„Stadt (Land Fluss)“ | Daniel Kötter & Hannes Seidl

 

„Stadt (Land Fluss)“ | Daniel Kötter & Hannes Seidl
English | Deutsch
Gruen 199 | Audio CD + Digital > [order]

 

A radio play on the sound of the city. Bulldozers flatten the desert, neighbourhoods are fenced in, electricity pervades the informal, crowds of people occupy the middle land. What does, what could the city of the future sound like? In “Stadt (Land Fluss)”, composer Hannes Seidl and media artist Daniel Kötter expand the discourse on the right to the city. The highly interconnected city and the radical effects of the permanent battle over its modification are turned into an acoustic experience. Stadt [Land Fluss] is based on the eponymous music theatre piece by Daniel Kötter / Hannes Seidl.

 

Composition / Production: Daniel Kötter / Hannes Seidl
Electromagnetic sounds: Christina Kubisch

Music: Sebastian Berweck, Martin Lorenz, Andrea Neumann
Text: Daniel Kötter / Hannes Seidl after quotes by David Harvey, Kathrin Wildner, Thorsten Fausch and others
Photos: Nara Silva das Virgens Merlitz

Graphic Design: Nafiseh Fathollahzadeh

 

Excerpts:
MP3
MP3
MP3

 

1 Track (41’58’‘)
CD (500 copies)

 

 


 

01’00’’
… It always seemed to me that we should pay much more attention to the question of who produces and reproduces urban life…

 


 

02’43’’
… The approach has always been mixed usage, compartmentalisation, property, cooperatives…
… of the Hafencity question is that it’s basically an exchange deal: the Hafencity was put out to tender as a real estate venture to finance the container port. It’s so typical of Hamburg to have an urban planning strategy that sells off one part for another, if you like. And that was precisely…
… so you have to understand: trade is core to this city’s identity. And the life of the commercial trader. And structures always play a role here. As far as the basic DNA
of this city is concerned, that’s the bottom line. I think
it’s always a really important question: what challenges does the city face and where? Because cities aren’t carbon copies of each other. The challenges facing cities are complex and vary greatly…
… And it always seemed to me that we should pay much more attention to the question of, who produces and reproduc- es urban life. And if you change the idea of production away from the production of widgets and the factory, the production of automobiles, the production of coal or something like that to the question of: Who produces the city? Who reproduces the city? Who produces spatial organisation? Then you start to get a very different definition of who is a proletariat and what that proletar- iat is about. And to me of course, having done a great deal of work…

 


 

04’45’’
… The authenticity of a city must be something we can experi- ence and grasp, not only using every form of communication, but also throughout the product development process. Back when the Hafencity began, umpteen years ago, I’m sure it was still possible to impose a concept on a city like that. Today I’d say that the situation has completely turned around. Today there’s hardly any tolerance for that kind of mindset. And you’re aware that you have to be careful when you’re planning and realising the project later on…

 


 

06’25’’
… Now we could elaborate on what revitalising docklands means, how it suddenly became a trend, because for centuries – the whole of the 20th century even – living near a port wasn’t particularly appealing: they were smelly, dirty and loud. No one wanted to live in the docklands. And now, suddenly, all over the world – in Baltimore and Boston and Buenos Aires – it’s a central theme that you see everywhere in urban planning: the idea of making docklands the most attractive areas in the city…
… That seemed to me very important. But when you took that and you started to look at the whole history of urban based struggles, you see a whole series of urban based revolts, revolutions, rebellions, in which the Paris commune was just one. And all of them had I think a certain significance historically in terms of what happened …
… it has to be high-cost living space. So the idea wasn’t to create a new, alternative, socially responsible approach to urban planning, but to bring in as much money as possible to finance this port. And that’s obvious, at least from the initial phases of the project which involved luxury flats. I think it started back in around 2000…

 


 

