Apr 1–May 17, 2023

Huts, Temples, Castles

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg
Christinenstrasse 18-19, 10119 Berlin Map
Tue-Fri 11 am–6:30 pm, Sun-Mon 1–5 pm

In 1969 the photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg traveled to Amsterdam to document the freedom, creativity and independence of the children and young people who spent their afternoons after school in Jongensland, an adventure site on a post-war wasteland. The wonderful and inspiring pictures show how important a real action space is in order to learn to act in a community and to take responsibility for one another through group dynamics and assessing risks. Aedes is showing for the first time 80 photographs that were recently compiled into a book published by Mack Books, London. Through the frameless mounting of the pictures directly on the wall, the artist wants to underline the lightness and carelessness with which the depicted “huts, temples, castles” were built. The exhibition wants to stimulate a discussion that is more relevant today than ever before, about the specific space needs of young people and about how the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of an intact living space and a functioning society. An installation made of recycled materials, set up by young people, complements the pictures. The free space created in this way can develop further during the exhibition and can be used as a meeting point.

Jongensland (later renamed in Youthland) came into being shortly after the Second World War and could only be reached by crossing a canal by boat. Children were encouraged to create their own space for adventure and leisure, building dens and huts out of scrap and rubble, tending chickens, rabbits and goats, making campfires, etc. This type of adventure playground was a deliberate attempt by a group of enlightened European planners and child psychologists to overcome authoritarian ideas about child development that were an integral part of fascism. In their vision, post-war wastelands should become places of free play and creativity. In the case of Jongensland, it was the city's police department that created this space to give working-class boys a place to play and to avoid them getting into trouble.

In 1996, 30 years later, Unicef launched the "Child-Friendly Communities" initiative with the aim of making cities liveable places for everyone, because "the well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy living environment, a democratic society and a good Administration".

In the spirit of this program, the exhibition wants to show that a real space, in contrast to virtual places, with the opportunity to lend a hand, to work out solutions to conflicts and to take responsibility for one's own actions, is still relevant today. This makes the 80 photos shown in the exhibition more up-to-date than ever.

During the exhibition period, a spatial installation will be created by JAS Jugend-architektur-Stadt e.V. Berlin | Anna Lena Ochsenreither, Ralf Fleckenstein and raumdialog - built communication | Hendrik Weiner is developed and built in collaboration with WeTeK in workshops with young people from the surrounding area. It serves as a bridge to the current situation. The construction process and the resulting space not only places a focus on the search for a place for young people in general, but also on the urgent issue of children displaced from their environment and their social integration.

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg's works can be found in the collections of numerous international museums, such as the Tate Modern in London, the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the Ghetty Center in Los Angeles and the K21 Düsseldorf.

Her photos capture moments from past times, cultures or places, but at the same time enter into a dialogue with the present. After Architectures of Waiting (2004), Tongkonan, Alang and the House Without Smoke (2008), Kurchatov - Architectures in the Atomic Bomb Test Area (2014) and Vanished Landscapes (2021), this is her fifth exhibition at the Aedes Architecture Forum.