BITTER THINGS is a research-based exhibition project by bi’bak that explores the impact of labour migration on the notion of motherhood and family from the perspectives of women migrant workers and their children left behind. The installation takes experiences of transnational families from both past and present as a point of departure, bringing narratives together with objects that play a central role within the families.
Labour migration is worldwide creating new models of the transnational family, which despite geographical distances strives to maintain contact between the separated family members. In the time of the recruitment agreements in the 1960s, many parents were forced to leave their children behind since working hours were too demanding to make childcare on the side possible. Today, it is predominantly migrant workers from Eastern Europe, who have to leave their families to earn a living in wealthier countries. Turkey, as a former country of emigration, has in turn become a destination for many workers, especially in the care sector, from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or the Central Asian region.
Yet, how is the relationship between parents and children to be redefined whenever gifts and material support take the place of shared experience? When physical closeness has to take second place to communication programmes like Skype and WhatsApp? How does this changing family landscape impact children and their parents? BITTER THINGS retraces positions on this topic from the 1960s right up to present day perspectives.
Accompanying the exhibition is a publication with academic and literary contributions, interviews, songtexts and images examining the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives. After exhibiting in Istanbul, Berlin and Cologne, kitev has now invited BITTER THINGS to Oberhausen. Alongside the exhibition, a side programme with films and panel discussions will be held in Oberhaus.

Kitev, Oberhaus, Oberhausen: 03.05.2019 - 30.06.2019

Ausstellungsort / Location: kitev / Oberhaus, Friedrich-Karl-Straße 4, 46045 Oberhausen
Eröffnung / Opening: 03.05.2019 um 19:00 Uhr
Ausstellungsdauer / Exhibition: 04.05.2019 - 30.06.2019
Öffnungszeiten / Opening hours: Mo geschlossen, Di, Mi, So 11-18 Uhr, Do, Fr, Sa 11-20 Uhr
Konzept und Künstlerische Leitung / Concept and Artistic Direction: Malve Lippmann, Can Sungu
Ausstellungsdesign / Exhibition Design: Malve Lippmann
Redaktion, Forschung / Editing, Research: Maike Suhr
Projektassistenz / Project Assistants: Megan Black, Zeynep Dişbudak, Esra Akkaya
Grafikdesign / Graphic Design: Jan Grygoriew
Öffentlichkeitsarbeit / Communication Coordinator: Selim Özadar
Kontakt / Contact:
bi’bak, Prinzenallee 59, 13359 Berlin
Ein Projekt von / A project by bi’bak in Kooperation mit / in cooperation with kitev (Oberhausen), Archive books (Berlin), DEPO (Istanbul) und / and DOMiD – Museum und Dokumentationszentrum für die Migration in Deutschland (Köln).
Gefördert durch / Funded by: Urbane Künste Ruhr, Stiftung Kultur und Bildung der Stadtsparkasse Oberhausen und Vonovia SE
bi’bak (Türkisch: Schau mal) ist ein Kollektiv und Projektraum mit Sitz in Berlin, mit einem Fokus auf transnationale Narrative, Migration, globale Mobilität und ihre ästhetischen Dimensionen. Das interdisziplinäre Programm von bi'bak bewegt sich an der Schnittstelle von Kunst, Wissenschaft und Gemeinschaft und umfasst Filmvorführungen, Ausstellungen, Workshops sowie Musikveranstaltungen und kulinarische Exkursionen.
bi’bak (Turkish: have a look) is a non-profit organization and project space based in Berlin, with a focus on transnational narratives, migration, global mobility and their aesthetic dimensions. bi’bak’s programme examines diverse disciplines in art, academics, and community development, including film screenings, exhibitions, workshops as well as music events and culinary excursions.

Freitag, 03.05.2019 um 19 Uhr im Oberhaus


BITTER THINGS - Narrative und Erinnerungen transnationaler Familien

Grußworte / Welcome kitev
Einführung / Introduction by bi’bak
Imbiss und Getränke / Snacks and Drinks

Freitag, 03.05.2019 um 20 Uhr im Oberhaus


Loin du 16ème | Far from the 16th, Daniela Thomas, Frankreich 2006, 5 min.
Calea Dunării | The Course of the Danube, Sabin Dorohoi, Rumänien 2013, 13 min. OmeU
媽媽離家上班去 | Homecoming, Kwok Zune, Hong Kong 2009, 30 min. OmeU
Hasta Bakıcı | Abigail, Soner Sert, Türkei 2017, 17 min. OmeU
Kot Farkı | Ground Level, Ayris Alptekin, Türkei 2016, 11 Min. OmeU

The short film programme focuses on the living and working conditions of women migrant workers in very different countries and discusses the difficult circumstances in which women seek to gain a future for their children left behind in their countries of origin. Loin du 16ème / Far from the 16th shows a Spanish immigrant in Paris who gives her own baby to a daycare early in the morning to look after the baby of a rich family for her job. A ten-year-old boy follows the Calea Dunării / The Course of the Danube from Romania to Vienna to find his parents. The nanny Charlie, after years of work in Hong Kong, is preparing for the long-awaited Homecoming to her son, but suddenly unexpected problems arise. Hasta Bakıcı / Abigail and Kot Farkı / Ground Level address the everyday work of care-givers in Istanbul.



A glimpse into the day OBERHAUS rooftop got his illuminated lettering! We stand for tolerance and respect, for solidarity and cohesion. In this sense, Glück auf!



