Taking two case studies as references – Ubuntu Park, a community-organized public space in Soweto, South Africa, and sustainable extraction reserves and Indian territories in Acre, Brazil – Potrč argues that the appropriation of space by local communities, whether this is an urban public space or a territory in the rainforest, is fundamental for the construction of a new citizenship.
While the Ashaninka Indians in Acre, with their tradition of holistic knowledge, do not need artists, artists do have a role to play in the new participative society emerging in Western societies. While exchanging knowledge with communities and working together with them to create or improve a particular place, artists can use relational objects and performative actions as tools to change the culture of living– a change that is necessary in the construction of a conceptual framework for a more resilient future and the survival of societies in the Anthropocene Age.
Marjetica Potrč is an artist and architect, and professor at HFBK in Hamburg, Germany. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the Americas, including the Venice Biennial (1993, 2003, 2009) and the São Paulo Biennial (1996, 2006). She has shown her work regularly at the Galerie Nordenhake in Berlin and Stockholm since 2003; among her international important solo exhibitions are shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2001) and the List Visual Arts Center at the MIT (2004). Her many on-site projects include Dry Toilet (Caracas, 2003) and The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour (Stedelijk goes West, Amsterdam, 2009). She has been a professor at the University of Fine Arts/HFBK in Hamburg, since 2011. Students of her course Design for the Living World engage in participatory practice during long-term residencies on locations such as Belgrade in Serbia and Soweto in South Africa. In Potrč’s view, the sustainable solutions that are implemented and disseminated by communities serve to empower these communities and help create a democracy built from below. Potrč has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics Fellowship at The New School in New York (2007).
Marjetica Potrč’s lecture will be moderated by Ron Martin (ACT) with response by Anne Whiston Spirn (MIT Department of Architecture / MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning) and Rebecca Uchill (MIT History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art Program / MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology).