Johannes Kuhn works as a designer in Hamburg. The projects are research based and combine graphic, sound, text, image and spatial practices. He works on exhibitions, posters, models, interventions, radio broadcasts, publications, websites and installations. In 2015 he founded the collective yvjo for design and research together with Lukas Yves Jakel and Kristiane Fehrs. Since 2017 he works as a docent at the HafenCity University Hamburg in the department of architecture. Since 2018 the collective has been organizing the initiative Satellit in Munich with the aim of critically analyzing and participating in the transformation process of a district. His projects have been published among others in form Magazin, Deutschlandradio and Süddeutsche Zeitung. He also writes regular articles on urban politics for the Marxist newspaper klassegegenklasse. Recently he was part of an exhibition in Halle6 Munich and speaker at the symposium Kunst ist Zwecklos at PORT25 Mannheim.
Research festival, curation, 2020
As part of the Design Lab #6 of the Berlin Museum of Decorative Arts, the Studio Experimental Design organized a three-week virtual research festival. The starting point was the question: "(How) do we (want to) work (together) (as (socially engaged) designers (students and neighbours)) (in neoliberal times)?" Since 2011, the studio has been practicing a politically and socially engaged design approach with the Öffentliche Gestaltungsberatung St. Pauli. It is an attempt to work with and for those who are usually excluded from design by means of design. This critical attitude towards design enables and requires a new way of thinking about design and new ways of doing design. How can collective and interdisciplinary working relationships be developed? How are alternative practices and subjectivities located in the context of the increasing precarization in neoliberalism? What role do designers play as workers? In order to examine these questions, design, work, and teaching as socially engaged and political practice were discussed with guests, friends, and the audience in reading groups, workshops, and lectures. Guests included Silvia Federici, Arts of the Working Class, Stavros Stavrides, Pelin Tan, Silvio Lorusso, Velvetyne, Airi Triisberg, IG Bildende Kunst, DCW Union, VIOME, MadyGraf, Harald Trapp, Jesko Fezer, Felix Vogel, Hans-Christian Dany, Brave New Alps, Florian Schmidt, Sebastian Schmieg, Angela McRobbie, Vivien Tauchmann, Onomatopee, Manuela Zechner, Emma Dowling, Poliklinik Veddel, Silke Helfrich, In the Meantime, Lucy Kimbell, Guy Julier, Rosario Talevi, The Outsiders, Casco Art Institute.
Urban research, intervention, 2020
In Bremen, large parts of a district were demolished in the 1960s to construct the Rembertiring. In the context of the exhibition ASPHALT ZU WASSER we explored the area for traces. Therefore we recreated the exhibition space aRaum as a mobile inflatable structure and moved through the city. The space is a tool to map and reconstruct demolished buildings, to identify traffic axes that have been separated and to talk to the old and new neighbours about the history of the district. The project is a collaboration with Lucas Schmidt. Inspired by research on the Rembertiring by Jürgen Amthor. The exhibition was curated by the collective In Ordnung.
Book design, 2020
Continuities of right wing tradition in Southern Germany. Written by Max van Beveren. Right wing and revisionist remembrance did not end with the defeat of fascism in 1945. Their continuities are recognizable until today in the villages of the alpine upland. Research shows that there are many unknown memorials, signs and monuments that openly honour Freikorps associations, Nazi officials and military units.
Concept and design of a monument, participatory design, various media, 2020
To commemorate is to take action! Based on this request, the Studio for Experimental Design, together with relatives of former prisoners of Neuengamme Concentration Camp and supporters, designed a growing, active and international memorial. The design explores the question of how the memory of the victims of Nazi crimes can be kept alive and what role memory culture can play in the fight against fascism. At the Monument relatives of prisoners of Neuengamme concentration camp from all over the world are invited to design a poster motif about their persecuted family member. Printing plates are made from the motifs and presented on archive shelves. In the printing workshop, visitors to the memorial can reproduce these posters in letterpress and present them on a billboard. The posters are also archived on a website. Rudolf Esser printed a letter to his father: "Dear Daddy! In memory of the suffering of our family through the Nazi-Terror I am writing these lines against forgetting, trivialisation and denial, which are again spreading today. In November 1933 you and Uncle Alwin were arrested in Hamburg. Grandpa Fritz was already in prison as an active member of the communist party. The Gestapo printed the leaflet slogan "Down with Hitler!" on your brother's forehead with a stamp supposedly discovered in your house. Alwin was beaten to death in prison. In 1944, a few weeks after my birth, you were taken to Neuengamme concentration camp after being arrested again. The absolute arbitrariness, the constant fear, hunger and brutality you experienced here were hell for you. So that this never happens again, I promise you, we will remain alert, we will not keep silent, we will intervene. Your Berni" The Neuengamme concentration camp was a labour camp for the production of clinker bricks. Most of the prisoners were political opponents and resistance fighters. In addition to Communists and Social Democrats, the prisoners included Jews, Sinti and Roma and homosexuals. It must be assumed that more than half of the approx 100,400 prisoners of Neuengamme concentration camp did not survive the National Socialist persecution.
Photo: Kayoung Kim
Urban research, intervention, sound installation, 2018
"Space is the Place" is an exhibition in Halle6 in Munich based on the 1974 science fiction film about
the jazz avantgardist Sun Ra. It is an attempt to save the world with the help of art. The collective
yvjo participates in the exhibition with a performative research and a sound installation. Together with
the visitors the quarter was explored. Through a performative live mapping, places with special
qualities were marked with red balloons. Apparently unimportant spaces in between became central
Small passages became central axes. Hidden benches became popular meeting places. The inflatable S-BASE
was the central point of the mission. This was where all the collected information was gathered. The
sound installation was the result of a two year research project in which the neighbourhood was asked
about the development of the quarter. With a loudspeaker van, 200 collected demands and statements were
sounded through the area. Project by collective yvjo in cooperation with REMARK from Amsterdam and
Christian Schnurrer from Munich.
In a collaboration between the refugee group Lampedusa Hamburg and the Studio for Experimental Design, a four
meter high wooden sculpture was created. It is a monument against racism, deportations and oppression.
Graphic design, various media, since 2019
Import Export offers artists and socially engaged people a space for interdisciplinary
experimentation. It is a neighbourhood meeting point, event location, project room, café and canteen. Cooperation with Nicolas Bernklau.
Installation, curation, since 2018
The library includes selected publications on the subject of right to the city. It will be installed
at various locations to initiate a critical discussion on the topic of neoliberal urban development.
The library is accompanied by discussion events, podcasts and interventions. Right to the city is the
fight against gentrification and rent increases. It is also the fight against racist police controls,
exclusions in social housing and bans on begging. In cities it is negotiated who belongs and who
doesn't, who has access to resources and who doesn't. Right to the city is a social movement for solidary cities! The
last stations were the exhibition "5000 Zimmer" in Munich and the University of Architecture and Urban
The podcast contains curated texts and audio pieces. The work was a cooperation with Corvo Records and part of the exhibition "5000 Zimmer". Project by collective yvjo.
Vinyl production, various media, since 2018
Urban research, sound installation, 2018
In a two day workshop, architecture students from HafenCity University Hamburg took sound walks
in Wilhelmsburg. They made psychogeographic maps, photographs and sound recordings. The material
was used as a basis for an experimental examination of the district. At the FlohZinn flea market an
sound body was installed where visitors could collage sound pieces from the collected material. Project
Exhibition design, 2019
Symposium, Exhibition, Political Forum. #EXIST is an exhibition about space for art in the
Halle6 in Munich. Parallel to the exhibition, there was a campaign that addressed the lack of studios
and the low income of art workers.