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Berlin is home to one of the world’s biggest housing rights movements; since 2018, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest against profiteering on the housing market, the eviction of tenants, and the conversion of rentals into condos. In the format of a tourist bus tour, Berlin Utopian Tours brings together artists and activists to develop strategies against gentrification with a broad public. Using augmented reality technology and performance, the artist Mikala Hyldig Dal guides the tour and enables immersive experiences of a future in which neo-liberal power structures have given way to solidarity-based citizen-led communities. Real estate companies have long used “art-washing” in the process of gentrification, through temporary leases increasing the value of housing objects and polishing the image of companies before original tenants – and artists – are evicted. With the supreme court’s removal of the “Mietendeckel” (“rent cap”), a law protecting tenants from exorbitant rent increases, and the number of people without homes rising daily, the matter of local resistance to “Wohnen als Ware”/Housing as a commodity is urgent. 

Berlin 2099: Precarious working conditions and fear for one’s livelihood are water under the bridge; citizens are fairly paid, housing is affordable; the city has become a space for dreaming. Global societies have abandoned structures of exploitation in favour of solidarity-based multispecies co-existence. Slipping into the role of a tour guide from the year 2099, artist Mikala Hyldig Dal accompanies visitors on a bus tour that narrates the coming 80 years of Berlin‘s urban history in the form of a historical retrospective from a futurist-visionary perspective. An Augmented Reality App developed specifically for the exhibition, projects 4D images of an imaginary history and utopian future scenarios onto places that embody the current struggle against gentrification. Hyldig Dal invited activists and artists to create interventions along the bus route. Over the course of the project, Flutgraben, the city’s largest self-organized studio building, served as a meeting point and archive, as a space of exchange and collective artistic production.

Participatory Performance/

Augmented Reality Sculptures


taz wrote

The white bus stops at the roadside, people stumble out, they follow the tour guide who strides ahead energetically. Smartphones are pulled out, everyone looks heavily interested. Not an unusual scene for Berlin. Except these people are from the year 2099. At least, that's what they're supposed to imagine for the two-hour bus tour by alpha nova & galeriafutura. They don't visit typical tourist attractions, but rather places in Kreuzberg closely associated with the term "gentrification." Mikala Hyldig Dal developed the interactive installation in public spaces in collaboration with several artists. Today, she plays the role of the tour guide. In a red jumpsuit with the inscription "City for All," her charming Danish accent, and good spirits, she tries to make the thought experiment tangible for the group as they stop and go through Kreuzberg. "One must imagine," she says at the start on Mariannenplatz in front of the Kunsthaus Bethanien, "that in 2019 there were major demonstrations in Berlin against the madness of rent. That at that time '34 men owned as much as half the world's population' and that people began to resist: against speculation with their homes and against the loss of open spaces in the city in favor of profit." From the perspective of the year 2099, the native Dane, who has lived in Berlin since 2001, wants to remember the protests. Like the coalition of Lause, Kotti & Co and the Prinzessinnengarten. All places and people, according to the fictional historical review, "who were central actors in the formulation of the constitution of the free city of Berlin in 2038." In this constitutional amendment, the unconditional basic income is established, migrants are explicitly welcomed in society, and it is stipulated that there can be no rent increases unless wages also increase. It is stipulated that the "expropriation of private property for the public good is essential" if it goes beyond self-use. Dreaming utopias is what Hyldig Dal aims to do with her project: "It may all sound utopian, but I believe it's feasible. That's what art can do as opposed to traditional activism – activate the imagination of what could be." The fictional places where resistance to gentrification was successful in Kreuzberg are also stops on the Berlin Utopian Tours. One of the artistic aspects of the neighborhood tour are animated sculptures that – of course, futuristically – hover over the locations with augmented reality and can be captured by visitors with their smartphones or a tablet. They are meant to remind people in the year 2099 of these places of resistance...


Participants: Nora Al-Badri, Lisa Glauer, Mikala Hyldig Dal, Dorothea Nold, Franziska Pierwoss, SUPERFILIALE (Markus Born & Markus Zimmermann)

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