Critical Art(ist)s and Urban Development - A collaborative study comparing German and Israeli Cities

Project: Research

Project participants


Artists have been engaged in political urban activism, linking aesthetics and political protest, for a long time, to the extent that they are now considered a key political actor. But what exactly are the forms and models in which artists do and can make a genuine impact when it comes to urban development? How can artists be engaged with the practice of changing the city, from presenting alternatives to the dominant urban life and work forms by exemplifying different and creative forms of artistic lives and work to critical interventions, by outspoken opposition and protest? And why and when do they choose various models for action? In this research we consider this conjunction of artists and cities within a theoretical triangle of urban studies, cultural studies and political science. Equipped with this relatively new perspective and comparing four cities – Hamburg, Hannover, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – we believe we should reach valuable results about artists’ political participation in the city. First, we intend to explore and interpret the existing living and working conditions of the arts and artists in the four cities. Second, we shall explore and analyze the shapes and scopes of political activism of artists in the selected cities. And, third, we wish to explore and assess the impacts urban artists and their art have on urban development in these cities. We understand this in a normative sense (what can artists do?) but also in a descriptive and analytical sense (what are they doing, and why?). The third object – the roles of artists as "change agents" for urban development – is dependent on the findings of the first and second research fields (cities and artists). Combining different methods (qualitative PRE interviews, guideline oriented expert interviews, focus groups, some videoed and analyzed using, among other tools, Atlas.ti), we shall study these models of artists’ urban intervention, aiming to find out what political, cultural and social circumstances, topics and causes drive and encourage (or discourage) artists to intervene in the respective cities and countries.

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Research outputs