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Hidden in a lush forest along the Spree River in East Berlin sits an abandoned amusement park filled with wild grass, sun-faded dinosaur models, roller coasters frozen in time, a pirate ship, a Ferris Wheel, and a train that still runs after years of disuse.
While it may sound like the golden setting for a dreamy indie flick or horror movie (depending on your tastes), the park that’s been forgotten for 11 years is about to be reopened. This June, a group of creatives based in Berlin plans to revamp and reestablish the newly christened "Kulturpark" as a haven for public art.
The amusement park debuted as "Kulturpark Plänterwald" in 1969 and was reborn as "Spreepark" when it was privatized after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Dwindling attendance led to Spreepark's financial collapse, and it was closed to the public in 2001. But its out-of-the-way location—once seen as a culprit of its demise—is now Kulturpark's main draw. Today, it blends into its natural surroundings and has become a breeding ground for rethinking public art space.
Kulturpark’s curatorial team includes George Scheer and Stephanie Sherman, directors of the Elsewhere museum in North Carolina; Spinello Projects founder Anthony Spinello; and Miami-based experimental artist Agustina Woodgate. The team hopes to use the ruins to shed light on Berlin’s cultural history and imagine the city’s future.
A creative camp during June will bring 20 Berlin-born and -based creative thinkers together to brainstorm and create interactive visual works inspired from the park—using light, sound, music, street art, installation, ecological intervation, performance, ﬁlm, science, cartography, and photography. During the last week of June, the Kultur-Exchange Program will invite between 50 and 100 international participants to discuss topics including public art, creative service, memory, and social architecture. The results of the ideas from the workshops will be displayed in Kulturpark’s public debut starting at the end of the month. After all that brainstorming, the team behind Kulturpark hopes to draw together a proposal for the site's future.
In its presentation [PDF], the Kulturpark team writes, "These ruins contain reminders and remainders of invention, leisure, and progress. Their memories and collective fantasies create space for new visions for culture and install surpluses and slippages in the passage of public time."
Funding for the project will come from Kickstarter, the Kultur-Exchange program, scholarships, and concessions. The project also has fostered collaborations with universities and institutions in the United States and Germany.