Urbanautica – Searching for habitable spaces

An initiative in the framework of the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers Network.

A project by Julia Ovcharenko in cooperation with Małgorzata Ćwikła, Christine Rahn and Juliane Rahn as well as Thomas Dumke (Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau, Dresden).

October 2014 to January 2015, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine and May 2015, Berlin, Germany

The history of the East Ukrainian metropolis Dnipropetrovsk is a history of cosmonautics – a close relation that has been influencing the development of the city and shaping its cityscape to this very day: Dnipropetrovsk became „rocket city“ during Soviet times. The third biggest city in Ukraine faced numerous changes on the course of the Orange Revolution and the recent turmoils. Nowadays the city is one of the most important industrial areas in the country and considered to be the center for space-related research. The team of URBANAUTICA has not joined in defining new future visions for the outer space, in settling on new planets and finding new living environments, but searched within spitting distance and emmerged in local urban culture.

Within the framework of URBANAUTICA 20 local actors, among others artists, architects, historians and cultural workers, got invited to conduct research on living conditions in public space and on current challenges in dealing with the post-Soviet urban heritage. The participants developed in several workshops common artistic projects and temporary actions with the aim of revitalizing urban space and recollecting contemporary everyday life: stories of homeless people resounded in an installation in the city center; students from abroad, most of them originally from Caucasus region, were portrayed; a new platform for skaters was realized according to the needs of the local streetart community; an exhibition of independent contemporary art was shown in the backyard of the national museum of art that was made visible in the official exhibition space as well.

Five members of the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers and TANDEM UKRAINE Network ran the workshops as experts and supervisors for the participants: Sharing their knowledge in theory and experiences in working with public space, they introduced the participants to contemporary methods and approaches. In addition, the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers also presented their own projects and practices in public lectures and got first impressions of the local background through special city tours.

The project URBANAUTICA is part of the urban development program “100 ideas for urban space” that was initiated by artists, architects and NGOs in Dnipropetrovsk in 2012. It kick-starts new visions, perspectives and possibilities to act in public space and for common life in the city and supports the work of local initiatives in Eastern Ukraine. After the project URBANAUTICA some of its participants from Dnipropetrovsk will travel to Berlin for a research and networking trip to get in exchange with urban actors from Germany.
pictures: Oleh Samoylenko, Natali Ponomariowa and Julia Ovcharenko