Annual programme 2023
Next autumn we’ll be infiltrating everyday urban life. For the conclusion of OFFENE WELTEN Berlin-based film maker Omer Fast will be creating a cross-city intervention for Hamburg, Hanover, Herford and Siegen. And our digital network will be taking a look at public infrastructures with the help of our INTERKIT culture app.
Now at the Kiosk
In its November issue, DER HAMBURGER has a piece profiling Ellen Blumenstein. The Popular section features people and projects that lend the city its face. Available to read exclusively in our Press Area.
EXHIBITIONS, PERFORMANCE, PODCAST
Facts & Figures
Initiated in 2017 by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, the experimental cultural programme got underway with the appointment of Ellen Blumenstein as HafenCity Curator. Since 2018, we have been operating as IMAGINE THE CITY and are supported by the independent, non-profit association Kunst und Kultur in der HafenCity. So far we have realised more than twenty projects involving almost 100 participants, co-operated with eight cultural institutions and raised more than three million euros.
The mobile cultural vehicle is able to record and broadcast podcasts directly from street level, stage discussions in public places, organise karaoke competitions and stream movies licence-free. Plus you can also borrow the bike for free for your own projects!
denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof at Lohsepark
2021 was all about the ‘gateway to the world’. In seven interviews, historian Sandra Schürmann looked at how Hamburg’s self-image is made visible at HafenCity. This podcast episode for example deals with the question of how remembrance can be kept alive within an urban space and how important ‘authentic’ testimonies are in this regard.
The City Imagined mit/with
The book series documents our work at HafenCity. Order here free of charge one of the four in-depth interviews with Terence Koh, Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus & Richard Wilhelmer, Liz Magic Laser & Dafna Maimon, and Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann about the special experience of developing art within the urban fabric.
Don’t miss any of our activities – sign up here!
IMAGINE THE CITY elaborates new formats at the interface between culture and urban planning in HafenCity. We incorporate representative artistic perspectives into Hamburg’s urban development and collaborate at the international level with like-minded people across all sectors of society. Practically and discursively, we contribute to shaping the future of our cities in ways that are vibrant, equitable and supportive.
THE GATE Editions
Still looking for Christmas presents and/or keen to support artists? If so, why not buy a work of art by Marlon de Azambuja, Eduardo Basualdo, Marc Bijl, Camillo Ritter or Svenja Björg Wassil! Send us an email to receive a list of available works.
Interactive culture in the urban space
Build your own app: our web-based editorial system INTERKIT is set to go online next year, allowing familiar features such as AR, Player, Chat, Archive and Map to be linked together as required. Simply select what you need or programme your own extensions; the open source toolbox is available free of charge for all non-commercial uses!
From our archives
Having trouble sleeping? – If so, pick a suitable lullaby from our YouTube archive: The HUSH performance by Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon in the fall of 2021 armed each participant against their own personal fears about the future.
In return, they shared their personalised reassurances with all those in need.
Message from SAM
Florence Jung’s manipulative bot follows users throughout their day and communicates with them via a mobile app. The last sub-project of our OPEN WORLDS digital network runs until February 2023 at MGK Siegen – and everywhere online: available now from the App Store or on Google Play.
Our favourite video trailer
Together with two artist friends Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann shot his own BACKDROP road movie to indicate to our audience the best way to get to his work.
The three artists thus instantly relocated the famous original C’était un rendez-vous by Claude Lelouch (1976) from Paris to HafenCity: a little work of art all of its own.
Space for dreaming
Our latest podcast feature on HafenCity’s last unplanned site brings together ambitious, whimsical and visionary ideas for one of the district’s most expensive pieces of real estate.
Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to what Annika Kahrs, Hadi Teherani and many others have come up with for this special ‘lost place’ on the Elbe.
Visit us at the Coffee Plaza: from January 1 you will be able to find us at our new address with our own terrace, directly at Sandtorpark.
New Feature: our magazine
Along with our website revamp we’ve also introduced a new category. In our Magazine we regularly post exclusive and/or special essays that use the power of language to sketch out images of cities. From all eras and from all over the world.
