The 11 theses towards a manifesto of Urban Praxis complement the multi-voiced Glossary of Urban Praxis and form the provisional conclusion of the workshop conferences of the Initiative Urbane Praxis, which, publicly funded 2020-2021, networked locations and actors of Urban Praxis throughout Berlin.
Editorial team SITUATION BERLIN/nGbK: Jochen Becker, Anna Schäffler, Simon Sheikh
Thesis 1: Urbanity is a global condition. Urban structures and infrastructures are almost everywhere. As we are completely surrounded by urban form, what we need is an Urban Praxis that reclaims and remakes urban space into a common, shared space. Berlin (as a case study) has long been characterised by obstinate self-built environments, self-organised spaces and a rich social culture. The right to the city is fought for and made by many through of art, production, design, urban planning and activism - in short: Urban Praxis.
Thesis 2: Urban Praxis produces spaces for the contestation of the right to the city: Who makes the city and with which cultures and practices? How does a right to the city formulate itself without ownership? Urban Praxis address global challenges at the local level. Networked, Urban Praxis thus creates spaces in which the demand for the right to the city and the right to centrality are negotiated. Located in local structures, Urban Praxis allows claims to be directly experienced in public space.
Thesis 3: Urban Praxis is self-organised, self-initiated and autonomous. Urban Praxis is an emancipatory and self-empowering collective practice. Urban Praxis is based on urban strategies that refuse a neoliberal logic and establish autonomous spaces for action as well as capacities for renegotiation. Urban Praxis discusses planetary contexts on a local level and enables micro-democratic processes and commoning.
Thesis 4: Urban Praxis reclaims the urban for democratic use, and resists gentrification, privatization and the further spread of developer modernism. It is not profit orientated, and is therefore born out of conflict and struggle, and essentially non-consensual. In Urban Praxis the city is acknowledged and negotiated as a space of antagonism. Spaces of the common are created without neglecting the claim of conflict, mediation and translation. The condition for this is a low-barrier, post-disciplinary, self-determined and multilingual space: Together in Contradictions.
Thesis 5: Urban Praxis is a public art form, not only art in the fresh air. It is post-disciplinary, and does not adhere to historical distinctions between art and architecture, aesthetics and the social. It reconfigures the urban as practice, and is thus recombinatory in relation to disciplines like urban planning, architecture, public art, curation and sculpture, social work and community projects. It works on cultural change and encompasses physical space, environment, processes, artefacts, new forms of communication, interaction and policies.
Thesis 6: Urban Praxis is neither a new phenomenon, nor restricted to the city of Berlin. It builds on historical precedents and long-standing experiences of strategies of appropriation of spaces and discourses. Urban Praxis is an experimental, situational and site-specific practice of (re)appropriating space. It works with methods of questioning, desirous production and modes of assembly. In the field of Urban Praxis, theory and practice combine and merge. Urban practice creates knowledge through acting and doing. This requires new forms of preservation and archiving, for transmitting and distributing this particular mode of knowledge production.
Thesis 7: The field of Urban Praxis has a large number of experienced actors at its disposal to promote necessary processes of change in the course of the crisis-ridden development of the urban. The pressure on urban society (rental policy movements, the question of the peripheries, the climate crisis), social cohesion (increase in social and racist divisions, lack of voting rights for a large part of the population, simplified identity politics) and aesthetic practices (insufficient funding policies, growing density of regulations through administrative rather than production perspectives, consolidation of the art market, new provincialism) is growing.
Thesis 8: Urban Praxis is fought for and made by the many. As a contemporary, post-disciplinary practice, Urban Praxis necessitates new organizational structures and governmental forms that do not exercise power over its subjects, but can rather empower its subjects and agents. It needs an institutional form that can create better conditions in which to produce autonomy, considering terms such as membership and usership in addition to the traditional citizenship. Urban Praxis needs an Institutionalisation that can remain anti-institutional.
Thesis 9: Urban Praxis also needs new forms of governance in terms of the support it can receive from governments and councils. Beyond the previous selective project funding, Urban Praxis calls for committed continuity. It is crucial that city administrations and their elected representatives support the measures that represent its inhabitants: In the form of public programmes that are not only Kunst am Bau (eng. Art in Architecture), but updates such concerns into contemporary social and aesthetic forms as these performed by Urban Praxis.
Thesis 10: So how can new forms of living together in the city be implemented that draw on the hidden histories and fragments of the past, articulate current problems and orient themselves towards the future? How would approaches to this be guided and consolidated in structural and also institutional ways without becoming fossilised? Transnational city networks of “Going in Circles”, a “Union of Urban Praxis”, a “House of Urban Cultures” or an “IBA of the UP” could offer forms of future cooperation.
Thesis 11: We call upon urban practitioners worldwide, in the global cities, suburbs, rural areas and industrial zones, to solidify their efforts through the establishment of an international movement and network, insisting on equal rights to the city, to better ways of living and building. Through the comparison of the site-specific and the fight-specific can chains of equivalence be established. From Urban Praxis we will develop an overarching urban strategy.
View or download as poster here:
Thesis poster Together in Contradictions