Katja Aßmann, who studied architecture and art history in Bochum, was appointed as the artistic director of Urbane Künste Ruhr in early 2012. Within the remit of securing the effects of Ruhr.2010, she has designed and developed the project’s new artistic direction and organisation, curating her own and co-productions with regional and international artists and collectives. In 2016, among other projects, Katja Aßmann curated together with Florian Matzner the Emscherkunst 2016 exhibition. She is one of a trio of artistic directors, including Angelika Fitz and Martin Fritz, responsible for the international network project Actopolis – The Art of Action. In addition, for the Ruhrtriennale, she is curating the art intervention well,come with the osa_office for subversive architecture. Katja Aßmann’s curatorial work is focused on art productions that develop their relevance for everyday urban life by transcending accepted thematic and institutional borders.

For over 30 years, the Ruhr area has been engaged in a transformation process from an industrial metropolis to a cultural region, based entirely on a top-down strategy. Such major projects as the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Emscher Park or the Ruhr as European Capital of Culture in 2010 have opened the way for change without growth. But people only seem to have become aware of this shift over the last few years. The illusion is only slowly being dispelled that the solutions for shaping our living spaces in future will be steered by a distant authority in the political or industrial sphere. Numerous bottom-up initiatives have formed to address urgent urban issues. Here, though, the aim is not to play off the bottom-up and top-down approaches against each other. Political and planning decisions must follow the lead given by civil society commitment. In this process, the arts play the key role of pointing up the possible spaces for trying out new forms of democratic negotiations.