Leo Kene

The Müllerstrasse area in Berlin-Wedding is an area that is to be “upgraded” through urban renovation measures and cultural projects. At the center of the Müllerstraße shopping street is Leopoldplatz, which is also a traffic junction. Due to its location, Leopoldplatz is used by different groups: retailers, buyers, employees, residents and also drug scenes. The drug scenes, unloved by many local groups, were “relocated” to a rear part of Leopoldplatz at the end of July 2011, where the district removed the benches along Nazarethkirchstrasse and put them back up in an area behind the old Nazareth Church specially created for the scenes. The design of the new lounge area was accompanied by a mediation process between the groups. After the benches were gone, the district looked for a way to draw the attention of the remaining groups to the newly “won” area and to establish a new use permanently. So the search was on for a temporary art action, for example a conspicuous sculpture, which should effectively occupy and mark the contested space in public. In other words, art should be used to seal off or maintain a public space from the drug scene.

I was invited to prepare a project draft and so I was confronted with the interests of the district, the interests of the retailers and, in some cases, of the residents who do not want the drug scenes at this location on Leopoldplatz. In my conviction, art must never be instrumentalized as a means to exclude people from a room! Finally, I designed the work leo kene .

A floor work that can be entered at any time. The used kene patterns highlight an example of the competitive space. With the use of these patterns, I take a critical position on changing the socio-spatial situation at Leopoldplatz.

kene – build a pattern, fence, wall, trap

For four weeks I kneeled on the floor and stuck patterns on the sidewalk, which represent a translation of the  kene weaving patterns of the Kashinawa Indians. Who are the Kashinawa? In the Amazon region of Peru and Brazil, the Kashinawa lived autonomously until the 1990s. The small tribe lives on the edge of two states and for a long time resisted the establishment of economic relations with Peruvian and Brazilian settlers. The worldview of the Kashinawa deviates from our values.

kene are closely related to the perception of the Kashinawa. The geometric shapes of the kene patterns have their origin in the collective intoxication of the Kashinawa Indians. The Kashinawa established a socially anchored use of the psychedelic drug brew nishi pae , which is obtained from certain boiled down liana leaves. The brew is drunk. During the drug seanance that follows, one or more singers will sing specific, recurring lyrics and melodies. ? They lead the intoxicated through the sometimes frightening images and perceptions and remind them to return to the world. This ensures that nobody is harmed. The first part of the nishi paeIntoxication is described as very pleasant, everything is perceived as covered by patterns, even one’s own body.

Detailed information about the art of the Kahinawa can be found in “Paths of the Senses: Perception and Art among the Kashinawa Indians of Amazonia” by Barbara Keifenheim.