We-Traders finale and aftermath

© Goethe-Institut

Goodbye BOZAR © Goethe-Institut
Goodbye BOZAR
Hello Cultureghem © Goethe-Institut
Hello Cultureghem

On Sunday 12th of April the last of six We-Traders exhibitions was dismantled for good at BOZAR, but the We-Traders spirit will continue.

We are very happy to announce that the association Cultureghem in Brussels will upcycle the exhibition elements for their activities such as KOOKMET and COLLECTMET at the Abbatoir Market. Thus the We-Traders exhibition which was originally conceived as a market place will find its way back to the heart of the city!

The We-Traders experience of the last three years cannot be expressed in numbers. However, we would like to share some of them with you:

  • 30 We-Trades from Madrid, Turin, Berlin, Lisbon, Toulouse and Brussels and even more collaborating initiatives exchanged their projects, experiences and challenges in the We-Traders exhibitions and fora throughout Europe.
  • More than 300 people including We-Traders, curators, team members from the Goethe-Institut and partner institutions were actively involved in the making of We-Traders.
  • 1,100 members joined the We-Traders Open Call online community.
  • 47,000 exhibition visitors in the 6 cities joined us in “Swapping Crisis for City” and are hopefully inspired to spread the seed and make it grow.
We now published all We-Traders exhibition films from Madrid, Turin, Berlin, Lisbon and Toulouse online. You can find them in six languages in the We-Trades section on our website.

Currently a We-Traders eBook is being edited in collaboration with the magazine for urban research dérive. In October 2015 you can discover and download this manual for We-Trading as urban practice on this website!

Thanks a lot to all of you! We are very much looking forward to future encounters.

For the We-Traders team:
Susanne Höhn, project director
Julia Förster, project coordinator
Angelika Fitz and Rose Epple, curators

15 April 2015 by Admin

    The We-Traders arrived in Brussels

    © Hanne van Reusel

    The “We-Traders” project considers citizens as central players in the future of cities. It creates bridges between initiatives based in Madrid, Turin, Berlin, Lisbon, Toulouse and Brussels.

    In Brussels, the exhibition We-Traders. Swapping crisis for city! looks at five local projects that propose, each in their field and in their own way, to exchange the crisis against a constructive urban project: CanalPark BXL, Commons Josaphat, Community Landtrust BXL (CLTB), The Brussels Poetry Collective und w-o-l-k-e. The initiatives participating in the exhibition will also organise workshops from March 5 to April 12, 2015 at BOZAR.

    Already during the opening on Wednesday 4 March 2015 at 6:45pm, you will be invited to a screen printing workshop with Rütli-Wear from Berlin, to play the "Mobile Pétanque" with Canalpark BXL and to follow the writing of a poem by the Brussels Poetry Collective.

    For further information you may visit the website of Goethe-Institut Brussels (in German).

    © Hanne van Reusel
    © Hanne van Reusel

    On 25th January 2015 the voting for the open call "What yould you do with a 100 m² in Brussels?" ended, and the online community chose BAZAAR FESTIVAL of Hanne Van Reusel as the winning idea which will be shown at the exhibition from 4 March.

    3 March 2015 by Admin


      © Foto:Frédéric Malenfer
      © Foto:Frédéric Malenfer
      © Frédéric Malenfer

      The Toulouse Open Call is closed: the community chose CANALDATA by Urbain, trop Urbain as the best idea. Canal du Midi + Open Data = CANALDATA! is the formula on which the idea is based. Each interested inhabitant of Toulouse takes care of 10 m of the Canal du Midi crossing the city: green spaces, urban furniture, artistic interventions and many more activities are possible. The interventions will be presented and connected through an open data platform. A one-day festival will be the opportunity for testing and celebrating together.

      More information on this idea and a varied program on “Swapping Crisis for City” can be discovered in the We-Traders exhibition in Toulouse! The opening takes place on Thursday 13 November at 18:30 in the premises Centre Méridional de l’Architecture et de la Ville (CMAV).

