From the editors
CULTURE IN A "FOREIGN" SPACE: AN INTRODUCTION
TO GENIUS LOCI KALININGRAD AND KOENIGSBERG
KALININGRAD IN THE YEAR 2020 - A NOT QUITE FICTITIOUS CONVERSATION
DESTINATION - KALININGRAD
FROM KALININGRAD DICTIONARY
MAP OF THE CITY
FORMA URBIS. SYMBOLIC PARALLELS
IN OR OUT
THE RAILWAY STATION AND ENTRANCE TO THE CITY OF KALININGRAD
BINARY STATES OF "K" CITY
Eugeny Umansky, Karpenko-Karpenko
IN THE CENTER
Andrei Monastyrsky, Sabina Haensgen
EMPTY CENTER K.
FOLLOWING SILENT WORDS
FA+ (Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre)
THE MYTHICAL FOUNDATION OF KALININGRAD
PRETERITION: KNEIPHOF ISLAND
THE BRIDGES AND "THE PREGEL'S ODOR"
John Craig Freeman, Greg Ulmer
IMAGING KALININGRAD: THE SEVEN BRIGES OF KOENIGSBERG
FORGOTTEN KANT AND THE KANT-BRAND IN KOENIGSBERG
KANT'S BRIDES: A READYMADE PHOTOGRAPHIC CHRONOTOPE
THE CATHEDRAL AND KANT FOR EVERYONE, OR IS GOD FEARSOME WITHOUT MORAL
THE CASTLE OF SOVIETS
THE ROYAL CASTLE
A WHITE SEAGULL ABOVE THE CITY: THE SYMBOLS OF THE OLD NEW CITY
WRITING OF DREAMS
LIGHT UP DOM SOVETOV
THE HOUSE OF SOVIETS
THE MOST PROFOUND SECRET OF ONE KOENIGSBERG LAWYER: HOFFMANN
A LEGEND ABOUT FIVE LITTLE ULRICHEN AND FERRYMAN ANDRE
KOENIGSBERG-KALININGRAD. THE TASTE OF MARZIPAN
THE COUNTRY OF PENSIONERS - OR THE GERMANS
CONCRETE ELEMENTS OF KALININGRAD
THE UNDREAMED OF CITY
TOWN PLANNING MATHEMATICS
MOSKOVSKII PROSPECT & THE SHADOWS AROUND ALTSTADT
OUR TOWER Ivan Chechot
THE TOWER-REDAN "KRONPRINZ"
THE KRONPRINZ TOWER. Projects for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts by Students of the Institute for Theory and Design in Architecture (Braunschweig, Germany)
THE AMBER ROOM
BASTIONS IN DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS
THE HOUSE OF MACHINERY: THE RECONSTRACTION AND EXPLOITATION OF THE POPULATION
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
PLACE OF EXECUTION
TRACES OF A VIRTUAL HISTORY IN A VERY REAL CITY
CHRIST THE SAVIOR CATHEDRAL
LIFE AND EGGS (A sketch about trams)
A STROLL THROUGH THE CENTER
IN THE FLOW: FOUNTAIN SEASON
WILD WEST OF RUSSIA
ANIMALS IN KALININGRAD AND A MOSAIC
KOENIGSBERG'S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE IN TONS, ITEMS AND SACKS. From the history of lost and found cultural heritage
WE ALL ARE GOING TO BE THERE
MONUMENT TO 1200 GUARDSMEN IN KALININGRAD
MATTER AND SPIRIT
FRAGMENT OF A SYMPHONY FOR SLOW READING: IVANOV AND HIS SURROUNDINGS
ATTIC OF RECOGNITION
MAN AND WOMAN
THE SMALL SCULPTURE "GIRL"
ON THE STREET
Igor Isaev, Dmitrii Demidenko
THE FIRE HYDRANT
Kalle Brolin, Kristina Muntzing
THE WATERFALL HERACLES' BOLT
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
NATASHA POTERYASHINA. Inteview
TO BE IN THE MOOD FOR PACKING
Dmitrii Bulatov, Pavel Savel'ev
ACEPHALUS: OPTICAL MODELS
LIGHT THE CRYSTALS OF KALININGRAD!
