CityLeaks Urban Art Festival 2019
For its fifth edition from 31 August to 21 September CityLeaks Urban Art Festival returns to Ehrenfeld where also its first two editions took place. Some may say: Isn’t there already enough art on the facades and walls of Cologne’s creative neighbourhood? Does one need another festival with yet more creative intervention right here? The answer can only be yes! First of all, there can never be enough art in a neighbourhood and, secondly, there is probably no other place in Cologne where art and culture together with their many sites and spaces are currently more under pressure than right here in Ehrenfeld: At places like the Helios and the old freight yard compounds several creative spaces have just had to give way to large-scale construction projects. In other places structural change and gentrification processes threaten to supplant cultural spaces. In other locations, such as in the railway arches along Hüttenstraße, large spaces with a lot of potential for creative reuse simply lie waste. No wonder then that many residents seem worried about the future character of their neighbourhood. Where else but in Ehrenfeld may one be able to better observe urban change and to come up with strategies for an artistic revitalization of street spaces in the name of the common good? Moreover, the programme of CityLeaks Festival has never exhausted itself in putting appealing murals on urban surfaces. Apart from realizing a number of new murals, also this year’s festival edition will present a host of installations, performances, actions, discussions, guided tours, workshops and exhibitions, thus appealing to both people’s sense of aesthetics and their critical minds.
In order to give a short overview of this year’s festival activities, I am going to introduce some of the more important and striking parts of the programme.
Reinventing a Street: re:built Hüttenstraße
The festival’s first and foremost centre of activity is located in the hitherto vacant railway arches along heavily trafficked Hüttenstraße. Already since May residents and interested people have been collecting ideas for (re)vitalizing the arches and working on drafts for innovative utilization concepts together with Italian architecture collective studio orizzontale. In August then, multifunctional wooden architectures will be constructed in three of the arches, which will serve as Festival Center during September. Local architecture and design students will also conceive and construct wooden furniture for festival visitors and residents alike. For three weeks CityLeaks Festival Center and the adjacent arches serve as an open forum for a vast number of participative events, thus turning one of the neighbourhood’s most unattractive streets into a utopia of communal and creative urban planning.
The following list is just a selection of the events about to take place there:
CityLeaks Festival Center
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 31.08.-21.09., Tue-Sun, 2-8 pm
Grand Opening with mayor Henriette Reker
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 31.08., 2 pm
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 31.08., 15.09., always at 3 pm
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 02.09., 09.09., 16.09, always at 8 pm
Unlock Book Fair
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 31.08., 12 am – 8 pm, 01.09., 11 am – 5 pm
Exhibition „Coherent Existence“
Railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, 31.08.-21.09.
re:cover Urban Exploration Tour Hüttenstraße: 06.09., 13.09., always at 5 pm, start: railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3, registration via email@example.com
Documenting Change: re:framing Lichtstraße
Nowhere in Ehrenfeld does structural change manifest more clearly than in the historical development of Lichtstraße, located right between the Helios and freight yard compounds. As the site of factories for cogwheels and luminants once the industrial heart of the neighbourhood, its post-industrial vacancies much later became home to several alternative art spaces and concert locations, which nowadays are in danger of getting supplanted by pricy residential and office spaces. Since June already, the history and present of this highly symbolic street space has been the object of artistic research conducted as part of the regional art project “Memory Stations”. During the festival in September the products of this research process are going to be projected back into the actual street in the form of photos, texts, posters, video installations and exploratory tours, thereby transforming Lichtstraße into a vibrant and complex site of remembrance. The most important dates:
Hidden Spaces Tour
Fri, 20.09., 7 pm, start: Lichtstraße 2, registration via firstname.lastname@example.org
Street Festival Lichtstraße
Sat, 21.09., from 4 pm
Parade re:claim Ehrenfeld
Sat, 21.09., 3-6 pm, Start: railway arches, Hüttenstraße 3
The District as Stage: CityLeaks Interacting Day on 14.09.
On Saturday, 14 September performers and dancers turn Ehrenfeld around Körnerstraße and Venloer Straße into a giant stage. Yet this stage is not just for being gazed at by amazed visitors and passers-by, but for participating as well. No matter if during the dance performances by Marje Hirvonen and Ilona Pászthy or with the walkable architectures of Alex Schweder and Clemens Klein – all acts invite their audiences to become part of it, to escape their everyday and thus to perceive a seemingly well familiar neighbourhood in completely new ways. Beginning at 8 pm, Körnerstraße will transform into Chargesheimer Tunnel: Oversized photographs from Cologne photographers Chargesheimer’s legendary volume “Unter Krahnenbäumen” are presented in a walkable, tunnel-like installation and allow visitors to immerse themselves into 1950s Cologne street space and its incomparable vibrancy right within one of contemporary Ehrenfeld’s most creative streets.