      More infos and dates can be found on the website of the Goethe-Institut Toulouse and the We-Traders Facebook-Page.

      Download Programme We-Traders Toulouse 

      11 November 2014 by Admin


        © Photo: Eleonora Diana
        © Photo: Eleonora Diana
        Winning idea Open Call Berlin: Dream Circus by Daniele Catalli © Photo: Eleonora Diana

        What do you swap? For what, why and, most of all, how?

        Dream Circus
        Daniele Catalli

        In order to understand what I'd like to do in Berlin, I need to mention that I work with dreams, night-dreams specifically.
        Dream Circus is the name of the touring project I've been working on since 2010, year when I started collecting and realizing people's dreams on paper. You tell me your dream, I draw it and somebody else will take it in exchange for their own dream.
        I'm swapping dreams for drawings and drawings for other dreams.
        I will bring dreams from other cities to Berlin and Berliner's dreams abroad.
        The project has thus an exchange value that becomes the intrinsic value of the work itself: my dream is worth as much as another dream and vice versa. This causes a levelling of differences in age, gender and origin, which is the basis from which to learn the art of giving.
        The project Dream Circus explores people's unconscious and puts it on stage, pulling out visitors’ innermost feelings.



          © Goethe-Institit Turin© Rose Epple

          Swapping bureaucracy for self-initiative
          Swapping industrial wastelands for vegetable gardens
          Swapping culture for context
          Swapping investor ruins for experimentation fields
          Swapping discards for re-use
          Swapping on-looking for acting

          We-Traders swap crisis for city.

          What do you swap? For what, why and, most of all, how?
          Join in and become a We-Trader!

          Express your trade in one photograph and one text (max. 1,000 characters in German or English) and upload it to the Community!

          The Community will vote and the idea with the most votes will be presented between 4 July and 17 August 2014 at the We-Traders exhibition at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin. The winner will be able to travel to Lisbon this autumn!

          Entry deadline: 20 June 2014 at 23:59 hrs.
          Voting deadline: 24 June 2014 at 12:00 hrs. Winner Open Call Berlin

          29 May 2014 by Admin

            Winner Open Call Turin

            © Mirjam Struppek, Serena Perrone, Gabriele Iasi et al.
            © Mirjam Struppek, Serena Perrone, Gabriele Iasi et al.
            © Mirjam Struppek, Serena Perrone, Gabriele Iasi et al.

            Which place in Turin would you like to adopt and how would you do it?

            Al nuovo “Piano Verde” (At the new “Green Level”)
            Mirjam Struppek, Serena Perrone, Gabriele Iasi et al.

            Turin has numerous hidden spaces - grey, neglected, sealed with bitumen: the semi-private, collective backyards! Let’s turn them green! Turin, an extreme air polluted city, has a few large public parks but very little small scale networked urban vegetation in the dense housing areas with its narrow streets. We want to activate these non-spaces with a pilot project to make the whole city more livable and to improve the climate and air quality.

            We start with our huge garage roof and activate our 200 neighbour families in a participatory process to turn it into a co-financed, social “piano verde” (green level). We dream of Tai Chi on the roof, collective vegetable gardens, feasts with harvested fruits, makers labs, bringing together old and young. Foreign neighbours slowly become a community, open for encounter, exchange of goods, and help.

            This difficult process we document and analyse for a network, animating other housing blocks to follow our example and support them with our knowledge.


              The open call Turin starts on 27 March 2014
              Which place in Turin would you like to adopt? And how?

              © Rose Epple
              © Rose Epple

              Prior to every We-Traders exhibition you can take part in the Open Call of the current city online. The Open Call Turin on the question Which place in Turin would you like to adopt? And how? starts on 27 March 2014. The winner will be able to have their idea presented at the We-Traders exhibition in Turin and travel to Berlin.

              Join the Open Call Turin and become a We-Trader!

              26 March 2014 by Admin
              Tags: Turin, We-Traders

                Winner Open Call Madrid

                © Andrés Carretero/Carolina Klocker
                © Andrés Carretero/Carolina Klocker
                © Andrés Carretero/Carolina Klocker

                How can we gain access to and make use of Madrid’s unused spaces?

