Politics “In Space”

Apolonija Šušteršič

Project Period:
Type: Affiliated PhD researcher
Program Area(s): Critical Projections


Politics “In Space” is the title of my PhD dissertation, which reflects upon projects related to analyses of urban action produced within art context. The work questions the relationship between democracy and space, the understanding of spatial justice within the market-driven economy, the need for community building within the time of mobility and exodus, and also underlines other invisible paradoxes that are situated in-between the text and the image. I emphasise and direct my research deliberately towards participation in urban projects, which are related to physical interaction within space, where the space is concerned primarily with physical matter and secondarily with its social and political character.

My research reveals the importance of direct action and confrontation within a physical space with the people living at the place in order to develop the participatory process. In this research I’m not interested in a virtual interaction or social media that would discuss modes of operation within the development of space as strategies to provide/improve participation for direct democracy. Not only is the new technology not developed enough, it isn’t widely available and access to it is usually limited to a specific social class. At the same time I wish to defend the direct relationship to space and to people, and the importance of creating stimulating social situations within a physical space.

What I’m trying to trace down and analyse in relation to architecture and urban planning is spatial action that is / has been conceptualised within the art context. What is the core of the concepts that were developed in contemporary art back in the 1960s and 70s and still remain relevant? Certainly Space remains the keyword. Here I don’t mean the entire universe but the Space that surrounds us here and now, the very reality in which we live. And that reality is being questioned at the moment, not only by its non-physical sister: virtuality, but also by a series of events that have influenced and put our world into a very unstable situation. Here I’m pointing to the globalisation of commerce, the changing nature of work and the family, the failures of traditional liberal ideology, and the danger of profound environmental crises.

However I do believe that acting ethically, we can stir the process of change against the accumulation of capital and exclusively producing the social value of space. Working within the urban context (as an artist or architect) one needs to be aware who will benefit from the change in order to be able to shift the spatial development processes against gentrification and other socially negative processes.

However, working within the art context, one has to develop the awareness of the situation “outdoors” and create strategies that lead to successful action. That is what I’m developing through this research and the subsequent analysis of my practice. Such a methodology is very necessary when working with a situation “in this moment” that aims to create a suggestion for a change. I’m proposing a type of change that is shaped through a process developed from the context of a situation, which thus makes every proposal unique. And every process is an experience that creates relations between people involved, a network of relations, which will eventually provoke an action. I perform this idea within the Hustadt project – the core project of my PhD research.

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