New friends, old acquaintances and good food from the Refugees` Kitchen!
Why not looking back in the middle of the year? In the last half year a lot has happened and the summer heat invites you to move as little as possible and let the thoughts drift, to all the beautiful moments and actions.
The extremely gray beginning of the year invited to a cozy and homely get-together. How good that the young, committed political groups of Unterhaus gave enough reason to do so. Whether joint reading and discussion rounds of the Oberhausener Falken, the "Linke Kneipenabend" of the Antifa Oberhausen in musically underlined atmosphere (every third Friday of the month starting at 7pm) or the game night Ludomania. In addition to these well-attended events, there were always a few extra events, often with a critical background and a person from the subject, who gave insights into topics such as the major Islamic organizations in Germany and their political orientation or glyphosate and its effects on nature and especially the insect world. For the hungry visitors, a vegan-vegetarian meal was often offered for a small contribution and chilled drinks are never lacking in the Unterhaus. We hope that in the future many more visitors enjoy the nice atmosphere of this extraordinary cultural and political location on the ground floor of the Oberhaus and we are looking forward to meet new people, who would like to participate in the planning and further development of the concept.
In the spring and the first warm days we took care of the further development of the Unterhaus. The kitchen has been renovated! Above all, Raymond, Ahmad and the Refugees' Kitchen Team have been working hard to bring a top-functional and beautiful kitchen to the lower house.
And it has been used right away quite intensively by celebrating Ramadan and especially the daily end of the fasting Iftar for one whole month as part of the intercultural theater festival D.Ramadan of Theater Oberhausen. In the first few weeks Salma and her brother Imad, together with Ahmad prepared the break of fasting for the guests of D. Ramadan which they could enjoy as soon as it got dark. After having listened to a performance or a talk about religion and tradition, intercultural encounters and, of course, food, the guests were invited to dine at our buffet . Ahmad even had the opportunity to discuss the Refugees` Kitchen concept and questions about working conditions for refugees, his way to kitev and culinary specialties from his home country on the big stage.
In the second half we had Husam and his two sons Karim and Rami as chefs. With their personal family dishes and nice talks, they too have been able to inspire the guests. Many thanks to all the cooks, the open-minded audience and the theater Oberhausen for these beautiful evenings!
Husam and Rami have prepared another very special feast following this event series. The jury of Advocate Europe, a competition format that promotes civil society initiatives and projects to strengthen the democratic thought in Europe, gathered for 2 days at our premises in the tower. Kitev as alumni of the competition with the project Refugees for Cocreative Cities provided the perfect setting for the election of the new winners. After a wonderful dinner on the 5th floor of the tower, Husam and Rami set up the buffet for the second day directly on the Museumsbahnsteig. There was a lot to talk about and the future of Europe looks a bit rosier after these two days listening to their conversations.
Another big event for the Refugees` Kitchen was the symposium "Glückauf Nachbar - Modellquartier Integration", where we were able to use our truck-lady Elli and the true Refugees` Kitchen for the first time this year. After a little beauty treatment, we went to Zeche Zollverein, where we were able to introduce our concept to the guests of the symposium and, at the same time, treat them with Syrian specialties cooked by Ahmad, Imad and Meis. Great heat, the somewhat stubborn Elli and time pressure made the whole thing not that easy. But we got support: 20 students from Loyola Marymount University in L.A. had previously helped us with D.Ramadan and came right when we needed them.
During a stay in Germany lasting several weeks, the American students kept coming to our tower to familiarize themselves with our way of working and our ideas. Their study visit focused on "Marketing for Good", with charitable initiatives and projects as a model for marketing and design strategies. For example, a new Refugees Kitchen concept was developed for multi-day event formats such as the D.Ramadan Festival. In addition, a variety of small marketing concepts and product ideas where you can clearly see the kitev influence have been developed by the group. A selection of final products will soon be online.
Together with the troupe we had a great time at Zollverein and were happy about the many enthusiastic comments of the guests.
The final event before we enjoyed a small summer break was the Zukunftsstadt event on June 28th. In the future, an "Ideenfabrik" will be set up in a former supermarket in the center of Oberhausen, inviting citizens to actively participate in urban development and at the same time presenting new knowledge formats and visionary projects. Together with the three Erasmus students Petra, Zuzanna and Lenka, we created colorful Oberhausen visions that invite to have fun and serve as a model for the future of Oberhausen and in particular the Ober- and Unterhaus .
Because a lot will happen here in the next few months:
United in the project "Junges Engagement Unterhaus", the events and meetings of the lower Unterhaus will be increased again. Joint cooking evenings, discussions and (international) film screenings are intended to invite a wide audience to join in and linger. In a first step, however, we will first of all spice up the location a bit. Various prank, decoration and even gardening are on the plan! If you feel like getting involved, feel free to contact us by e-mail or send a message to the Unterhaus Facebook group.
Further projects in the coming months:
The workshop series Meine-Deine-Unser Heimat is ready to start. In 3 workshop formats, the discourse on homeland is redefined and taken out of the context of demarcation and national pride. For this purpose, both old-established OberhausenerInnen as well as refugees and new arrivals get the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with each other.
"Homeland as a concept whose definition varies according to the individual should be given a new mediating meaning in the context of intercultural understanding."
The prelude is "Critical Cooking" in cooperation with the Multi-Initiative Oberhausen, in which young people from 13 countries visit Oberhausens` young people, we'll cook a meal together and during this talk about cooking, nutrition and food and how those themes are connected to topics such as home, customs, similarities and differences encountered.
Another novelty is the collaboration with Sina Ebell, who accompanies us for half a year and works on a very special project. More about this soon!
We thank all participants, who have made this year so far very exciting and wonderful!

