Urbanautica – Searching for Habitable Spaces

The history of the East Ukrainian metropolis Dnipropetrovsk is a history of cosmonautics, a close relation that continues to influence the development of the cityscape to this very day. Dnipropetrovsk was known as the ‘rocket city’ during the Soviet era. The third-largest city in Ukraine underwent numerous changes during the Orange Revolution and the recent turmoil. Nowadays, the city is one of the most important industrial areas in the country and is the centre of space-related research.

The team of URBANAUTICA was not able to join in on defining new future visions about outer space, settling on new planets, or finding new living environments; instead, it limited itself to exploring the city and its local urban culture.

The URBANAUTICA project invited twenty local actors, including artists, architects, historians, and cultural workers, to conduct research on public space and on current challenges in dealing with the post-Soviet urban heritage. Several workshops gave participants the opportunity to develop common artistic projects and temporary installations with the aim of revitalizing urban space and reflecting on contemporary everyday life: stories of homeless people could be heard in an installation in the city centre; students from abroad, most of them originally from Caucasus region, were portrayed; a new skate part was realized according to the needs of the local street-art community; an exhibition of independent contemporary art was shown in the backyard of the National Museum of Art and was also made visible in the official exhibition space.

Five members of the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers and TANDEM UKRAINE Network shared their theoretical knowledge and their experiences in working with public space and they introduced the participants to contemporary methods and approaches. In addition, the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers presented their own projects and practices in public lectures and took special city tours to learn more about the city.

The project URBANAUTICA was part of the urban development program ‘100 Ideas for Urban Space’, which was initiated by artists, architects, and NGOs in Dnipropetrovsk in 2012. The program aims to cultivate new visions, perspectives, and possibilities for action in public space and common life in the city, and it supports the work of local initiatives in Eastern Ukraine. After the conclusion of URBANAUTICA, some of the project’s participants from Dnipropetrovsk travelled to Berlin in order to exchange with urban actors from Germany.

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