Currently, controversies between traditional structures and the realities of social coexistence can be observed in many places. For example, policy measures bear no relation to the development of a completely new concept of culture, which we already live and experience in our everyday encounters with people from different nations.
The search for cultural security often takes place on the outside, instead of an “inner consolidation” of individual and cultural identity. An opportunity to break down boundaries and create something new out of existing structures can be experienced in engagement with artistic processes.
Since 2015, the Schusterkrug has offered shared accommodation for asylum seekers managed by the welfare organizations Arbeiterwohlfahrt Kiel and the German Red Cross Kiel. Up to 1,200 asylum seekers from conflict regions can live in the shared accommodation, which is located on a former federal armed forces site. In 2016, the Kiel Space project resulted in a small cosmos in the midst of the daily hustle and bustle of the Schusterkrug and the city of Kiel. Under the guidance of the artist collective Freeters, a team of about 200 helpers transformed an old aircraft hangar, creating a completely new cultural place and concept of community. Over a period of 10 days, the old hangar was developed into a place of gathering with coffee shops, a playground, a studio and workshop, a lounge, and a stage for larger events. Families, children, and especially young adults from the accommodation, as well as other residents of the city of Kiel, participated in various workshops in the construction of the cultural center. With the dynamics of a rocket launch, there was suddenly the sound of industrious saws and cordless screwdrivers, children’s laughter, traditional Syrian music, and the dry and friendly North German greeting “Moinmoin.” All around there were splashes of color and glitter, bicycle tires, an old trailer, and permeating it all, after ten days, the familiar smell of foreign spices and an outsized dimension of humanity, helpfulness, and warmth.
In everyday life, apart from charitable activities, there are few opportunities to create points of contact between refugees and other residents. Feeling threatened or mistrustful of strangers, on the one hand, encounters the dislocation and fear of the new on the other. The goal is to promote cultural diversity and overlap by creating together at the Schusterkrug. People who associate Kiel with a fixed place of residence meet people who have lost a connection to their home. The joint artistic work enables a collaboration that takes place outside of everyday structures and thus opens up a free space for something new. It is about creating a place together and sharing space in the broadest sense, which ultimately results in an opportunity for mutual understanding between those involved through artistic and aesthetic education.
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