by Ares Kalandides
“The European Commission awarded Hamburg the title of “European Green Capital 2011” in Brussels, February 23, 2009. With Stockholm as European Green Capital 2010 and Hamburg 2011, the two cities were the first to ever receive an acclaimed award recognizing the two most environmentally friendly cities in Europe” (you can read more here).
Yet Hamburg is also a city with a large number of homeless people. You can see them (or equally choose not to) in entrances of closed shops, in park benches and under bridges. This is a poster that challenges Hamburg’s new brand as green capital. It asks unpleasant questions of priorites: it’s the people against the brand. How different this sounds from the robust pictures of the Green Capital?
Places and the meanings people give to them will always be contested. There are no fixed meanings about them, but they will always be part of a power structure. The satirical comments on most place promotion campaigns show how sensitive people are to them – especially the inhabitants of the place.
It would be unfair to call the title Green Capital simply a brand – there is a lot more to it than just a name. Yet, it is perceived and used mostly as such.