Werkleitz - urban space and art
Megacity versus shrinking city. The thematic superstructure of this year’s move forward festival is Mexico. Mexico oscillates between European and pre-colonial culture, between megacity and expansive countryside, between rich and poor, between rapid change and stagnation. Halle is also marked by such contrasts - in a different way.
The installations exhibited by Mexican and European artists and their critically reflective embedment into the site create cross references and highlight contrasts. It is therefore only logical that Werkleitz, too, intervenes in the urban space. Werkleitz has chosen the stone gate area as a field of experimentation and as exhibition parcour. This place is also characterized by contrasts: traffic junction versus green oasis, place of both identification and anxiety, between stagnation and change, vacancy and revaluation. Seeking ways to make media art part of public debate, Werkleitz does not just focus on special topics and works, but also on site-specific dynamics and processes. As a specific place, the Steintor (stone gate) obviously elicits the pride from inhabitants and passersby. To this day, the square is the gateway from the city into the world or into Halle - over the Great Stone Road to the market.
Peculiar to Steintorareal as a transit space are the neighbors and in particular the mélange of stakeholders: vendors, kebab shops, long-established homeowners, taxi drivers, kiosk owners, hotel guests, concert visitors or waiting pedestrians, just to name a few. This site is set to undergo extensive refurbishment in the coming years. But who plans and shapes the change of such a place? A technical office, an administration, a transport company? Yes, but not alone. Such a process begins in conversation with the vendors, the doner sellers, the long-established, the newcomers, the homeowners and the waiting pedestrians, in order to bring to light the wishes and suggestions of those working there and thus the potential of the place. As an stakeholder in this place, Werkleitz sees itself as a co-initiator and co-creator of this process. Since the beginning of the year, Werkleitz has been talking to local residents and other stakeholders about the everyday life of the street and the various expectations linked to the development of the neighborhood, in order to depict the situation on the ground.
This commitment has fallen on fertile ground. Since last year, local actors and various actions have already begun to create awareness among the residents for a participation process. Starting in spring 2012, Werkleitz initiated three rounds of public participation. These results provided the city of Halle with ample impetus for the transformation of the Am Steintor square. The talks were held in cooperation with the Department of Planning and Building of the City of Halle (Saale), the HAVAG, the agency stadtgestalten, the communicative network spaces Open and Radio Corax. The first panel discussion in the former city gallery on 16 February 2012 was well attended by 70 residents as well as representatives of the city planning office. In short lectures, the speakers conveyed knowledge on exemplary urban development in the Halle Glaucha district, on gentrification, on the concrete project on Steintorplatz and on the role of art in public space. stadtgestalten presented their study Halle Calling!. It offered insight into the subjective needs and perceptions of quality of life around Steintorplatz and two other traffic hubs in Halle.
One and a half months later, on April 3, Werkleitz invited local residents to design and submit to discussion their vision of the Steintor at the round table in the project space Große Steinstraße 55. The impetus was the city planner and charette expert Harald Kegler (Dessau). On the basis of sketches and topics of the first discussion session emerged about 30 different drawings by the residents, which were widely commented and critiqued. On June 4, the third public discussion session took place about the future of the square. In the circus tent on Rossplatz, the department Planning and Building together with HAVAG presented various space-planning options for discussion. Despite pouring rain over 100 visitors attended and took part in the discussion.