through the heath in the Gängeviertel

After meeting more and more nice people from the north (Denmark and northern Germany) lately and repeatedly hearing about projects which seemed to be great, I decided that I had enough reasons to go there and have a closer look at the region and its habitants. As cars annoy me more and more, I chose the bicycle as my mean of transport. Though, I cheated a little at the beginning, by packing my bike into a bus and going to Celle. Which wasn’t too easy either, but after several tortures (bus cancelled 1 day before, confused mails – the offered alternative was at the 16th of march 2015, 4 months ago!!, delay and so on…) I finally managed to leave Nuremberg! (and to arrive in Celle.)

Celle, kleine Gasse hinter der Kirche

Celle, small alley behind the church

Celle? Why Celle? Aline is there at the castle-theatre and organises the youth- and childrengroups. Visited her for some days and explored the sweet small town (lots of cute half-timbered houses with golden writing on them) and cycled in the meadows of the sourrounding area. The cultural life is composed to almost 100% by theatre. It also seems to be the only reason for young people to come to the city. I saw 2 pieces of the young theater which where quit good.
Besides I was in the museum, which was pretty annoying. Meaningless one-colored sculptures of plastic or some unspectacular drawn meadows. The most interesting work of the exhibition was a tool that measured humidity and temperature (I think so) in the room and noted that on a paper-roll. Like a seismograph. Just that it wasn’t meant to be art… On the other hand, the special exhibition totally blew me away!! Peter Basseler builds super absurd situations in boxes. Almost 20 of these boxes with completely way out snapshots were shown. For example, a guy who dips a crocodile with a remote-controlled crane into blue paint. Often, there where short stories presented in these scenes. I was rarely so happy while watching “art”!

I was sitting on a wall, drawing this house, when suddenly a loud crow-cawing came from somewhere. No crows around. Only an old man walked down the alley. Later, the same thing happened again, again with no birds in sight, just the old man. What I was doing there, he asked me and cawed shrilly. “I’m drawing the house. Interesting sounds that you are uttering!”, I said – “No, no, it’s the birds from the roofs! Krächz!”, he said and left. Strange encounter…

Afterwards I headed towards Hamburg. I was able to have a stopover at family Feierabend’s(=closing time), found them on BeWelcome. I drew this as a present for my host:

Danke für Bett und Essen!

Thanks for bed and meals!

Etappe 2: von Schneverdingen (nicht eingezeichnet) nach Lüneburg. Etappe 1 war Celle - Schneverdingen.

Stage 2: from Schneverdingen (not on the map) to Lüneburg. Stage 1 was Celle – Schneverdingen.

I got myself a map for the area, but on the way to Lüneburg I left it. So I made myself a sketch with the help of Openstreetmap. Worked out quite well! I used this method for the rest of my trip.
So then, to Lüneburg. I found accommodation at Maike’s place. Bricks everywhere. (they should accompany me throughout the whole journey) We were on the only hill to enjoy the view. You could hear some very strange sounds. We suspected it to be roaring lions of a circus rehearsal…

Diese Backsteinwürste um die Fenster zeigten früher den Reichtum des Bewohners. Je mehr, desto besser...

In former times, these brick-susages around the windows showed the wealth of the habitant. The more, the better… Maike told me that.

Stage 3: The journey from Lüneburg to Hamburg on the border of the Ilmenau and along the Elbe was beautiful! On the Elbe-island, where you have to go by ferry, the villages hug the dyke. Green and water everywhere. But somehow, there is not much to say about pretty nature. At least not for me…

After one week of small towns and nature it was a shock to ride into Hamburg. Everywhere high-rise buildings out of glass, gigantic roads with loads of cars. I found the Gängeviertel, my destination in HH with the second try. The first time I passed it, because I couldn’t believe, that it would be in the middle of all these office-towers. But yes, it is there, like an island of life in the ozean of sterility. The Gängeviertel are some old brick buildings, which actually should have been teared down to close the gap between the glass-steel-concrete-facades. But somehow there where some people, who had another idea on what to do with this place. They planned undercover a cultural festival, which took place in the buildings. After that they rested. Well done! From the 21. to the 23. of august the Gängeviertel is celebrating its 6. birthday. Definetly go there, if you have the possibility. It’s an awesome place!

Plenum in der Schier's Passage

Plenum in the Schier’s Passage

In & in front of the Teebutze you can hang out perfectly, flicker through some laid out comics and try very special teas. The showing of the Kinokabaret in the yard totally overwhelmed me! Many of the 20 shown shortfilms were genius! All together it was just great to hang out in this half public space. Like a big open-air living-room, where  everyone who wants to can come & go.

The Gängeviertel general meeting was just at the evening of my arrival. I could stay and drew it. To get some insight into the daily issues of the project was very interesting. How the people deal with each other, how they try to manage these enormous challanges that are coming up. This steady fight against bureaucrazy is wearing. The artists developed into politics-experts, the activists blossomed out to renovation-specialists, the punks are really into building laws, the hippies became accounting and development fonds commisoners… But when you tackle that much with the system, for which you originally wanted to offer a radical alternative, you have to pay attention to not slowly appropriate its patterns after all. Anyways, in the end nothing works without compromises and concessions. And before you know where you are, former occupied houses are renovated by a company and rented out shortly after. Though to the ancient habitants and for considerably lower rents as usual in Hamburg. But nevertheless, it has to be right and proper with contract and so on. The alternative: the old buildings are going to be decreed as ‘in danger of collapse’ and a police-army is coming to chase the people out.
I think it’s quite remarkable, what kind of nice, diverse room these people created. A place where you can look at stuff all day, where people just do whatever the want to. There is also the responsibility they have to take every day, to maintain this place, to fight for it and to try to make the right decisions. Because if nothing happens, the place suddenly loses its right to exist. Sad but true.
(That is my view of the situation, after almost one week that I spend there, no guarantees on the correctness of any facts!)

Es war wirklich sehr heiß in Hamburg... Rasensprenger gibt Abhilfe.

It was really hot in Hamburg… Sprinkler help out. Some of the tourists, who wanted to go through the passage, were a bit helpless about the spontaneous “bathing”-action. hihi

Alltogether, I also have to say that many Gängeviertlers were a bit closed. It wasn’t easy to become a part of this group. Even though openness is one of the project’s top maxims. But that is also totally understandable, when I think about the masses of different people that pass by every day, wanting to know what’s happening, taking photos and thinking it’s great. And afterwards leaving again and never coming back. It’s just hard to tell the same story again and again, being watched like an animal in the zoo. If I had stayed for a longer time, I would probably have found a place in the group.

Zerovans Wohnzimmer, Mit seinen verschiedensten Gästen.

Zerovan’s (the man on the very left side) living-room with his various guests. The woman on the very left side let the chocolate melt in her hand to lick it then.

Walked a bit around the block, exploring the Gängeviertel’s sourroundings, when I discovered an accumulation of different objects in front of one of the new buildings. It seemed to be some kind of exchange/free-shelf. Always looking for interesting painting-backgrounds, I found a notebook with arabic handwriting. Straight away, I drew this altar-like freeshop into the new book. After two minutes an old man came out, put a wicker chair to the other stuff, took the book and invited me to have tea with him. Well, why not?

We had a seat on his balcony (which is right behind the freeshop-altar) and talked about politics and life, as far as it was possible. He had, if I can assess that, quite interesting and well though out views and of course also very diverse perpectives. I think he comes from Iran and is about 70 years old. But he also tried to explain to me, that he had sex with Lady Diana…
More and more guests came, mainly with oriental origin and Zerovan served more tea. There was also another German who had to empty his flat and brought all his stuff with a scooter to the place. Zerovan just collects all the people from the streets, who are pausing in front of his assembling. His flat is full of little souvenirs from all these people passing by. Lively chats in English, German and Persian(I suppose) followed. I portrayed almost the whole bunch. At some point we were invited to the kitchen. Ill-assorted stuff was offered, amongst others: half a loaf of bread which was toasted directly on the stove top… that didn’t work. Then I was engaged just for fun to the young pretty woman, who let the choclate melt in her hand. (see picture above). The German said, he is getting engaged every evening.

Amir sent me photos of the drawing I did of him: (unfortunately not all the others…)

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Amir on Zerovans notes (he is writer, this Zerovan)

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Stage 4: Have had enough of Hamburg and packed me and my bike into the train to Bremen.

Up to come:

Part 2: From Bremen to Denmark

Part 3: Makvärket and Kopenhagen

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through the heath in the Gängeviertel