Performative Urbanism – visiting Concordia University and Institute for Urban Futures.

By Kristine Samson

As part of the project, Performative Urbanism – Situating critical performance practices in the city, I had the pleasure of visiting our friend and academic collaborator, Shauna Janssen at her Institute for Urban Futures in Montreal, Canada. Working with similar approaches to the city, Performance Design and Performative Urbanism at RUC, and the project Performative Urbanism at Concordia, share an interest in critical, arts-based explorations of the city.

Exploring the city with architect and performance designer Rodrigo Tisi from Santiago in Chile, and director of Institute for Urban Futures, Shauna Janssen.

Performative urbanism : Situating Critical Performance Design Practices is directed by performance scholar and urban curator Shauna Janssen in the City  is a SSHRC funded two-year pilot inter-university 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, among others, Performance Design scholars, Dorita Hannah and Rodrigo Tisi.

From Left: Rodrigo, Shauna, Dorita and Mira. Walking and talking in the diverse neighborhoods of Montreal
Shauna pointing to all the activist and citizen engaged events taking place in the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles

The gathering in November 2018 took partly place both at Concordia University, and in various part of the city, Montreal. Walking, listening, watching and sensing the city and its diverse neighborhood became an explorative and embodied seminar format, that made us realize important aspects of our common interests in the city, performativity, scenography and critical spatial practices.

Batiment7 a community, activist and free space in the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles
Spatial justice. A collaborative mural project in the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles
Walking the streets of Pointe-Saint-Charles.
Performance design scholar, Dorita Hannah having lunch in a community center in the neighborhood of Hochelaga and Saint-Henri – a neighborhood with strong local and Francophone roots.

Finally, we went to Boston to visit Ken Bailey and his community collective ds4si. They have among others organized community kitchens, collaborative and site-responsive theatre plays, and has a strong activist community engagement.

Visiting Boston and Ken Bailey in Boston, US
Shauna, Dorita and Ken in one of the beautiful theatre buildings related with ds4si community work

Next researcher’s meeting in the project takes place in Copenhagen on the Theatre Island in May 2019.

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Kristine Samson

Associate professor at Performance Design, Roskilde University. I teach Performative urbanism, and Performance Design as Situated Practices. Urban researcher, activist and aesthetic consumer interested in transforming the city for the common good.

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