Urban Mobilities is a public appeal for a post-Covid urban mobility that is pluralistic and benefits all walks of life. The exhibition showcases photographs, videos, digital and community projects that question and challenge conventional mobility and how it can be negotiated in the public space.
The Covid-19 lockdown deprived citizens around the world of their mobility. The lockdown not only slowed down economic activity, it also had a profound impact on other forms of mobility: people’s wanderings, social gatherings and physical activities. This experience has inspired many citizens to rethink their mobility, to define it less in terms of quantity – the speed and distance of their journeys – and more in terms of quality and freedom.
Once upon a time, urban mobility was a necessity of modern city life.
Lignes Droites (Straight Lines, Christophe Bruchansky, Paris, May 2019) is an audio-visual series focusing on air and ground traffic. The artist explores a so-called “collective compulsive order’. Order cannot be harmonious if not accompanied by an empty space, a space large enough for its geometry to be graspable. The artists invites spectators to seek out this free space on the edge of motorways and in the labyrinth of airports.
The work Squares (Nemanja Ladjic, Serbia, 2016) is based on a personal video archive made of footage taken in different European squares organized into a single video composition. Moving frames of video
recordings simulate views of an imaginary observer. Starting points of this technique were the Theory of Relativity and B Theory of Time, also known as Block Theory, in which the past, present or the future don’t exist; time consists only of moments that are all equally real together. Sound by 33.10.3402.
Drained fountains (Teresa Leung, Armenia, 2014). Huge, drained fountains in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, were once where people gathered and children could go swimming during the hot summer when it was under Soviet rule 29 years ago. Without water today, they are still wonderful places to go. I have thought of several great things we can do there. This is part of my journey to explore the possibilities of structures—whether they are abandoned, partially abandoned or unmanaged—in urban areas.
Pas-Perdus (Mind Your Step, Christophe Bruchansky, Paris, may 2019) uses videos, prints and pixels in an exploration of the theme of walking.
Walking is about more than simply moving from one spot to another. It is an act of thought, a way of living. We walk to the rhythm of our thoughts, step by step, strolling or striding. Walking pace gives pedestrians an air of composure. Their steps transcend the purpose of their movements. They are the metronomes of city life.
Model City (James Proctor, Sacramento, 2018) presents an uncanny reflection of Sacramento based on satellite imagery and routes through its transportation network. Aspects of this mediated view of a place are familiar, such as algorithmically optimized routes across town, while the shifting, fragmented structures in between feel odd and disorienting. It raises questions about how what we choose to measure determines what we see, and how that affects our decisions for the future.
In the video What you Like, Where you Like, When you Like (Christophe Bruchansky, Paris, May 2019), the artist uses a map to show the routes of drivers gravitating around their customers. Users of a location-based service see themselves at the centre of the map displayed on their mobile app. They are the centre of attention.
A radical departure: what if urban mobility was not a necessity after all… but a choice?
“I have enjoyed a return making net art, exploring image text relationships, unstructured narratives, rollovers, gifs and pop-up windows. Avenue S is developing spontaneously and functioning as a visual journal during these disconcerting and unprecedented times’. Jody Zellen
Avenue S (Jody Zellen, USA, June 2020) is a new addition to “Ghost City,’ 1998-2020. “I began working on this path when things shut down and we were asked to stay at home. I see it as an ever-growing project with no end in sight paralleling my intentions when I began Ghost City’.
Drive Thru Nation (Taylor Colette Moon, USA, July 2020) looks at how the prominence of the flag in the Midwest echoes the visual advertising language of billboards, carnivals, casinos, supermarkets, and drive-ins. The film looks at how individuals consume the flag and signs as passengers during their commute. It was made in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd.
“The Covid-19 lockdown has furthered the global trend of replacing rich cultural and social interactions with that which can be delivered, seen through a car or screen, or ordered to-go’. Taylor Colette Moon
“Covid-19 has accentuated both the stratification and possibility of urban space — what can we do to ensure that its benefits do not only accrue to the wealthy, who abandoned cities the instant that those benefits dissipated? What does a city characterized by radical solidarity, mutual aid, and collective care look like?’. Cindy Hwang
“Webcam World’ (Cindy Hwang, USA, April 2020) is a living altarpiece that streams live footage from seven locations: Times Square, Shibuya Crossing, St. Peter’s Square, the Great Mosque of Mecca, beaches in St. Barts and Thailand, and the International Space Station. The webcams bear witness to the contraction of public spaces in the era of Covid-19, while calling attention to global interdependence and heightened surveillance. The website is accompanied by an archive of daily screenshots that will document the trajectory of the pandemic until it subsides.
