An artistic exploration of entrances, accesses, passageways and crossings along former checkpoints to the Free Port of Hamburg.

The catchy slogan ‘Gateway to the World’ shapes the self-perception of the Hanseatic City’s inhabitants just as much as it has proved to be a highly effective way of marketing the city for international tourism. But the connection with global maritime trade and a cosmopolitan outlook now associated with the slogan as a matter of course actually stems from Third Reich advertising strategists; prior to that, the powerful symbol referenced St. Pauli’s ‘underworld’ that lay before the city gates. Be that as it may, the gateway symbolises transformational moments, regardless of whether something is being left behind or abandoned altogether. It serves as a projection surface for expectations of freedom and adventure, of intensity and liveliness that are bound up with the other side. It is where checks are carried out to determine who is allowed in, or out, and at what price.

The exhibition itinerary entitled The Portal is paired with an interactive mobile website and initiates artistic approaches to unconscious elements of the powerful image giver. It conveys a sense of the different conceptions of the city as an entrance, an access, a passageway and a crossing along former checkpoints to the Free Port of Hamburg. Engaging with historical customs houses and other locations, the six projects created for the event highlight the history of the port and its trading activities at original sites and explore their impact on the way the people of Hamburg perceive themselves. The projects reflect the gateway’s transformational potential in performative and philosophical lectures; they offer insights into the art of tattooing, phantasmagorically charged with the intensity of life as a seafarer; they subvert the imagery of marketing strategists to circulate other images of the city; they let one entrance be guarded by a female sentry and open up virtual gates into the twin city of California City, which is either an eagerly awaited ideal or an apocalyptic failure, depending on the point view. With Marc Bijl, Liesel Burisch, Franziska Nast, Dennis Rudolph, Daniel Tyradellis.

The exhibition is funded by the Elbkulturfonds.