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World European Capital of Culture: "Risk area since 1990"

19:30  28 october  2020
19:30  28 october  2020 Source:   sueddeutsche.de

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Chemnitz is likely to become the 2025 Capital of Culture. How a coherent development concept, a bingo event and Karl Marx's gut became a political signal.

Maßstab 24:1: das im Volksmund nur als © dpa Scale 24: 1: popularly only called "Risk area since 1990"

Perhaps it was even Karl Marx's gut that brought the title in the end? In any case, last week the final virtual city tour of the Capital of Culture jury ended there: on the meadow next to the Chemnitz Opera, in front of a bulging structure made of fiberglass, three weeks of milling work, scale 24: 1. Like the monumental bronze head that made it a landmark without Marx ever visiting, in the former Karl-Marx-Stadt. The intestine is just one exhibit of the large city art show "Gegenwarten", which was an important part of the application process. The people of Chemnitz stood in amazement in front of the bowels of their city, where things had last been so raging.

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"Aufbruch" was the ambiguous motto of the Chemnitz Capital of Culture application. It was aimed at the tremendous transformation process that the city has gone through since reunification. The "Saxon Manchester" in the GDR had 300,000 inhabitants. There are around 60,000 fewer today. Destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945, the heart of the city is characterized by yawning empty main roads, and on these main traffic routes are car parks and shopping centers. Or to put it another way: lots of space for art.

There are districts like Brühl or Sonnenberg that would have provided the backdrop for a zombie film ten years ago and are now home to creative people because the ghost of gentrification has not yet avoided. There is the band Kraftklub , which still gets the Dortmund Westfalenhalle to sing: "I come from Karl-Marx-Stadt, I'm a loser, baby, original Ostler".

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"The gray self-image of an industrial city can turn into something colorful", Chemnitz 'outgoing mayor Barbara Ludwig (SPD) often said and always sounded a bit like a motivational speaker. For a long time, urban society seemed divided, not just with regard to the application process. "Aufbruch" - that also meant the racist marches in summer 2018. After the fatal knife attack on a young man on the sidelines of the city festival, hooligans and right-wing extremists from all over Germany gathered in Chemnitz. There were attacks on police officers, journalists and migrants. The subsequent debate about what a "hunt" was almost blew up the grand coalition in Berlin. The New York Times wrote of a "test for German post-war democracy".

"Buckle up: B for Brexit! B for Brexit!"

You wanted to make "the silent center" visible, says Jenny Zichner from the application team. "All the makers that you rarely see and hear." Chemnitz, the medium-sized, medium-exciting city, which was always good for a joke, and in which still no ICE stops. This is where the heart of European culture should beat by 2025 - can that be?

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It is not the cities with the most museums and concert halls that have won the Capital of Culture title for a long time, but those with an eventful history and convincing ideas for urban development. Anyone who can present sound concepts against population decline and for more citizen participation will ultimately benefit from outsider status. Or, as the satirical city blog "Re: marx" put it: "Chemnitz - risk area since 1990".

In February 2019, the three Saxon applicant cities - Chemnitz, plus Dresden and Zittau - presented themselves at the New Year's reception of the state representative in Brussels. While Dresden had a cellist dance around in ballerinas and Zittau performed a sophisticated choreography including a children's circus, the Chemnitz bingo were playing. A somewhat outdated lottery game; The winner is whoever fills out a row of their bingo slip using the appropriate number-letter combination. The Chemnitz artist Jan Kummer moderated, with sentences like: "Buckle up: B for Brexit! B for Brexit!" He sounded like a fairground operator who speaks the Tagesschau . In the background, the Chemnitz pop hope Blond played in glittering show dresses. The people in suits bowed their heads and dutifully tied their crosses. The concept then worked out.

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