Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN02_02a_P: Site-Specific Art & Public Space (Panel)
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Andrea Glauser, University of Lucerne
Session Chair: Michael Jonas, Institute for Advanced Studies
Location: PA.1.1
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Urban Experiments in Times of Crisis: The Case of Svolou’s Neighbourhood Initiative in Thessaloniki/Greece

George Chatzinakos

Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

This participatory action research, critically engages with issues of community-building and place-making. It describes the development of an urban experiment that takes place in inner Thessaloniki. It is organised by a bottom-up neighbourhood initiative, which was founded in 2013, by a group of locals. Influenced by respective cultural practices that take place in Barcelona, our main action is a collective dinner. The first challenge that emerged in our discussions was whether it was possible to transfer in a sustainable way a cultural activity from another city of the European south to Thessaloniki. Apparently, this pilot urban experiment created a more fertile ground for carrying out various activities in the neighbourhood. Gradually, this enabled us to establish a new neighbourhood identity, by combining various local and socio-cultural attributes. Nowadays, our focus is to find ways that can add to individual responsibility, collective sensitivity and ‘sociological imagination’ towards the commons. Arguably, the denaturation of respective neighbourhood initiatives can create a spreading domino effect, dragging the history of this city in a new era of participation and solidarity; challenging the social conventions; strengthening social ties; creating a new relationship with public space. In Greece, due to the lack of a permanent institutional framework, people can’t (re-)produce in a sustainable fashion applicable actions that will respond to their individual needs and provide solutions to the collective problems of their place of residence. To this end, to what extent neighbourhood initiatives can present an alternative way of cities’ management and citizens’ participation in the midst of a more-than-financial crisis?


Urban experiments; place-making; new politics of place; liminal cultures; critical event studies; action-research

Artistic re-appropriation of public space in Turkish scenes: the case of site-specific experiences in Istanbul

Zeynep Baykal, Seval Unlu Gok

Beykent University, Turkey

Nowadays, it seems much more appropriate to define politics beyond its representative liberal democratic meaning, as the right to have a say and have a right to behave for a collective life. In line with this, art itself begins to become a new way of refusing and challenging the traditional ways of doing politics. Thus, the collective spirit emerging out of the long lasting relationship of art and politics is combined and interacted with the unintended, unexpected features of new paths of doing politics. In this process, public space have a crucial role in such new cognitive maps of existence. Public space turned into a concrete presentation which is occupied, appropriated by those who had no right to be a part of it before. Related to that, site- specific theatrical performances with their usage of the space, bodily existence and expression within that space, contingency directly or indirectly to that transformation and have a potential to trigger a kind of collective impact on audiences. From that perspective site-specific performances can be considered more as a cipher of art and politics relation than as an artistic gender. It is possible to understand the impact of space on body expressions and bodily existence of performance by looking at the recent site- specific productions on Turkish art scene. This presentation aims to examine the political and emancipative aspects of selected site- specific performances in Turkey, in İstanbul from 1990’s to now on. This analysis will include a media research about the performances, in-depth interviews made by the authors, and personal experiences of the authors as a spectator of the performances.

Artistic Interventions: Affirmative Over-Identification as Tactics of Critique

Mirjam Pot

University of Vienna, Austria

Since 2010 the Austrian activist group "Die Freunde des Wohlstands" (Friends of Wealth, FoW) carries out artistic interventions in public space. During these interventions they pledge – among others – for lower property taxes and compulsory labor for the unemployed. Only at second glance it becomes clear that the group works with the technique of affirmative over-identification (AOI). By taking over dominant discourses put forward by the economic and political elites and exaggerating them slightly, they challenge and criticize the ideological basis of theses discourses.

The paper is structured as follows: Based on the literature on AIO I identify four functions of AIO, namely 1) the creation of distance between the discourse at stake and the audience by means of a complete collapse of distance, 2) semiotic sabotage of the language and signs used in that discourses, 3) emphasis on the responsibility of the audience regarding the interpretation of the intervention due to its ambivalence, and 4) the possibility to break up and reconstruct discourses. Subsequently, I analyze the artistic interventions of FoW in terms of content, implementation and use of AIO and possible affects. In particular, FoW aim at directing attention on neoliberal, classist and elitist discourses by spontaneously confronting its audience with condensed content of that sort in order to trigger critical reactions. Finally, drawing on Rancière’s notion of the political, I consider artistic over-identification a form of critical political art, as it challenges the “distribution of the sensible” (Rancière 2006).

Participatory theatre, urban exclusions, and youth (re)claiming the city

Valerie Monique Stam1,2

1Carleton University, Canada; 2University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Drawing on a participatory theatre project with youth in what is known as Afrikanerbuurt, a neighbourhood in Rotterdam, this research highlights the processes that work to other and exclude Black and Muslim youth from full belonging, and spotlights the ways in which youth are fighting back to (re)claim space in Dutch society. In the context of the migration crisis in Europe, first- and second-generation racialized and Muslim youth navigate varying barriers to belonging and citizenship: while they hold de facto legal citizenship, their de jure citizenship (social membership) is questioned (Arendt 1951; Somers 2008). Discourses of tolerance and danger, the archetype of “good” citizens, and everyday racism work to other certain bodies (Ahmed 2004; Brown 2008; Essed 1991; Thobani 2007; Wekker 2016). At the same time, cities are becoming important sites of belonging and hyper-diversity (Holston & Appadurai 1999; Tasan Kok et al 2014). In this presentation, I will look at how Black and Muslim youth “talk back” to these processes of othering through theatre. In co-creating and co-producing a theatre production, youth participated in, and facilitated, public conversations on (re)making and (re)claiming urban sites and modes of belonging. This presentation will examine the ways in which participatory theatre allows and disallows for expressions of belonging, subjectivities, citizenship, and resistance. It will also analyze performative ethnography’s potential to transform public city space.

Crip art in public space

Laura Moya

University of Zaragoza, SpainUniversity of Zaragoza

The cultural ecologies of the last three decades, motivated for a posthistoric turn of the arts, have ousted the estetic aspect and have caused an opening to multiple creative channels. This diversity of means, include facilities, videos, performances, happenings, flashmobs…., that ignored the museum, temple of power masked for the beauty, and also public spaces in wich only keep in mind the public as observer. These practises have ocupated the streets and the public spaces in the cities, questioning the treat between autor/work and autor/spectator. And, the social movements, tired of the inefficiency of the public politics, have found in this art their creative way of protest and transformation.

So, the crip movement, with the appropriation of the “crip” term, has questioned the compulsory organic and functional body, also has found in this art the tool for such deconstruction. Draging their bodies to the steps of the Washington’s Capitol, making flashmobs of crip dance in public spaces, are some artistic examples of this movement in an international level. Inside Europe, in Spain, the “Marchas de la diversidad funcional” or the flashmobs of “Trayectos” festival, have showed these processes. These are so examples about art in streets and public spaces of the cities and which put in first place the bodies dissolving their normality and showing the diversity.

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