26 - 27 MARCH 2008

Two days of workshops, discussions, walks, presentations, installations and screenings that articulate approaches and experiences around the contentious nexus of culture and urban regeneration in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London, Glasgow and Barcelona. 

It will take place on the 26th and 27th of March 2008 in Rotterdam. Although the whole of Rotterdam will be the terrain of the weekend’s activities, the workshops, artworks, documentation and public debate will take place at the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Poortgebouw.

Artists, activists, scholars, architects, planners, designers and local people will be invited to contribute their ideas in separate workshops devoted to topics such as informal planning, the role of creativity in urban development policy, and the conditions for art-based intervention. A public discussion is also scheduled.

The aim of the workshops is to develop perspectives including, but going beyond, the variously instrumentalised, palliative or autonomous roles for culture in urban transformation as framed  in contemporary analyses.  They will compare the urban development framework in each of the five cities by focusing on an overall tendency in neoliberal city planning to prioritize elite consumption, tourism, privatisation and micro-management of public space.  In addition, they will look at the ways in which the promotion of ‘culture’ or ‘creativity’ slots into these agendas.  Other topics will include: the prospects for ‘counter-planning’, ‘planning from below’ and struggles against the dispossession and eviction of marginalised communities in the regenerated European city.  While all these phenomena are locally situated, they can be said to share certain features such as methods of organising autonomously and scepticism towards the market and private property as the engines of economic growth and social life in the city. 

is intended as a platform for exchange of tactics, experiences and analysis. 

The core question of the event would be “how is art, and cultural production more broadly, at once driving capitalist valorisation in the city and able to project forms of social relations that do not produce value for capital?”

Departing from the structure of an academic symposium, this event provides two days of informal but rigorously mapped interaction and exploration and will culminate with an evening of screenings and a public debate at the Nai, which will build on the discussions of that weekend as well each participant’s field of practice. 


Debate, NAi, 27/3
Merijn Oudenampsen, Damon Rich/CUP, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Urban Subjects, Peter Blakeney and Christine Schoeffer, Anthony Iles, Daniel van der Velden, Loïc Wacquant and Haegue Yang.

Exhibition, NAi, 26/3 – 29/3

Maria Eichhorn, Anja Kirschner, Spectacle, Claire Fontaine, CUP, Haegue Yang, Urban Subjects and Alessandra Chila.

Workshops, Poortgebouw, 26/3 and 27/3

the three workshops will be moderated by Merijn Oudenampsen, Maria Theodorou, Marina Vishmidt and Diana Ibanez Lopez, with presentations from Merijn Oudenampsen, Maria Theodorou, Anthony Iles and Sitesize.

Walks in Nieuwe Crooswijk, Delfshaven, Heijplaat and/or Zuid, 26/3 and 27/3
guided by Andreas Mueller, Marjolijn Dijkman, Menno Janssen and Krijn Christiansen.

An accompanying brochure includes essays from participants – Merijn Oudenampsen, Jeff Derksen, Loïc Wacquant, Anthony Iles, Poortgebouw and Iain Boal -as well as other relevant authors like Neil Smith and Wim Cuyvers and images from Anthony Iles/Max Reeves, Savage Messiah and Alessandra Chila. Online sources, when especially symptomatic or edifying, have also been included. Concept and design praxis by Metahaven. Website hosting by Enough Room for Space.

Contrapolis is initiated and organised by Marina Vishmidt, in cooperation with the Jan van Eyck Academie, the NAi and the Poortgebouw.