I. »En garde!« We are a political project
We, the association »Faites votre jeu!«, occupied the former youth centre in Varrentrappstraße 38 in August 2008 in order to oppose the repressive restructuring of the urban space with an attempt at a self-managed, non-commercial centre. In February 2009, we decided to move into the former police prison at Klapperfeldstraße 5 (here: »the Klapperfeld«), which was offered as a replacement building by the city of Frankfurt under the pressure of broad support for our project. Within a short time, the Klapperfeld has become a magnet for many people who share our need for countercultural spaces. It has also become a contact point for people who have no recognisable relationship to the orientation of our project. This circumstance has been caused by us, because so far we have not sufficiently defined our political self-image in terms of content and have hardly made our organisational structure transparent to the outside. This text has come into being as a result of our discussion about this. We are aware of the problem that the realisation of »free spaces« and »self-determination« must remain imperfect under the conditions of relations of domination that permeate every area of social coexistence. We are also aware of the challenges of our decision to want to develop emancipative culture and politics in a building that has been created and used for subjugation, disciplining and coercion. But also in the Klapperfeld it is still our claim to realise a maximum of self-determination on a basis of solidarity. This claim includes not only a maximum of freedom from capitalist exploitation pressures and state power, but in particular also a maximum of freedom from discriminatory ideologies and practices of inequality and inequivalence.
II. the Klapperfeld is an open space
We are not a closed group, but open to all who want to help shape or play in the space available to us in the sense outlined above. Lecture and discussion events, exhibitions, readings or film screenings are possible. Non-public events are also conceivable, such as group meetings or workshops. However, the long-term use of spaces by art producers – e.g. as studios or rehearsal rooms – is difficult at the moment, as all possible spaces are occupied. We are open to suggestions in various ways: in person (e.g. at one of the regular bar evenings), by post, by phone and preferably by email. Since we receive a relatively large number of requests, we ask you to first send a description of the project by e-mail. We will contact you as soon as the plenum (see below) has discussed whether the project can be realised in the Klapperfeld, and then we will see what happens. Ideally, this will take a few days, but it may take two weeks or longer. We have a lot of plans and are not a service agency.
III. The Klapperfeld is not a space of arbitrariness
If you would like to use the Klapperfeld as an exciting backdrop for your next company outing, have always wanted to open a stylish shoe shop in a cell, or would like to host the upcoming annual meeting of your reservist comradeship here, please don’t even write to us. Discussing requests for projects that do not make sense in the Klapperfeld from the outset is detrimental to the realisation of other projects and blocks our discussions on content. The projects realised here should have a recognisable relationship to our project. This excludes projects that are commercially oriented, see the Klapperfeld only as an exotic stage (»something different«) or exclude people (e.g. because they have too little money or would have to fear discrimination). Please also remember that the rooms are relatively small and ill-suited for events that are expected to be crowded. Unfortunately, the building is also not suitable as a place to sleep for artists or other guests passing through. In principle, the Klapperfeld can be used for bar evenings or other events with a party character – especially if the proceeds go to a solidarity cause. However, in our opinion, a building in which people were tortured and from which refugees were deported only a few years ago cannot simply be a party location. The permanent exhibition in the basement is also open during bar evenings to allow visitors to engage with the history of the place. Bar evenings should not degenerate in a way that would make such discussions impossible. We can’t determine the limit to this ourselves, but we can make some suggestions on how events can remain »controllable« – e.g. by not using hard alcohol, ending the event relatively early or limiting the volume of music. If you want to use the Klapperfeld for bar evenings or the like, you should already take these aspects into account in the conception. You can probably guess what kind of events we don’t want here. Nobody gets paid to work here. Please don’t expect a »service« and don’t send us job applications. We don’t want to create a service situation with »operators« on one side and »users« on the other.
IV. Do It Yourself!
The Klapperfeld is not, the Klapperfeld is being made. The development of the space is the result – never completed – of the manifold activities of those who use it and thereby make it come alive. Decisions on all forms of use are made at the weekly plenum, which is open to all who wish to participate. The plenary is attended regularly by some and more sporadically by others – there is no formal membership, nor are there informal attendance requirements. However, we do expect groups that use the Klapperfeld regularly to send people to the plenum to ensure consistent two-way communication. Those who realise a project in the Klapperfeld come to the previous plenum in order to be personally approachable for any queries regarding the technology or the like. Where people interact, hierarchies arise – also in our plenum. Our organisational structure follows the maxim of keeping these as low as possible and dismantling them wherever possible, which includes making them transparent and open to attack. There are no »bosses«, not even for certain areas of responsibility; responsibility for individual tasks is regularly passed on. Independent working groups emerge from the plenary. Some of them work continuously – such as the history group, which deals with the building’s past – others are formed temporarily, e.g. to design a specific room. There are also many opportunities to get involved outside of the plenary and the working groups. These include, in particular, the free shop, where usable things can be taken or given away – without money and without exchange. Regular joint renovation and cleaning days take place, which we announce on the notice board in the hallway. Our organisational structure is a dynamic part of our practice and will not result in a statute or similar. Only one thing is certain: We shape our organisation according to our goals and needs, not according to an institutionalised corset.
»Faites votre jeu!«, January 2010