Paula Hildebrandt

Welcome City

“The first rule on the stage of the city:
always create the impression to be on the move to a very particular place.“

Massimo Carlotto, The Refugee (1994)

The promise of the city has not lost its appeal, on the contrary. Ever more people are on the move to make it in the city. Due to changing patterns of global mobility and migration contemporary cities are characterized by an increasing social diversity and polarization, often leading to cultural and political conflicts; nevertheless brightened by excitement and expectations for a better life. Welcome, Benvenuto, Merhaba, Powitanie. What constitutes a contemporary practice of hospitality under circumstances where many people, and not just refugees, inhabit multiple worlds and modes of citizenship, loyalty, and belonging cannot be grasped through a primary focus on the nation anymore (to the extend that they ever could)?

The aim of the project Welcome City is to explore the secret, mostly unspoken rules for living, visiting and settling in a new city – the hidden protocols that you’re supposed to know or which you didn’t even know exist. Which skills and (tacit) knowledge is necessary to be considered as and act as a citizen? Who are the brokers, the middlewomen and gatekeepers, and what is their role within the vast, often invisible and intricate web of communication and connections that gird urban communities? How can aesthetic means as investigative tools affect political and legal processes? Is it sometimes – opposed to the logics of mobilization and protest – more effective to disguise and disappear in order to gain visibility and agency? The project, in other words, offers an opportunity to practically experiment with and reflect upon the relation between representation and deliberation, artistic expression and political action, self-invention and societal expectations involved in doing – artistic, collaborative, performative, ethnographic, qualitative and sociological – research.

For more information check out the website of The Welcome City Group: