The artist as activist in public space: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
SPACES Conference in Vienna

Moderator: Angelika Fitz
The SPACES project is funded by the European Union throuhg the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme

Thursday, 30 October: Art shaping the city

14:30 – 15:30
Welcome to SPACES!

Introduction by Heidi Dumreicher (Oikodrom, Vienna) and Nini Palavandishvili (GeoAIR, Tbilisi) and screenings of short films from the SPACES WEB TV (Vahe Budumyan, Ina Ivanceanu, and Tatia Skhirtladze)

The space and time context enhances urban participation and creates a public sphere. A transdisciplinar approach opens the conference and unveils the contexts of the SPACES project in Eastern Central Europe. How can city dwellers and artists seize their right to the city? We discuss reflections on the impact of art interventions in changing societies, the perception of the public sphere as a place for democratic participation and the role of “artivists”.

15:30 – 17:30
Panel 1: Public art and activism in Eastern Central Europe – thoughts on “artivism”.

Accompanied by the SPACES caravan, the project established a platform for reflection, discussion and participation where artists, scientists and city dwellers were given the opportunity to interact with each other. In order to paint a picture of what can be realized through artivism, this panel provides insight into the background and impact of the art interventions that took place in the course of the SPACES project. Introductory contributions from the SPACES curators demonstrate to the conference participants the experiences of artists in the post-Soviet public space.
The panel will talk about art interventions in the post-Soviet public space and re-think challenges for art under surveillance and censorship by the authoritarian state. Furthermore, the panel discusses significant impact of the historic and cultural diversity in the Eastern and Central European region and its influence on the successful implementation of the SPACES project.
Kateryna Botanova, Centre for Contemporary Art, Kyiv: Architecture of Common
Vladmir Us, Oberliht Association, Chisinau: Chisinau Civic Centre
Taguhi Torosyan,, Yerevan: Public Talks
Sophia Lapiashvili, GeoAIR, Tbilisi: undergo. the parallels

Respondents: Tihomir Videman, SKuOR - Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, Technical University Vienna, Torange Khonsari, Public Works, London, Markian Prokopovych, Institute of East European History, University of Vienna.

This panel is organized in collaboration with the "Stadt gestalten" colloquium at the Institute of European Ethnology of the University of Vienna, under direction of Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber.

Film Screening “The plunderingˮ – a film by Oliver Ressler

The documentaries by the Austrian film-maker Oliver Ressler are strongly tied to issues of economics, democracy, social resistance and alternative civil disobedience. In “The plundering”, the artist tells the story of aggressive state-property privatization in Georgia, combining powerful images with interviews.

“We can talk about the ‘plundering’ of Georgia. Public property, which in fact should serve the common needs of society, has become the property of individuals. For example, if this project were successful, the citizens now using this park would not be able to use it.” – Mikheil Svanidze, “The Plundering”

Unsurprisingly, the implementation of radical, free-market policies has worked to the advantage of some Georgians, while regular citizens are now faced with instability and precariousness. Indeed, today Georgia is 9th out of 185 countries in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, while accumulated common goods have been almost completely sold off.

Discussion with the film-maker and panellists after the screening.

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