COLA TAXI OKAY is a cultural project space in the centre of Karlsruhe, launched inOctober 2016 by Larissa Mantel for her diploma work, andhasbeen running since.The aim of the project isto bring people who have fled their country and the peopleof Karlsruhe together without taking on the mechanisms ofan aid project, andtocreate a space the participants can identify with. A temporary hairdressing salon, the fashion brand SEXY LIKE DIOR, cooking evenings, jam sessions, a theatre cooperation with the state theater and Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, talks, parties orexhibitions – everyone is invited to join, suggest content, andto create and organize them together.

How do you deal with a social theme as a person working artistically? How do you get the displaced excited about your own ideas, without making them feel “used”? How do you work with displaced people so that they can speak out on their own? –By getting them to become part of the artistic process. Each person is asked tobecome an artist, andto communally work on a meaningful society. Thus, the work
initiated by the diploma student takes a back seat and brings the people and their power into the foreground, leading to the emergence and preservation of the project space. Larissa Mantel’s work shows that art can change society and that the creative impulses from community art can aid the task.

The use of primary colors red, yellow and blue (derived from the international flag alphabet) for astriking aesthetic, a clear set of rules for speaking and writing and the logo COLA TAXI OKAY, which morphs into new word combinations at each event, Larissa Mantel establishes an immediately recognizable yet un-repetitive design. COLA TAXI OKAY was given its title together with the refugees, using terms that are understood in almost all parts of the world; so-called internationalisms.

The space isnow a part of the city andan indispensable meeting place for diverse, lasting exchange that keeps opening upnew creative spaces. Culture isan active process, and integration is a task for everyone.

Prof. Sereina Rothenberger, Prof. Urs Lehni,
Prof. Michael Bielicky, Ludger Pfanz, theory: Daniel Hornuff