Suffizient und Schön
The former Prussian mansion of Neuroofen lies relatively deep in the forest close to formerly clear Lake Stechlin, 80km north of Berlin. We want to open up the house, and artistically develop the place regarding its social and ecological sustainability.
It is an inclusive space devoted to people who meddle, to whom debate and discovery are not enough. Those who intervene and act, who bring new ideas and ideals into the world and try them out.
We are convinced of the power of artistic thinking and social commitment. To think outside the box and question supposedly unshakeable matters are a necessity and resource for positive social change.
The Stechlin-Institut is an artistic response to life in eco-sufficiency, with solidarity and co-operation, knowledge transfer, and stubborn problem solving.
The Stechlin-Institut is a resonance chamber for informed and enlightened people who are conscious of the political, social, and ecological transformations of society to come. For those who stand up and confront the resistance of revisionary forces, not only with a new awareness for all things alive, but also try to artistically create eco-sufficient and resilient environments.
Not only do cities like Berlin diffusing into the rural sphere enrich the countryside by new mobility and new work concepts, but they also present a new hybrid reality of life. We want to enrich the freedom of this new kind of space with knowledge and test to what extent sustainable sufficient life is possible beyond urban centres.
Socially engaged art
There has been a history of roughly 100 years to socially engaged art. Artistic practice in this field understands itself beyond the symbolic as a tool of immediate social transformation. Today, a growing number of artists are beginning to consciously return to the social. The Stechlin-Institut sees itself as an actor in the field of socially engaged art. It wants to activate the social potential of artistic thinking and expand the scope of artistic action.
Art at the Stechlin-Institut
Like Cornelius Castoriadis, we are convinced of the creative imagination of humans as the inexhaustible “source and origin of otherness and perpetual self-alteration of a society.” And this, in fact, does not only concern artists. Artistic or oblique thinking is an emancipatory process. Bernhard Waldenfels attributes a special ability to artists, being able to stand ambiguity. One could say it like this: Artists make visible what is invisible. They don’t change that which is disturbing – they create another perspective on it altogether. Art is a discipline, a process which renders deviation, the surprising, and the superfluous visible in order to break routine experience and perception.
Also the temporary retreat to rural surroundings is a strategy from the context of art, aiming at overviewing and clarifying. That teams of non-profit organizations and artists are living together first of all means a confrontation with a strange, or at least different, life plan. It should be mentioned, though, that artists are confronted with the same insecurity of the situation. When these actors are in encounter, it is therefore at eye level, and everybody involved can find the potential of reflecting their own situation.
An indefinite place, a house full of perspectives, where socially engaged people can find the resonance chamber to exchange, reflect, and develop further in the serenity of nature. The Stechlin-Institut enables experiences in which curiosity, eco-sufficiency and society converge, in order to encourage participation/dedication with diverse perspectives. We are convinced of the power of artistic thinking and sustainable social commitment.
Retreating and opening up are made possible through this place – the community offers motivation and perspective.
It is an old house staying cool even in hot weather. Every one of its three floors is about 200 squaremeters. At the moment, we are using two of these floors for living. There are enough beds for 15 people. The main floor can be heated, the top floor under the roof (mainly for sleeping) is not insulated yet.
Our wifi connects via broadband, but mobile reception in this area is rather low.
The house is not barrier-free yet.
Most rooms are spacious and open – this means, there are no single or double rooms. The dining table fits everyone easily, the fireside room overflows with couches, and tiled fireplaces serve to make the main floor very cozy. There are two showers, three toilets, 15 beds, two fridges and three kitchen sinks. You can move your beds freely around the house.
Around the house lies a huge field of grass with fruit trees giving shade in the summer. Big Lake Stechlin is located perhaps three kilometers through the forest. Lake Roofen in the other direction is also nice for swimming and taking long walks.
There are local producers all around. The Faradgang fixed a bunch of bikes for the Institut which you can use to explore the area and go on food hunts. To the eco farmer, fisherman, forester, supermarkets, bakers, or bee-keepers…
The manor of Neu-Roofen was founded by a Prussian family in 1872 who wanted to use their land for agriculture. As a sandy glacial frontal plain, the ground didn’t yield well, so they sold their fields one after the other, and at one point also swapped their house with the forestry department. In the meantime, Neuroofen grew into a small hamlet in the middle of a forest where foresters and lumberjacks were trained. Under the National Socialists, the house was extended, and for a few days in 1945, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was based here. After the war, the house served as a refugee home before the forestry department returned in the GDR. Some time in between then and now, it also was a summer camp for children, a shop, and a youth club. These different usages and many inhabitants have all left their traces. After this changeful history, the foundation Stiftung Edith Maryon bought the house for the Stechlin-Institut in 2014. When we moved in, we first stripped the house down to its oldest walls. A barrier-free renovation is planned for the coming years.