Virtual Walks (Jessica Starns, UK, May 2020) breaks down the feeling of isolation whilst social distancing. “I started by putting a call out on social media and had a few people respond to say they would like to get involved. We visited local places such as Coventry, a day trip to Barcelona, to a day out at a museum. It was a collaborative process’. Funded by Phakama.
“I use Google Street View a lot due to being dyspraxia and it helps me to memorise new routes and places. I also use Google Street View with my grandfather as we go on walks around his hometown in Ireland, a place I haven’t had the opportunity to physically visit’. Jessica Starns
Could there be more than one form of mobility?
“WHEN THE URBAN MAMMAL ENCOUNTERS THE RURAL MAMMAL” – Interview with Guillaume Leterrier
“I MADE SURE THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD COUNTED FOR ME AND THOSE AROUND ME” – Interview with Ver Ikeseh
“IN SUCH AN ALIENATED SOCIETY WE DO NEED TO SLOW DOWN” – Interview with Kristina Borg
“THE WHOLE TRAFFIC SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE QUESTIONED” – Interview with Willi Dorner
“The streets were not really empty, they were blocked and occupied by cars and for me they looked deserted; it was like everybody was gone and they left their cars behind, because they left the city for a better place.’ .Willi Dorner, read the full interview.
It does matter where (Willi Dorner, La Strada Festival, Graz, 2020) is a participatory project created with city residents. It is a performative call for more public space, for more space for urban residents, encouraging them to take up more room and to reinforce the assertion that the city is a space to live in. They use chairs to temporarily invade spaces and occupy them, inviting others to follow their example. © Willi Dorner/ photo: Lisa Rastl.
“I wish that lockdown will have a long-lasting effect on our relation to the city. There has definitely been some awareness, such as returning to local, but on a wider scale I believe the road is still long, very long’. Kristina Borg, read the full interview
DIY City Walks (Kristina Borg, Austria in 2016, Netherlands in 2017) are specific to different cities. Starting off with a series of conversations with a number of locals, the artist gains knowledge about their day-to-day experience of their city. Gleaning information from these conversations, together with onsite-research walking, the artist maps-out a number of hidden and/or neglected spaces, significant to personal and collective memory, so as to create a fictional-narrative based on a mix of fantasy and reality.
“Since I could not travel internationally or interstate, I concentrated on Makurdi city where I spent most of my time during the strict lockdown in Nigeria’. Ver Ikeseh, read the full interview
Ver Ikeseh launched the I Can 100 Mural Project (Nigeria, 2020) where he aims at painting murals in 100 communities across Africa and in the process teach kids and youths how to paint murals. The project involves a lot of movement which has been put on hold due to the global lockdown and travel restrictions.
“Forcing the city to slow down makes it a more agreeable place. When you watch a sheep moving around parks and gardens, you realise that these open spaces are everywhere in the city, there are far more of them than you’d think. So it’s bit like a marker of the city’. Guillaume Leterrier, read the full interview
Members of the Les Bergers Urbains collective have been rearing sheep in Seine-Saint-Denis since 2012. To promote peasant farming in the city, they pasture their domesticated sheep in Saint-Denis, Bondy and Aubervilliers, improving the parks and gardens in the three areas and creating a special bond with local residents. photo ©Guillaume Leterrier for Les Bergers Urbains.
Mouvements de Foule (Christophe Bruchansky, Colombia, 2018) is a collection of eight videos dealing with open, tamed and failed revolts. The set, mixed in 2018 from nightclubs and YouTube video samples, is inspired by Latin America, its mass protests, its overlapping and jostling populations, its quest for a comfort zone that is contrastingly immobile.
Introduction à une critique de la géographie urbaine (Guy Debord, français). Psychogeography describes the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.
Interartive 100: Walking Art / Walking Aesthetics: The special issue of Interartive on Walking Art / Walking Aesthetics aims at the presentation of papers and art projects that examine or use walking as a contemporary art practice.
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Jürgen Habermas.
L’espace public (français), Thierry Paquot.