Sylvia Necker

(urban) researcher ::: curator ::: historian ::: sound artist ::: 

nottingham (GB) ::: frankfurt/main (DE) ::: hamburg (DE) :::

zeit- und architekturhistorikerin ::: klangwerkerin ::: ausstellungsmacherin :::

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Altona in Nottingham, 4.-26. Mai 2019

Eine KlangStadtLandschaft Entsteht (2015). A 30-minute sound piece reflection of the history and present day of the Grosse Bergstrasse in Hamburg – Produced and composed by Sylvia Necker. Part of *Uncomfortable Histories: Artistic responses*. An Exhibition Exploring Themes of Uncomfortable History // Difficult Heritage at BACKLIT Gallery Nottingam, Ashley Street, Nottingham, NG3 1JG. 

4th – 26th May 2019
Exhibition Opening Times Friday, Saturday & Sunday 12–5pm
https://uncomfortablehistory.wordpress.com
Twitter: @UncomfHistories

Read the review by Dr Victoria Grace Walden, University of Sussex: 
What do we mean by ‘uncomfortable histories’? [https://uncomfortablehistory.wordpress.com/2019/05/04/what-might-we-mean-by-uncomfortable-histories/amp/?__twitter_impression=true]

Exhibition „Uncomfortable Histories“ at Backlit Gallery, Nottingham, May 2019 

My sound artwork, Eine KlangStadtLandschaft Entsteht, is the result of a one-week sound project from 2015, researching the history and present of “Grosse Bergstrasse”, a high-street in Hamburg-Altona (Germany). For this 30-minute-sound piece, I recorded interviews with residents, visitors and tourists, asking about their perspectives on the “Grosse Bergstrasse”. Reflecting from a musical point of view the changeful times of “Grosse Bergstrasses” history, the piece includes extracts of these interviews, mixed with electronic sounds and short melodies composed and recorded especially for this sound artwork.

The street was founded in the 1950s as one of the first car free shopping zones in Germany, and is a very famous part of post-war modernist architecture in Hamburg. National and International Journals of Architecture and Urban Planning discussed the groundbreaking and innovative approaches for the reconstruction process in West Germany. Until the late 1960s it was a very lively and crowded place, giving locals the opportunity to enjoy the German “Wirtschaftswunder” (economic miracle) with hundreds of shops, cafés, restaurants and leisure sites. However, in the 1970s the “Grosse Bergstrasse” declined in popularity, and for over three decades the whole infrastructure fell into disrepair. A huge change came in 2014 – the Swedish furniture shop IKEA opened a branch in the middle of the street. Since then “Grosse Bergstrasse” has been gentrified, resulting in a remarkable comeback for the street.


The artist’s listing to its own sound art work at Backlit Gallery, 2019. 

For a long time I conducted research on the history of the “Grosse Bergstrasse”. I presented papers at conferences, organised architectural walks, and in 2017 published a monograph alongside Johanna Klier, a Hamburg photographer. However, in spite of all of this research I feel that the sound piece reflects in a more precise way the different feelings the “Grosse Bergstrasse” evokes for residents and visitors. For many of them, the street is an example of ‘ugly’ post-war architecture. Others however, are fascinated by the utopian character of the “Grosse Bergstrasse”. They recognise the uncomfortable histories not in the materiality of the 1960s modernist architecture, but in the gentrification process of the 2010s. 

Finally the sound piece mixes these positive and negative impressions, which are historically and contemporarily connected to the street in one 30-minute-soundtrack, and thus represent the (un)comfortable histories of the “Grosse Bergstrasse” sound.

For further information see: http://sylvianecker.com. For more contextual information about the sound piece in German see: sylvianecker.com/?p=1313.


‚Eine KlangStadtlandschaftEntsteht‘ at the exhibition space in Hamburg, 2015.
Photograph by Johanna Klier.