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(im)possible complicities

A conference and a screening programme

Berlin, May 23-24, 2019

Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn Platz 7-8
10969 Berlin DE

Participatory approaches in local policy are evergreen prescriptions, undisputed receipts for any intervention aimed at spatial development, social cohesion and cultural empowerment. Creativity is the natural seasoning of initiatives aimed at social and spatial development in distressed territories. Artists and designers seek the complicity of citizens and local communities to legitimate their production. In return, their language and skills may empower communication and organisation capacity of local communities. They can support reflexive capacity and give voice to local struggles, or engender in the most successful cases solidarity. There is a rich body of literature addressing innovation at the micro-level, but the local scale alone cannot be where all problems are created, understood and solved. While the localist discourse is often used to veil receding public support and let local communities compete alone for survival and resilience, creativity that fosters social innovation finds itself distorted into palliatives, if not mere cosmetic practices. The purpose to produce benefits for local communities and dispossessed subjects may easily turn into producing visibility for the creative players themselves. Artists and social workers who mediate co-productive processes end up, consciously or not, serving vested interests. Green-washing, art-washing and gentrification are some of the words employed to spell out the cooptation of creative forces by dominant players and economic forces.

This conference is an exercise to look at practices and reflections which may shed light on this context, helping to discern, understand and critically study community-based co-production and co-creation. It looks at a number of fields related to activism in housing, public space development, employment, migration, energy efficiency, climate change, food and waste management, urban poverty etc.

We welcome papers and artworks which address questions regarding:

  • The meaning of co-creation, co-production, co-optation
  • Co-creation and community engagement for what and for whom
  • The role of art in addressing political agency at different scales
  • The issues of ownership/authorship in co-creation processes
  • Time and engagement, the limits and advantages of short-terms vs long-terms

(Im)possible Complicities conference looks for ideas that come from practice and concrete engagement in distressed territorial contexts. We want to discuss the potential and pitfalls of co-creative projects with activists, artists and academics who share a constructive as much as critical view on the topic.

The conference is part of the CoCreation– EU Marie Curie Rise project involving academic and non-academic partners from Europe and Latin America. The conference will have a practice-oriented multidisciplinary approach. We encourage non strictly academic formats and interactive presentations.

Conference Program (Draft)

Day 1

14.00 Registration

15.00 Welcome and intro on the program by Lorenzo Tripodi & Laura Colini

15.10 Where are we? Introducing FeldFünf by Marenka Krasomil


15.15 Session 1: Cocreation, coproduction, cooptation

Discussant: Stephen Pritchard (tbc)

  • Productive or seductive: towards a critical manifesto of co-creation. Sue Brownhill and Laura Colini
  • Constituent relations across the city: three perspectives. Julia Udall, Sam Vardy, Goran Vodicka
  • Art Subtraction. Giovanni Fiamminghi
  • Meine Nachbarschaft / Your Neighborhood. Daniele Tognozzi

16.45 Coffee break

17:00 Session 2: Cocreation methodologies in place

Discussant: Sue Brownhill (tbc)

  • Network of Collaboration or Co-optation. Oscar Natividad
  • Camera as an exploratory methodology: to investigate the gendered experiences of primary school fe/male pupils’ in Northern India. Vandana Singh
  • Transcending Boundaries through Graffiti. Benjamin Van Praag
  • Re>centering periphery- Museums of resistance and counternarratives. Lorenzo Tripodi, Manuela Conti, Laura Colini

18.30 Aperitif & dinner break

19.45 Keynote session: Creative placemaking between commons based practice and neoliberal art-washing

  • Place Guarding: An End to the Slow Violence of Creative Placemaking and Gentrification?. Stephen Pritchard
  • Place Internationale. Commune, Co-research & Curatorial urbanism. Jochen Becker
  • Territories: collective stories, collective action. Bernardo Gutierrez


Day 2

09:00-09:30 registration

09:30-11:00 Session 1a

discussant: Laura Colini

  • ps Wedding, a neighborly initiative in Berlin’s Brunnenviertel. Sabine Horlitz & Oliver Clemens
  • Social innovation and civilian resilience: Naples and the case of “Beni Comuni”. Emilio Caja
  • Pandion: the art of real estate staging”. Kim Sonntag


09:30-11:00 Session 1b: Environment and coproduction


  • Reframing food as an urban question. Thomas Kuyper
  • What if Plants co-create? Francesca Guarascio
  • Co-production at the [social] neighbourhood scale. Jose Roberto Lagunes Trejo


11:00-11:15 Coffee break


11.15– 12:45 Session 2a. Mapping and co-design

discussant: Lorenzo Tripodi

  • The city through the eyes of others! Mapping and spatial research methods between representation and process. Antje Lehn & Korinna Lindiger
  • The Mapping San Siro Experience: from a wandering research group to established community hub? James Patrick MacNeil
  • Apriti Piazza!. Annalisa Pecoriello



11.15– 12:45 Session 2b_ Art, gentrification and co-creation

discussant: Jochen Becker (TBC)

  • “Whenever the Heart Skips a Beat”. Marenka Krasomil & Katharina Marszewsky
  • All that Glitters is not Gold. Giulia Carones – Lume
  • A Platform for Arts Along the Railway in Signal Towers. Natalia Irina Roman

12:45-14:00 Lunch break

14.00- 15:45 Session 3a. Engagement and collaboration

Discussant: Bernardo Gutierrez (TBC)

  • Citizen engagement and collaborative urban knowledge creation – means and incentives for a shared data commons. Ina Blümel
  • Local collaborative design-projects as catalyst and research-instrument of urban transformations. Hendrik Weiner – Raumdialog
  • Implementing Ideas Workshop to develop Interventions of Urban Mobility. Pétilin Souza


14.00- 15:45 Session 3b. Performing public space: dance, theatre and participation

Discussant: (TBC)

  • Fulcrum: On the Border. Dylan Quinn
  • Dance, periphery and identity: the experience of Internazionale Corazon Elena Dragonetti, Francesca Marconi, Carlo Venegoni
  • Embodied Map Tools. Alessandro Carboni
  • „Village“ A non-academic, performative format. Aje Andrea Bruecken, Nadja Roder-Winkel


15.45 Coffee break

16.00 – 18.00 Plenary discussion

18.00 – 18.15 Final remarks