09’34’’
… The qualities of the cities play a very important role in exactly how that revolt unfolds. I mean one of the big stories about Haussmann in Paris was that he rebuild the Boulevards to try to curb the prospect of another revolution like what happened in 1848. He was noticeably unsuccessful in that. But the redesign of many American cities …
… It was a non-municipal space, so to speak, that could be used in a completely new way. The requirements of the Hafencity GmbH led to a lot of new measures…
… which is also a strange configuration for “urban space” be- cause it raises the question: what is public space? Does it actually exist or not? None of the squares belong to the municipality, they belong to the Hafencity GmbH. It’s not completely trans- parent. Of course, you’d think they’re all completely normal city streets, but ultimately they’re not because the property owners might regulate access to them differently. If you want to protest here, you don’t ask the police or the city of Hamburg, you have to ask Hafencity GmbH. And of course they also use municipal waste collection services here. It’s not a gated community in private ownership where all rights are invalidated. But it’s similar to the situation in train stations, architecture which…
…There’s a sense that the urban has to be controlled – and urban control becomes terribly important on that side – but also that the urban can be used by organising and mobilising neighbourhoods around kind of collective forms of struggle. And then it seems to me that went back and looked at the most successful histories of factory based struggles the best ones nearly always worked because there was very strong mobilisations in the surrounding communities and it is very impressive in Argentina …

 


 

13’02’’
… and on the other hand, this went hand-in-hand with the vision: Hamburg has to market itself well. So a concept was created that ultimately says: Hamburg has to shape its own future. And it was the job of those involved in urban marketing to work out: which stories can credibly convey these messages? How can we live up to these messages? How do I account for a neighbourhood’s various usage requirements during the planning process? I think that these kinds of questions are completely normal when considering such a large area. You just need certain types of local amenities. If you want people to live here, then you also need local amenities. That’s how it all worked…
… of course we have to help cities grow and each city goes through changes and needs time. There was nothing here at first. You couldn’t even get a coffee, nothing. Now there are three chains where you can drink coffee. Or the rhythm of life here: when is it full here? These bicycle racks for rental bikes. They’re empty at night and in the morning at eight they’re all completely full. Nothing happens here in the evening. It’s dead. So tourism is one of a city’s most important features, as a source of income…

 


 

15’05’’
… or – today – far more likely to be the credit institutions and
the banks and the financiers steal it back. Capital doesn’t care where it realises the surplus value. Does it realise it in the work- place or does it realise it in the living space? And increasingly we have an economy of dispossession which is working in the living space which is compensating for the fact that they are not managing to make too much in the way of extracting surplus value out of the workspaces. So all of this suggests to me that we should be really thinking seriously about these underlying unities and thinking about the organisational forms …
… and they were just like: “Well, we looked at this flat and we’re moving in here and I’m so happy”. They were so enthusiastic because they’d just had a look around a showroom like this and now they could finally move here, where they’d always wanted to live. And they were sharing experiences about it. And I thought, “I don’t believe it. Why would a person want to move here?” Well, they’d always wanted to live by the water and by the port. And it’s turning into a great area. Where else would you want to be? It’s an attractive residential area, for young families, too…
… Things like Hanseatic League. Well – imagine – if we had a league of socialist cities. What that would look like. Wonderful idea, you know, wonderful image. But we never really think in those terms. And I’m kind of saying that we should be thinking and imagining in those terms and working towards the possibility that this is a way to go. The other thing about organising a whole city is, it moves us up a notch in the scale problem. We have a lot of organisational forms right now that look very good from the standpoint of organising very small scale units …
… addresses the challenges of the future, such as: how do I want to live in the future? Hafencity demonstrates this well – the whole of Hamburg, in fact, but particularly certain elements of the Hafencity. There are events that just can’t happen here be- cause they don’t embody the identity, the standards, the quality of the Hafencity. Because it positions itself as an important, classic, yet modern location and maybe a car doesn’t necessarily fit into this image. At the beginning, for example, we placed a huge emphasis on having people…
… Who is building this city? Who’s doing all this building? Who are these people? Where do they live? 90 percent of them come from Poland and are here for just a few months. Another city emerges, temporarily. Where do they get their beer from? These are just different kinds of temporary cities that come into being, and maybe they aren’t that much different to a city full of Erasmus students, who are also just here for half a year…
… to build a socialist city on the ruins of a capitalist urbanisation process which has been highly destructive. Highly destructive
of social relations, highly destructive environmentally, highly destructive in terms of the possibility of having a genuinely polit- ical kind of life. Highly destructive of the urban commons, highly destructive of many of the institutional forms that once existed to give some sort of coherence …