                Siempre Fiesta (Beti Jai/Always Fiesta)
                by Andrés Carretero and Carolina Klocker

                We can grasp architecture as a vital act, whereby the architect’s work is to plan environments where people feel comfortable. Like children, we associate playing with making, but also with freely moving our bodies in space.

                We chose a very special place for this: the inside lane of FRONTÓN BETI JAI (a “frontón” is a pelota court with only two side walls, “Beti Jai” means “eternal party” in Basque). This old access road to the frontón is now a marvellous “intermediary space” but we have no access to it. It is extremely narrow and long and defined by a curved and a straight wall. It is a secret street slowly being taken over by vegetation and debris. A clearing in the innermost city.

                We would like to take an uncomplicated, simple yet radical action. When warm weather arrives we will open this closed street and fill it with SAND. We will create a large urban PLAYGROUND, not with objects, but by converting it into a lively and festive place. The aim is create conditions that allow the children in Chamberí to play.

                We want the Beti Jai to once again become – at least temporarily and seasonally – a play space. Where there is always fiesta.


                  City and Crisis: Diagnoses from the We-Traders Forums

                  A selection of the video interviews filmed at the We-Traders forums in Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, Turin and Toulouse can now be viewed on our website . All diagnoses can then be seen beginning late January 2014 at the first We-Traders Exhibition in Madrid.

                  Video: Piccolo Cinema © Goethe-Institut

                  Marco Revelli, Political scientist, Turin, IT
                  “People continue to see this crisis as a kind of interlude, and that afterwards everything will carry on as before. It isn't an interlude but a metamorphosis that will transform the world.”

                  Sonja Beeck, Professor for urban planning Berlin, DE
                  “A crisis is a saddle point in time. It's the exact point at which it is decided whether a situation gets better again or ultimately slides down towards an even worse situation.“

                  Jorge da Silva Macaísta Malheiros, Doctor of urban geography, Lisbon, PT
                  “Participation is essential, but it has to be serious. Being serious means ensuring that those involved are heard, that actors are respected in their transformation process, and that everyone is involved from beginning to end.”

                  17 January 2014 by Admin
                  Tags: We-Traders

                  Be a We-Trader: The Open Call Madrid is launched!

                  © Rose Epple
                  © Rose Epple

                  Madrid has turned into a huge Swiss cheese. Thousands of rooms and buildings are standing vacant, even in the city center. At the same time, many local groups are desperately searching for affordable spaces to create added cultural, social and political value for the city. Therefore, the Open Call Madrid asks: How can we gain access to and make use of Madrid's vacant spaces?

                  Anyone can get involved and be a We-Trader! The community will vote on the winning contribution. The chosen concept will be presented at the We-Traders exhibition and the winner will travel to the exhibition in Turin in May 2014. Visit the We-Traders Open Call Madrid here.

                  13 December 2013 by Admin

                  Notes from the four We-Traders Forums in Lisbon, Madrid, Turin and Toulouse

                  © Yukai Ebisuno & Raffaella Mantegazza
                  © Yukai Ebisuno & Raffaella Mantegazza

                  Everybody is talking about the crisis, but how is it actually manifested? Have cities changed? Where do We-Traders come from and what unites them? And how can these and other questions be negotiated by the 2014 travelling exhibition? In October 2013, the We-Traders community worked on this at forums in Lisbon, Madrid, Turin and Toulouse. Here are a few pickings from our notes.

                  City and Crisis

                  “The problem isn’t a capitalist economy, but a capitalist society,” is the diagnosis of sociologist Claus Leggewie at the We-Traders Forum in Lisbon. Maria João Guardão and Maria Tengarrinha from O Espelho see a political and a media crisis. They launched their wall newspaper “the day that Angela Merkel came to Portugal.”

