Parquet: A Social Floor Covering in Berlin-Neukölln

Raw materials for the "social parquet" (2010) come from unofficial refuse dumps on the streets of Berlin-Neukölln and residents’ cellars and attics. For example, this parquet includes Muhammet’s kitchen table, a childhood bed that once belonged to Kerstin, Güler’s wardrobe, and a plank from Bernhard’s ship. These are among the roughly 550 found items and donations which compose the "social floor covering."

In the final work, 4289 parquet pieces are laid out in a fish-bone pattern‘originally also known as "bourgeois parquet"‘on 126 square meters (1,356 square feet). It is an installation to walk on, made by materials from people who live in the most well-known social hotspot of Berlin, which has a high rate of unemployment, crime and poverty.

Between March and July, I used an empty shop called "SOZIALPARKETTSTUBE" to collect and show off contributions from the community. We spent many days talking to people, listening to their stories, observing their life and discussing the project. We got to know each other, and people started to visit us to chat over a cup of coffee. After a while, they informed us about "interesting" pieces of waste on the streets and started to bring us material from their households. Each time a resident brought in a contribution, I carefully "revalued" it. They were quite amazed to see that we really cared about each tragic, icky, funny‘and always touching‘piece. They were proud to become part of the "social parquet," and we photographed each of them with their wooden trophy.

Behind residents’ personal dramas, the ecological drama is hidden. Berlin residents produced 927,601 tons of household garbage and bulky waste in 2007. Some 1000 tons can be found in the streets of Neukölln: Whether you’re looking for shoes or sofas, you’ll find them in public spaces as witnesses to the faded beauty of consumption.

The "Art Parquet," the "People’s Parquet," and the "Social Parquet of Neukölln" belong to a trilogy of installations which question parquet as a material and a social phenomenon – sensually, poetically, aesthetically and politically. Please find more detailed information and a documentation of the project on the website

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Contributor's Biography:

Barbara Caveng is a visual artist who lives and works in Berlin. She studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. To learn more about her work, visit