City promotion by citizens.
If you would promote the city that you live in: What would you then choose to show or tell? During spring 2002 I invited a Hamburg school class to create their own alternative promotion video about their city.
Knowing that I was going to Hamburg, in connection with Artgenda, I looked for information about Hamburg on the internet and visited the official website www.hamburg.de . There I found the video "Hamburg a perfect day" which is a promotion video for visitors. This pr-video had quite an impact on me and it made me start thinking about how cities are presented and why they often are presented in a certain way. What is important in a city? And what does this pr-video show as important?
Alternative city promotion
This official pr-video also made me think that I would like to promote Hamburg in a different way - in an "alternative" way. And I wanted to do it together with Hamburg citizens, that live in the city - instead of with professional promotion makers. I went to Hamburg to look for some citizens to cooperate with. And I found some citizens! School class 10b (16 years old) at Klosterschule in Hamburg. Their teacher, Peter Strunk, and the leadership of the school would let me have a workshop with the class making a new "alternative" pr-video. Class 10b consisted of twenty individuals, all from different backgrounds, living in different areas of Hamburg. In other words this class was a "group of referance" that could represent "Hamburg citizens" - at least young citizens. The school class was not a professional promotion team but were good at having a relation to the city that has to do with life.
Produced and donated
We - the school class and I - had a lot of discussions, about the film that we were about to produce. During the final production, in may, the students were quite engaged: They went out filming their own favorite places of Hamburg and they performed and recorded the music that they had chosen for their video (raggae). The school class decided to call their pr-video "Untitled Hamburg".
In june, at the big opening of Artgenda with eight hundred witnesses, the school class donated their alternative pr-video to the city of Hamburg (represented by Lord Mayor Ole von Beuyst). And they asked the authorities of the city to use their video also as a promotion video.
Two paralell perspectives
After the donation I presented both the alternative and the offical pr-video outdoors in the center of Hamburg, during three nights. Both videos, that were projected beside eachother on two big windows, contained each a constant text informing the public that one video is an official promotion video, from www.hamburg.de, and that the other is an alternative promotion video about Hamburg, created by class 10b, Klosterschule. People could here compare the two different perspectives of the city - the official and the alternative - while standing out in the cityroom. The two paralell running videos, that had the same length, took turn in having sound.
This double video presentation was created in cooperation with Trustyourlocalartist who initiated a lot of outdoor videoprojections, in a whole quarter (Hein Kölish Platz) in Hamburg during three nights. Read more at www.trustyourlocalartist.com.
Discussed on TV
In cooperation with the artist run TV-station, artgendaTV, I initiated a discussion about promotion of Hamburg. A representative from Hamburg.de, Reiner Scheppelmann, was invited to meet School class 10b. The school class got here again a chanse, to officially, talk about their new alternative pr-video. The class also told their opinion about the official promotion video "Hamburg a perfect day". One sociologist - Malte Friedrich, two artists - Barbara Noell and Anja Corcilius and teacher Peter Strunk were also invited to take part in the discussion about promotion of Hamburg. A moderator, Rainer Bertolt Schossig, lead the whole discussion which was broadcasted in the Open channel, on the Internet and on huge TV-boxes that artgendaTV had placed out in the city room. The discussion was in German. (Read more about artgendaTV at: www.artgenda.tv)
During this TV-discussion the school class had developed even more engagement in their video. They said that they didn´t want their video to be compared with the official one. And they were very proud of their alternative pr-video! They again tried to ask Hamburg.de if they wont use their video to promote Hamburg officially. Rainer Scheppelmann (from Hamburg.de) said no but in the end of the discussion he mentioned an idea to open a Forum on the official website for young citizens...
Follow future development of "City promotion by citizens", in Hamburg and in other cities, on my website: www.natverkstan.net/ilona
Ilona Huss Walin