It´s done!
After a long time of planning and some applications for support later, the kitchen in the „Unterhaus“ finally received its makeover. To get the whole process started we had to begin right at the bottom of it: the floor. The old PVC flooring needed to get replaced by new and robust tiles after a layer of screed was laminated in the first place. Therefore was patience the word of the hour. Of course during the drying phase, entering the kitchen was not possible and so only the waiting and watching the mass to get dry remained.
As soon as this had happened, the work continued immediately. The tiles were laid. Again, a task that could not be done quickly. So checking the time became quite superfluous and inserted one or the other night shift. On the next day, the brushes were used and the walls got a new coat of paint. The creative "splash pattern" gave way to a neutral white. But we did not want to part completely from this wild time of the beginning. A single commemorative strip now reminds of the old charm.
At the end, of course, was the time for the decorative finish. The wall tile line above the worktop in the kitchen has now been extended by a harmonious pattern mix. As soon as the last tile was set, the long-awaited new kitchen appliances finally arrived in the „Unterhaus“. By looking at the six-burner gas stove, many professional chefs would likely get tears of envy in their eyes. Our colleague Ahmad can hardly wait for the new equipment to be in use. This will already be the case in the coming days, when it´s time for d.ramadan! Because there the Refugees' Kitchen supports the great program by the Theater Oberhausen on 23 days with an evening of breaking the act of fasting.


Last Friday we spent a marvellous evening in the Unterhaus! There have met 15 people who have never seen each other before to handle the big questions of Europe. What means Europe to you? Do you feel as european? And how big is your willingness for solidarity? These and many other questions challenged everyone to prove own opinions, of the confederates and dissidents. So it happens that all the big topics have been mentioned as part of the game and created alliances, quashed and reactivated them. A great concept developed by the heads of Rimini Protokoll called #HausbesuchEuropa. It was our great pleasure to be host of this amazing production!
Friday was just the be continued on december the 14th in the Water tower. We can´t wait...
the newspaper online in german:
Beauty for free
When entering the building you can not avoid the piles of advertising folders that the distributors did not even care to stick into the individual mailboxes. Students started researching the qualities of these packages of printed sheets of paper wrapped in plastic. When rolled up (cleaverly held together with rings of rubber cut from old bicycle tire a local shop donated) these packages turned out to be a buidling material with unexpected potentials. Within the easy-to-fill frames the students developed, these folders can create message boards for instance and even are suitable to use for building seats, bookshelves and tables. The piles of printed matter that are thrown into the hallway of the building every week provide unexpected possibilities to create useful and even beautiful 'services'.
(a project by: janneke -lucinda-daniele-hande-adriel with thanks to: Saleh - Moayad - Omar - Achmad - Simon - Merve - Erdem and Yamina)

Precious garbage cabinet
Not only in the hallway but throughout the whole building you can find rubbish that inhabitants have carelessly thrown away. In the midst of that waste students have found materials that deserve a second life. They found dumped computers, televisionscreens, toys and waste magazines for instance that could be easily repaired, cleaned and re-used by someone else than the person that got rid of it. This reuse starts with the revaluation of the dumped items, to change the perspective on garbage. To start that perspective-change students build a cabinet from thrown away window frames (only the screws were bought) in that they carefully placed the reusable items they have found. Where possible the items were personalized by including their history, the story of their past life with previous users. Suddenly these items look precious, and shining in the glass cabinets, they radiate value instead of worthlessness. The cabinet is a 'swop-shop' that revaluates the garbage and links these to a new future. By being aware of the stories of these items, the reusers are connected to the former users and their histories.
(a project by: jack-i chieh-hangpin with thanks to: Saleh - Moayad - Omar - Achmad - Simon - Merve - Erdem and Yamina)

Playful guestroom
With their Oberhaus project kitev initiated an artistic approach to upgrade a neglected building near the Oberhausen train station and improve the housing situation in the city quarter. The project focuses on fostering the intercultural dialogue between current and future neighbours to create a better life. To enable the intercultural dialogue, kitev recently rented two of the apartments in the building. In future kitev plans to develop collective spaces in these apartments. But first the inhabitants, that can not at all be seen as a community, need to be invited, or even provoked to cooperate in the project. Together with the inhabitants kitev then is able to reveal the HEIMAT-potentials of the place and define necessary spatial changes to start a community. As an invitation to participate, in one of the apartments students developed a 'playful guestroom'. A space that can be used by the inhabitants to 'hang out' with guests.

Cool beans
The kitchen in the guestroom apartment does not have to provide possibilities to cook for large families everyday. Apart from preparing an occasional cup of tea or sandwich, this kitchen offers possibilities for playful interventions. Students started developing a circuit of movement, sound and food through the otherwise barely furnished kitchen space. For that they used materials they found in the proximity of the building. Their installation joyfully celebrates the kitchen as a machine where one movement provokes the next. As an ultimate act of coincidence, the installation finally leads to the launch of a handful of beans onto the miniature 'suitcase-garden' they built on the small balcony connected to the apartment. There the beans land on fertile soil in a accidental order and can start growing.
(a project by: jaja-cam-zara with thanks to: Saleh - Moayad - Omar - Achmad - Simon - Merve - Erdem and Yamina)

