Postindustrial heritage and the irony of regeneration, or: we have never been postindustrial
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on personal and professional experiences, this talk thinks about the underbelly of urban heritage transformation processes and its ideologies.
Paper long abstract:
Between 2013-2014, I conducted fieldwork in the German Ruhr region, working closely with artists, refugees, and cultural politicians. This research focused on those on the margins and at the centre of cultural production in the region: well-funded theatres with professional ensembles on the one hand, and small collectives with precarious participants on the other hand. In both cases, these artists engaged with the ambivalent legacy of a region that for decades if not centuries was considered the industrial power-house of German empire; and yet also its grimy and dirty and poor periphery. This paper analyses the ambivalent ways in which cultural politicians and urban planners sought to redefine the legacy of the industrial region as a glorified past on which one could build the artifice of a postindustrial culture heritage industry. It focuses on the ways in which my interlocutors resisted, reframed, and criticised the myth of postindustrial culture, and worked instead to uncover its darkness.
Shadows of the present: generative ambivalences across art, heritage, and materiality