Analysis ///

Shrinking Citities in Germany, England, USA and Russia

Since 2002, four local interdisciplinary teams study and document urban shrinking processes in the urban regions of Detroit (USA), Manchester/Liverpool (Britain), Ivanovo (Russia), and Halle/Leipzig (Germany). Each site stands as an example of a specific form of shrinking: In Detroit, the issue is the consequences of suburbanization; in Manchester/Liverpool, of deindustralization; in Ivanavo, of postsocialism; and in the greater Halle/Leipzig region, several of these factors are compounded. People from various disciplines, including urban geographers, cultural experts, architects, journalists, and artists, take part in the work.

The results of the first project phase (the international study) are documented in a catalogue and an exhibition Shrinking Cities - International Study, which was shown in September 2004 at the KW - Institute For Contemporary Art (formerly: Kunst-Werke) in Berlin.

The exhibition Shrinking Cities aimed to confront a broad audience with the topic by displaying the changed cultural reality in shrinking cities. Artists, architects, filmmakers, graphic artists, journalists, and cultural and social scientists have developed more than 60 works for the project. The themes the teams are dealing with ranged from the neglect and appropriation of spaces, through changed practices of daily life, survival strategies, and new forms of work, to the development of innovative subcultures and criticism of existing planning cultures. Public interest in the exhibition was great: in excess of 18,000 people came to the KW Institute for Contemporary Art between September and November 2004; 3,400 guests partook in the more than 40 adjunct events (Shrinking Cities Film, Shrinking Cities Musik, Shrinking Cities Literatur, etc.). The exhibition was also met with great interest internationally. Press reports appeared among other places in the USA, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria and Switzerland (New York Times, Newsweek, L`espresso, etc.).

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