The Paris Commune of 1871 is regarded as a turning point in history which heralded the central questions of the 20th century of how to improve the social order. The uprising against the French government by a revolutionary Parisian city councilman aimed to reshape Paris in line with socialist ideology. In the years that followed, the Commune served as a role model for Kurt Eisner’s council democracy in Munich and the communist ideal of a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The Paris Commune has fascinated generations of artists of all genres ever since.
Now 150 years since its establishment, the Forum Freies Theater (FFT) in Düsseldorf interprets the Paris Commune as an experiment for new forms of urban democracy. In a multidisciplinary project, in which artistic forms and media, e.g. photography, performances, and music are combined with urbanism and activism in a 73-day laboratory, the organisers plan to revisit the lessons of the Paris Commune to shed light on the current malaise in such cities as Athens, Barcelona, Cairo and Hong Kong. According to the premise of Place Internationale, the unrest in these cities is often the result of unfulfilled promises of self-determination, municipalism and the “right to one’s city”, as was the case long ago in Paris.
In 2021 the FFT Düsseldorf will move into its new premises at the former general post office, which together with the central library and the Theatre Museum, will become a major cultural centre located close to the main train station. Place Internationale sees the move as an opportunity to question the future role of these institutions for urban democracy. To this end, a group of some 30 international artists, theorists and activists will test various artistic-social practices of self-determination and self-empowerment (commoning) with an open university, an artistic space of knowledge and a festival atmosphere. The doors will be open to the public 24 hours a day at no cost. The aim is to jointly present a possible model of an urban cultural organisation which projects the ideas of the Paris Commune onto current social circumstances and sustainably alters cultural institutions by means of a radical democratisation.
Project managers: Jochen Becker, Jan Lemitz, Klaus Ronneberger, Kathrin Tiedemann
Participants: Claudia Bosse, Monika Gintersdorfer/Klaßen, Arno Gisinger, Bouchra Khalili, Aernout Mik, Gerald Raunig, Christoph Schäfer, Christoph Schmidt, Urban Subjects and others
1 May, 2022 to 29 May, 2022: Finale of the Artistic Laboratory "Place Internationale"
6 October, 2021 to 10 October, 2021: Continuation of the Project
urbanize Festival, Vienna
3 September, 2021 to 2 October, 2021: Opening of the Artistic Laboratory "Place Internationale"
Planwerkstatt 378 and other locations, Düsseldorf
Forum Freies Theater e.V. (FFT)