International open art competition
“What is outside?”
for site-specific art works in and around Berlin Underground stations on the U5 line between Tierpark and Hönow

The object of the competition is a call for ideas for site-specific art work in and around Berlin Underground stations on the U5 line between Tierpark and Hönow about social urban development, the urban theme of being “outside” and its contextualisation city-wide, to be realised in 2014 and/or 2015.

By titling this tradional competition „What is outside?“, the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) seeks to reposition „Art in the Underground“ and adress urban, cultural and social practice in an „outside-space“. The nGbK is looking to connect to places who some see as being „in the middle of nowhere“ and hardly part of Berlin.

Sub-urbanisation is well under way: in the front a new housing development, at the back a wasteland, in-between warehouses, road and rail routes, then shopping centres next to business parks and right at the back housing estates across decades and carpets of single family homes, kept apart by a bit of woodland. Suburbia is becoming “complete” as a place. Planners call what results a “polycentrical total place” or an “in-between city” (“Zwischenstadt”, Thomas Sieverts). Back-offices, airports, leisure industry facilities, logistic hubs, villas and detached housing spread themselves out further than their city’s boundaries can confine them.

Parallel to this urban transformation, resident intiatives like „Kotti & Co“ in nGbK’s neighbourhood point out that many people don’t leave the inner city voluntarily. Where have those people gone who can no longer afford to live round Kottbusser Tor? Some have to, others want to move „outside“, because it is cheaper or because it is more green. „Outside“ is spacial, for example in relation to the city’s core, as well as social, in relation to the core of society. The „outside“ intrinsically questions the „inside“.

A journey from Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg to Cottbusser Platz station in Hellersdorf takes us across half the city. Just before reaching Heller Mitte, the commercial centre built in 1997 in the middle of one of GDR’s last big housing estates, a former school is being reused as an embattled refugee home – „what is outside?“

The recent sale of numerous housing estates – in Hellersdorf too – to the big real estate company „Deutsche Wohnen“ and the sale of shopping centres to real estate funds shows that city outskirts are very much part of speculative urban development. Rents which currently appear reasonable are still subject to market rules. Buildings are objects of speculation and income return exaggerations. Nevertheless, the post-GDR exodus of higher income groups to the city centre or to greenfield family homes beyond the outskirts, for example in Brandenburg, continues today. The resulting changes in population structure can be seen in the increasing density of welfare organisations in comparison to actual shops (and shop redundancy).

A project by

Funded by
Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa – Kunst im Stadtraum



More information about the call for submissions “Was ist draußen? / What is outside?” >>