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the future of „public“ in public transport

NGBK calls for participatory and/or situation-specific ideas, visions, experiments and interventions about the present and future of the Underground and its protaganists. Fundamental is the thought that inhabitants can democratically participate in the  transformation of their city.

More Info here "Call for submission 2010/2011.pdf"

Deadline will be 01.10.2010.

„But we indeed imagine the future as a reflex of the present projected into an empty space, even though it is often the expected result of causes which in the main escape our attention.„
Marcel Proust, in Search of Lost Time.

U10 – from here to the imaginary and back again is a project by the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NBGK) Berlin, financed by Berlin Council’s Department of Culture and supported by the Berlin Underground Train Company (BVG), the Berlin Fenster (in-train TV) and by Wall AG.

Open Call announced by:
Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V.
Oranienstraße 25
D 10999 Berlin

Aims of the competion

The Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst is pleased to announce an open public art competition for the second time as part of the long term project “U10 – from here to the imaginary and back again”. The first competition for 2009/2010 used the partially built but never completed Underground line “U10” to explore the past and present of Berlin’s Underground network, as a real place and as an imaginary world closely entwined with the city’s history. The selected artists realised projects in collaboration with BVG staff and made discoveries, experiences and knowledge which are normally hidden from the viewer visible (

The new competition for projects for 2011 adresses the whole Underground network in order to explore the future of „public“ in public transport. The Berlin Underground’s expansive network carries almost 500 million passengers a year. People who move, spend time and are transported in the underground have certain demands and expectations about the atmosphere and conditions there. Berlin’s Underground Company’s (BVG) priority is to match those demands in the most efficient way. And like elsewhere, the Underground is affected by larger developments in society caused by technological innovations and political decisions. What does the future hold for the Underground? How can the public express themselves and influence decision making about the future of „their“ public transport? Which future scenarios are possible?

In Berlin, Underground stations are widely understood as being public spaces offering access for everyone to trains and to newsagents and snack bars on the platforms. The BVG seek direct contact with the public through guided tunnel tours, special trains, open days and fetes. This situation offers conducive starting points for artistic projects interested in influencing an upholding of the „public“ in public transport of the future.

The U10 project invites artists to research these issues using artistic means and to address the complex meaning of the Underground network for the city of Berlin today and in the future.

Whereas BVG staff’s experience and knowledge were the focus of the projects realised so far, the new call seeks to involve other groups of Underground users more than previously.

The U10 line as metaphor and experimental thought

The title of the project refers to the U10 line (once known as the “F” line) which has been planned since the 1930s but today only exists as fragments of tunneling, incompleted stations and unused platforms. See
The parallel existence and non-existence of this building complex in the Underground symbolises the competition’s understanding that art works can contribute to making the invisible visible and bring previously hidden material to the surface.

Seen in this context, the U10 line offers a number of future scenarios: from the perspective of an optimal transport system the U10 line remains highly relevant – as the major east-west diagonal still missing in Berlin’s Underground network. From a political perspective a future U10 line would set the standard for a long term commitment to ecological transport solutions. From a city planning perspective art projects on redundant land (or, in the case of U10, in redundant stations) are known for bringing new impulses to stagnant planning. From a cultural perspective the U10 line embodies the Underground as a dark world full of fantasies, stories, projections and science fiction.


Artists or collaborative groups of artists and non-artists are invited to take part in this call for submissions. Preference will be given to artists who see their work as a means of exchange and shared dialogue and who are interested in reaching new audiences. This may include a readiness to collaborate with, for example, groups of BVG staff or passengers who have little experience of contemporary art. The organisors cannot take part in the call themselves.

Call for project proposals

The organisers are looking for participatory and/or situation-specific ideas, visions, experiments and interventions which address the future of the public sphere in Berlin’s Underground network. They can range from being short, interventionistic artistic reactions to specific occurances on the Underground to being long term collaborations aimed at creating sustainable relationships to local people.

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Collaboration with Underground experts

U10 is trying to find out how important the Underground is for Berlin's identity and that of its people. To do this, the project is bringing artists, BVG staff and other Underground experts together.

