FFT Düsseldorf Juni 2017
Since the 19th century, Oberbilk has been Düsseldorf’s “Arrival City” for migrant workers. Blue-collar workers from Belgium, the Eifel & Eastern Europe, who have been naturalized by today, became locals in the large melting pot of heavy industry. As a result of the economic and political climate, the catchment area of the district grew and grew, so that today all growth rings of globalisation are visible.
In its history, the quarter behind the train tracks has experienced a number of waves ranging from a condescending turning of a blind eye to a lively fascination with homemade “strangers”. In recent years the media & outsiders have construed a blend of criminality & need for development here, which is always reiterated by the same images. Meanwhile, a counter-reaction of friendly exoticism floods the neighbourhood with a wave of cultural projects.
How to navigate between these opposites? SONGBOOK OBERBILK is the prelude to a one-year engagement with the quarter between traditions & change, beyond clichés & snap judgements. What does the quarter mean to its inhabitants? Which new identities can be formed here – or are they the old ones that live on? Is Oberbilk one of the greenhouses in whose everyday structure future societies are growing (up) – or is it about containment and management of market losses? And if the area around the train station is to be “upgraded” in the years to come – will the streets and squares around Ellerstraße be opened for major investors to be marketed as “Petite Marrakech”? Are the neighborhood’s grown structures strong enough to withstand a non-reflective real estate policy – or does gentrification benefit the residents?