By bus to art
Our exhibition series plays out inside a display cabinet at the bus stop in front of the PIERDREI Hotel at Sandtorkai. Until 15 January 2023, you have the opportunity to see Saray Purto’s HAUS WANDERER colossus comprised of discarded furniture drenched in white paint.
Photo knowledge on Telegram
THE INVISIBLE HAND dives deep into the history and theory of photography with videos, chats and comics. As a virtual companion to the 8th Triennial of Photography, we deliberately aimed the festival motto Currency at Hamburg’s urban space in the summer of 2022.
The channel remains permanently accessible and is well worthwhile even without the exhibition!
Smiley over the city
A prominent text about our first project, PUBLIC FACE. In March 2020, a detailed analysis appeared in the architecture and urbanism magazine Arch+. available online anytime.
History, Technology, Infrastructure
Filter Exhibition, Performance, Podcast, In Print, Hands-on, Immersion, Sculpture, Sound, History, Contemplation, Entertainment, Stage, Technology, Event, Threshold, Outdoors, Narrative, Trade, Infrastructure, Explore, Cooperation,
From September 2023
DOMESTICITY 2: HOME WANDERER
15 September 2022 – 15 January 2023
BEE CHAPEL HAFENCITY
From Spring 2023
Javier Acevedo, Theresa Michel, Jonas Wietelmann
How To Live In The Echo Of Other Places
1 June – 4 September 2022
VOICES OF THE CITY 1: BAAKENHÖFT
DOMESTICITY 1: RUBIA Y MORENA
16 June – 15 August 2022
THE INVISIBLE HAND
Ellen Blumenstein, Harriet von Froreich, Theresa Michel, Cansu Naz Tekir
18 May – 15 July 2022
THE CITY IMAGINED WITH/MIT
Ellen Blumenstein (ed.)
2019 – 2022
ON THE THRESHOLD OF WISDOM
1 June – 31 December 2021
A CITY IN FLUX
HUSH. THE REASSURER
Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon
16 – 19, 23 – 26 September 2021
THE GATE. ART WALK
Curated by Ellen Blumenstein, Mona Hermann
1. June – 31. October 2021
THE GATE. AUDIO LIBRARY
Curated by Ellen Blumenstein, Theresa Michel
19 August 2020 – 21 December 2021
17 April 2020 – 11 April 2021
Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon, Playful Commons
19 December 2019, 5 February 2020
Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus, Richard Wilhelmer
23 November 2018 – 27 September 2020
IMAGINE THE CITY & FRIENDS #2
Curated by Cornelius Altmann
25 July 2019
IMAGINE THE CITY & FRIENDS #1
HAFENLESUNG GOES SEUTE DEERN
4 July 2019
ON-BOARD KIOSK SURPRISE
Curated by Raphael Dillhoff and Nina Groß
11 July 2018 – 29 August 2018
from Marc Bijl: THE WORKS. 1984 : 2084
Jap Sam Books Amsterdam (coming soon)
Women, violence and the HafenCity
Also available as Podcast
On the Threshold of Wisdom
The Self-Image of a City
Initial release: Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, 1840
The Man of the Crowd
Edgar Allen Poe
IMAGINE THE CITY
Am Sandtorpark 2
Tel 040 883 536 58
We will be available again by telephone from mid-January 2023. Please feel free to contact us by e-mail.
For press inquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our press section has all the latest press material available for download.
Currently in DER HAMBURGER magazine: a profileof IMAGINE THE CITY.
The Hamburger Abendblatt featured Annika Kahrs's installation in the old dockside warehouse.
DER SPIEGEL interview with Terence Koh, talking about his BEE CHAPEL HAFENCITY.
Understanding the PUBLIC FACE: in-depth analysis in Arch+.
The BOTBOAT in the practical test of the ADAC travel magazine. Published in issue No. 181.
WHO WE ARE
Initiated in 2017 by Hamburg’s largest development company, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH (HCH), the experimental cultural programme got underway with the appointment of Ellen Blumenstein as HafenCity Curator. The following year she adapted the programme to create IMAGINE THE CITY, a project orientated less according to her own personal input and more towards the content-related tasks with which she had been entrusted. The project itself is funded by the independent, non-profit association Kunst und Kultur in der HafenCity. HCH provides the basic funding during the pilot phase and is represented on the Association’s Board in a bid to facilitate the co-ordination of the various projects. A significant portion of the required budget is secured through the acquisition of third-party funding. Since 2017, we have realised more than twenty projects involving almost 100 participants, co-operated with eight cultural institutions and raised more than three million euros.
