Situated infront of the old airport Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin-Neukölln was an old cemetery: Neuer St. Thomas Friedhof. The cemetery was closed in 2012, the last burial took place in 1988. Officials removed the gravestones, fenced the area and left nature uncultivated. While entering the field was offcially prohibited, residents around the area broke holes into the fence and started using the area as a recreational space. This led to an interesting mix of wilderness and occasional traces of human presence (abandoned sofas, keys, trash, shoes…). While officials were not appreaciating the unconventional usage of the place, they still tolerated the claim that residents were making on it.
The instructions were simple: We don’t know when the Utopians first came here, nor when and why they disappeard. However, we know that they lived through three episodes: During the Ludik-period, everybody was all cheerfull and open for experimental change. The shift into the Testa-period happened when they decided that they need to run certain structures for a longer period of time in order to experience their effects. In the Konflin-period a group got unsatisfied with how static everything turned out to be and were heavily voting for going back to the experimental attitude that was so prominent in Ludik, while another group wanted to keep the Testa-way going. Our participants were now asked to wander through the area and look out for traces of that community. Once they found some, they should imagine what the utopians were doing here and at what point in their chronik. All of those could be documented on a sheet of paper that we handed out. Also, they were asked to note the location of their findings on a big map as well as with a little sign in the area itself. This way, new archeologists could also see the previous work of their collegues.
We collected all of those findings, fragments as we called them, in a big folder. The folder than became the unfinished chronik of Utopia, containing over 150 entries.
The power of this mission lay in the fiction that we imposed on the place; or rather: both the fiction and the powerful environment were a perfect playground for people to fantasize about architecture, community, rituals, every-day life without feeling constraint by practical terms. The chronik of Utopia has thus become a testimonial of people’s imagination and creativity.
place: Neuer St. Thomas Friedhof, Berlin-Neukölln
date: 26th-28th of June 2015
read more: Ruinen Utopia (Mit Vergnügen/28.06.2015)