-structure and relationships, it is a fundamental different experience to answer these questions. Obviously, the everyday life turns into a political issue.  

What is your profession? Do you have an academic title? 

Where do you live? Where do you work? 

Do you have a partnership? Do you have children? Do you live together with your relatives? 

How about your income? Are you a freelancer? 

On a scale from 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your work and life situation? 

When zooming in on one of the 40 people from the “Other Space” called ”Heizhaus”, a viewer of the video gets an impression of its deep impact on human beings’ self-understanding while interacting within the surrounding of an Other Space: Often, the result is a contradictory self-understanding of what to do in life and which role we as  individuals have . The identity of the interviewed person is not based on heteronormative, ”now normal“ way of life with its common needs, to-dos and predetermined perspectives. 

Within the daily challenges of managing the whole building together, working in complex cultural projects with a loose network consisting of freelance work, community work, living and working in a shared space. In addition to their everyday interactions with neighbors and citizens, administration, economy, politics and universities, one’s own identity is not determinated anymore through profession, graduation or the number of children etc. 

Applied Heterotopia 

This method transferring other spaces deals with a future perspective, which is one of the common characteristics of projects of the artistic and intellectual work by the experimental initiative Institute for Applied Heterotopia (IFAH). IFAH artists speak wildly and freely about what is normally taboo or seemingly unrealistic to utter. By describing as concretely as possible the „already happened“ future of things, the audience is suddenly close to a possible way towards a revolution of the everyday life. 

The interview seems to be, or better „has been“, recorded in the near future of 2022. It takes, or better „took“, place at the rooftop of the collectively self-organized cultural laboratory Heizhaus in Nuremberg, Germany.  

Behind this video, one can perceive the loud call for the citizens’ own power to influence the structures and circumstances of their lives – through ignorance, ongoing asking of questions, shaping collectives and coalitions, searching for a common anti-hegemonial articulation.  

This storytelling is an anticipation of a „new normality“. It suggests upcoming changes in the future ways of work and life as well as the changes of societies’ mechanisms and structures within. The performance is looking at social impacts by progressive artistic and intellectual productions in order to achieve an inventive and lively democracy beyond deadlocked regulations. 

The Throw Back 

In addition to the focus on theoretical and practical characteristics of “Other Spaces” and the individuals, their lives, strategies and progressive urban development, IFAH again and again raises the topic of one popular political issue as a key object of discussion: The impasse of the former warehouse and logistic head quarter building of the company Quelle, that today is the second largest empty and nearly lost cultural heritage building complex in Germany. 

The four-year long temporary creative use of Quelle has had a long-lasting effect on the way many young people in Nuremberg think and work. The basic resource was a place of opportunities for over 200 people that experts perceived as an icon. There was an utopian time in these seemingly never ending, widely connected, open and nearly un-restricted halls forms a contrast to a proximate and sudden shut down. This specific background generated some kind of artistic super power. It supplies an energy out of ambivalent feelings, fallen dreams and perspectives and, of course, the daily political tensions in the traditionally conservative federal state of Bavaria in the south-west of Germany. 

Therefore, the strategies of overcoming reality made the people around Quelle decide upon being mainly organized as the non-profit-organization Quellkollektiv, one of the most interesting and innovative groups in Nuremberg and in the region. Because of  past experiences, the collective of presently more than 80  creative artists is committed to a concept of art and culture that reflects questions about the conditions of production as well as the reception of art and culture regarding current questions of ecology or urban development as a matter. IFAH is a interacting with it for example with the video “Transferring Other Spaces” to show how to chew the sticky mass of the past and using it today for the future.