Detroit – Berlin: One Circle

Music • Talk • Performance • Installation • Film • Club

“Detroit-Berlin: One Circle” traces the intimate relation of two repeatedly written off and yet symbolically over-determined places. The imagery of a civilization in ruins that has been associated with both cities evokes an almost mythological anti-glamorous austerity. At the same time, both cities are, in the pop-cultural consciousness of the 1980s, invariably connected to the rapid development and dissemination of techno music. The festival does, however, not only focus on the rich musical exchange between both cities. It also takes the equally productive fields of artistic practice and urban policy debates into account.

The reception and distribution of the kind of techno that emerged in Detroit in the 1980s – a sound that worked against the decline of the Fordist city after the onset of the country’s de-industrialization by evoking a utopian image of the future – also paved the way for Berlin to become a metropolis for electronic music. HAU Hebbel am Ufer honours this fact, the historical importance of which continues to exert important influences today, through a cooperation with “The Potential – Subcultural Exchange For Urban Development.” Together, they initiate a club night at Berlin’s prestigious Tresor club. Beyond that HAU will dedicate a whole evening to hip-hop, where political texts will be presented in tandem with feminist issues – with Miz Korona & The Korona Effect, Ché & Dj Stacyé J and A.W.A. – African Women Arise. In addition to a concert by Model 500 with Juan Atkins, Mark Taylor, Milton Baldwin and Gerald Brunson, Mike Huckaby will present Sun Ra Reel-to-Reel Sessions with Richard Zepezauer & Lakuti.

Mike Banks from Underground Resistance, Mark Ernestus, founder of the record-store Hard Wax, and Dimitri Hegemann, director of the Tresor Club, will explore “how techno came to Europe,” and will thus engage in a dialogue on the “Berlin – Detroit” axis, from the past to the present. Joined by Adrian Tonon, assistant to Detroit’s mayor, they will imagine a future scenario for Detroit based on Berlin’s night life culture. 

A second discussion will consider how important and influential single radio shows can be, such as the Electrifying Mojo’s from Detroit or John Peels’ show on BBC, especially with regard to the increasing power of subcultures. The panel will also discuss which role artist radios like in Berlin, web radios such as Theo Parrish’s WOKE Radio or NTS play in today’s music culture. Talks with producers from the cultural realm and urban scientists from Berlin and Detroit will further explore the question of newly emerging spaces of possibility for cultural practitioners in post-industrial cities. A comparison of both cities will on the one hand reflect on themes like gentrification, displacement and austerity while it will on the other hand analyze common consequences of an “urban boosterism” that regards city life predominantly as an economical resource. Participants include the artist Ingrid LaFleur, who promoted an afro-futuristic transformation of Detroit when she ran for mayor, and Cornelius Harris, head of the Underground Resistance label.

The interdisciplinary artist Tiff Massey has created a singular performance for the festival, which will take up the discourse on “creative cities” and discuss its paradoxical relationship. In preparation for the festival, Nguyễn Baly, the SDW e.V. group and Kotti-Shop traveled to Detroit: They will present the results of their artistic residences at HAU3 as well as in an outdoor installation.

With: Mike Banks (Underground Resistance), Lakuti (Uzuri), Mark Ernestus (Hard Wax), Adrian Tonon (City of Detroit), Yuko Asanuma, John E. Collins (Underground Resistance), Lisa Blanning, Mike Huckaby, Richard Zepezauer (n s y d e), Olad Aden (Gangway e.V.), Phillip Halver, Joshua Akers, Ingrid LaFleur, Dimitri Hegemann (Tresor Berlin), Lucas Pohl, Miz Korona & The Korona Effect (Kamau, Showtime, Rain Man, DJ Invisible),  Ché & Dj Stacyé J, A.W.A. (African Women Arise), SDW e.V. (Frieder Blume, Elisabeth Hampe, Anta Helena Recke, Joana Tischkau), Nguyễn Baly , Tara Transitory aka One Man Nation, Julia Brunner (Kotti-Shop), Bryce Detroit (Detroit Recordings Company), Cornelius Harris (Underground Resistance), Séverine Marguin, Kerstin Niemann, Tiff Massey, Kotti-Shop / SuperFuture and Halima Cassells, Zoe Claire Miller, Diana McCarty (, Ninjah and Natalie Bayer a.o.


A festival by HAU Hebbel am Ufer. Supported within the framework of the Alliance of International Production Houses by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. “Detroit – Berlin” is part of “Claiming Common Spaces,” a project by the Alliance of international Production Houses. The artistic residencies are supported by the Goethe-Institut and HAU Hebbel am Ufer.