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
BEFORE THE CITY
Anders Kreuger / Stockholm, Sweden
In April 2004 I carried out some artistic fieldwork in Kaliningrad together with the Danish artist Joachim Koester. We took long walks together, researching the fabric of the city.
Prior to that, my last visit was on official business in 1994. In those days I worked for the Nordic Council in Lithuania, and Kaliningrad somehow also became part of my brief. Before that I had only been in virtual contact with this area, through my studies in Baltic linguistics at the University of Stockholm during the 1980s. Old Prussian, the language of the pre-German population as it was preserved in three editions of Martin Luther's catechism and a few other text fragments, was part of my curriculum. I remember feeling a strange affinity with the inflections of this archaic extinct language, the last speakers of which reportedly died in the plague of 1709. But I remember very little of the actual grammar and vocabulary taught in that course.
During the early 13th century, the site that was to become the city of Konigsberg was at the intersection of areas inhabited by two Baltic Prussian tribes, the Sambians to the north and the Natangians to the south. After the Crusades in Palestine had definitely failed the powerful religious orders, fearing they would become redundant, turned their attention to the eastern shores of the Baltic. These were among the last pagan territories of Europe. The Prussian tribes resisted Christianisation and assimilation by the German-speaking knights of the Order of the Cross, but in the end they ultimately succumbed.
We do not know how long the Baltic Prussians had lived in these parts or if there was anyone here before them. The safest option is not to award any particular ethnic group "indigenous" status in the area historically known as East Prussia, but to assume that everyone is a relative newcomer here. This has always been someone's enemy territory. It is as if the territory itself were the enemy of anyone who settles here.
In fact it is not too difficult to imagine the site of Konigsberg/Kaliningrad without any buildings or people on it. The city gives us plenty of opportunities to remember that it is a relatively recent presence on these steep hills and watery meadows. Nature here seems capable of simply shaking off human inhabitation. Few other urban environments seem so shaped by the natural relief and hydrological patterns of its substratum. Natural creeks gush through the center and the suburbs and throw themselves down into the sea.
The usual way for visitors to look at Post-Soviet Kaliningrad is to identify it as a site of cultural loss, with an amputated history. True, some of the grassy wastelands are empty of buildings because the city was bombarded during the war and the ruins were subsequently demolished. But other wild areas were simply never urbanized and have always looked as they do now: untidy, unkempt, unconquered.
From all the pictures Joachim took in Kaliningrad, he and I selected two for presentation here. They both convey something of the city's fundamental weakness, its defeat in the face of the weedy wetlands that are forever its main adversary. I believe that the wooded area not far from the railway tracks leading up to the Northern Station used to be the Volksgarten ("People's Garden"). Like most of the Kaliningrad Region, at least the parts we saw from the train window en route to Lithuania after our visit, it is now a full-scale piece of land art, where nature asserts its hegemony over cultivation.
Die Stadt-Wiesen ("The City Meadow") is what the Germans called the territory between the two branches of the Pregel River, just behind the Old Town. The city ends here with a concrete block of flats, like a protective wall, after which there is a zone of half-secret pathways through the dry reeds, burning rubber tires, discarded condoms and other desperate attempts at taming a threatening stretch of permanent nothingness. No one can complain that these particular plots of land have been "destroyed." The geopolitical normative that decries or defends the post-World War II fate of East Prussia does not apply to these pictures and what they portray. No one can credibly claim ownership of these "parks" and "meadows". No one knows how to name them properly or how to traverse them without drenching their feet in stagnant water.