CityLeaks Interacting Day
On and around Körnerstraße and Venloer Straße, 14.09., 5-8 pm
Körnerstraße 6-28, 14.09., 8-12 pm
With Sense and Mind: Murals, Installations and Urban Interventions
Of course, a great number of new artworks and installation will once more be created within Cologne’s public space as part of this year’s festival. French muralists Zoer and Olivier Swiz will paint two large walls along Liebigstraße in September. The abstract colour layers by Dutch artist Zedz have already gleamed from a large wall in Leyendeckerstraße since June – a true bright spot in immediate vicinity to the old freight yard compound which is going to mutate into a monotonous residential park in the very near future. The installation of Turkish video artist belit sağ has been created in collaboration with members of the local Bosnian community and will be projected on the areal of Dzemat mosque on Vogelsanger Straße during the evening hours towards the end of the festival. Urban artists Mathieu Tremblin and Andrey Ustinov, however, set about causing some confusion in the familiar order of urban structures and signs on Hütten-, Liebig and Vogelsanger Straße with their spontaneous, but also witty artistic interventions. Reasons enough for exploring Ehrenfeld (anew) with keen senses and an acute mind!
Zedz: Leyendeckerstraße 2a, already realized
Innerfields: Gießener Straße 85-89, 29.08.-05.09.
Olivier Swiz: Liebigstraße 33, 10.-18.09.
Lukas Friedlich: Eckewartstraße / Wolfhartstraße (transformer station), 13.-16.09.
Taroe & Tictone: Widdersdorfer Straße 270 & 270a, 15.-21.09.
Zoer: Lichtstraße 24, 17.-24.09.
Installations / Interventions:
craus | hahn: „Himmelfernes“, path between Wöhlerstraße and Parkgürtel, 31.08.-22.09.
Andrey Ustinov: „Iconoclash“, Vogelsanger Straße 201 (billboard), 01.-19.09.
Mathieu Tremblin: interventions, Hüttenstraße and Liebigstraße, 02.-15.09.
belit sağ: „Die Mutter der L.“, Vogelsanger Straße 210 (yard), 20./21.09., 20-22 Uhr
Discovering the City Anew: CityLeaks Urban Art Tours
On the festival weekends there is once more plenty of opportunity for exploring brand-new, but also many older artworks as part of an extensive programme of guided tours. Tours by foot and bike will lead through the Cologne boroughs of Ehrenfeld, Neuehrenfeld, Nippes and Belgisches Viertel. Almost all tours will be rounded up by a visit to the Festival Center in Hüttenstraße. Moreover, free urban exploration tours are offered for the first time. These tours take a close look at the special urban situations and transformations on and around Hüttenstraße (06.09., 13.09.) and Lichtstraße (20.09.). No matter what borough or streets they lead through, all tours are an excellent occasion for making exciting new discoveries and getting to know seemingly familiar corners in an entirely new way.
CityLeaks Urban Art Touren (duration: ca. 2 hours, 7,50 euro per person):
- Ehrenfeld Tour 1: 31.08. (12 am), 07.09. (4 pm), 14.09. (6 pm), 22.09. (4 pm), start: at the Ehrenfeld community centre, Venloer Straße 429, at the main entrance
- Ehrenfeld Tour 2: 07.09., 15.09., 21.09., always 4 pm, start: Venloer Straße 279 / Geisselstraße, on the square in front of the market chapel
- Belgisches Viertel Tour: 01.09, (4 pm); 14.09. (6 pm), start: Richard-Wagner-Straße 2 / Händelstraße, in front of Eco Express
- Eigelstein Tour: 08.09., 22.09., always 4pm, start: Eigelstein 10 / Turnier Straße
- Neuehrenfeld Bike Tour: 01.09., 15.09., always at 4 pm, start: Venloer Straße 472 / Leyendeckerstraße, in front of Zeeman
- Nippes/Ehrenfeld Bike Tour: 08.09., 21.09., always at 4 pm, start: Neusser Straße 450 / Gürtel, in front of Bezirksrathaus Nippes
- re:cover Urban Exploration Tour Hüttenstraße: 06.09., 13.09., always at 5 pm, start: railway aches, Hüttenstraße 3, free of charge, registration via email@example.com
- Hidden Spaces Tour Lichtstraße: 20.09., 7 pm, start: Lichtstraße 2, free of charge, registration via firstname.lastname@example.org
More on these and many more events may be retrieved on the festival website where also information and photos of all past festivals’ artists and artworks can be accessed.
I am looking forward to a creative and inspiring September and hope to see many known, but also many new faces at the festival! So long!