The Kotti-Shop is an experimental non-profit art and project space, which has been located on the ground floor of the Neue Kreuzberger Zentrum, directly at Kottbusser Tor, since 2008.
For ten years now, it has been a platform for Berlin-based and international artists to play and experiment. Exhibitions take place regularly in the Kotti-Shop, as well as performances, zine and book launches, experimental readings, concerts and film screenings. Over the years, events series have also become established in the Kotti-Shop, such as the “Sentimental Punk” format, where, every month since 2015, a compilation of films by experimental filmmakers has been shown, reinterpreted by two sound artists through improvisation.
In addition to its distinctive events culture, the Kotti-Shop regularly collaborates with other art and cultural institutions and festivals, and makes its premises available for this purpose. In the past, this has included the drawing festival Big Draw (2012/2013), the House of World Cultures (Wir wohnen, wie wir wollen/We decide how we reside, 2015) and the radio project “Kotti.FM” (2016), in which the Kotti-Shop, together with the artist’s radio reboot.FM, Wassertormedien, Wearebornfree and WestGermany continuously broadcast on one frequency for one month.
The Kotti-Shop also provides a platform for art projects with a participatory approach, because the idea of making art and culture together is deeply rooted in the Kotti-Shop’s self-image, and is actually a reason for its creation. Since the Kotti-Shop opened, artists have met here to develop and experiment with new artistic formats and methods in collage, writing, printing and drawing workshops.
This not only resulted in new exhibition formats, but also other forms: essays, print articles, zines such as SuperFuture/Wikituecture, a method booklet that translates the idea of participatory architecture into various artistic formats (2010), or 4:33 – Magazin für Alltagskultur (2015).
The Kotti-Shop is not only a project space within its fixed architectural space, but also the starting point for large-scale collaborative art projects at home and abroad. The TRANSFORM platform and the SuperFuture art laboratory have their starting point in the Kotti-Shop and, in addition to projects in the Kotti-Shop, they also carry out project weeks in Berlin’s schools, drawing festivals (Big Draw Berlin, “Ausgezeichnet” in Oldenburg), workshops and participatory art projects in other art and project spaces.
In addition to these multifaceted activities, the Kotti-Shop is an important meeting and resting place, especially for the neighbours and children at Kottbusser Tor, because it has always understood itself as part of the neighbourhood’s fabric.
Kottbusser Tor is a complex place in Berlin, Kreuzberg. It has the reputation of being a space of possibilities, a myth, simultaneously a place of residence, workplace, traffic junction and a magnet for visitors: a microcosm in its own right. Thousands of people live here, and many more come to Kottbusser Tor every day. Its attractiveness has consequences, and gentrification has many faces. On one hand, the apartments and their tenants are affected, and on the other, the cultural and social capital that has formed here over the last few decades is being tapped and exploited. The social and spatial structures are in constant change.
The Kotti-Shop is aware of its ambivalent role at Kottbusser Tor, a neighbourhood that is increasingly frequented by “outsiders”, but which is also threatened in its organic social structure. Making art and culture from the attitudes we have towards each other has thus developed its own artistic practice in the last ten years. In various participatory art projects, the aim is to strengthen the local social fabric and to create an equal forum for the residents of “Kotti” through artistic forms. It is an approach in the area of one’s own possibilities, in this case art, to give something back to the place where one lives and works.
Over the years, “Kotti” residents have become involved in many participatory art projects, helping to shape them, to make their mark. Additionally, the Kotti-Picture Group, an association of artists from the Neue Kreuzberger Zentrum, has existed since 2014. In Kotti-Pictures exhibitions, they and other Kotti residents present their work alongside (international) artists.