Inside garden hang-out
Where you would undoubtedly expect to find the best re-usable materials at the numerous factories and waste processors in the Ruhr area, this project started in the cellar of the artist initiative kitev. There piles of thick rope were lying around after being purchased for an art project. Students took these ropes apart and started reconnecting, tying and even knitting with the material. Soon they shaped hammocks, a furniture typology you can find all over the world, that is both a practical aswell as a recreational way of hanging around in open air. From isolation materials they also found in kitevs cellars, students sew pockets for plants with that they recreated a hanging garden in the guest apartment. Thus completing a playful Inside garden hang-out in an area without an abundance of parks, collective gardens and other kinds of green public spaces. Inviting the inhabitants to relax, have fun and connect by playing in their own garden.
(a project by: jinaa-yungkung-laura-shin-lotti with thanks to: Saleh - Moayad - Omar - Achmad - Simon - Merve - Erdem and Yamina)

Invitation to start
The installation the students developed in cooperation with the participating inhabitants and architects from the Istanbul based collective 'Architecture for all' did not completely define and facilitate the collective spaces to create a community in the Oberhaus building as kitev intends. That would obviously be somewhat amitious for a four day student project. The interventions however undoubtedly contain the potentials of inviting the inhabitants to participate, to provoke through that new connections between them and to enable the coming of existence of a new community in Oberhausen. (Oberhausen september 7 2017)

#1-2: Christoph Stark, #3-6: Gerd Wallhorn, #7-14: Jan Körbes
During the first week of september INSIDE students worked in the Ruhr area in Germany. In a high-rise building at the central station in Oberhausen: 12 floors, 82 apartments. Since many years that building is known as «the problem-house» in the already tenuous area of the old city centre. That image is even worse. The number of vacantness and the fluctuation were extremely high. Now many refugees have moved into the apartments of the high-rise. With kitev, (culture in the tower), the laboratory for unusual interventions and resident in the watertower of Oberhausen's central train station, that situation sparked the idea 'Oberhaus' and led to the Project Refugees for Co-Creative Cities. As a contribution to this project INSIDE students, guided by Jan Körbes from REFUNC, harvested materials in the direct environment of The Oberhaus and designed four collective 'services' in the building together with inhabitants. These new collective spaces will support these inhabitants that to a great extent have a refugee background, to create a stronger 'sense of belonging' in their new Heimat. Now that the big housing challenge after a lot of refugees have entered Europe in 2015-2016 is solved, the next challenge is to incorporate and make these newcomers feel part of the european society.

- 16 master students from INSIDE (Royal Academy of Art The Hague):
Jack Bardwell - Lotti Gostič - Hande Öğün - Hangping Yang - Adriel Quiroz Silva - Laura Frias Munoz del Cerro - Huaxin Zhang - Yunkyung Lee - Daniele Valentino - I-Chieh Liu - Zara Bennett - Jinaa Baek - Janneke Derksen - Shinyoung Kang - Pichaya Puapoomcharoen - Yuan-Chun Liu
- residents and neighbours: Mohammad - Saleh Jumaa - Moayad Nadaf - Omar Sheko - Endurance Osayi
- 'Herkes İçin Mimarlık' (architecture for all), Istanbul - Merve Gül Özokcu - Erdem Üngür -
- Netzwerk Immigra, Duiburg - Fatima Caliskan -
- REFUNC, Rotterdam/Berlin - Jan Körbes - Yamina Baumgartner
- kitev, Oberhausen - Agnieszka Wnuczak - Christoph Stark - Stefan Schroer - Gesina Rath - Simon Mellnich - Ahmad Abbas -
- INSIDE, The Hague, - Hans Venhuizen - Erik Jutten - Lotte van den Berg -

#1-7: Christoph Stark #8-11: Jan Körbes #12-14 Merve Gül Özokcu
Dirty reality
At first entry the students could not help to be somewhat shocked by the garbage in the hallway, the dirt on the floor and the walls and the unpleasent smell in the collective spaces of the Oberhaus. The building was clearly not well maintained by the inhabitants. This turned out to be a signal for the lack of collectivity in the building. The Oberhaus is a 'halfway house' a place people come with no other housing options. The inhabitants hardly have relationships or even contact with eachother. Their main ambition seems to be to move out again as soon as possible.

The first thing the participants of the workshop did was to buy cleaning products and firmly brush the hallway of the building. That action sparked two ideas for redirecting the neverending flow of garbage in the building in a positive direction.
#1-4 (c) Hans Venhuizen #5 (c) Merve Gül Özokcu
The Oberhaus is an initiative by the Oberhausen based artists group kitev to develop an artistic approach to upgrade a neglected building near the Oberhausen train station. It focuses on fostering the intercultural dialogue between current and future neighbours to create a better life. INSIDE students participated in the project by designing and realising four collective 'services' with materials they harvested in the direct environment of The Oberhaus. These new collective 'services' support the inhabitants that mostly have a refugee background, to create a stronger 'sense of belonging' in their new Heimat.

In its curriculum, INSIDE emphasises the cultural and social challenges in interior architecture and places its thematic focus on socially relevant spatial assignments. INSIDE students use their position to shape the relation between the space that relates most directly to people and the world that surrounds them. In reality, designed spaces, from apartment buildings to public spaces, do not always spontaneously function the way the initiators intended. Due to unexpected changes in the use or users of the specific space, or the circumstances around it, spaces can lose their original integrity and get corrupted. This year various INSIDE programmes research the qualities, or the lack of qualities of corrupted space. INSIDE aims at taking the 'dirty reality' of the built environment as a point of departure for designing spatial change. The basic assumption is that especially in adapting the built environment to its real circumstances, a society can show her unique strength and creativity.

