Thoughts on coffee in the urban space

Marina Klimchuk

Marina Klimchuk lives in southern Tel Aviv and works with Eritrean refugee children in a therapeutic day care centre

More Info

25 07 17 — 19:17


Wittenberg, where are your refugees?


Searching for Eritrean asylum-seekers in Wittenberg feels somewhat like playing in a detective movie. Following uncertain traces of half-true information provided by residents living in the town, aimlessly cruising around in the outskirts of Wittenberg and finally getting one step closer to the the vision. The second we meet Mohammed on a lonely park bench, the deal is sealed.


Almost. One week later, the event turns out in a cheerful Eritrean party with coffee, dancing and live music on the Krar, a five- or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre from Eritrea and Ethiopia.


The initial idea of GLASPALÄSTE was to invite members from the Eritrean community in Wittenberg to organize their traditional coffee ceremony in the town center, for Eritreans as well as the people of Wittenberg alike. Opposite to the reality of ‘BLANKED OUT’ in Neve Shaanan, the backyard of globalization, the asylum seekers were given a platform to make themselves visible and participate in the urban space of Wittenberg by displaying their culture.




The coffee ceremony is an essential part in Eritrean culture that can only be performed by women. The coffee is brewed by first roasting the green coffee beans over hot coals.


This is followed by the grinding of the beans. The coffee grounds are then put into a special vessel, called a jebena and boiled.


A jebena is usually made of clay. When the coffee boils up through the neck it is poured in and out of another container to cool it and then is put back into the jebena until it happens again.


The hosts pour the coffee for all participants by moving the tilted jebena over a tray with small, handleless cups (finjal) without stop until each cup is full. The grounds are brewed three times.

An excellent side dish for the coffee is freshly baked bread.


 Tel Aviv_PALACE on TOUR


The arrival of people seeking asylum is a global phenomenon that displays itself locally. And while the differences between Tel Aviv and the Wittenberg could not be greater, the cultural elements brought into those two places by their Eritrean communities are surprisingly similar.


For one afternoon, the Tel Aviv_PALACE was turned into a symbol for this transnational connection. Positioned next to the location of the coffee ceremony, its presence in the urban space created a triangle between Tel Aviv, Eritrean culture and Wittenberg. To underline their sense of new belonging, some members of the Eritrean community hung up two flags inside the GLASPALAST: One Eritraen and one German.

Marina Klimchuk

Marina Klimchuk lives in southern Tel Aviv and works with Eritrean refugee children in a therapeutic day care centre. Born in Ukraine, she grew up in Germany and studied sociology in Munich as well as International Migration in Tel Aviv.

Her interests are hybrid Identities and the social construction of bounderies in urban space. Her Master thesis, „Living in a kaleidoscope. An ethnography of ethnic boundaries and crossing points in south Tel Aviv“ was published in 2015 by the BWV (Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag).

Michaela Rotsch

Bildende Künstlerin, transdisziplinäre und -kulturelle Forschung mit arabesken Organisationsstrukturen und syntopischen Werkstrukturen.

* Der Prototyp der Glaskuben stammt aus der künstlerischen Werkstruktur SYNTOPIAN VAGABOND, die hier mit dem transkulturellen Projektansatz von GLASPALÄSTE durch die gemeinsame Rahmenstruktur der Glaskuben verbunden wird. Dadurch wird die Grenze zwischen Bildender Kunst und anderen kulturellen Bereichen ausgelotet.

Michaela Rotsch

Fine artist, transdisciplinary and transcultural research with arabesque organisational structures and syntopic work structures.

* The prototype of the glass cubes comes from the artistic work structure SYNTOPIAN VAGABOND, which is linked here to the transcultural approach of GLASPALÄSTE through the common structure of the glass cubes. Thus the boundary between contemporary art and other cultural areas is explored.

Irmtraud Voglmayr

Soziologin und Medienwissenschaftlerin, Schwerpunkte in Forschung und Lehre: Stadt- und Raumforschung, Medien, Gender und Klasse.

Irmtraud Voglmayr

Sociologist and media theorist, focussing on research and teaching: city and urban planning, media, gender and class.

Juliane Zellner

Juliane Zellner studierte Theaterwissenschaft (M.A.) in München, Urban Studies (MSc.) in London und promoviert derzeit an der Hafencity Universität im Fachbereich Kultur der Metropolen.

Juliane Zellner

Juliane Zellner holds a degree in Theatre Studies (M.A.) from LMU Munich and a degree in Urban Studies (MSc) from UCL London.

Currently she is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Metropolitan Culture at the HCU Hamburg.