Mohile Parikh Centre for Contemporary Culture (MPC3), Bombay
March 26th, 2005
10.00 am – 1.30 pm

Visible Conflicts
Aesthetical and political negotiations in public space: New Delhi and Vienna

The history of utopian city-planning in modern Europe could be read in terms of a conflict between functionalism and the overcoming of purely functional city-models. Apart from the well-known phenomenon of colonialist exports of European city-models, imports of non-Western, urban structures - as a countermove - can be observed as well. In the middle of the 20th century the Arabian Kasbah became the epitome of a heterarchic, humane city for those who were critical of the functionalist, modern city. Current discussions on the informal architectures of slums, which we find in numerous architectural seminars from Harvard to Vienna, are also to be considered in this context. One of the core problems of these translation processes - now as much as then - are the divergent notions of ‘the public’ and ‘the public space’. The Habermasian model of a consensual civil public sphere which could never be applied universally has in the meantime lost political relevance also within the European context. ‘Here’ as well as ‘there’ we are moving increasingly within the ‘postmodern fundamentalism’ (Slavo Zizek) of ‘Small Town Utopia’ and gated communities. Are the conditions of the public sphere - for the first time - converging under the sign of this global ‘new urbanism’? And, if so, what characterizes these new public spaces and what are the tactics put to test by urbanists, architects, artists and activists?

Angelika Fitz (Vienna) is a cultural theorist, author and curator of exhibitions in the fields of art and architecture, based in Vienna. Most recent exhibitions and publications include “Reserve of Form”, Künstlerhaus, Vienna (2004), the Austrian contribution to the 5th Architecture Biennale in Sao Paulo (2003) and “Capital & Karma” (Kunsthalle Vienna / Hatje Cantz, 2002). From 1998 onwards, she has realized different projects with cultural theorists, artists and architects from South Asia, including the art in public space series “Boxwallahs” (with M. Wörgötter).

Respondent: Rahul Srivastava, Social Scientist and Director PUKAR: Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (Bombay)



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