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15 Sep 2009

City as Stage, City as Process - MIT Visual Arts Program Lecture Series Fall 2009

Photo: Antje Mohr 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009
'Factory City'



Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Joan Jonas Performance Hall
(Bldg N51, Rm 337)
265 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

(adjacent to the MIT Museum
entrance on Front Street)

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City as Stage, City as Process brings together speakers from art and (counter) culture, architecture, urbanism, and media technology to discuss such questions as: In what way is the city not a fixed entity, but a process? How do artists and cultural activists reclaim the street, activating the city as backdrop and insisting on public space? What makes a city a city? Who owns the city? How can media technology be designed to intervene in and navigate the city? The MIT Visual Arts Program (VAP) lecture series is directed by Ute Meta Bauer and Amber Frid-Jimenez. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the VAP this term, the lecture series highlights the issues at the core of the academic program and the work and research of the faculty.


Factory City: The City is our Factory: Politics of desire and the production of urban spaces between Grande Latte and Park Fiction. In the new urban fabric, subcultures, cultural workers, musicians and artists play a significant role as producers of collective spaces, places shaped by desires; as inventors of new perspectives and lifestyles. Christoph Schaefer will introduce Park Fiction, a collective self-organised project that managed to break from the grip of real estate developers an expensive piece of land on the prestigeous riverbank of Hamburg St. Pauli. In a joint effort, a group of residents together with artists organized for the right to the city and against gentrification, winning a public park with a harbor view. The struggle for urban spaces is the struggle for the means of production: the city is our factory. What role can cultural workers play in this scenario?

Speaker: Hamburg-based German conceptual artist Christoph Schaefer focuses on urban space and how it can be altered through art. Since 1995, he has been part of the Park Fiction project. He is interested in the exchange of subjectivities and the collective new definition of public space. As a guest of Sarai Media Lab, he researched irregular settlements and gated communities in Delhi and Kolkata. His video installation Hoang's Bistro deals with the growing Vietnamese shadow cities in Leipzig in the context of shrinking cities in east Germany. Since 2008, Schaefer has been part of Es Regnet Kaviar (It's Raining Caviar - Action Network against Gentrification), and the neighbourhood organisation NoBNQ. His upcoming book of drawings and texts The City is our Factory will be published by Spector books Leipzig this winter.


09/28/09 - Factory City
(see details above)

10/05/09 - Performative City
Joan Jonas
Performance and video pioneer Joan Jonas screens and discusses her outdoor performance pieces Jones Beach Piece, Nova Scotia Beach Piece, and Delay, Delay that she developed into a video piece titled Song Delay (1973). First performed in lower Manhattan in 1972, the footage was shot from the roof of a loft building. From there, the audience overlooked the performance taking place in empty lots below with a view to the distant docks of the Lower West Side. Performing with a cast that included Gordon Matta-Clark, Jonas choreographed a theater of space, movement and sound with the urban landscape of New York in a featured role. She performed this piece a second time in Rome, where the audience watched the performance from the other side of the Tiber riverbank. Joan Jonas is a professor in the MIT Visual Arts Program, teaching performance and related media.

10/19/09 - Public City

Antoni Muntadas
Artist Muntadas investigates notions of 'City' and 'public.' Is there still a public space? Is the city a place for interventions? City authorities and the private sector provide surveillance and control. Yet it is the city dwellers who should make critical decisions over the city. Can they? What contribution can artists, architects, designers, city planners make today to this discussion? Antoni Muntadas is a visiting Professor of the Practice in the MIT Visual Arts Program. In his teaching, Muntadas focuses on the shift of public art to the production of public spheres through artistic intervention.

10/26/09 - Propaganda City
Mike Bonanno of the The Yes Men
The activist collective The Yes Men transformed New York city for a day through a tactical media intervention. A hoax print of the New York Times was massively distributed throughout the city during the US presidential election campaign in 2008. The Yes Men have an unusual hobby: posing as top executives of corporations they hate. Armed with nothing but thrift-store suits, they lie their way into business conferences and parody their corporate targets in ever more extreme ways.

11/02/09 - Protest City
Ana Miljacki, Nomeda Urbonas
Architect and architecture theorist Ana Miljacki speaks about her project Classes, Masses, Crowds. Representing The Collective Body and The Myth of Direct Knowledge. Miljacki is an Assistant Professor in MIT's Department of Architecture. Nomeda Urbonas, member of the Lithuanian artist collective Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas, talks about the concept, process, and outcome of their project Pro-test Lab, a multi-dimensional project to save a historical cinema in Vilnius.

11/09/09 - Fragmented City
Angus Boulton
Berlin-based English photographer Angus Boulton talks about his photo series Richtung Berlin currently on view at the Wolk Gallery in MIT's Department of Architecture. This 'Becoming Berlin' event is collaboration between the MIT Museum and the MIT Visual Arts Program on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

11/16/09 - Porous City
Krzysztof Wodiczko
Artist Krzysztof Wodiczko introduces his critical design proposals including Poliscar and Homeless Vehicles. Wodiczko's work points toward the search for the city to come, one which provides a space that allows for disagreement, a prerequisite for democracy. This lecture coincides with his solo show at the ICA Boston, which will be open November 4, 2009 to March 28, 2010. Wodiczko is a professor in the MIT Visual Arts Program and Director of the Interrogative Design Workshop and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT.


The MIT Visual Arts Program offers a two-year Masters of Science in Visual Studies (SMVisS). The program emphasizes the development of artistic practices focusing on artistic research and transdisciplinary studies. The program is part of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology