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Urban identities: art, architecture and the right to the city

Weekend-long art theory course

Short course

  • 21 July 2018, 10am — 5pm
  • 22 July 2018, 10am — 5pm
This event has now ended

See upcoming short courses

Mike Palmer, Abbey Road Crossing - Colourful For Sgt Pepper 50th Anniversary.

©Mike Palmer / Brotherhood Media.

This course is an introduction to the analysis of urban environments, urban creativity and how they have shaped the style and politics of the city. We examine different visual languages from graffiti to corporate and public art, to understand how the city is used, and who urban spaces belong to.

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1972)

Cities are products of centuries of urbanisation, ever-changing organisms that result from the overlaying of built infrastructure such as housing, transportation and services, with economies, cultures and experiences. Cities exist at the intersection of these coordinates, and their density facilitates interactions between individuals, institutions and urban imaginaries.

The city is a space for confronting otherness and difference, where inhabitants from various cultures, expectations and opportunities encounter and learn about each other. This experience is profoundly shaped by art, architecture, design and space, and the ways in which these are displayed and regulated in the urban environment. Historians, philosophers, anthropologists and writers have explored these aspects of urban experience across different geographies and cultures, to understand how they influence our lives and our encounters.

This course provides a multidisciplinary perspective on core themes in the theory of contemporary urbanisation, with particular reference to creativity and visual communication in cities, and the ways in which these have been selectively regulated. Sabina Andron, along with leading curators and urban theorists, will explore the city as a site of creativity and normativity, looking at urban objects that influence our lives, interactions and behaviours.

Throughout the two days, participants will be presented with notions of visual culture and urban studies, as well as urban semiotics and the spatial politics of urban governance and independent creativity.

The course will consider a number of key questions:

• What is the role of objects such as public art, architectural and historical monuments, commercial billboards, graffiti tags and street art in expressing visibility and belonging in cities?

• How much are we conscious of the existence and meaning of such objects, and how can we develop a critical understanding of their functions?

• What is the relationship between legal and illegal urban objects, and who should decide what cities look like?

The course will offer a critical introduction to creative and regulatory practices in the built environment, and expand participants’ awareness of urban creativity in its legal, illegal and semi-legal aspects. It will also introduce concepts, tools and histories for a more critical and politicised understanding of urban environments in general, and London in particular.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 21 July 2018, 10am — 5pm
  • 22 July 2018, 10am — 5pm

The British Academy Room, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£360. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception.