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19 Aug 2008

Informal Cities - exhibition and symposium on urban growth

Laundry workers, Mumbai 2006
Photograph: Maria Lantz

Informal Cities


Exhibition opening: Saturday September 6, 10.00
Symposium, Filmscreenings, meetings Saturday, Sunday + Monday 10-17. Party on Saturday until midnight.
Exhibition: September 6 - September 21


Dieselverktaden, Nacka.
Markusplatsen 17, Sickla

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The Stockholm Urban Think Tank
Nacka / Dieselverkstaden
6-8 September 2008

INFORMAL CITIES is an exhibition and symposium that will  investigate urban growth. INFORMAL CITIES will focus on the  fastest expanding city structures in the world: areas with no city planning or communal infrastructure. In these informal cities, legal rights are denied and citizenship is uncertain. However, organisation, work and economy in informal dwellings are developed in a complex relation to the planned city. The formal city and its economy rely heavily on its informal shadow. Informal cities keep developing and have begun to connect with one another, globally.

Slums are usually regarded as a 'problem' to be solved, something to be evicted or erased. But is the slum only the dark side of the city? The formal city might have something to learn from the slum where people have started to organize themselves both in local networks and internationally. The inhabitants themselves often solve problems. Perhaps future social and economic models can be found in the contemporary informal cities of today. Moreover – there is also a chance to re-read history and recycle ideas from when Northern cities were poor.

INFORMAL CITIES is an exciting venue, organised by a group of 16 people: artists, architects, political scientists and film makers – all of them post graduate students at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. The project is a product of a close collaboration with Swedish International Aid Cooperation Agency SIDA/ Department for Urban Development and Slum Dwellers International, SDI.

Background and method

The Royal University College of Fine Arts have studied urbanisation, informal living and socio-economic structures for the last three years as part of the post-graduate program in Art & Architecture. A book on Dharavi, often referred to as Asia's largest slum will be released in the spring of 2008. From November 2007 until March 2008, research on location have been made together with the inhabitants. The cities chosen are: Rio, Sao Paulo, Durban, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Manila, Nairobi, Lilongwe and Blantyre.

INFORMAL CITIES: The Stockholm Urban Think Tank is a meeting place where people from different fields can gather. The point of the project is to give a platform to people living in informal cities to share their experiences. Voices, which are rarely heard inside western academia and media, will speak during four days. 20 guests will talk about their work and lives –fascinating stories far beyond the superficial reports of newspapers or television news. Activists, international researchers, decision makers, artists, stakeholders, architects, politicians and academics are invited to learn and share.

The exhibition will show films, sound, drawings, models and other forms of documentation from the sites.

Storytelling is the key word.

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