After a spectacular start on Thursday with well over 400 visitors, Friday was a day for cultivated discussions about creative uses of urban spaces. In the first talk, Uros Veber, a cultural organizer from Ljubljana told about how his city tries to install a clean and tourist friendly city centre – and how street artists need to find other places to work with, e.g. trains. Being Munich’s representative for graffiti, David Kammerer aka. Cemnoz pointed out, that was also how Munich became a vibrant centre of street art in the 80ies.
Roman Häbler, who wrote his master thesis on graffiti in Munich and co-publishes graffiti magazine ‘Klick Klack’ added interesting insights on how even if a city has a very clean image, like Munich does and Ljubljana wants it to have, there is still plenty of room for street artists to express themselves.
Another aspect was presented by Stephan Doesinger, a lecturer and several art universities and an expert on graffiti used by advertising agencies: the difference between how public spaces and therefore also graffiti and street art is perceived online versus real life – in his view it’s not about working on a picture, but about working with pictures, e.g. google maps.
Berlin-based Adrian Nabi, founder of graffiti magazine ‘Backjumps’ refers to this plethora of pictures evoked by digital media as ‘instagram-picture-bulimia’ – and presented his vision: giving street artists money and support and simply let them loose on the city in real life. And interesting and detailed discussion formed that also broached the issue of institutionalisation, be that by companies or the municipality.
Which was also a central topic of the second discussion of the day about urban wasteland across Europe – and how it is used. Tunjay Acar, co-founder of ‘Import Export Kantine’ spoke about how it is not possible to achieve any sort of lasting cultural project without working hand in hand with the local authorities: ‘Within 24 hours you would be kicked out by the police.’ He told a bit about how ‘Import Export’ started as a side project and what steps where needed as well as what fights had to be fought.
Which is similar in Ljubljana, where Miha Zadnikar comes from and leads a autonomous cultural facility. He talked about how regulations, especially since Slovenia became part of the European Union, made it ever more difficult for them to do their jobs as cultural players and how gentrification and tourists change the place. Not yet but maybe in the near future this is what might happen to ‘Projet Darwin’ in Bordeaux, France. One of the founders, Sylvain Barfety, also took part in the discussion and expressed his fear of big private investors turning their beloved place in Bordeaux into a soul-less money machine. On top of that, he pointed out the importance of democratic processes and that the public should own those places of urban wasteland – they are, together with new economic alternatives and different ways of usage a foundation of new culture in times of crisis.
Two very interesting discussions that will reverberate for some time to come.