Crafting and listening at Montagscafé

For diverse Dresdner Nachbarschaften, the Kleine Haus has become a permanent address as a community and meeting place. This is not the first time we have been here, but it is always exciting to see who comes by on a Monday afternoon to talk, listen and do things together.

Text: Rosa Brockelt · Photos: Yvonn Spauschus

At the beginning of the café, as always, there are only women, today a cheerful group from Turkey, some ladies from Afghanistan and a group of Venezuelan women who are discussing the meal planning of the upcoming festival with Maike.

We tinker with the houses together and, despite the language barrier, talk with Tuba, Yüksel and Selva about names, languages and other life experiences. At some point, Cordula, who regularly offers a German regulars’ table in the café, sits down with us. “I’m originally from near Stuttgart and moved to Dresden a few years ago for my daughter and grandchildren” she tells us. “I was a teacher and taught German courses for refugees for a while. But that was very frustrating due to the conditions and the lack of commitment, and I quit after a while. Instead, I looked for motivated people and worked intensively with them privately on their language skills. Today, my “private students” are scattered everywhere: one is in France, one in Cologne, but with most of them I have no contact anymore.”

Montagscafé - Dresdner Nachbarschaften © Y. Spauschus

When the small houses are on display and the material has been tidied up again, I join Julia Tieke and Katja Heiser, who go on a listening tour of the Neustadt with some of the Monday Café guests. The concept is very exciting: Julia, who works a lot with sound recordings in her everyday life as a radio producer, and Katja, who deals with listening in theater projects, put active listening in the foreground with this new format. The walk takes us to different places and we are asked to write down all the sounds we hear. As I listen to the soundscape, I notice how my hearing perceives and differentiates more and more. While at the beginning my list contains general entries like “car, fountain, streetcar”, the notes gradually become more detailed. “Woman speaks Slavic foreign language,” “Bicycle stand is extended,” or “Sound of car tires crossing tracks” are written further down and I am amazed at what I recognize, although I normally do not perceive these sounds at all.

Montagscafé - Dresdner Nachbarschaften © Y. Spauschus

One of the stages we do in the market hall, which seems unnaturally quiet and uncomfortably empty. There, in the middle of the exercise, the man from the security service approaches me and asks what we are doing. You can immediately see the doubt in his face as I try to explain the concept to him. “Yes, but what are you doing all this for?!” He doesn’t seem to accept my “To perceive the world differently.” By now it’s closing time, so he chattily accompanies us to the exit – he probably still doesn’t see the point of our exercise when he says goodbye to us and locks the front door behind him.

In any case, I enjoyed the walk very much: in general, I give priority to visual impressions. Closing my eyes and actively listening showed me how unfamiliar and exciting the world can feel when perceived through other … ehm … ears. And I plan to close my eyes and listen to my surroundings in everyday life as well.

More information

Montagscafé · Staatsschauspiel Dresden
Galcisstraße 28 · 01099 Dresden
Contact: Wanja Saatkamp & Maike von Harten
· Phone: 0351 4913 617

Dresdner Nachbarschaften – sichtbar, vernetzt, engagiert!

Neighbourhoods are everywhere – we are right in the middle of it. With district walks, conversations in the green, creative workshops, exhibitions and much more.

Supported by

The project is funded by the State Ministry for Social Affairs and Social Cohesion. This measure is co-financed with tax funds on the basis of the budget passed by the Saxon state parliament within the framework of the state programme Integrative Maßnahmen.