Seemingly common activities such as walking, playing, recycling, and gardening are pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists, and collectives featured in the exhibition. Their actions push against accepted norms of behaviour in cities, at times even challenging legal limitations. The individuals and groups employ a range of approaches but share a conviction that the traditional processes of top-down civic planning are insufficient, and new approaches and tools must be developed from the ground level upwards. Their experimental interactions with the urban environment show the potential influence personal involvement can have in shaping the city, and challenge fellow residents to participate.
Actions: What You Can Do With the City presents 99 actions that instigate positive change in contemporary cities around the world. Featured are projects related to the production of food and urban agriculture; the planning and creation of public spaces to strengthen community interactions; the recycling of abandoned buildings for new purposes; the appropriation of urban sites into terrain for play, such as soccer, climbing, skateboarding, or parkour; the alternate use of roads for walking or rail lines as park space; the design of clothing to circumvent urban barriers against loitering or resting on benches; among others. The exhibition places particular emphasis on the activists’ tools, which comprise unusual materials ranging from large-scale inflatables and fruit-collecting dresses to seed-bomb rocket launchers and wheelbarrow-bicycle hybrids. Included are masks disguising children as horses, or sneakers customised for sliding along railings.
Curators: Mirko Zardini and Giovanna Borasi, CCA, with Lev Bratishenko, Meredith Carruthers, Daria Der Kaloustian, and Peter Sealy.
Exhibition design: Andrea Sala, Milan.
Graphic design: Project Projects, New York.