Artscapes: Urban Art and the Public – An Interdisciplinary Conference on Art and Urban Spaces. University of Kent, Canterbury, 27-28 June 2013. http://artscapesgroup.org/
Paper: “Architecture and negativity – Towards a counter-artscape in the postpolitical city”. Marta López Marcos&Carlos Tapia Martín.
Henri Lefebvre stated in the 70s the idea of space as a product, and therefore its qualification as something malleable, never neutral and always intentional. This thought is becoming more evident in our contemporary framework, which some authors (such as Žižek, Rancière or Badiou) have defined as postpolitical. This system silences completely any form of opposition and difference, undermining the foundation of societies. The phenomenon of postpolitics is strongly linked to the spatial practice that Lefebvre developed in The Production of Space – the origin of postpolitics is usually situated in the fall of the Berlin Wall, a fact that would forever change our geopolitical space. After the primary spatial condition, Erik Swyngedouw is one of the first to study this progressive spatialization. The outsourcing of difference (the inclusion of any society in a global community where the dissident is expelled and labeled as terrorist, enemy etc.), populism (embodied in a general climate change psychosis), and the constant threat to the emergent political space (detected in public squares around the globe during the riots in the West and in the Arab world) are some of the strategies that extend the imposition of the new order.
Given the current situation, it seems that the production of common space is in the hands of power as well, and architecture again remains relegated to an instrumental position, so leaders are able to express the world as they conceive it- as Sudjic points in The Edifice Complex. Consequently, we could ask ourselves whether the citizens have any leeway to take part in the production of their own space. Exploring some of the attempts that were made from diverse fields to question the assumed system could generate several keys in order to solve the problem of space as a product of power.
However, subversive spatial practice cannot be historically reduced to that kind of massive movements. In fact, Europe in the last century is a clear example because of its fragmentary and contingent condition. In a very specific reality like the People’s Republic of Poland in the 50s and 60s, artists and architects as Stanisław Zamecznik, Oskar Hansen (who designed a controversial proposal for the (counter)memorial in Auschwitz) or Lech Tomaszewski were positioned on the reverse of the spatiality of their own political framework. From this specific context, a dialogue with different spatiotemporal realities will be sought through a series of connections from an artistic approach. These revisited contributions become particularly fruitful in our context of global crisis.
From the reading of these facts, not as a succession but rather as a juxtaposition of realities, and casting our view on negativity, a new way, although well-known by Cacciari’s writings, to interpret history could be tested. Time is not the chain anymore, but space itself (the practical desecration of space, as Foucault said). Subversive spatial practice understood as a generator of counterspatiality can be considered today as one of the most dynamic concepts towards the transformation and creation of spaces for dialogue and difference, which avoid the conversion of the contemporary city into the mere stage of the postpolitical masterpiece.