Ever since the 1970s, there have been numerous attempts to critically explore institutions and consumer culture from the perspective of participation and DIY cultures. Urban Practice is also rooted in this tradition. Through an experimental process (learning by doing) and a broad range of social encounters, spaces are created where everything is not yet planned and defined, where a community/association can grow through conscious participation.
In the words of architect and artist Marjetica Potrč, “social change is primarily a spatial condition.” And when it succeeds, then places emerge where everyone living there can be directly involved in and shape their own living environment. Collective making and building are tools for a spatial and social transformation (someone who creates a space themselves becomes a part of that space and feels responsible for it). Furthermore, the ensuing outcomes establish relationships between people and their surroundings.
The hope of artistic/activist projects within Urban Practice is to thereby provide opportunities for democratic communication, networking, empowerment, and participation. In social movements that campaign for progressive and democratic change (especially the DIY and women’s movements), self-published magazines and fanzines play an important role. In such magazines, flyers, or pamphlets, comics and illustrations along with colloquial language are (and were) used to convey critical cultural content. Drawing is a vibrant, speculative tool of artistic action; it can aid learning processes and facilitate communication between people who do not speak the same language.
Cultural production and practice often remain separate. It would be desirable if they could come a little closer together, allow themselves to “contaminate” one another in the way Donna Haraway writes about it, and become more accessible for “non-experts” (a diverse, multilingual, non-academic public).
ftts / Federica Teti: Since 2015, architect and graphic designer Federica Teti and sculptor and performer Todosch Schlopsnies have been taking a participatory approach in their work with children, teens, and adults (from refugee and non-refugee backgrounds). In workshops of varied format, the course participants build, garden, invent, and play. The main focus, besides creating the direct experience of cultural participation across all boundaries of origin and language, is to achieve something together that would never have been possible alone, and to also have lots of fun while doing it. Artistic direction of the pilot project Stadtwerk mrzn (S27) since 2020.