THE HEERLEN ATLAS
A kuS/MANIFESTA 9 exhibition / Kunstencentrum Signe, Heerlen
The specific characteristics of Heerlen, and the intrinsically related social and economical problems of the city, have been discussed and clarified at length in recent decades. In this period, Heerlen’s potential as a small city located in the peripheral border zones of a Unified Europe have been made explicit and several attempts have been made to translate these insights into urban renewal policies that would start to address the deficiencies of the city. Within the diversity of Heerlen’s urban policies, several attempts and projects have been initiated to properly guide and frame this process towards a new and bright future, based on ‘what the city might become’. […] This is a careful process that tries to decipher, detect, reveal, unearth, excavate, discover, uncover and extend the hidden spatial characteristics and qualities that are embedded in everyday life and its spatial practices in relation to the built environment and urban structures of Heerlen. […] The NORM-ALITY exhibition presents an atlas consisting of different understandings of Heerlen. The maps and images in this atlas are not aimed at giving an overview of the city as a whole, nor of the city as consisting of different fragments in a setting of adjacency. Rather, these readings traverse, horizontally and vertically, the urban landscape of Heerlen in an attempt to reveal how Heerlen citizens operate in the spaces and built structures of the city, and how they are simultaneously ‘uncannily’ grounded in the landscape. Our explorations and investigations in Heerlen have resulted in different readings that are expressed in maps, photographic impressions and textual descriptions and statements. In the end, the aim has been to test Heerlen’s potential as a city of NORMALITY and OBSCURITY, which simultaneously implies an opposition to the emphasis on ‘city branding’ municipalities nowadays promote.
Participants: Carolyn Leung, Chryso Onisiforou, Negar Sanaan Bensi, Marc Schoonderbeek and Milan Zlatkov