Park Fiction Hamburg
Park Fiction is not a normal park. Rather, it is an art project shaped like a park. Located in the St. Pauli district, close to the upmarket harbour-side promenade with its busy fish market, the park has become a symbol of resistance against the city’s development plans, and the epitome of local co-determination.
When the project first started in 1994, the housing market in the St. Pauli district was highly competitive. Buildings along the Hafenstraße ─ right next to Park Fiction ─ had been squatted already in 1981, in resistance to the demolition of old buildings, the construction of upscale buildings and in protest against the many vacancies in the area.
Besides preserving an open space with a harbour view between the concrete blocks, and preventing the music venue Golden Pudel Club at the edge of Park Fiction from being closed and teared down, the main incentive of the Park Fiction project was to create a self-determined green space: an oasis at the busy harbour side for those who actually live there. Local artists, squatters and families all worked together to realise this project.
In line with the concept of a social sculpture as defined by artist Joseph Beuys, the initiators' intention was for people to actively shape society and change social structures ─ or at least influence them ─ to embrace urban space.
Part of the creation was to involve as many people and ideas as possible, and to approach the brainstorming process as a game. The activists opened up a planning container, a hotline for the 'late-night-inspired' and a portable 'action kit' planning office.
At the end, people could barely believe that they had actually managed to change the senate's plans, although it would still take more than ten years to finish the project. Park Fiction was established outside of Hamburg as well and became part of documenta 11 (one of the world’s leading contemporary art exhibitions).
Nowadays, Park Fiction is a popular meeting point. The lawn is shaped like a magic carpet, the palm trees are made of plastic. You can bring your hammock, tie it to the artificial trees and watch the sunset with a cool drink in your hand.
Park Fiction was renamed Gezi Park Hamburg in June 2013 to show solidarity with the protests and the occupation of Gezi-Park in Istanbul.
The Golden Pudel Club burnt down in February 2016, but the owners and supporters have already announced new plans. Stay tuned at www.pudel.com