THE BRIDGE THAT THE "RUSSIANS COULDN'T PULL DOWN"
THE ROAD TO BERLIN: FROM EPIC TO BANAL. Interview with Valerii Bugrov
HOAR-STONES AND BOUNDARY SYMBOLS
MUSCOVITES ARE HANGING
BEFORE THE CITY
KALININGRAD IN THE YEAR 2020 - A NOT QUITE FICTITIOUS CONVERSATION
Wolfgang Eichwede / Bremen, Germany
Cafe Zarya, located on Peace Prospect, is youthful, chic, and trendy. It has the atmosphere of a Belle Epoque movie theatre, with large-format photos and mirrors on the walls. The waitresses are quick and nimble; they know their job perfectly. There is a constant hum of comings and goings. It is more of a place for private dates than a club for intellectuals. It is a part of everyday life, yet not without style, and reveals hints of urbanity in a city searching for itself. Like many a time before, I enjoy spending my evening here with a small group of friends.
Everybody's thoughts are centered on the city. What will Kaliningrad look like in the year 2020, what place in Europe will it occupy? By then, an entire generation will have passed since its opening to the West in 1991. Taking stock "at halftime", as it were, it is obvious that things aren't so bad; the changes from year to year are tangible. There can be no talk of standstill. Yet my friends gathered in this cafe - artists, historians, observers of life in Kaliningrad - hesitate to shrug off their doubts, while simultaneously refusing to give up hope. Olga remembers how in her childhood she used to play among the red brick ruins, which were of no use for the concrete tower-block apartments of the present. Later, when she was able to travel, she found traces of her home town in Berlin and felt at home in a city where she was in fact a stranger. It seems like a fairy tale: history as a view forward? She does not conceal her scepticism. While seeing the bricks as ambassadors, she knows perfectly well that many of the ruined walls and old houses continue to fall apart. Where dreams appear, rifts emerge as well. Olga wants to overcome foreignness at home and to motivate her fellow citizens to "ground" themselves in Kaliningrad: to accept history without any nostalgia, history as a "turning point" that provides the city an identity and a profile.
On the other hand Boris, who lives in Moscow, asks: Who are the movers and shakers in today's community, who can knuckle down to work, who displays initiative, who has capital to spend? In short, who has the will and the resources to make Kaliningrad catch up to the present? For him, taking the road via the past is tantamount to a detour. In his opinion, those Kaliningrad citizens who only moved here in the nineties and who constitute 20 percent of the present population have a prominent and driving role. It is no coincidence that a disproportionately large part of the new economic elite is recruited from these people, as they are without inhibitions and are not caught up in the history of the city's suffering. As different as the approaches of Olga and Boris may be, both want to change the city and give it a new dynamism, to open it to the world and to define it anew in a dialogue with Europe. For them, openness is the key.
There are, however, ideas opposed to Olga and Boris' concepts. Around the time of our conversation, a conference took place at the university on the subject of "War and Peace in Russian Culture." There was no lack of transfiguring, exalted praise of Holy Russia. It was as if the disputes of the 19th century between the "Slavophiles" and the "Westernizers" had been transposed to the new century, further exacerbated by the burning glass of the Cold War. Russian Orthodox Christianity wants to seal itself off from the temptations of a diabolical "Enlightenment." While such statements, aimed at confrontation with the West, may be far from representative for the city - as my interlocutors at Cafe Zarya assured me - they still have a platform.
Polarisation of the architectural and symbolic space of the city must, however, be taken more seriously. The Orthodox cathedral, its five golden domes towering above all historic buildings, was erected on Victory Square in time for the celebration of Kaliningrad's 750th anniversary. The old 14th century medieval cathedral appears fragile in comparison to this mighty edifice of post-communist Russia. Kaliningrad has a new symbol, which as yet does not fit into the cityscape of pre-war and Soviet times. The concrete tower-blocks still need to get used to the new magnificence. Perhaps the Lenin monument, once it is back in its usual place between the mayor's office and the cathedral, will help bring together the different epochs of the 20th century.
