Berlin 2013

The Artist and the City
Humboldt University of Berlin
22 May 2013

The figure and image of the artist as we know it today has a long history in the European cultural discourse. In this discourse the artist was placed mostly in an urban environment. An artist needed the public, support from institutions, and a platform for the presentation of his art, and the city offered the perfect solution for this combination of needs. But not only did the artist need the city, the city also required artists and art to be actors present within the city walls, producing and securing an artistic glory (splendour) for the city – classic examples are Renaissance Venice or Florence. Art and artist are connected during this long history with images that always fascinated the public. Today, this relationship seems to be extremely tight-knit in cities, where art becomes a “symbolic capital”, the artist an agent of gentrification (Ley 1996), and the creative industry a very crucial component of economic health. Various theories emphasize the role of property capital in these processes as well, describing how capital follows the artist into gentrified localities, commodifying the artist’s cultural assets and displacing the original artist/gentrifier (Harris 2012).
From this phenomenon the question arises: what does it meant to be an artist today in this urban environment? With the call to “reclaim the streets” and also under the influence of the Situationists, Beuys and many others, artistic activity becomes much more resonant in the urban context than before in previous decades. How does this development influence our understanding of art, artist, and urbanity?
With these ideas as the backdrop, our interdisciplinary and international workshop intends to discuss these phenomena on two levels (as two possible sessions of the workshop) and from a comparative point of view, where the cities (Moscow, Berlin, London and Istanbul) are on one hand sites for different urban historical traditions, and on the another hand they are “metropolises” for the economic, cultural, political and industrial centers of their countries and regions.

Organised by: Stadtlabor – Institute for European Ethnology and Georg Simmel Center – Humboldt University of Berlin in cooperation with the University College London, Yedetipe University Istanbul

10 AM: Introduction (Eszter Gantner, Ayse Erek )

10.15.-11.15. Panel I.: “The Urban Landscape”
Ayse Erek: Urban Transformation and the Discursive Space of Urban Imagery in Istanbul
Andrew Harris: London and the Fine Art of Global City Creation
Ben Campkin: Buried: Urban Change Imagined Through Stephen Gill’s Site-Specific Photoworks
11.15 -11.25. Coffee Break
11.25-12.15. Discussion
12.15-13.15. Lunch

13.15- 14.15. Panel II. “The Artist and the Art in the Urban Landscape”
Natalia Samutina: The Artist of Urban Invisibility: a Case of Oz (Hamburg)
Juli Székely: Graffiti Codes: The Status of Street Art in Budapest
Eszter Gantner: From the Boheme to the Revolutionist
14.15-15.00. Discussion
15.00-15.15. Coffee Break

15.15 – 16.15. Panel III: “The Interaction/Production”
Oksana Zaporozec: Street Art and the Re-Invention of the Public
Lilia Voronkova/Oleg Pachenkov: What’s Wrong with Street/Public Art in Russian cities?
János Sugár: Theseus’ Ship
16.15-17.oo. Discussion and Conclusion