Foto: Gerd Wallhorn
The summer is over, but the nights are still sleepless!
Fort the cultural night "Schlaflos in Oberhausen" we invited "Jazzpiya". Kurdish and local musicians, living here since many years in exile are combining traditional Kirmanci music with western modern jazz, reggae and folk. The songs of the songwriter Necati Teyhani are about desire for the lost home country.
Super nice! Oberhaus is on the shortlist for the NICE award 2017!

The annual award aims to promote innovations from the cultural and creative sectors, especially those that spill over into the wider economy and society. The theme of this year is "Creating an Inclusive World – A Call for Transformative Innovations"

More and more architecture isn’t seen as a solely functional object, furthermore, the role is shifting towards participative and collaborative city development process. In our understanding collaboration in architecture goes far beyond discussion. The diverse stories, wishes, needs, experiences and expectations are mostly not reflected in plans and sections but need a careful consideration. Real access to and identification with the society, begins when responsibility for the common enviroment are redistributed and everyone can contribute with her expertise and experience.

The final decision about the award will be announced in September. Nevertheless, in representation of all those, who were taking part in all the smaller and bigger steps, we’re already proud for being nominated!



written by: Marcela Ceballos

Last week, I visited Oberhausen for the first time. Full of expectations, I arrived at the city which I got to know because of a cultural project that, for a decade, has been actively creating and reflecting on the transformation of the community: Kitev. My name is Marcela and I came from Colombia to live in Germany last year. I studied Industrial Design and Cultural Management in my country and I am currently making a master program in Dessau-Rosslau called Design Research. Nowadays I am dedicating my time to investigate proposals led by designers, artists or architects that are reframing the way we are conceiving immigration and cultural integration, and therefore, rethinking the ways we are living and building our realities together.

I came to Oberhausen basically guided by my curiosity and the possibility to get to know two projects for my research, both coordinated by Kitev. My itinerary: I was going to watch the projection of an Italian movie in Das Oberhaus with different members of the community, as well as taking a look at the work of Refugees’ Kitchen that was offering delicious food to all the people who wanted to come. I was supposed to leave the same day after the event, but I stayed. And I stayed because the processes that I got to see represent, to my opinion, well- focused achievements regarding intercultural projects. I also stayed because some barriers that I didn’t even imagine I had started to gradually decrease while the time was passing. And I wanted a deeper understanding. Suddenly, I found myself in a very international atmosphere, sharing stories, food, and points of view with very interesting new people.

It might sound that there is nothing new on bringing people together. And maybe there isn’t. But the thing here is not necessarily the novelty, but the possibility of establishing a clear ground for this encounters to happen in the most natural way, as well as offering platforms for interchange and the exploration of creative skills: not an easy task. As a designer, I am convinced there are plenty of potentials for designers, artists and architects to be involved in the generation of such platforms. In the Kitev cases, these platforms take the shape of an itinerant kitchen and that of a cultural center in a very special high-riser building, but the possibilities that go beyond the shape are unimaginable. This is possible if we can understand our role in the facilitation of cultural interactions and in the creation of spaces for collaboration and empathy generation.

I also believe that cultural integration is a matter that concerns us all because it can reshape values in our societies and in the way we relate as human beings. Of course, it is one of the mainstream topics of the governments’ agendas these days, and it should be. But while the big scale, massive solutions are being discussed, more local orientations need to be developed in order to tackle everyday life situations that cannot be detected in bigger measures. Then, it is particularly beautiful to see how people from different backgrounds and nationalities gather together to reassess a situation that represents a problem for many, but that they are assuming as an opportunity to build more tolerant and diverse environments. And that is what I saw and loved about Oberhausen: there is a community taking care of their future and in their co-existence.


It is just a week ago that film-interested folks were gathering in the Friedrich-Karl Street. Because kitev and the office for interculture of the city of Oberhausen invited last Tuesday to the Oberhaus where its abandoned ground floor turned into a small cinema. An Italian film named «Circo Togni» was shown.

A beautiful film which shows private footage of the Italian circus family Togni starting in the 40s until the late 70s, supported by atmospheric sounds from a trio playing the electric guitar, Djoze-Kneevioline, clarinet and saxophone. Discovered and restored was the footage by the Archivio Nazionale del Film di Famiglia in Bologna. Every question by the audience could be asked directly afterwards to the head of the archive and the conservator themselves who didn´t hesitate to make the trip to Oberhausen.

Many citizens of Oberhausen and several international guests thought so too and didn´t miss the chance to enjoy a wonderful evening which has reached all senses. The team of the refugees´ kitchen created a tasty Arabic/Italian Anti-Pasti-Buffet, a juggler was spinning bowling pins in the evening skyline of Oberhausen and the warm summer breeze let everyone celebrate their glass of Italian red wine.

As colourful, international and tolerant as a circus is, so was spreading this art of living among the guests on this evening. We have to say thank you to Geremia Carrara, the musician Alessandro Palmitessa, Interkultur Ruhr and the office for interculture in Oberhausen...... and be sure that we will always offer you a screen in Oberhausen!
Once more we gathered with our old friends from e Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg and also made new friends. They will be our guests from 18th to 25th of April.
Our chefs, this Time from Syria surprised us and our guests with a tasty orientalist dish. After one month of preparation, everybody is happy, laughing talking and sharing experiences and ideas. NOW it is the time to toast TO ALL THE CREATIVE CLASS AS WELL AS ENGAGED SOCIETY; CHEERS!
NOROOZ Mobarak, It is fascinating to know that 3000 years ago Persians were the first people to figure out that the earth rotates around the sun thus bring about the 4 seasons, hence NOROOZ (new day) begins on the first day of SPRING. approximately 190 million people celebrate Nowrooz. But the most interesting is the Nowrooz table, which is the center of the whole celebration and called "Haft Seen"  or seven essence which in Farsi language means seven S because seven is a lucky number in Iran.
First, one called "Sabzeh" each family grow something green and it represent rebirth, second is "Samanu" the suit brown pudding that represents new life of nature, third is "Seeb" and it represent health and beauty, the fourth one is "Senjed" the Sea-buckthorn and it represent love, the fifth one is "Seer" which translate to garlic in Persian and represents medicine and good health. sixth is "Somaq" a Persian spice represents sunrise and light coming from darkness and finally the seventh and last one which is "Serkeh" which translate to vinegar in Persian and it represents age and Patience. Preparing them all takes weeks and finishes with all the family and friends gathering together and starting the new year.
Happy Nowrooz to all of our friends who celebrate it.

