School of Geography

Art, spatial practices and urban politics

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  Art, spatial practices and urban interventions
This research explores artistic and cultural practices in cities, and ways of exploring and intervening in urban spaces. The focus is on selected experimental practices drawn mainly from European and North American cities, through questions that include: In what ways do they imagine, represent, perform and contest urban spaces? How do they question or challenge the spatial constitution of power relations? Particular attention is paid to the poetics as well as politics of the spatial practices involved. These practices include walking, urban touring, mapping, locative media, and critical engagements with video surveillance.  The project involves archival studies as well as engagements with contemporary activities, and is involving collaborations with artists, performers and practitioners in those cities. A key aim of the project is to think critically about the politics of such practices by understanding them in their historical and geographical contexts. For more details, see  Dr David Pinder's page. 

Utopian visions of cities

  Utopian visions of cities
This project has addressed utopian visions of cities during the twentieth-century, with particular reference to modernist and avant-garde movements in western Europe. It has involved critically examining influential traditions of utopian thought concerned with planning and remaking modern cities, and challenging ways they have informed modern urban imaginations. But it has also recovered other forms of utopian urbanism – especially those associated with the radical ideas and practices of the situationists – that sought to transform everyday life and space. Through a study of utopian spaces from the recent past, the project has sought to rekindle elements of utopianism and to consider how they might enable exploration of the possibilities of the present.  Current research is developing these questions and concerns through an engagement with the utopianism of critical urban theory (including through the writings of Henri Lefebvre among others), and through forms of ‘everyday utopianism’ concerned with uncovering possibilities in the here and now. For more details, see Dr David Pinder's page

 Mobile and nomadic cities
What is to be made of demands for cities to become mobile?  To leave behind static forms and embrace movement, even to take flight? This project is concerned with urban imaginations and practices that emphasise mobility, dynamism and nomadism. It explores critically figurations of mobility, speed and the nomadic through projects that include radical architectural schemes in Europe during the 1960s and 1970s (through groups such as Archigram and Yona Friedman’s Groupe d’Etudes d’Architecture Mobile), through to more recent practices that centre on mobile cities and technologies. The research asks what lies behind the attraction of the mobile and dynamic for past and present urbanists? What are the political and social implications of their emphasis on these themes? By returning and re-exploring earlier debates on these issues, especially from the post-war avant-gardes, the  research emphasizes the need to address critically questions of power and politics, which often get elided in more celebratory accounts of nomadic cities. For more details, See Dr David Pinder's page

 Cultural politics of vacant space reuse
In the last decades a ‘spatial turn’ seems to have haunted the imagination of cultural practitioners engaging with urban issues through performative and embodied spatial practices. Among new forms of urban intervention, a renewed attention has been given to vacant and empty urban spaces, and to their potential for cultural uses. Meanwhile, vacant spaces have become an important element of governmental urban policies, and cultural projects of reuse have featured in ‘creative cities’ regeneration strategies. Urban empty spaces thus become sites of complex and differing aims and politics, as a testing ground for experiments in new forms of urban work and life. This research aims to address the discursive, economic and everyday lived dimensions of practices of empty space reuse, their relation to broader issues of urban living and flexible cultural labour, and their potential to engender different temporal and social experiences of contemporary cities. For more details, see Mara Ferreri’s page