Air can be considered a global commons that is shared by all individuals in society. How can this classical element bring local communities and visitors of Region Nordschwarzwald together and allow them to connect and think about the region’s fresh forest air? Another of the evening's components was one provoked by Pforzheim’s high concentration of shisha bars which triggered an intergenerational exchange on this popular leisure activity. In a nautical-themed bar, individuals were informed about waterpipe smoking and how it is rooted in cultural tradition. The audience was surprised by disguised vogue dancers dressed in glistening and reflective Niqabs. The performance is part of the artistic work NIQABAES and invites viewers to reflect their own traditionally stereotypical views onto themselves.
We are met with hungry eyes upon our arrival in Pforzheim. From sharing a smoke with a student of Siberian descent at the Elemenz shisha lounge to a Park Hotel breakfast with a regional entrepreneur, confidently and eagerly the different figures of this Twin Peaks like town share their frantic energy, trauma, and personalities.
Pforzheimers are in youth mode. They are in constant emancipation from boredom, from expectations, from tradition. As a city with Germany’s largest immigration population and about one-third of the Pforzheimers living there for less than ten years, we see the former Goldstadt as a model town for how to live together. Tweaking, adding, intervening or adjusting the qualities that are already there will lead to ORNAMENTA 2024, which to us is an example of how to live in a post-pandemic Europe.
Being in youth mode isn’t about constantly reliving yourself at a younger age. It’s about being youthfully present at any given age. It seems to be part of the survival strategy of people living in this German city cramped between forest, highways and more dominant urban metropolises. This desire to escape the constraints of everyday life is universal. Especially in Europe, we tend to look up or down at our neighbouring cities or countries as we are bound by Western morals. But being in youth mode grants everyone here in Pforzheim and the Nordschwarzwald region the freedom to radically reorganise our relationships with the outside world.
We are so average nobody knows what we’re talking about. There is something incredibly attractive – we dare to say sexy – about the intergenerational durchschnittlichkeit and patchwork society of Pforzheim. It makes us even more eager to continue working here by ornamentalising daily activities, places and objects, like filling the Reuchlinhaus with Schwarzwalder flavoured shisha smoke, showing and wearing the schmuck museum collection at a bar or simply changing the fabric of a niqab.