Act Two: Kulturpark
When tapping into the pulse of emerging trends, we believe it’s important to connect the dots with real-time data. Unfortunately, research can’t predict how a launch or event might be perceived regardless of good intentions and fundraising. Case in point — revitalizing the Kulturpark amusement park.
Our friend, Mandie O'Connell, was kind enough to give us a first hand report from the event from both an American and artistic perspective. She’s the founder and co-leader of La Mission, a Berlin based record label/ magazine/performance project, and is performing in Heiner Goebbels' direction of John Cage's "Europeras 1" at the Ruhr Triennale. All photos are Mandie's and used with permission.
Hi Mandie. Welcome to trendscaping and thanks for chatting with us about the Kulturepark public event. We'd love to hear your impressions, but first, let us know how you learned about the exposition.
Mandie O’Connell (MO): My friend, collaborator, and former Seattleite Alex Schweder told me about the project. He suggested that I apply to create something for Kulturpark. So, I applied to create a performance installation.
What kind of marketing did the event planners do to get the city excited leading up to the June 30th event? How does the communication differ in the US than in Germany?
MO: Honestly, I did not hear too much about the project outside of information I personally sought out. The Kulturpark team obviously sent out the occasional update to their mailing list (mostly regarding their Kickstarter campaign) and posted some information on their website and on Facebook and so forth, but that's about it. I did hear about some lecture which happened after the fact in association with a gallery. Here in Berlin, a lot of people hear about events through the top popular blogs: Sugarhigh and I Heart Berlin. Kulturpark was not spoken about on either of those blogs. I didn't even read about it in "ExBerliner" the expat newspaper and website!
As an American transplant to Berlin who works in site-specific performance, I had been looking forward to attending Kulturpark and even submitted an (unsuccessful) application to participate. The idea of the project was interesting and timely. The artists, curators, and historians heading up the project seemed smart and ambitious. And, last but not least, the park itself is a special and complex landscape that balances in between being a ruin and a monument in a city full of ruins and monuments.
Sounds like the planners had found the perfect demographic in the local artist community. Tell us more about what you saw.
MO: So. June 30th rolls around. I bike over to Treptower Park with my friend Kaleb, a video artist who also works with found spaces. Kaleb and I were both disappointed to discover that while Kulturpark was a disorganized, half-baked effort at art making, it was a full-fledged effort to party (complete with a DJ and daytime ravers sporting utility belts).
Sounds like a festival. What about the working train ride? And the other structures-- anything cool there?
MO: Unfortunately, no… After we made the obligatory round on the old train (from which one could not exit into the park itself—the park was actually off-limits unless you were on a paid guided tour) we left. There were supposedly events being held across the river later in the evening (by events, I mean more parties) but my interests were in what was actually happening AT THE PARK!
It seemed like the rules and regulations regarding the park itself ended up limiting to a crippling degree what the artists were allowed to do in/with the park itself. The park’s revered status as an iconographic location trapped it in a museum-like bubble; a bubble through which Kulturpark’s curators, project managers, partner artists, and certainly the viewing public, were not allowed to break.
That is so unfortunate. Especially when the Kickstarter campaign raised $26,366 to transform the park.
MO: This project was an example of why sometimes it is better to leave a romantic urban legend alone rather than knock its cobwebs off in an effort to re-contextualize it. “Spreepark” is surrounded by a wobbly and easy-to-jump fence, and is quite beautiful in the wee small hours of the morning when accompanied by the adrenaline rush of hiding from the security agents!
Thanks for the insights and time. Sounds like you're on the inside track for culture in Berlin. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.