Oberhaus is opening its door to more and more people. A group of students from the university of Duisburg-Essen is doing a research on Oberhaus through a Seminar course named "MAKING HEIMAT GERMANY, ARRIVAL COUNTRY - Refugees" A collaboration with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and Institute for City Planning and Urban Design.
After students did so many activities such as mapping the surrounding of Oberhaus, researching on principles of vulnerable societies' housing such as refugees and etc. It is time to go in and get to know the residence of Oberhaus and hear their stories.
Hands in, we help students to go in. why not a waffle session? sweets are always a nice idea to bring people together.

Everybody are excited, today is the day. Oberhaus residents together with interested residents of the region are coming to see the results of teamwork during this ten days. The city was sleeping last night when our friends were awake and working hard to set everything ready for today. Ten projects were built and made. Tonight Oberhausen won't sleep early, Oberhaus is filled with joy. from roof to ground floor.

U-Bahn Oberhausen

Urban legends contribute to the people’s perception of places. That’s why Aleksandr, Roman and Arsen decided to invent a legend for the high-rise. It will be a unique feature of the house. It does not need much to support this idea. Just tell your friends: “There is a new metro station in the house”.

Aleksandr Shevchenko – Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
Roman Sakh – Kiev, Ukraine
 and Arsen Vardanyan – Gyumri, Armenia

We are here

Mitya and Kate deal with the iconographic motif of conquest. Together with the residents and guests from Oberhausen, they symbolically occupy the Hoch- haus for one evening with all the means you need for a real squat. With this production they point to the symbolic meaning of historical documents that characterize our notion of history.
Mitya Chririkov – Kiev, Ukraine / Berlin, Germany
Kate Rusetska – Dnipro, Ukraine

Das Innen Leben

A projection on the outer walls of the high-rise shows scenes from the inside as if the walls of the building were removed. In their work Nikita and Maxim symbolically want to break through the walls that lead to marginalization in society. Have a glance and get into an open dialogue with the people.
Nikita Ovsiuk – Novosibirsk, Russia
Maxim Kuzmenko – Chișinău, Moldova

Wo gehörst du hin?

When you take a close look at your surroundings, you also recognize those things that are not obvious. Please take a postcard and send it to someone you like. Which card would you choose? Take part in a project about home and where you belong.
Zhan Pobe – Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Ekaterina Sharova – Arkhangelsk, Russia
Iryna Kats – Kremenchuk, Ukraine
In collaboration with: Anastassia Tamarovskaya – Krasnoyarsk, Russia and Ghaith Shahta – Oberhausen, Deutschland / Aleppo, Syria


Feel welcome at the reception desk and take a few minutes in the mini-lounge. The pop-up concierge service provides a moment of human interaction to everyone entering the building.
Iryna Yakovchuk – Kiev, Ukraine
Ara Nazinyan – Yerevan, Armenia
Elena Kropaneva – Ekaterinburg, Russia


Flags of different countries adorn the house. Flags which represent real, distant, fantastic and personal spaces. That creates connections and merge into one another.
Platon Silvestrov – Lviv, Ukraine / Köln, Germany
Rostislav Silvestrov – Köln, Germany


There are no secure bicycle parking facilities close to the Oberhaus. A bike cage is a low-cost storage solution that can be realised in multiple ways. Take a look, which options were found in the surroundings of the high-rise.
Vladimir Zlokazov – Ekaterinburg, Russia

Hyper Cubes

A light installation. The sides of the cube are connected to the interior of the staircase. Pass by and get an impression of the interfaces of three, perhaps even four dimensions in space.
Elena Titova – Ulyanovsk, Russia
Andrii Tuzhykov – Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Ruslan Sabirov – Kazan, Russia

Selfie im Aufzug

„Selfie in the Lift“ is an offer to all residents and guests of the house to establish a 30-second relationship. „Who are we?“ is the question asked. One response you can get as soon as the elevator door closes.
Elena Titova – Ulyanovsk, Russia
Andrii Tuzhykov – Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Ruslan Sabirov – Kazan, Russia

Shiny Toys

The audiovisual festival Shiny Toys from Mülheim transforms the vacancy on the ground floor of the Oberhaus with the installation „Explore sight and sound“.
LIVE: Tintin Patrone & Tim Huys, Nils Quak, Ray Vibration und Moogulator VISUALS: RaumZeitPiraten, Yochee/ 7dex I visuals & stuff
DJs: Tofuland, Einar Zuviel (Skribble Gebibble)

Fotos: © Руслан Альтимиров, Anastassia Tamarovskaya and Andrii Tuzhykov

What can be a better idea for our "Leerstand" than a Refugees' pop-up restaurant?
After their grand opening in the summer of this year and many exciting encounters, the Refugees' Kitchen was allowed to take a short winter break and open its camp inside the Oberhaus. The stove should still not stand still. In the vacant area of the Oberhaus, a kitchen was set up in the rear area and transformed into a pop-up restaurant.
Our Palestinian chef 'Feras' thinks he can have a great restaurant here again. An occasion soon followed. He and his colleague Ahmed from Syria cooked and served an oriental lunch and dinner daily during our 10-day Forum Regionum in December. Creative work makes you hungry. Our participants from the Eastern European countries were accordingly enthusiastic about this special kind of food. The joy was written in their faces and the good taste lay long in the memory.

