14 February–29 November 2020

Event Series

nGbK, Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin
Various venues in Berlin


No Humboldt 21!, Ayo Akingbade, Anonyme Anwohnende, KOP Berlin, Solidarity City Berlin, Kunstblock and beyond, A.S.S. Collective, Corasol, Corasol, AFROTAK TV cyberNomads, D‘EST, Senka Domanović, Anna Engelhardt, Orhan Esen, Lause Lebt e.V., Break Isolation Group, Initiative Hermannplatz, Ruthia Jenrbekova, Flo Kasearu, Emsal Kılıç, Eva Löbau, Berlin Postkolonial, Lotte Schreiber & Michael Rieper, Asad Schwarz-Msesilamba, International Women* Space, Hans Stürm & Nina Stürm, Kollektiv Syndikat, Vanessa E. Thompson, Florian Wüst

Project group

Jennifer Bennett, Sonja Hornung, Vicky Kiefer, siddhartha lokanandi, Sonya Schönberger

SOFT SOIL is a discursive format with a mobile platform returning to the nGbK in three ›blocks‹ of events, which take place in-between exhibitions. SOFT SOIL describes the ambivalence of the sandy ground Berlin is built on: both the attrition of urban structures through privatisation and speculation, and the malleability of urban space through everyday practices and resistance. The format addresses colonial continuities, and questions relating to the neoliberal transformation of the city since 1990. Additionally, it critically examines the relationship between space and gender relations. Initiatives, researchers, artists and all interested are invited to enter into exchange through discussions, screenings and workshops — in the spirit of solidarity in practice. What ideals shape the production of so-called public space, and what might »Stadt für alle« (»city for all«) mean?

There’s no such thing as a city for all (yet)

14-16 February 2020
The extent of urban displacements and the social urgency of the housing question have reached a new climax. Now more than ever, Berlin’s cityscape is characterised by new forms of resistance and alliances. Slogans such as »Stadt für alle« (»A City for All«) und »Wir bleiben alle« (»We’re All Staying«) are part of the fight against neoliberal urban developments that exacerbate marginalisation. Public space is, however, from the outset marked by mechanisms of exclusion. Colonial continuities are present in urban structures, in official processes of memorialisation, but also through racial profiling. PoC (People of Colour) and people with migrant backgrounds have for some time called for urban struggles and the »Right to the City« to be considered from an anticolonial perspective, fundamentally questioning who exactly the »Stadt für alle« is for, and to what extent pre-existing power relations limit activist work. At the same time, networks are forming that seek to overcome capitalist segregation in urban space through solidarity in practice. They produce new forms of urban knowledge and claim their own in-between spaces, whether as a temporary expression of being together, or in the form of permanent structures. Accompanying all this is the question of how art might position itself to work against the »artwashing« of gentrification.


Friday, 14 February 2020, 19:00
Lecture (de) »Racism on the housing market and the question of »Stadt für alle« by Emsal Kılıç

Saturday, 15 February 2020, 14:00
Workshops (run concurrently)
- »Who the fuck is Pears? Oder: Wem gehört eigentlich mein Haus?« (de) with Kollektiv Syndikat
- »Rassismus und Ausschluss in Alltagsstrukturen« (fr/de) with Corasol
- »Stadt für alle – Lause für alle!« (de) with Lause Lebt e.V.
Film Program and discussion
»Menschen im Experiment« with Florian Wüst
Films by Ayo Akingbade, Lotte Schreiber & Michael Rieper, Hans Stürm & Nina Stürm

Sunday, 16 February 2020, 16:00–19:00
Open discussion »Self-organised spaces in the neoliberal city« (de/en) moderated by Kunstblock and beyond

[Detailed programme > see PDF »Programme SOFT SOIL I en«]

Unsettling spaces

14–16 August 2020
In the second of three event clusters, SOFT SOIL takes a longer view on current developments. The situation caused by COVID-19 brings fundamental repercussions for the city. Unequal access to spaces and resources is intensified by the crisis, and re-existing mechanisms for exclusion are exacerbated. Ever-shifting legislation throws new questions into sharp relief – including the possibility for community activism in urban contexts. If commercial activities are prioritised in shared urban spaces, or racist police controls are intensified, how does this affect the scope for action? How, in light of restrictions, is it possible to maintain and build on solidarity structures against gentrification, discrimination, and isolation? Are current levers set into motion by political and economic interests aligned with processes of privatisation, economisation and financialisation already at work in the 1990s or earlier? Could looking towards the end of state socialism and the system change to capitalism help to better understand such processes? Has neoliberalism changed hearts and minds?