                  In their city, our co-curators in Turin, Lisa Parola and Luisa Perlo, identify not just the financial plight, but an acute identity crisis. Together with the urban geographer Carlo Salone they are warning about a “disneyfication” of culture in the light of the inflationary festival culture that post-industrial Turin is using to try and reinvent itself. At the Madrid We-Traders Forum, Santiago Eraso, one of those responsible for the 2016 San Sebastian capital of culture, calls for “anti-monumental activities.”

                  In Madrid, the crisis is directly experienced mainly by young people who cannot find work. Those who create their own jobs cannot find affordable spaces due to real estate speculation. “I can’t afford a proper office in Madrid. If I had more space, I could create new jobs,” reports our co-curator Javier Duero.

                  What are We-Trades?

                  It is certainly not about interpreting We-Trades one-dimensionally as a reaction to the crisis. “We are tired of the crisis being presented to us as an opportunity; it would be better if there were no crisis,” says Lisbon geographer Jorge da Silva Macaísta Malheiros on behalf of many We-Traders. If at all, it was a missed opportunity says Davide Ziveri from Turin’s Buenavista Social Housing. “I thought now everything will be different with the banks.”

                  “Are We-Trades reformist projects or do they want a change in the system?” asks Joël Lecussan from Mix'Art Myrys, while his counterparts in Toulouse from Bois & Cie quite pragmatically trust in their doer qualities. “Notre réaction, c’est l’action!” Frauke Hehl from the Berlin workstation initiative advocates continuing to hold the city responsible so that temporary solutions do not become permanent ones.

                  “We want work that we enjoy and that makes us better,” is how the Walkinn Coop describes its motivation to found a We-Trade. Non-hierarchic alliances and fluid identities play pivotal roles – “We don’t ask who we are, but with whom we can enter a relationship” (VIC) – and collective authorship – “The author of Campo de Cebada is Campo de Cebada.” We-Trades put meaning before profits. “AMAP gave me back my pride in being a farmer. Now, we are feeding people, not markets,” says Alain Gatti of Le Potager de Camille.

                  A crisis is the saddle point that decides the fate of a city, according to urban planner Sonja Beeck at the We-Traders Forum in Madrid. We are certain that at this point, We-Trades decisively contribute to the success of a city.

                  24 October 2013 by Rose Epple and Angelika Fitz

                    We-Traders Forum Toulouse

                    © Angelika Fitz
                    © Angelika Fitz
                    Nils Simon of Initiative Möckernkiez and Rolf Novy-Huy of the trias Foundation attending the We-Traders Forum in Toulouse
                    Nils Simon of Initiative Möckernkiez and Rolf Novy-Huy of the trias Foundation attending the We-Traders Forum in Toulouse.
                    Copyright photo: Angelika Fitz
                    17 October 2013 by Admin

                      A working exhibition

                      © Javier Duero
                      © Javier Duero
                      We-Trades are not created top-down. We-Trades grow through hands-on collaboration from the bottom. Likewise, the We-Traders project is growing out of the exchange and collaboration between We-Traders, guests, exhibition makers and the public over a period of 15 months, in five countries and six languages.

                      How does that work?
                      To kick-off the process we asked co-curators from Lisbon, Madrid, Toulouse, Berlin and Turin to identify We-Traders in their respective cities. In June this year, we all met up at the Goethe-Institut in Rome to choose 24 projects for further collaboration and discuss the upcoming milestones of the We-Traders platform. For this we used participation tools like the We-Traders Cubes, that were specially developed by information design students of Sint-Lukas in Brussels.

                      These selected We-Traders are now on their way to the We-Traders Forums in Lisbon, Madrid, Turin and Toulouse to present their projects, discuss its impact with international experts at public events and to collaboratively work on We-Trade Manifestos. Their output will become part of the We-Traders travelling exhibition that will first open its doors in Madrid at the end of January 2014.

                      And now it is your turn: meet We-Traders in your city at the We-Trader Forum, discuss the crisis and join in the project. There is plenty of work to do on the working exhibition! Check out the dates section for details of upcoming events.

                      Copyright Foto: © Javier Duero
                      24 September 2013 by Rose Epple and Angelika Fitz
                      Tags: We-Traders