From 9 to 18 December 2016, the pilot project Forum Regionum - a residence program for artists, architects, urban developers and actors of the civil society from Russia and the countries of the eastern partnership took place for the first time in the water tower of the Hbf and in the Hochhaus in Oberhausen. The aim of the 9-day forum is an intensive cooperation and the development of pop-up formats and interventions for abandoned or unused buildings and public spaces that can be transferred from the Oberhausen context to the home regions of the participants. The participants are also given the opportunity to get to know local initiatives and cultural institutions in Oberhausen and other cities in the Ruhr area that successfully implement sustainable projects for the development of urban art and culture.

Participants in the Forum Regionum are artists, civil society actors, cultural managers active in an NGO or public body, employees of municipal administrations, architects, city planners and designers who place their work and food points in an urban area beyond the capital cities of Armenia, Moldova , Russia, Ukraine and Germany. The participants are between 25 and 50 years old and come from Siberia, the Urals, the West and Central Caucasus, rural Armenia, Chisinau as well as from Berlin and Cologne. The urbanist and architect Urban Jeriha from the NGO Ipop (Institute for Spatial Policies) from Ljubljana and Matthias Einhoff - founder and artistic director of the Center for Art and Urbanism in Berlin - have been the mentors accompanying the forum.

The final presentation, exhibition and party of the forum took place on Saturday, 17.12.2016, from 6.00 pm in the Hochhaus Oberhausen, Friedrich-Karl-Straße 4, 46045 Oberhausen. In addition to the results of the forum, the audiovisual festival Shiny Toys (Mülheim) will be designing the "Saturday evening in the high-rise building" with the installation "Explore sight and sound" as well as visuals, DJs and music. Forum Regionum is organized by Agnieszka Wnuczak and Christoph Stark of kitev - Kultur im Turm e.V. (Oberhausen), the alumni of the Robert Bosch cultural management program Barbara Anna Bernsmeier, Kathrin Oerters and Cornelia Reichel in cooperation with MitOst e.V. (Berlin). The Forum is funded by the Federal Foreign Office in the context of the program "Enhancing cooperation with civil society in the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia".


Yes, we´re invited for dinner! Our neighbor Daniel invited us to a luxury Eritrean dinner. “ Bring your friends!” and so we did, there´s a lot of friends around us. After Fred also Andrea joined us, between blog articles and phone-calls with Italian mayors she is another good and clever soul in the house. She´ll be with us till our conference starts: “ With! Festive Workshop series for a Co-Creative society”.

A good meal tells a lot,also about the way things are called in different languages. Is it about inventing well-sounding names for dishes, or is it better to simply describe what´s in the plates? Is it impolite, or is it a sign of respect if everyone serves him/herself? Are we doing each other something good if we decide to take the expenses for the common meal as part of the project expenses, or is it an important gesture of community building if someone invites the rest of us as a private person and also covers all the expenses?

We are not only discovering new culinary worlds but also other ways to make an invitation. We question our habits but also offer them for everybodys´ pleasure. We are here together and we also beginning to cook in turn, and then to eat together at the square in front of the Oberhaus, exactly the way we dreamt about doing only a couple of weeks ago! Now we are dreaming the reality, a reality in constant evolution which we are also part of. We do not fear difficulties, we´re searching for them. We´re working on a new narrative, which is closer to our experiences and different from the one loudly echoing all around us.


Fred is here. Really. He does cabinet works and spreads good mood through the corridors. He builds up a woodcut print workshop in one of the empty flats. Suddenly there´s tools for producing images among all those people building furniture. That sounds poetic, and that´s how Fred´s like.

We´re so stunned by his views on what´s going on in the high-rise building and the possible perspectives he sees; They start to grow in our synapses, between the eyes and the brain. How much lightness can one feel around this place? We start imagining the building as a clumsy body or an aquarium. We see things flying around its balconies, things that also tell us something about the inhabitants´stories.

And that´s yet another way to bring lightheartedness to life. What is actually important? And which worlds are possible? While sleeping at night we dream these images into the Oberhaus.

And we shine them out on gently laughing faces in the corridors, when we wake up in the morning. Not everything is easy, but somehow everything works out well.


Here a short note: it´s really nice! The workshop grumbles. Every day we make a step forward in building the inner furniture for Refugees Kitchen.

And with the Kitchen, we also come closer to the building itself. We´re recycling pieces of our beginning with the Oberhaus, so that some furniture pieces now bearing the titles of the conference with StadtBauKultur. Meanwhile, new seats for the mobile kitchen originate: as a trained tailor Mohammed is sewing Elli´s new bench. Fabrics and wood, music and chats. And mutual support. It´s already long time the KFZ workshop is sitting on a brand-new office chair: told, brought, done.


It´s true, we love it to be around the building. We like it to walk into it, through it, out of it. We speak to the people, to participate in their daily life or to become part of it. One day we realize: the time has come to, not only work here but to also live there. Without further ado, Agnieszka and Christoph packed their bags, and, with their tent bound under the arm like two pioneers, they moved on to the seventh floor!