WHAT WE DO
IMAGINE THE CITY elaborates representative new formats at the interface between culture and urban planning. We incorporate artistic perspectives into the HCH’s urban projects in an illustrative way while collaborating at the international level with like-minded people across all sectors of society. We look at the city from a user perspective and enable encounters with, in, and through its built-up environment so that, together, we can reformulate society’s expectations of culture. In doing so, we target an aspect of the city that planning cannot ‘plan’ for: informal urban spaces highly charged in terms of both narrative and imagination. Practically and discursively, we contribute to shaping the future of our cities in ways that are vibrant, equitable and supportive.
WHERE TO FIND US
In January 2023, IMAGINE THE CITY will be relocating to new headquarters at Coffee Plaza in HafenCity. Our premises are open on three sides, allowing us to interact directly with the outside space and enliven the site for our neighbours, cultural workers and other interested parties, whether it’s through performances, film evenings, lectures or workshops. These events are aimed at everyone living a city who is keen to reflect on seemingly unconnected aspects, track down their own blind spots, and as a result help develop images or ideas of the sort of city we would all want to live in.
WHAT MAKES US TICK
Our work ties in with a broad spectrum of cultural initiatives that were incorporated early on into HafenCity’s development, e.g. the founding of the Oberhafen Cultural Quarter, the establishment of a number of festivals, and the promotion of temporary and/or subculture-based usage concepts. At the same time, IMAGINE THE CITY has gone beyond the scope of these previous approaches. Indeed, for the first time, we deliberately took action in a systematic, long-term, cross-project and cross-genre way, specifically in those areas where the course for our future lives together is being chartered, i.e. urban development areas. This orientation calls for new concepts, new alliances and new infrastructures that mediate between culture and urban development, stakeholders and clients, representation and activism.
We are regularly on the lookout for interns. Please submit your applications to: email@example.com
DIRECTOR (on maternity leave)
Always in search of new formats that convey cultural issues to a broad audience, Ellen is utterly committed to the task of thinking about culture and urban development as a consistent entity for Hamburg. At the same time, she is also associate curator at Spreepark Berlin and oversees the Reallabor Kunst im öffentlichen Raum at the University of the Arts Bremen until 2023.
Jonas relocated from Dresden to Hamburg in spring 2022 in a bid to help make the infrastructure of IMAGINE THE CITY shipshape. He is tasked with turning interesting concepts into doable projects, looks after our fundraising, and is also in charge of networking us far beyond the borders of Hamburg. His main focus is on digital strategies and art education technologies.
Theresa has been a member of the IMAGINE THE CITY artistic team since 2019, working as a research assistant and co-curator for three years focusing on Hamburg’s past and its trading history as well as helping to develop digital formats. Since 2022 she has taken on curatorial responsibility and is the first point of contact for project and format ideas, joint ventures – and the coining of creative titles.
Lea has been working on her Master’s in Urban Design at HafenCity University since autumn 2022, elaborating repurposing strategies, urban meeting spaces and cultural formats beyond traditional institutions. Besides her office management duties, she also contributes her experience from the Hamburg Office for the Protection of Historic Buildings and as a mediator at documenta 15 to the programme work of IMAGINE THE CITY.
Nele is studying Metropolitan Culture at HafenCity University and doing her work experience at IMAGINE THE CITY. She came across our programme during the Covid pandemic while looking for cultural offerings beyond the scope of the institutions that been forced to close. She liaises closely with Theresa on forthcoming projects and assists Lea in running the office infrastructure.
ACCOUNTS AND ADMINISTRATION
The website was funded within KULTUR.GEMEINSCHAFTEN. The program is funded by the NEUSTART KULTUR rescue and future package of the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien and the Kulturstiftung der Länder.
In order to see ourselves properly we all need to take a step or two back. This is just as true of a city as it is of its citizens. The most reliable way of achieving this is through images. They provide the setting for the perspective we want to be viewed from, and every major city does it in ways that differ only slightly. Hamburg has a preference for an image that conveys the authentic. Something that doesn’t sit all too well with HafenCity.
