EVENT: Symposium: Leaving Traces, Leaving Politics In The City? Rennes, 22-23 November 2018

International Symposium organized by the Laboratory of research GRIEF, ENSAB, Rennes; The Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University, Melbourne; The Centre for Urban Research RMIT University, Melbourne, and the Research Lab EA 7472 PTAC – Pratiques et Théories de l’Art Contemporain, Rennes 2 University, Rennes.

Organized by Flavia Marcello and Carmen Popescu.

Public space and life in the polis were from the beginning tightly connected, both in terms of city governance and shared actions of its inhabitants. Whether carefully designed or loosely articulated, public space shapes behavior, providing a frame for the norms and rules of society. At the same time, it implicitly invites transgression. From the agora of Athens to the central squares in the former Communist Bloc, from the streets of San Francisco to the paths in the favelas or other informal communities, public spaces are arenas of political expression, where official discourse and unofficial voices meet/overlap/come into conflict with each other.

If official channels of political discourse are well-documented and built into the socio-political structures of modern society, unofficial means of expression are less studied. From explicit forms of protest to furtive integration, the symposium is particularly interested in scenarios where distinctions between official and unofficial political discourses become blurred. The symposium will examine how unofficial political voices are made manifest in the urban realm by focusing on one or more of the following questions: What tactics are used to make these unofficial voices “audible”? How does political expression turn the city into a space of dynamic visuality? What is the impact of ephemeral events on public space?

By questioning a certain normativity (but not only), the symposium seeks to stress the connections and the tensions between officially shaped (and designed) public spaces and unofficially used, occupied or appropriated places and/or itineraries. By viewing political expressions—be they official or unofficial—in this way, the symposium also wants to question the very meaning of “what is political”.

The full programme of the symposium can be downloaded here.

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