Of course, there´s still a lot of stuff missing. Firstly, a kitchen. What a luck to have the electronics shop in the same building. By the way, the rooms we are using actually once were their warehouse. In fact, it´s already past due to get to know them. We simply walk to the shop. While getting detailed advices, we explain our clues, our plans and our ideas. We also tell him that, first of all, we need a kitchen. For welcoming guests, and to let expand espresso smell float thought the corridors every morning.

It´s an extremely interesting encounter with the long time residents. We listen to their stories of the buildings´ many transformations. With all those different inhabitants passing by with the years, they seem to be telling the story of some little town. Going trough flourishing times, as well as through times of deep decay. We wonder if the building, as if it was seasons, has its own cycles of life. Somehow we do not believe that there can only be shiny pasts and dark shaded futures. And everything looks just like if something´s going to blossom soon. And yes, along with that we received the first visits! One that drops by regularly and everybody is always happy to see is Fred from Leipzig, he knows Oberhausen longer and participates in almost everything Kitev is doing. So now he´s in the Oberhaus and also rapidly moves into a flat. We´re curious about his feelings and we´ll keep you updated.


After moving into the store space, we slowly worked ourselves towards the upper floors. The first flat renovations start. We removed old carpets and wallpapers, thought about how to refurbish the small flats in order to create more living space. While working we walk though the corridors, we meet new friends, take and give assistance. We familiarize with the house, with its specialties, its smells, its light plays, its inhabitants and its habits.

We discover hidden existences, we stumble over the buildings´ old histories, little shields in the basement, glazings, traces of a dismissed waste disposal system, forgotten furniture pieces. From right to left, from the basement to the top. Oh, and don´t forget to work!


Oberhausen needs you. Yes, and we´re also part of Oberhausen. Our Refugees´Kitchen is growing and flourishing as a project of collaborative building. One workshop space alone could not host all of its complexity anymore. While looking for more space, we spontaneously decided to bring the creative mood into the Oberhaus. Those same rooms had once welcomed our theories about improvements for the building, were now hosting the reality entering. A new kind of workshop was finally there.

Here Hakim and Jaqueline are now working at the inner equipment for the mobile kitchen. Unexpected parallel functions: the neighborhood drops by in order to fix some of their furniture or, rather, to work together. Interested people drop by in order to ask for available flats, and some of the inhabitants wonder if there´s a new owners´ office, opening for providing help in word and deed. After few days there´s already people coming along regularly for a chat. By using this place, communicative people are infusing new life to the square in a totally unimagined way. The doors are open, the saw shrieks, people talk to each other while smoking a the door.

The small square all around the building is a special place in Oberhausen. It is continuously crossed by different people. A place of transition, that is now possibly becoming one to stay. Anyway, firs acquaintances happen and every evening we´ve got a few more ideas about how to use the space. This new livelihood should be preserved also after its functions as a workshop will be dismissed. Free University? A Café? Should it really become Vonovias´ new office? Or should it maybe stay a workshop, satisfying the inhabitants´ need to repair their homes? We think that the answer will reveal itself, maybe as a mixture of a lot of our ideas. A dialog between our proposals and those coming from the neighborhood. Transforming a “needing” in a “doing”, this could be the magical formula for a good start at the Oberhaus. And this one´s already done.


At Kitev, we had initiated the Workshop 4 “Hands on! Wir reparieren ein Hochhaus” in order to crowdsource visions and ideas for the high-rise apartment building that we have agreed to work with in the coming years. The owner company Vonovia has invited Kitev to start a gradual upgrading process, where the current and potential future residents of the house shall be co-creators both in planning the interventions and in carrying them out together with other collaborators. The renovation process will also be an experiment of community building and social integration, hopefully making a valuable contribution to the seminar’s main topic “More (than) living space” – or even a showcase of social integration through construction.

The workshop attracted an interesting mix of people: long-time Oberhausen residents and recent migrants, planning and housing professionals, artists and students from both close and far. First the people with the most knowledge about the past and current state of the building shared their views, to familiarize others with the state-of-the-art. Besides the challenges such as small flats that favour high fluctuation of residents and one-sided socio-economic structures, a number of opportunities were identified: e.g. low rents, great location and visibility in the city, positive feeling after the first encounters with the current tenants as well as a relatively good basic condition of the building. 

The workshop also took place in the targeted building, in a vacant shop premise of the ground floor. Most of the time was spent in three groups, envisioning the great future of the building and making a roadmap by naming concrete actions that are required to reach the vision in the coming five years: what can be done immediately and which bottlenecks have to be removed before being able to proceed with certain interventions. All agreed that the first priority is to start familiarizing with the current residents – e.g. to talk with the long-time anchor tenants and residents, to initiate a series of small gatherings to inform the tenants about the process, to gather knowledge about their priorities. What shall be avoided is a costly renovation process the results of which are not truly appreciated or are used only seldom.

A number of problems got at least tentative solutions already. If it was possible to lower the considerably high maintenance costs of the house (caused e.g. by the carelessness of some tenants), it could be possible to offer some benefits – a roof garden? – for the residents in return. One group envisaged how hiring certain residents as caretakers instead of outsourcing all building maintenance would keep the money “in the house” and gradually reduce the disinterest that some have in their apartment building. A related idea was to provide opportunities for work and apprenticeship inside the building by establishing a number of workshops either in the shop premises or vacant apartments. We were lucky to have representatives of the owner company (Vonovia) and the Job Center in the workshop.