City of Gold – Berlin in Flux: Identity, memory, agency


 Quelle: Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani, "Palast der Republik", 2009

City of Gold – Berlin in Flux: Identity, memory, agency

Prof. Nina Fischer & Vanina Saracino

Berlin's urban landscape is a living testament to the intricate interplay between visionary counterculture, and corporate-driven speculative initiatives. City of Gold – Berlin in Flux explores the city's multifaceted history, marked by profound transformations, intriguing collisions of visions, erasures, and possible projections into the future, through a series of collective visits to key sites that have shaped the city’s identity over the decades—as well as mirrored the dominant political-social-economic forces at play. From the late 80s until today (the period this seminar will mostly refer to) Berlin has undergone significant shifts, punctuated by the fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, occupations of overly available spaces, densification, and—most recently—gentrification and hyper commercialization. This makes it essential to discuss strategies for artistic engagement in a city that seems to be losing its historical marks and very few empty spaces to corporate-driven urban development.

City of Gold – Berlin in Flux focuses on the city, its memory, the use of its vacant spaces from the 90s until today, and the potential of artistic visions as a catalyst for socio-political renewal. It delves into questions concerning the existence of remaining spaces, the preservation models for certain areas, and the critical emergence of new ones. It also reflects on our strategies as citizens, artists, and cultural practitioners for navigating a landscape where vacant venues and available spaces are dwindling due to urban densification and full-scale commercialization.

In this context, we will look at the influence of pivotal figures from the 1990s art scene in Berlin, with particular emphasis on the artists and practitioners who initiated or are associated with projects such as Floating University, Haus der Statistik, and Flussbad Berlin. We seek to understand their impact on the city's development and the messages conveyed through their initiatives. We will also examine the model known as "Zwischennutzung'' (which literally translates to the “in-between use”), a urban practice aimed at "revitalizing" vacant areas in urban zones, particularly abandoned and decaying buildings, often repurposing them for cultural or artistic projects temporarily, before the inevitable urban development ensues. These encounters will be complemented with visits to projects of a diametrically opposed intention (Tempelhofer Feld, Humboldt Forum), and walks around neighborhoods where a wild gentrification process has taken place in a few years (Oranienstraße in Mitte, Kreuzberg). 

To broaden our perspective beyond Berlin's confines and acknowledge the parallel developments occurring globally, the seminar fosters discussions that leverage our international viewpoints and experiences. Through these discussions, we aim to construct a mental map that contextualizes our local reflections within a global framework.



5 Excursions (4-5 hours) and one Filmprogram on Wednesdays 
Dates: 18.10., 9.11., 13.12., 24.1., 31.1., 14.2.
First Meeting: 18.10.2023, 12 am - 4 pm at Flussbad Garten:An der Inselbrücke 7,10179 Berlin / Märkisches Ufer

Meetings Points of the following excursions will be announced via mailinglist.

  • Thursday, November 9th: Oranienstraße / Kreuzberg 36 
  • Wednesday, December 13th : Tempelhofer Flughafen and Floating University
  • Wednesday, January 24th: Haus der Statistik and Mitte Fieldtrip, Fotografiska Museum
  • Wednesday, January 31st:  Filmprogram (TBA)
  • Wednesday, Febuary 14th:  Final Presentation at Udk

Outcome: students enrolled in the seminar can choose to create practical artistic projects or written academic work 

(Künstlerisch gestalterisches / Kunst- und Medienwissenschaftliches Fach)

Language: English and German

A maximum of 20 participants from KUM are eligible to enroll. 
Other students may join upon arrangement, subject to availability.

Please register in advance by e-mail to the tutor: elisabethjohannaschol(at)

Vanina Saracino (she/they) is an independent curator, writer, and lecturer at UdK.