The project “Stadtansichten” (city views), which was initiated and implemented by individuals of the collectives Orangotango and Memfarado in 2013 and 2014, combined the design of an urban mural with a collective critical mapping of the processes of upgrading and displacement as well as resistance against these processes in Berlin-Kreuzberg. After several months of planning and preparation, three workshops with members of the youth group of Kotti&Co and other people interested in urban politics formed the basis for this project.
During the workshops in the Kottishop we first of all critically examined conventional cartographic modes of representation and the potential of critical maps for an emancipatory practice. In a brainstorming session on Kreuzberg’s urban development, we then brought together and discussed our experiences and everyday knowledge about the processes in the Kiez. We also agreed on the goals and purpose of the map:
- locate and make urban development processes visible which are currently leading to the upgrading of Kreuzberg and the displacement processes within the urban district
- to make protest and resistance visible as well as lived urban development alternatives that oppose these processes
- to provide information on how and where those people who are negatively affected by theses processes can receive support or get active themselves
In addition, we dealt with the limits and challenges of map-making, discussing the following questions for our concrete project:
- For whom are we making the map?
- Which picture and text language is necessary for it?
- How can gentrification be depicted at all without oversimplifying the complexity of socio-spatial processes?
- How do we find out about the various causes and effects of the phenomenon, the reactions to it and the alternatives lived in different categories?
- How can we represent these in a symbolic way and in a way that is as comprehensible to the general public as possible?
- Where do we get the information about places, events and processes?
- Which “sensitive” information should we perhaps rather not present?
- And how could the map and the knowledge it contains possibly be misused for other purposes?
In the months that followed, we continued to work on the map, removed and discarded numerous icons (see overview below) and wrote explanatory texts on the processes depicted. To collect data, we undertook numerous exploratory tours in the city and researched the Internet. For the layout and graphic design of the map we received additional active support from the media collective Pappsatt / Berlin Besetzt. After more than a year and countless working meetings we could finally send the map to print. Since then it is being distributed diligently and can be downloaded here under a Creative Commons license.
In 2017, the Kreuzberg map was updated and received a new format in addition to a number of new visualized processes. This shows that the displacement and upgrading processes in Kreuzberg have been further advanced in recent years. Every day people in Berlin are evicted or have to leave their homes. With neighbourhood meetings and protest actions, however, a neighbourhood in solidarity is increasingly organising and defending itself against these processes. And successful protests against the suppression of small businesses, for example, show that resistance and networking are worthwhile. The update map can be downloaded here.
Icons (first drafts) for mapping urban stuggels & poltics: