Underground Art 2022/23: New Urban Publics
In 2023, the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) again presents the results of the international art competition “Underground Art”, this year under the title New Urban Audiences. Six selected art stands, which will be on display in public spaces from June 8 to August 10, connect Berlin’s subway system with urban spaces on the surface.
Drawing inspiration from associating public squares with the common good as places for meetings and conversations, three Berlin locations and their subway stations serve as venues for artistic interventions: Kottbusser Tor, Strausberger Platz and Rotes Rathaus. All three are architecturally striking, partly intersected by streets or connected by bridges and elevated railway lines, partly classically symmetrical with a fountain as the centerpiece. This urban and public space is used in different ways and for different purposes: movement, consumption, play, communication or recreation. Selected works aim at strengthening and emphasizing these customs, making every place a hero – as places, occasions and objects of alternative political self-organization.
June 8, 2023 at Underground Art 2022/23: New Urban Publics started with a wrestling performance in front of Berlin’s Rotes Rathaus. The A liminal beast of prey the collective uses the wrestling match format to cover current political events around the world.
on Strausbergerplatz, Solar Pfalzer to introduce Points for fake authenticity. The scores in question are performed in and around the square by three non-binary performers exploring the tensions between a normative view and divergent identities. In the subway, performers appear on three billboards, posing like pop stars in formations referring to boy bands from the 90s and the beginning of the 21st century.
Fee brings together six artists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Germany (Sinzo Aanza, Jasmina Al-Qaisi, Falonne Mambu, Nada Tshibwabwa, Ralf Wendt and Elsa Westreicher). For two days, two performers move around Strausberger Platz, dressed in costumes made from parts of mobile phones and electric wires, embodying materials extracted from mines in the DRC in disastrous conditions and essential to our Western communication and mobility systems. The performances are accompanied by a soundtrack; calling the number printed on one of the billboards in the subway station transports visitors to a telephone loop playing that track over and over again.
Irene Fernandez Arcas Work Discovering inner care in public spaces in Kottbusser Tor explores the desire to achieve intimacy and networking in an urban environment. A colorful billboard campaign on the U1 subway platform offers stressed commuters a respite from their daily routine, with a QR code to access a 25-minute meditation that can be viewed and listened to in eleven different languages.
In her work No ads (without ads), Julia Ortiz de Latierro transforms official writings into pop-up sculptures. The project consists of three parts: an intervention on the platform billboards of the Kottbusser Tor subway station, a video tutorial on the information screens in the train, and an open workshop at the local community centre.
The Kottbusser Tor and its underground station are also the scene of the intervention image shift, a collective consisting of Sandy Kaltenborn, Athena Javanmardi and Paco Camberlin. They oppose the simplistic media image of Kottbusser Tor as a problem zone, looking at its multi-layered social fabric.