To describe this location along the Hafenstrasse as just a park would be too simplistic. Rather, St. Pauli's Park Fiction is an art project shaped like a park. Close to the upscale 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. In resistance to both the demolition of older housing and the constructiuon of new upscale buildings, as well as in protest against the many vacancies in the area, buildings along the Hafenstrasse had been squatted since 1981. Amidst this unrest, local artists, squatters and families all banded together realise Park Fiction. The project was concieved of with several purposes in mind, foremost of which was to create a self-determined green space for the community. Additionally, locals were determined to preserve at least some of the harbour view between concrete blocks and to prevent the Golden Pudel Club at the edge of the park from closing and being demolished. Altogether, it was to be a green oasis at the busy port for those who lived nearby.
In line with the concept of 'social sculpture' as defined by artist Joseph Beuys, the project's creators had the intention of embracing urban space as a means of actively shaping society and affecting social structures for the betterment of the community. Part of the creative process was to actively involve as many people and ideas as possible and to approach the brainstorming processes like a game. The activists responsible for project made sure to open up as many lines of communication as possible in order for all members of the communtiy to have a say.
Although the project wouldn't reach completion for another decade, the activists were indeed able to change the senate's plans for the land, and Park Fiction as it is today is the reward for their hard work and determination.
Park Fiction was eventually recreated outside of Hamburg as well and became part of Documenta11, 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 and the plastic palm trees stay green all year. You can bring a drink, find a cosy seat, and watch the sunset over the harbour.
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