Hababusch

“Hababusch”

The Hababusch is a communal living project that has been ongoing in Weimar since 1996. Currently, the project is attracting attention in the city, due to the fact that its 18 inhabitants are actively protesting against the imminent shutdown of the building by its owner, who plans to convert the space into holiday apartments.

The Hababusch has a history as a low-budget hostel, first run by the owner’s son, and later by the building inhabitants themselves. Due to financial concerns and internal struggles, the hostel component was closed down a number of years ago, and the space has since existed primarily as a cooperative residence. The goal of the inhabitants’ protest is to purchase the building, preserve it as a living space, and transform it into an alternative cultural platform and meeting point for a dynamic and vibrant audience in Weimar.

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On the occasion of the Bauhaus University Faculty of Art & Design’s 20th anniversary, a participatory „Walk of Art“ was organized. Over a three-hour period, a group was guided through the city, passing and discussing various public art projects, conceived and realized by candidates in the „Public Art and New Artistic Strategies“ MFA program.

A group of three artists (Daniel Poveda, Isaac Chong, Pia Grüter decided to use this format to realize a temporary cooperative intervention, working alongside current residents to draw attention to the situation at the Hababusch. In order to develop a concept for our planned intervention, we spent time with the residents privately, took part in their events, and accepted invitations for interaction and discussion, thereby developing a connection to the people and to the space itself. To find the best solution for a public venture, we felt it was important to take a process-based approach, investing time and sharing ideas.

The discussion, confusion and debate about how to handle the Hababusch that arose within our MFA program became one of the most important and fascinating parts of the creative process. The conflicting opinions were initially a challenge, but in the end helped us to develop a clear idea about how we wanted to deal with the space and the issue of protest.

By spending time with the residents – whether it was the young, free spirited international students, or the pensioner living on the top floor – it became clear that the most important function of the space is to create a feeling of community, or warmth and of being welcomed. Furthermore, the space is a strong example of alternative accommodation within a city center that is otherwise extremely structured, organized, profit- and tourist-oriented.

As our final Walk of Art action, we – along with the inhabitants – invented a new flavor of tea, called „Hababusch“ (a mix of the six favorite tea flavors of the residents: Mate, Peppermint, Turkish Apple, Salbei, Jasmin, Cinnamon, and with the notion of involvement as a key ingredient). We wanted to create a taste that represented the Hababusch, and stood as an invitation to settle down, taste the space, connect and enter into a different pace of time.

As part of the action, we moved the furniture and objects of the Hababusch living rooms outside in front of the building, as a visual comment on the current „in between“ situation that residents find themselves in. Within this inside/outside scenery, we arranged a big pot of tea, and welcomed anyone to join and enjoy the tea-drinking act as a small celebration and to experience the setting as the moment of hope to an upcoming reversal point.

Before leaving, everybody received some bags of „Hababusch“ tea as a take-away gift, to enjoy and remember the experience.

Through the project, we were able to draw attention, not only of people attending the Walk of Art, but also of rubbernecks passing by while we were setting up. People´s reactions were positive and supportive, and we were happy about the good feedback. We succeeded in opening the question of Hababusch into the public street space in a positive and sensory way.