Paula Hildebrandt

Paula Hildebrandt
Performing Citizenship and the Welcome City Hamburg

New forms of citizenship are developing in the cities of the 21st century: self-organized and independent from state institutions they do not only negotiate but also practically shape the way we live together. The graduate school Performing Citizenship investigates these new articulations of urban citizenship, in fact, with scientific and with artistic means which implies leaving the comfort zone of the supposedly objective participant observer with different formats and techniques to enacting citizenship.

Is it possible to think a “performative democracy” beyond our system of representative democracy? What means citizenship under conditions when ever more people are on the move, when loyalty and belonging to a community cannot anymore be grasped through a primary focus on the nation (to the extend that they ever could)?

The artistic research project Welcome City honors the gaze of the newcomer: what flummoxes, where to start, how to organize oneself in a new environment, make connections, find the right broker, door opener or middle woman. It aims to provide (hopefully useful) information for all those people on the move (not only in Hamburg) who want to learn more about the hidden protocols and the secret, mostly unspoken rules for living, visiting and settling in a new city – the rules that you’re supposed to know or which you didn’t even know exist. A blog, a group and a class provide the methodological tools to investigate the Welcome City Hamburg. The project, in other words, offers an opportunity to practically experiment with and reflect upon the relation between representation and deliberation, artistic expression and political action, self-invention and societal expectations involved in doing – artistic, collaborative, performative, ethnographic, qualitative and sociological – research.




Paula Hildebrandt (born in Berlin 1976; lives in Hamburg/Berlin) works as artist, activist, theorist, scholar and author. In her projects she combines investigations of cultural phenomena with ecological, social and political themes exploring concrete implementations of an “extended definition of politics”. Paula studied political science at the FU Berlin, Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex and Brokering Cross-Sector Partnerships at the University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD in European Urbanism from the Bauhaus University Weimar, tought at the Art Academy Berlin-Weissensee, the Vilnius Academy of Arts and worked as curator for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Since 2015 she coordinates the academic-artistic graduate school PERFORMING CITIZENSHIP – a collaboration between the HafenCity University Hamburg, the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, the Fundustheater and K3 – Zentrum für ChoreographieITanzplan –, and investigates the Welcome City Hamburg.

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