Performative Urbanism: Situating Critical Performance Design Practices in the City.
Performative Urbanism: Situating Critical Performance Design Practices in the City is a SSHRC funded two-year pilot interuniversity and international research creation initiative that examines an aesthetic shift in performance design – as an expanded notion of scenography – and its application to political, social and economic realities beyond the prescribed stage, specifically the spatialization and politicization of our experience of cities. Performative Urbanism is a mode of address for rehearsing, testing, experimenting, and developing participatory tools and interventionist methods that can be embodied and enacted across a variety of scales and the way we live, work, and play in the city. The project brings together seven interdisciplinary artist-researchers and scholars, located on three continents (North America, Europe and Oceania), who work across the fields of Performance Studies, Architecture, Urban Planning and Scenography, to co-lead and participate in two workshops. These experimental interdisciplinary site-specific workshops, will take place at Concordia University in Montreal (November 2018) and Roskilde University, Denmark (June 2019).The project acknowledges how the design or enactment of performative urbanism is situated within the recent ‘scenographic turn’ (Brejzek 2015) in the performing arts – described as both “scenography expanded” (Aronson 2015; McKinney and Palmer 2017) and as a critical framework and expansion of performance design practice into urban design and planning. The project involves a revised emphasis on understanding scenography and wider performance-making practices as methods vital to the design of public and urban participatory events (Campkin and Duijzing 2016: Garner Jr 2002; Hannah 2008; McKinney 2017; Samson 2014 & 2015; Wolfrum and Brandis 2015), as well as the enactment and performance of urbanity and urban meaning. In the era of smart and sustainable cities, the project is expected to help envision and develop performance design methods that critically engage with urban histories and pressing contemporary socio-economic and environmental urban themes such as gentrification and the right to the city, food security, accessibility, the urban commons and the spatial implications of emerging smart city technologies.The project is headed by Principal Investigator Shauna Janssen
Shauna Janssen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor (jointly) in Theatre, Geography, Urban Planning and Environmental Studies, at Concordia University, Montreal. She was also recently appointed Director of Urban Futures, and emerging research unit at Concordia. Janssen is an urban curator and activist and teaches studio and seminar courses on site specific performance practices, spatial performativity, dramaturgy, and the history of scenography and contemporary performance design practices. She is the founding creative director of Urban Occupations Urbaines (established in 2008) - a research-creation platform for mobilizing artists, researchers, and communities to creatively and critically engage with the spatial politics of urban change. Her current research is primarily focused on performative (design) practices taking place within the contested spaces of cities and how these practices make visible/ complicate wide spread issues if inequality in the built environment. Janssen has undertaken numerous projects of curating urban labs and workshops, urban interventions and public art installations, as well as university-community collaborations, and thus has substantial experience in organizing, publicizing, and documenting such activities, and producing peer-reviewed research on the ethics, challenges, and rewards of such work (Hammond and Janssen 2016).
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