We face the largest urban transformation in human history. According to UN figures, half the world's population, 3.3 billion people, now live in cities. In China alone, 8.5 million Chinese peasants move into the cities every year. The point of departure for On Cities is an understanding of architecture and the city as a dynamic system, consisting of social, economic, legal, political, cultural, geographical and physical layers. The exhibition presents architects and artists whose backgrounds cover several continents.
MAD takes great care to dream up what life may look like in the future city of Beijing. They envision how the old and new will be handled as equal and without conflicts. That there be a floating city, complete with park and lake, just above Beijing. Part of their visionary and politically daring design, Beijing 2050, is a blueprint for transforming Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City area into sprawling parkland. Converting the world’s largest city square into a park would have major repercussions on Chinese culture where people, not the Communist Party, would be at the nation’s centre. (Picture above).
In his incarnation as Videoman, Fernando Llanos proposes a strategy that intervenes in already existing channels of communication within the fabric of urban environment. By recording what is within reach of the lens and projecting this footage onto facades, monuments and other surfaces that lends themselves to the purpose, Videoman speaks the language of mass communication. But Videoman is not here to stimulate consumption. Rather, he is raising awareness of the urban environment in which he performs.
Research institute Sarai/CSDS and the NGO Ankur: Society for Alternatives in Education are collaborating with architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller to design a cultural laboratory in a new settlement in Delhi. Mohalla in Hindi and Urdu translates as neighbourhood. The Cybermohalla project takes on the meaning of the word mohalla in the sense of alleys and corners, of relatedness and concreteness, and as a means for talking about one’s ‘place’ in the city as well as in cyberspace.
flyingCity began their activities as an artist group researching and critiquing urban culture and the realities of urban geography. In their generative explorations of urban phenomena, flyingCity is specifically interested in the ongoing transformation of communities that are influenced by the rapid re-structuring in the city of Seoul, Korea. Part of their practice is to consider alternative ways in which to think about the city and its steady growth under current strained conditions. One of the concerns addressed by flyingCity is the fact that Seoul lacks a central representative image, a narrative thread that weaves through the city. The majority of flyingCity’s material has been developed in collaboration between students and flyingCity artists. At first, the resulting drawings were rather like abstract expressions, but as the project went on they revealed the character of architectural structure and site planning. And now, a sort of utopian planning images have emerged and are slowly taking shape.
Music has always been part of the identity of towns and culture. In her project Rebel Voices Oriana Eliçabe sees Hip Hop as a narrative, the thread linking stories of struggle and resistance From a local point of view (neighbourhoods) and from a global perspective, documenting the culture of Hiphop in different cities in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The documentary uses slides and evolves through contact with peripheral neighbourhoods with young Hip Hop virtuosos, monitoring the everyday life that they live.