Many claim to bring about change. Urban Practice also aims to change perspectives, planning practices, and urban design forms: by utilizing experimental artistic approaches that present a low threshold to involve a broad range of people who take an interest, Urban Practice intervenes in the perception and experience of the city and city-making.
The relevance of this change is plain to see—the way many cities are currently governed, they do not seem (anymore) to function equally well and fairly for all people. The importance of attentively observing these changes—which are the ultimate impact of practice—of documenting where they originate, of analyzing, communicating, and using them for guidance, seems less obvious.
Impact orientation means being aware, early on, of what an undertaking is intended to achieve—what, in the end, is supposed to be different—and how this can be observed and documented during the course of the (still unknown) process. Why does something happen, with what quality, and with what consequences (impacts)?
Impact orientation defines criteria and reference points through which the success and effectiveness of one’s own work can be gauged. Proactively proposing these points of reference instead of simply applying conventional scales of assessment (which administrative bodies and funders have at hand) promotes taking the practice seriously and fosters constructive dialogue, from within the practice itself, with administrators and sponsors about the real-world impact of Urban Practice.
Jennifer Aksu has been working for more than ten years at the intersection of art, urban space, and transformation. She has taught at Humboldt University, developed games with students in South America, and built spatial-networking strategies for Germany’s economic affairs ministry. She employs art as a means to bring about changes and believes these changes have meaning and serve an observable function, one that also should be given attention, especially when they are publicly funded.