Friday, 14 August 2020
Online event
Welcome and introduction (de*)
Two short lectures & discussion (de)
»Policing of Black lives and the conditions of abolitionist resistances« by Vanessa E. Thompson
»Function follows form: When the dream of equality is dreamt out« by Orhan Esen

Saturday, 15 August 2020
Workshop »Right to the City – Space for All« (de) with Initiative Hermannplatz (local grassroots organisation)
(NEW:) Input »Take it down and turn it inside out!« (en) with Coalition of Cultural Workers against the Humboldt Forum
Input »Ban Racial Profiling!« (de/fr) with KOP Berlin (Campaign for victims of racist police violence)
Concluding discussion (de/fr)

Video Program »Space Ideologies« with D’EST (Ulrike Gerhardt & Daria Iuriichuk)
Video works and film excerpts by Anna Engelhardt, A.S.S. Collective (Mizu Sugai & Jonathan Jung), Senka Domanović, Ruthia Jenrbekova & Flo Kasearu
Followed by a discussion with A.S.S. Collective (de)

Sunday, 16 August 2020, 14:00–17:00
Kieztour »Oh-Straße! How To Sell Your City: A Guided Tour« (de) with Anonyme Anwohnende

[Detailed programme > see PDF »Programme SOFT SOIL II en«]

Solidarities in the city under pressure

27-29 November 2020
At the beginning of 2020, SOFT SOIL began with the statement »There’s no such thing as a city for all (yet)«. The series of events investigated enduring power imbalances relating to urban struggles: a non-German-sounding surname leads to difficulties in the search for a flat; exorbitant rents displace those who earn less; everyday racism and racist police controls exclude; self-organised spaces are ousted – when they resist, with police violence. The ›public‹ is policed (Vanessa E. Thompson), while the spaces created for this public become ever-more exclusive.
Public-Private-Partnerships are common under neoliberalism. They come into being when publicly funded institutions create long-term contracts with the private sector. The so-called ›common good‹ must yield profit. Conversely, the private sector wins influence in urban decision-making processes.
In the third event block, the following questions are opened: Which understandings of democratic practice are currently predominant? How do the philanthropic desires and neo-colonial/neo-imperialist fantasies of a rich minority shape urban spaces? How might a gentrification-resistant and decolonial city be conceived in solidarity? Which structures do refugee women* build among themselves? When does private property have priority over coexistence in solidarity, the needs of the Kiez, and neighbourhood structures?


Friday, 27 November 2020, 19:00–21:00
»Wir – Gespräche zum demokratischen Alltag in Berlin [We – Conversations on democracy and everyday life in Berlin]« (de*)
Reading with Eva Löbau & Asad Schwarz-Msesilamba basierend based on interviews by Sonya Schönberger with a.o. Jennifer Kamau, Josephine Apraku, Katalin Gennburg, Gülcan Nitsch, Till Egen, Christian Herwartz, Hans-Christian Ströbele, Niloufar Tajeri

Saturday, 28 November 2020

»Zur Dekolonialisierung des Städtischen / On decolonising urban space« (de/en)
with No Humboldt 21!, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland ISD, Berlin Postkolonial, AFROTAK TV cyberNomads & Coalition of Cultural Workers against the Humboldt Forum
»Corona Lager Reports« (en)
Listening session, discussion with Break Isolation Group, International Women* Space

Sunday, 29 November 2020, 13:00–15:00
»Haus verkauft! Oranienstraße 25 und damit verbundene Kämpfe« (de)
with a.o. AK Standort/O-straße der nGbK

[Detailed programme > see PDF »Programme SOFT SOIL III en«]

March 2021
Poster action
: a summary of the series of events in 2020. The quotes are from the Berlin contributors to the series:
AK Standort/O-Straße, AFROTAK TV cyberNomads, Anonyme Anwohnende, Berlin Postkolonial, Break Isolation Group, Orhan Esen, Vanessa E. Thompson, International Women* Space, Bucht für alle!, CCWAH - Coalition of Cultural Workers Against the Humboldt Forum, Corasol, Lause lebt e.V., liebig34, Initiative Hermannplatz, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, Kein Generalverdacht, OraNostra, Kollektiv Syndikat, Kunstblock & beyond, Solidarity City Berlin, Berlin Tech Workers Coalition, Zwangsräumung verhindern