Booklet for Contrapolis designed by Metahaven



Workshops, discussions, walks, installations and screenings

Initiated by: Marina Vishmidt

Organised by: Marina Vishmidt, the Jan van Eyck Academie, the NAi and the Poortgebouw

Debate: NAi, Rotterdam
With: Merijn Oudenampsen, Damon Rich/CUP, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Urban Subjects, Peter Blakeney and Christine Schoeffer, Anthony Iles, Daniel van der Velden, Loïc Wacquant and Haegue Yang

Exhibition: NAi, Rotterdam

With: Maria Eichhorn, Anja Kirschner, Spectacle, Claire Fontaine, CUP, Haegue Yang, Urban Subjects and Alessandra Chila

Workshops: Poortgebouw, Rotterdam

the three workshops will be moderated by Merijn Oudenampsen, Maria Theodorou, Marina Vishmidt and Diana Ibanez Lopez, with presentations from Merijn Oudenampsen, Maria Theodorou, Anthony Iles and Sitesize

Walks in: Nieuwe Crooswijk, Delfshaven, Heijplaat and Zuid in Rotterdam
Guided by: Andreas Mueller, Marjolijn Dijkman, Menno Janssen and Krijn Christiansen


"Displacement of residents, whether they are gentrifying artists priced out of Soho or the poor and unemployed excluded from New York altogether, is no random by-product of gentrification but its structural condition.  Decay, disinvestment, abandonment . . .prepare the way for profitable reinvestment . . . Like all the social relations that art supposedly transcends, housing is one of the historical circumstances of its existence". Rosalyn Deutsche, "Alternative Space"

The core question of the event were "how is art, and cultural production more broadly, at once driving capitalist valorisation in the city and able to project forms of social relations that do not produce value for capital?"

Two days of workshops, discussions, walks, presentations, installations and screenings that articulate approaches and experiences around the contentious nexus of culture and urban regeneration in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London, Glasgow and Barcelona.

The workshops, artworks, documentation and public debate took place at the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Poortgebouw . Artists, activists, scholars, architects, planners, designers and local people were invited to contribute their ideas in separate workshops devoted to topics such as informal planning, the role of creativity in urban development policy, and the conditions for art-based intervention.

The aim of the workshops was to develop perspectives including, but going beyond, the variously instrumentalised, palliative or autonomous roles for culture in urban transformation as framed  in contemporary analyses. We compared the urban development framework in each of the five cities by focusing on an overall tendency in neoliberal city planning to prioritize elite consumption, tourism, privatisation and micro-management of public space.  In addition, we looked at the ways in which the promotion of 'culture' or 'creativity' slots into these agendas. "Contrapolis" was intended as a platform for exchange of tactics, experiences and analysis. 

An accompanying brochure includes essays from participants – Merijn Oudenampsen, Jeff Derksen, Loïc Wacquant, Anthony Iles, Poortgebouw and Iain Boal -as well as other relevant authors like Neil Smith and Wim Cuyvers and images from Anthony Iles/Max Reeves, Savage Messiah and Alessandra Chila. Online sources, when especially symptomatic or edifying, have also been included.