Does a city have a nature all of its own? Well, perhaps not in the way that a human being does. But towns and cities, especially large ones, certainly do have an image. But it can only be deliberately fashioned up to a point. Marketing measures, too, usually draw on the history of the city, its location, and on events jointly recalled. And whether you like it or not, the image thus created has an impact on the image you have of yourself as a denizen of that city. Cities and their residents are thus connected to one another, creating their own sense of belonging. And a sense of belonging is a scarce commodity inasmuch as no one knows for certain where to source it reliably. Plus you can hardly dispense with it, not without digging the ground out from under your feet.
Image has become all the more important when it comes to creating identities, especially nowadays when conscious rituals and social relationships are perceived as far less binding than they used to be. The less we know about our city, the more important suggestive images become, which can be genuine bearers of knowledge while having a very immediate impact. It’s precisely what makes them so enticing as they render the state of not knowing invisible. Therein lies their escapable draw and the danger that poses, but also their significance when it comes to defining us as a common entity. Creative cultural output has a lot to do with renegotiating, time and again, the two levels and functions of the image: eye-catching surfaces on the one hand; on the other, concealed reasons and contexts. Art and culture counteract the sense of overpowering that tends to make us feel unfree; they do so by contributing to entertainment and education equally. This is essential when it comes to shaping the design of a city, knowing full well that the relationship between entertainment and education is in constant flux. Works of art in public space are always gateways, too, vectors of transition from one level of meaning to another. That’s important, because when meaning changes, it has a knock-on effect on everything else – even if we only come to realise it with hindsight.
In studying how cities carve out their identity, sociologist Martina Löw carried out a small experiment based on an advertising medium that now seems almost quaintly old-fashioned, i.e. the postcard. She visited a city’s tourist sites and enquired about the best-selling postcards. She then showed these postcards to the citizens of the city in question, who selected the ones they thought were ‘most typical’. The results for Hamburg are no big surprise. While a city such as Frankfurt am Main likes to present itself as the continuity between the past and modernity through its architecture and some stunning illuminations, Munich showcases itself as a place charged with culture and tradition in harmony with its horizon backdrop of mountain landscapes, even if in terms of perspective the city appears rather overstated. Hamburg, the city that sees itself as a gateway to the world, prefers to look at itself from the water, i.e. from beyond the gate. The postcards feature many views taken from the water, usually the Inner or Outer Alster, with a few sailboats in the foreground and the silhouette of the city opening up beyond them. It’s a pictured scene you could verify with your own eyes at any time, which is not the case with other major cities.
And it’s the picture of Hanseatic coolness: an aloof perspective on yourself and everything you call your own, which at the same time is the prerequisite of all that is cultivated, just as Romanticism would have it. This view from an outside vantage point suggests an observing neutrality: nothing here is staged; the picture depicts reality, and it’s authentic.
Presumably, one of the difficulties that Hamburg has in accepting HafenCity as part of itself lies in this self-image gained from a distance. While Hamburg in its historical expansion toys merely selectively with the opposition of water and seafaring as an identity-affording factor, the new district of HafenCity intervenes at precisely the threshold that unquestioningly fulfils its role as a distancing boundary. At HafenCity, it is precisely the amalgamation aspect that is key, elevated as it is to the status of idea generator for architectural and urban planning measures: lanterns made to look like ship’s masts or dock cranes; buildings inspired by the architecture of ships and sails; or purposeless bollards designed to receive mooring ropes that will in fact never coil themselves around them: all of it caricatured authenticity. It takes away from this boundary precisely what it always aspired to be: a distinction that allows you to look more clearly at one’s self. The future will have to show how the city is able to deal with this irritation of the self-image of the genuine and non-histrionic. It, too, has always been a somewhat staged production, and it may well be that HafenCity will compel Hamburg to rethink this aspect long-term.
In his philosophical miniatures, philosopher and curator Daniel Tyradellis took various constellations of people, objects, and places in HafenCity as his starting point for a reflection on urban living for the audio library of THE GATE (2021). These texts are published here exclusively for the first time. Chapter 2 will be published soon.