 


 

19’21’’
…a whole city is, it moves us up a notch in the scale problem … … abandoning spaces, opening them. Not seeing the fiscal impact straight away, but instead actually trying to understand that freedom allows something raw to develop and this has a value that perhaps cannot be monetized at all, but which actually helps form identity. And if you take a look at the Hafencity on its own, then of course you can see: it’s something that was developed on paper. As far as I’m aware, this hasn’t happened anywhere…
… has dark corners or something mysterious, or you don’t know exactly what’s happening or there’s a very informal feel to it, then that’s hard to plan of course. Because it’s a contradiction after all. It’s just hard to plan something uncontrolled or informal. Planning the unplanned. How do you do it? Or how do you leave space for something to develop, a place where you can’t predict what will happen. The whole of Neukölln was just conjured out of nothing. A hundred years ago. Or just under a hun- dred years ago. There was nothing there before and everything looks the same and there are all these five-metre-wide pavements or footpaths – and then something did happen after all. So it’s a question of time. Is that a question? This illustrates what can happen if we decide to take a long-term strategy to planning cities.
… so we really got to start thinking this time about alternatives right now. This strikes me as a great idea. You’re talking about workers that include the domestic workers that includes the taxi drivers that includes all of those workers who actually play a very significant role in supporting urban life. Foundational. And yet they can’t be organised in traditional unions because you know there is no factory gate about outside …
… for other people who want to move there. That’s the job of urban planning. And you have to somehow make sure that
you also keep developing the product, if possible. We want to achieve qualitative growth, but we didn’t build nearly enough flats. What’s the result? I attract people to the area, there’s
less living space, the rents go up and people can’t afford to live there anymore. Social unrest. That’s not a satisfactory situation. Either I say: I have a growth strategy and then I have to ensure that the infrastructure is developed for this. And by this, I mean housing development, kindergartens, schools, and so on. But if I’m not able to do this – if I don’t have the finances for whatev- er reason that may be – then I can’t tell the public: we want to grow. And I completely agree on that point. That’s why we have to look at each city very carefully and consider: should I improve the quality of life here, meaning should I develop the location for the people who already live here first of all? And then maybe in five or ten years, I’ll be able to take the next step and focus on growth again…

 


 

22’28’’
… what would it be called then? Not necessarily the greener city, because that already exists: competing to become the greenest city or something like that. Hmmm… the city – the urban. We could address it by asking a question like: are we contrasting the city and the country again? I don’t think that approach will get us anywhere. Because where does the city begin and where does it end? Does it stop at the administrative boundaries? What does this mean? Using population density and heterogeneity as a guide doesn’t help us either, because: should we call Rothenburg ob der Tauber a city or a village? So I don’t think these classifications get us very far: how many people live in a city and how do they live and what does this all mean? We associate so many different things with cities…

 


 

23’44’’
… there isn’t actually a common denominator at all. But we still act as if we have some kind of idea as to what that could be. And that it’s somehow different from – from what? – the Lüne- burg Heath? Are we talking about ways of life? How we treat each other? Are we talking about otherness? Anonymity? About antagonism which may be more prevalent there? But is there more of that in one place than another? Perhaps it’s a way of life, a kind of economy, too, perhaps. A way of dealing with each other, and this permeates all kinds of different environments, you could say. Or vice versa: all this moving to the country, a longing to live in the countryside… the city dwellers move to the countryside and they’re just taking the city with them the whole time…
… you can act and do things which will potentially be disruptive to the flows of capital and transform if you like the metabolic re- lations of the city. Now if you take that part of course you gonna hit police repression and you gonna hit police riot but then a po- lice riot doesn’t necessarily clear a city either. It can also close it down. So, there’s a lot of power which resides it seems to me in thinking about the urban as a place to organise and as a place to come back together and I think you’re dead right about for example – my impression is that there is quite a lot of …

 


 

Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2020 / Gruen 199 / LC 09488 / GEMA