History is prone to being stage-managed. At the beginning of July President Putin will christen Kaliningrad University in the name of Immanuel Kant, Konigsberg's great philosopher. Thus, Kaliningrad's history spans the entire gamut from Orthodoxy to Enlightenment, from power claims to academic programs! It is hardly possible for a balancing act between symbols to be more daring. However, counterpoints in stone seem to belong to the architectural history of Kaliningrad. The giant ruin of Dom Sovetov was erected on the rubble of the castle; now one hears that this landmark of a failed socialism has been purportedly sold to a private company. Will it be possible to fill the gaps inherent in such tensions and to capture the foreignness that can still be felt in the city and its surroundings?
Returning to my cafe, my interlocutors perceive this question as being the real dilemma. Olga asks insistently: How can one mentally come to terms with owning the land that has already belonged to you physically for two generations? How not to let one's own houses fall into disrepair, how not to let fields and meadows become fallow? At least there are new districts in the city with neat detached and semi-detached houses, at the junction of Vienna Street and Prague Street. These questions are all the more dramatic, as the city of Kaliningrad and its Oblast (administrative district) are surrounded by countries that are developing within the context of European dynamics. The effects of Polish modernisation policy are obvious in even the smallest border villages and the coastal region. The accumulations and overlaps of the history of peoples provide clues for the future. Russia's enclave is in danger of staying behind, even though its capital of natural and historic resources is not one whit less than that of the surrounding countries.
Nobody amongst the group at the cafe wants to speak of stagnation. However, it seems that the liberated energies are not being combined and focussed. At the very least, they are not manifesting themselves in a legal manner. Whatever the case may be, variants of possible development are being considered. The fact that opposing opinions confront each other may also smooth the way for pluralistic conceptions of culture. The fact that fears of modernisation lead to national prejudices is not an exclusively Russian phenomenon. The fact that isolation can be understood as encirclement, and that both together can act as a catalyst for defensive reflexes need not be surprising; being cut off from the motherland becomes an reason to insulate oneself even further. There is no clear set of directions. The fate of having been a closed city in the decades after the war and the stigmatisation as "terra incognita" have left deep scars. They are acknowledged as motivational weaknesses by some, while others refer to them as "deserts", both real and metaphorical. However, the opposite holds true as well. Against the backdrop of such a history, it becomes obvious in the present that much has already been achieved.
My interlocutors are unanimous in concurring that Kaliningrad, if it does not want to become the poorhouse of the Baltic region, will have to join the networks of Europe and its institutions. It will also be of vital concern to Kaliningrad that the other regions of Russia see themselves as a part of Europe as well. There is, my friends maintain, no alternative. However, the roads to this goal are fraught on all sides with uncertainties and obstacles. Suspiciously intent on keeping all developments under control, Moscow will continue to be an obstruction. Brussels, again according to my interlocutors, is too ponderous, too anonymous; while indispensable as a presence, it is not nearly familiar enough with local problems. Germany does not qualify for historic reasons and, at best, could only play a secondary role. Both immediate neighbours are caught up in their own interests.
What would happen, Sasha chooses this moment to ask, if the Netherlands were to "adopt" Kaliningrad Oblast? Nothing would change as far as affiliations and provisions of international and constitutional law are concerned, nobody need fear Dutch ambitions, but everyone could profit from the experience of an old trading nation. The country knows how to establish trading offices, how to engage in maritime trade and water management, and how to develop land in coastal regions. The Oblast would not have to cultivate tulips; other plants could make the fields behind the amber coasts bloom just as well. The idea of "Hollandising" Kaliningrad would mean nothing more than the full exploitation of intensive management methods. Pragmatically, the small area of the Oblast could provide the possibility for success.
Self-confidence and openness are signposts for Kaliningrad. The beginnings of both already exist in the Oblast. There is no need to import foreign ideas and concepts. Instead, it is imperative to exploit in a new way the potential that is already inherent in the area (Holland, after all, has its problems too). The West is no panacea. A learning process cannot take place on a one-way street. What matters are experiences shared across borders. The conversations at Cafe Zarya do not boil down to recipes or to yet more programs, of which there are enough already. Appreciation and anxiety, admiration and doubt lie close together. Olga, Sasha and Boris want to continue the hundredfold projects, which they themselves champion and which enthuse the chronicler, even though they know that this is beyond their strength. They will do so all the same. The city lives through such commitment. In Kaliningrad the history of the next 15 years as it will unfold in reality will be far more exciting than anything we can imagine today.
Translation by M. Neumann