Read more: http://das-gaengeviertel.info/
Excursions with courses from University might be boring. But not if you are in the company of a group of aliens, as we were, visiting a city on planet earth for our very first time without having the slightest idea what an earthly city is like. Wandering around Jungfernstieg through foggy air, over wide squares and between huge buildings made of grey stone, we didn’t feel comfortable. It was loud and cold and the city didn’t seem to be a joyful place. Even the earthlings themselves gave the impression that they’d rather be anywhere but in Hamburg. They were strolling around randomly, not smiling, some talking to each other silently, and carrying plastic bags they appar-ently picked up in some of the buildings.
Nevertheless, the content of those bags didn’t seem to be making the earthlings any happier. Disappointed by what we had seen so far, we decided to go elsewhere and found a place so very different from the city we had experienced up to now that we were blown away. There were green plants, even flowers here and there, between small buildings made of red stones and wood. On the walls you could see colorful paintings and some sculptures were hidden between trees.
Above us there were colorful garlands (some consisting of clothes…). Moreover it was a very silent place, with no cars driving around – The main means of travel were bicycles. You could see the houses were much older than the ones we had seen before.
The houses of Gängeviertel, most of which were built in the 19th century, were occupied by art-ists in 2009 to prevent demolition and to create an area for art, culture and social work in the centre of Hamburg. Because the houses were built for workers, there are large rooms made for work which are perfect studios for the artists, but of course there are also flats – as a result, Gängeviertel is the perfect place for them to combine living and working. But there aren’t just studios: Since occupying the buildings, the artists have established cafés, galleries, a library, rooms for concerts, parties, theatre groups, dancing workshops, a recording studio, and also offices from which Gängeviertel is organised.
And organization is especially important since activists are still debating with the government of Hamburg about the future clearance, preservation and utilization of the quarter. Regarding what the artists have already established, you understand how important this project is to them. All in all, the place is refreshingly different and unique. If you are interested in art and culture I strongly recommend a visit to one of the galleries. You like Experimental Jazz? Then go to Gängeviertel on 17 December and see John Hughes and The Low End Trio. Want more information? Visit Gängeviertel’s website or, even better, just go there and ask somebody, the people there are open-minded and welcome everyone’s ques-tions. And last, some advice from an alien to you earthlings: Support this place to save your city from becoming all grey and cheerless.