If you’ve spent any time clubbing in Berlin, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of Görlitzer Park, known by some as a sure fire way to pick up some not-so-legal clubbing aids.
Well the chief protagonists of those leafy dealings may soon be commemorated in a permanent public monument—if Berlin-based American artist Scott Holmquist has his way. Holmquist is petitioning for a monument to be erected in the Kreuzberg park honouring the African drug dealers who frequent the area.
“Drug dealers perform a socially valuable service appreciated by many people—especially where they are easily reached, in the middle of the neighbourhood, and especially in parks,” Holmquist explains. He says the monument “celebrates, dignifies and remembers people who have been subject to extreme bigotry, violence and persecution while they perform dangerous work at the forefront of social advancement.”
Unsurprisingly, there are many opposed to the monument, flatly denying the artist’s (in all fairness, rather spurious) claim that these small time drug dealers are at the forefront of social advancement. The petition has received political support, however, from the ultra leftist Pirate Party, which occupies 4 out of 51 seats in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district assembly.
Görlitzer Park, image via
The party argue for the monument on less controversial grounds than Holmquist, welcoming it as an opportunity to promote discussion of the park's conditions, and of its regulars in a context beyond that of simple criminality.
“The situation relates to many aspects of social life,” a party spokesperson has said, “such as flight and refuge, drug trafficking and smuggling, and dealing with asylum seekers. A monument doesn’t always need to be equated to a distinction, it can—and should—stimulate thought and debate.”
Whether the monument is ever approved seems unlikely, but it should reignite a tense discussion in Berlin regarding the perceived dangers of its drug culture and that culture’s benefit to Berlin’s tourism and nightlife scene.