The organisers aim to embed the U10 project into the social context of the Underground and, by doing so, discover what the Network really means to the identity of the city. Building lasting relationships to BVG staff forms an important part of this is.
The organisors also seek to build lasting relationships with members of the public, for example with rail enthusiasts passionate about public transport, with commuters who have the network „knowledge“ and with people who „trade“ on the platforms. The organisers will seek to continually involve a small number of Underground staff and the above mentioned members of the public as project experts and as consultants to the selected artists.

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Competition conditions

All projects have to be realised within the Berlin Underground network. All locations within the Berlin Underground network are possible, for example station platforms, passageways and advertising billboards - as long as they conform to the Underground’s official safety regulations.
All types of project format are possible - for example printed matter, film programs, installations, projections, performances, workshops. The U10 line can only be used for projects with restricted viewing times, for example guided tours or programmed events. The realisation and/or modification of projects is intensively negotiated with all parties involved.

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Archive and publication

A collection of facts, fictions, images and stories about the Underground is being compliled and is stored in the U10 archive. Part of the archive can be seen at

Each selected artist will receive a budget to produce a pamphlet documenting his or her project. A catalogue includung all selected projects will be published at the end of the whole U10 project (release expected end 2011).

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Application proceedure

Submitted material should not exceed a 24cm x 32cm format.

Please submit the following:

  • a completed and signed formular (see „U10_form_engl.pdf“)
  • project proposal including possible location(s) (max. two A4 pages!)
  • cost estimate (including artist’s fee, production costs, travel costs, accommodation costs)
  • time schedule
  • a folder with documentation of previous work which is relevant to the project proposal, with biographical details.

Please do not send slides, catalogues, CDs, video cassettes, editions or originals.

Submitted material can only be returned if a stamped-addressed envelope is included. Collection of submitted material from NGBK from 01.11.2010 to 15.12.2010 (Oranienstraße 25, 1st Floor, Mon.-Fri. 10-17:00). Submitted material cannot be stored after 15.12.10.

Questions by 01.08.2010 by email only to:
Subject: U10 Competition
FAQ under

Submissions should arrive by 01.10.2010 (not date posted but arrival date!) at:

NGBK / U10 Competition, Oranienstraße 25, D - 10999 Berlin

Those submitting are responsible for ensuring that their application arrives complete and punctual at the NGBK office in Berlin.

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Selection proceedure, time schedule and total budget

A maximum of four projects will be selected by the end of October 2010. No legal recourse is permitted. The selected projects will be realised in 2011. A total budget of 30.000 Euro for all selected artists’ fees, production, travel and accommodation costs will be available (subject to funding from the Berlin Senate’s Department for Culture).


The organisers of the U10 project for NGBK are Sofia Bempeza, Ania Corcilius, Jacopo Gallico, Eva Hertzsch and Adam Page. They will select the artists’ projects with Leonie Baumann (Managing Director of NGBK). They will be advised by two members of BVG staff regularly involved in U10.

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The submitted ideas will be treated confidentially, and not used for anything else.

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NBGK is only liable for loss or damage of the submitted materials in case of provable negligence.

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Important technical data and information

  • The artworks must not obstruct passenger flow in any areas of the stations and entrances.
  • Distractions in the field of vision of the train operator must be avoided, for example no mirrors, no movable parts, etc.
  • Audio installations may not interfere with the train announcements etc.
  • Light projections must depend on the exisiting situation at the chosen site.
  • If the billboard supports behind the rails are to be used, their depth should not exceed 3.5 cm. The supports’ frames are of historical value and should not be covered.
  • Only employees of BVG and Wall AG have access to the tracks.
  • The selected artists should be prepared to make compromises on the locations they choose for their work, depending on requirements for authorisation.
  • 220 Volt electricity is generally available.
  • A permit is necessary to film and take photographs on the station. It can be obtained through NGBK. Film and photography is not possible on the U10 line. Please refer to for extensive images and texts.

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Funding and support

The project is financed by Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten Kunst im Stadtraum, Berlin, and supported by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and Wall AG. The call for submissions and the entire project, especially its continuation in 2010 and 2011, are held on condition that continued funding is provided by the Senatskanzlei. NGBK can and will, if necessary, adapt the project to changes in funding.

No legal recourse is permitted.

AG U10: Sofia Bempeza, Ania Corcilius, Jacopo Gallico, Eva Hertzsch, Adam Page

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