The F-Bahn Widerstand
On May 28th, we ran a 3-hour workshop in Dusseldorf, Germany. It was part of the Academie der Rebellion series of workshops and lectures and a precursor to the Petites Resistances: Rebellion als Kunstform exhibit. Using mostly found materials and a pallet, we built a simple, mobile platform to run along the 'abandoned' industrial rail tracks in Dusseldorf. This is the story of our DIY platform.
The Workshop: F-Bahn Widerstand Trans-Flingern Railway
The goal of our participatory urban re-planning workshop was to re-activate industrial railway tracks by occupying and using them in a different way. We wanted to create a movable public space as a forum for discussions during the workshop, and ideally, afterwards.
Our self-imposed challenge was also to create something as artists that would ungentrify in a city that felt very over gentrified. The projects we do are usually site specific responses to the cities and situations we are in. And, because we love all things related to mobility and freedom, we wanted to use an overlooked, marginalized space. To make something under-designed, un-pretty, inexpensive, simple and transformative. Something unusual, but practical in an area dominated by automobile show rooms, in a country whose economy has been built on the car industry.
We were inspired by Joseph Beuys, an artist who worked and died in Dusseldorf, and had founded a Free International University as part of his artistic political and social activism. Based on his idea that everyone is an artist with potential to transform their social surroundings, we wanted our walk to become a critical discussion about the critical role of artists and social practice.
We also wanted the participants to be involved as co-creators, allowing to share their ideas rather than to just interact with us (or our platform). Our walk focused on process instead of being results oriented—an experiment in the poetics of collectively deploying and creating interventions (and, as you will see later, much less of an engineering feat).
Keeping on track, the platform created a temporary community of people walking together for three hours, talking and making signs as interventions at each of the intersections where we performatively and symbolically pulled our platform on the road (probably to the confusion of many drivers).
We made and put up many signs along the way, all shown on a map:
PS: Beware of the Train!
In many ways, our infrastructural intervention was a failure. Working for a short time in a new city, all our information was based on observation and limited discussions with people. And so we were quite surprised when a few days later, one of the participants said that they had seen a train running on the 'abandoned' tracks ! Luckily we didn't have to encounter this reality in a dangerous way; and we still haven't confirmed whether it's true or not.
Just like our DIY benches, we discovered the platform overturned and thrown of the tracks. We then heard from people that at night, the tracks were a spot for junkies who were probably using the platform for their activities. In a sense, what we intended didn't serve the goal. What we made began to serve a marginalized, socially excluded community and raised some interesting questions about the aesthetic of the intervention. And for that, we were pleased.
Documentary photographs and a map were exhibited for people to download and to re-enact our route. We will soon post more about the Petites Resistance Exhibition and other workshops.
Krischan Ahlborn More: