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urban hijacking in amman, berlin, casablanca

An international artistlab during the years 2015 – 16

May / June 2016

The point of departure for research was the city’s former aquarium that was only open for visitors from
1962 – 85. During the construction of the huge Hassan ll mosque, seawater access was cut; since then,
the building has been lying idle. The Atelier de l’Observatoire has initiated a reflection on the site’s
future which addresses the loss of archives and collective memory in Morocco. COMMON SPACES
primarily focuses on the neighborhood around the aquarium, where the forces of urban modernity clash
unexpectedly: mega-investments in new buildings along the waterfront, a new yacht harbor that has displaced the fishermen, and the adjacent historic Medina, which is a product ofthe French imagination of a colonial city. The urban district not only offers an identity for older residents, it is also a place that people from the countryside can move to.

While state-supported investment projects are slashing their way through a dense residential area, around them the towers of unhindered capitalism are rising into the sky.

COMMON SPACES is an international artist-lab designed dveloped in collaboration with artists & activists from Amman, Berlin & Casablanca. At its core is the role of art in recapturing and re-defining public spaces as platforms for social actions, as common grounds that belong to all citizens.

We understand the “COMMON” in this context to be a fluid sphere of practices and claims to public space in our urban environments by which its inhabitants, users and citizens, take ownership of their surroundings.

Guiding questions for the general projects and its site-specific LABs are: How can public space and the commons, artistic practice and political participation be precisely positioned in each context? And how can these specific practices be brought into a productive dialogue across different urban and artistic cultures?

In each city we opened a COMMON SPACE in a specific urban location that inherently shows an aspect of the topic. Each COMMON SPACE is a temporary platform for discourse, sharing of our approaches and the artistic interventions which took place in the other cities or are being prepared for this one. We invite theoriticians and practicioners of this city – urbanists and philosophers, activists and visionaries – to contribute, influence, inspire and potentially modify the course of our research in a series of changing formats of debate and presentations together with an interested audience.

Parallel to this public platform the artists collaborate to develop site-specific interventions for a row of locations that were singled out for their capacity to represent open questions of the state of the COMMON in each urban fabric. In doing so the artists share their tools and open up to collaborations with other disciplines and a different approach in their work. Thereby blending their preferred method of working with new influences – from the specific place, its social context and their colleagues.

At the end of this practical research COMMON SPACES invites the public to a series of COMMON CLAIMS: Artistic interventions in public space that transform, question, focus and highlight that state of the COMMONS as well as opening up visions of a future practice of COMMONS in this city that would re-appropriate and cultivate the public sphere.

Our aim is to create a moving laboratory for open exchange of all participants and local communities. A space in which the differences of artistic practices and political experiences turn into productive and reciprocal widening of the horizon of what is imaginable and what actions this could bring about.

Artists & Makers: MOHAMMED FARIJI visual artist; DINA HADDADIN, Visual Artist & Architect; JOSEPHINE HEIDE, Production Management; SORAYA EL KAHOULI , sociologist and filmmaker; CLARA KIENZ, Community-Architect & Urban Planning; MOHAMMED LAOULI, Photo- & Video-Artist; LUKAS MATTHAEI , director & initiator of common spaces; AMINA NOLTE, Academic Research & Development; MOHAMMED AL QAQ visual artist & multimedia trainer; SAID RAIS Photography;  NEZHA RHONDALI, Dance performer & Choreographer; SUSANNE VINCENZ , Dramaturg & Initiator of Common Spaces; JAKE MC CARTHY WIENER , filmmaker; SABINE ZAHN , choreograph and urban interventor

Partners: 7iber (Amman);  ZK/U Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik / Internationales Theaterinstitut / Szenenwechsel (Berlin);  Atelier L’Observatoire (Casablanca)