Reclaiming Public Space

Public Space? Lost & Found Exhibition, 2014
ACT at MIT

A Symposium and Exhibition in Honor of Antoni Muntadas

Scott R Campbell | School of Architecture and Planning

 

In April, SA+P’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), in concert with MIT’s Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), presented a two-day symposium and an accompanying exhibit to celebrate the living legacy of artist and educator Antoni Muntadas, retiring this spring after 24 years of teaching here.

The symposium brought together more than 300 scholars, artists, architects and planners from MIT and beyond to consider definitions of public space and the tools, tactics and consequences of reclaiming it through architecture and art. The themes of the symposium drew from Muntadas’s career at MIT and his artistic practice, a legacy that has directly affected the work and philosophies of many of the invited speakers.

A forthcoming publication will expand the symposium discussions and bring together divergent voices in theory and practice through texts and projects that challenge or support ideas of cultural identity, documenting and analyzing public spaces from several locations and cultures in recent history.

The exhibition that opened during the symposium is on view in the lobby of the Media Lab Complex through October 30. An archive of course posters, syllabi, research materials and documents, travel photographs and logs, and documentation of projects are presented as a condensed survey mapping the ideas and the destinations explored and researched in Muntadas’s seminars on public space. Read more about the exhibition here.

The Public Space? Lost & Found symposium and exhibition was chaired by Gediminas Urbonas, Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor in ACT; he is a co-founder of the Transaction Archive and co-director of the Pro-test Lab Archive. Co-founded with Nomeda Urbonas, the Urbonas Studio is an interdisciplinary research practice that advocates for the reclamation of public space and cultural and political imagination as tools for social change.

Urbonas Studio has exhibited internationally including in Venice, San Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon, and Gwangju Biennales, as well as at the Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions. Their writings on artistic research as a form of intervention in social and political crises have been published in books such as Devices for Action by MACBA Barcelona and Villa Lituania by Sternberg Press.