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Park fiction becomes park fact - click opera
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Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 11:39 am
Park fiction becomes park fact

My first experience of Hamburg's St Pauli district came in 1987. I was on tour supporting Primal Scream, and we were booked into a hotel in the red light district. While Bobby and the rest of the band larked about daring each other to throw a TV set out of the window ("because Keith Richards had done it"), I retreated to my room and watched hardcore porn -- the first I'd ever seen (it was officially banned in the UK). The following morning I got up early and went out for a walk. There was some sort of dramatic confrontation going on at the docks; barricaded squats on the Haffenstrasse, black flags aflutter and big dogs at the ready, were under seige by the police. Thinking Bobby, with his interest in politics and rebellion, would be interested in this, I went back to the hotel to bring him to see it. He told me he'd rather sleep.



Exactly twenty years later I played Hamburg again, at the Golden Pudel Klub right next to those same squats. I met Felix Kubin, who gave me a copy of his fantastic song There Is A Garden. In fact, it could be the theme song of the St Pauli district itself. A lot has changed in twenty years, and not the least of those changes is the emergence, on prime real estate overlooking the docks, of a people's garden, the result of a decade-long political and aesthetic project by a collective of artists calling themselves Park Fiction.



It would be tempting, given my Primal Scream anecdote, to say that it was visual art activism that saved St Pauli, while rock and roll rolled over and slumbered. But actually, the Golden Pudel Klub itself is at the heart of the struggle to green St Pauli with grass and trees rather than money and commercial development. Bands like Schwabinggrad Ballet, Die Goldenen Zitronen and Die Sterne joined with the artists and filmmakers of the Park Fiction collective to protect the squats and the club and create a sort of fantasy garden next to it with "the fulness of an Arabic paradise garden, soft orange glow from a deep green".



The Park Fiction group began in 1994, just asking local residents what kind of garden they'd like to see. A Turkish girl suggested a youth cafe with letter boxes for kids whose mail is monitored by their parents. A Russian couple wanted an avenue of friendship lined with rose bushes. The artists coined slogans: "Desire will leave the house and the realm of boredom, bringing the administration of misery to an end" and "Art and politics make each other more clever". They planned strawberry-shaped treehouses, treehouses with bathtubs in them, a swimming pool in the docks, poodle-shaped boxwood hedges, an open-air cinema, a hedge maze, a pirate well, an open-air Solarium, a flying carpet of wavy turf, and artificial floating islands with palm trees.



Their plans became first a film by Margit Czenki then an installation in the 2002 Documenta shaped like a cross between a Russian Constructivist urbanism archive and a 1970s language lab. There were different sections entitled Interventionist Residents, Desire Production, Tools and Infotainment.



Most surprisingly of all, though, these dreams have now resulted in an actual park. I've just checked it on Google Maps, and I can tell you that people are sunbathing there, in the shade of two metal palm trees. "There is a garden full of beauty," sang Felix Kubin, "There is a garden I will never see". Well, thanks to a combination of art and urban activism, you can see it now. Park fiction is park fact.

27CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)

Fantastic. You should check out the Monty Don series on great world gardens on the BBC - he's had some really good stuff, lots of amazing community gardens. I especially liked the Chandigarh Park, built from found objects on unclaimed land - http://www.hinduonnet.com/folio/fo0006/00060340.htm


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
HCP

Insightful, on various levels. The park is undeniably original, but i feel the aerial view flatters it. Yet its more about what it stands for, rather then what it contains....yes?

I spent most of the post wondering if you had included the picture of the poodle to illustrate the police seige you describe, "big dogs at the ready" - oh momus you joker.

wewillbecome.com


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
Re: HCP

I think the park is rather Arabic, but in the sense that a lot of it is mirage. Which is not to say unreal. But I'd imagine the pleasure St Paulites get from sitting there is all wrapped up with their knowledge of the struggle, and that makes what could otherwise be a traffic roundabout seem like a utopia of sorts.

The poodle is an image from Margit Czenki's film. Since she was making it before the park actually existed, I suppose she had to come up with images for some of the ideas people had, like the poodle-clipped box hedges.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)

lololol you and Primal Scream. It would make amusing fanfic.

PS: puppy!!!


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eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)

It's an 'avant garden'. Grass roots initiative in the real sense!

Reminds me of a poem...

I want a garden
I want a garden where the flowers have no flowers
I want a garden where the trees have no leaves
I want a garden where the tree weeds don't even grow
I want a garden
I want my garden
I want a garden where there are no colors
I wanna water that garden
I'll garden that with my tears
Whilst that garden
Busted trees, busted leaves
Walks to me with my own

(Oh, you want kindergarten!)


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
the third genius

momus! (2 mins. in)





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anglerfish96
anglerfish96
anglerfish96
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)

I forgot about that "There is a Garden" song. Fun.


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)

hey thanks for the kubin track, and the podcast the other day too. feels good for me dumb rap soul.

the park reminds me, of all things, of the epcot center, the way walt worked on planning it until the day he died, and really wanted to create a radically different, perfect city--a model real life on a theme park platform. the difference here, crucially, is that this one's free and collectively assembled and not truly frightening to me.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
i wis a pirate

i always thought st pauli were some anarchist fitbaw team...
so is really a district of hamburgher is it in the south side.
i was jist listening to harry belafonte singing wild is the wind
theres so many lovely versions of that song..
the best song about gardens...is by rod jane and freddy..simply called ..garden song...it was on my first album record...kinda sounds like cosby stills nash and young...you wont find that anywhere in the digital swamp...


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)

Its members are not chic or radical (they're mostly middle-aged women, a demographic I all but share)

Many of the people involved in the Hamburg project are middle-aged women too -- though some of them might not fit your stereotype; Margit Czenki's first film was about the five year prison sentence she served for armed robbery back in the 80s!


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)

emphasis might have been on "not chic or radical" rather than "middle-aged women"


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)

God bless middle aged women. What would this world be like without them. We have Lady Bird Johnson to thank for the proliferation of wildflowers along the US interstates.


There are some beautiful rails to trails through the blue ridge mountains. Another great program.


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)

Drive south sometime Lord Whimsy. I'll fix you up a batch of cornbread and collard greens. I know of a secret shady grove that is teeming with Jack-in-the-Pulpits.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)

Not if you're outside the UK and aren't foxy with poxy proxy servers you can't!


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Mar. 4th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)

Gah, silly BBC. Maybe try the book (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Around-World-Gardens-Monty-Don/dp/0297844504/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204655123&sr=8-1).


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)

He Nick. You think Texas Tosser might be an old girlfriend? She seems to be really selling you off here.

Jimmy


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)

There was that problem with your Wikipedia site. Maybe Texas Tosser did that too?

Jimmy


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)

We could probably check that for you?

Jimmy


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)

There are no fairy tales in Wikipedia, Nick.

Everything can be verified.

Jimmy


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)

Hey again Nick.

Turns out the Rumpelstiltskin piece was actually all from Wikipedia - you must have just mis-read. Sorry. Oh, and your Wiki page, we checked that. All edited by our professionals, all very highly rated editors. No problem there either.

Have a Great Day!

Ed.


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)

Tosser - if we wanted to hear from an asshole, we would have farted.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Mar. 5th, 2008 04:44 am (UTC)

Hey, Go right ahead V! Happy to hear anything that comes out of your mouth!


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postsquotes
postsquotes
postsquotes
Thu, Jan. 21st, 2016 01:48 am (UTC)
Fantastic

very very Amazing


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