volksbuehneoccuationwhen tim renner brought universal to berlin, he was thanked with a low priced office building, and then a radio station. after failing with a music download platform, tim decided to present his version of berlin, a rock oriented radio format, almost totally ignoring the history and reality of electronic and experimental music in this city. his radio tried to fill an open gap which was there at this time, for a non-commercial radio, by mixing american indie college radio formats, with playlists promoting his own acts on his own label. this format was later replaced with flux.fm which integrated electronic music at least a bit more, and tim renner moved into communal politics. berlin lost its chance to create a fully electronic music radio once again.
even if one can be truly thankful for his work around city tax, and freie scene, and even if i completly respect many of his statements on all kinds of things, this pattern repeated itself with the choice of Chris Dercon as a new curator for volksbuehne. it is not about personal issues, it is not about the resistance against “designing” change, but the specifities of the new architectures and models replacing the old, the precise negotiation of compromises between old and new, the way certain cultural local hegemonies are forced to be ignored, be it the specifity of berlin voters, the sociograms of the public, the existance of an alternative digital culture, their preference in late night activities, their regional or even localist specifities, which perform as a sum, a significant difference, a history of antagonisms and debate, a singularity of heterogenous subjectities, which cannot simply be overcoded by a globalist format, in the name of “pop culture”, without risking to utterly fail.
this aesthetico-political ignorance, to the relevance of beat and bass, paired with experimental electronics, to the minimalism of dramaturgy or the sound of cosmic conceptualism, up to the thriving improv scene with waves of expats from around the world, creates cultural products nobody waited for. there are many “berlin schools” to be learned at first, in order to successfully transplant a working method from the center of london or munich to a theatre with a dedicated leftist history. you need to understand the mix of provincialism as well as the internationalism, of kiez-culture with startup culture, of accelleration and slow-down, which is highly stratified and differentiated, where east and west and center and periphery are hard to fully overcode with an imported sound, but rather merge, ‘crosspolinate’ and thrive with it.
until the occupation of volksbuehne, i have kept silent in this debate. as a globalist curator, you can plan to rebuild the wall, in an utterly lame reenactment of checkpoint-charlie for tourists, aiming to contaminate the tagesschau layer, but finally you need to face the cultural facts of a political landscape, of many resistant groups and pockets, younger and older artists and activists. artists as producers and not an amorphous mass of cultural consumers. an almalgam of movements and east and west which rejects simplified communication design and city marketing, but instead is fully able to operate by itself - if the real estate prices (and certain parameters of public policy) still allow it.
the long path to the center, politically spoken has reached a watershed, with the last election, objectively spoken, there is hardly a way back to the normcore of the recent years, the middle has to newly negotiate its legitimation, remap its cultural territory and border zones to the left and right and it needs central places where this is symbolically happening, as performance, as debate, good and bad art. suddenly a certain globalist neoliberal position seems to be ages old and outdated.
what was once called the “creative city” is not a smooth garden, it might give a fertile ground for all kinds of careers and experiments, but not in an organized manner, not without struggle. by colonizing and transforming a culture which would have been better off with something more original, grown from the specifities of the local situations, the centralism of pyramidal global art is not a good recipy to transplant to this place. this is why urban planning is the master discipline of cultural war in berlin, architecture, housing projects, and independent, utopic and anarchic adaptions whenever niches were possible, from which the cultural production was informed fundementally and from which neoliberal rule tries to profit as well as establish against. like a centre-pompidou-like re-interpretation of the palace of the republic, replaced with a neocolonial historistic bunker with faux-faccade as the humboldt forum, or the Giant Soul Train event at tempelhofer feld, replacing the love parade raves of the city.
we need a much more pationate cultural poltics, which need a differentated and informed view, not personalized, not too ego-oriented. as well as a whole culture of production was utterly ignored with motor.fm, the new volksbuehne is misunderstanding and neglecting the potentials it has. the true designer of this relaunch is not dercon but tim renner, who should probably take a position in this discussion, maybe even mediate and take responsiblity.
arstistically spoken. it is one thing to praise the berghain club, but another to have no clue about where it comes from. we need to have a better informed debate, when judging the effects of gentrification, at first when demanding from squatters to play “no techno” while supporting generic retro pop music as the new consensual sound for berlin.
dercon introduces, a state sponsored light pop format the city has no need for at this location, once again. why? to probably get rid of some annoying old pockets of original leftist, radical, or otherwise unique modes of production of subjectitivy. it is the neoliberal rule which the squatters fight against, their pyramidal star system, and their kind of standardizing globalist taste. it is a colonialist culture war with uneven means and uneven opponents.

(pit schultz)