ArtSpaceCity (ASC) is one of five research strands in the Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) which is based in the Institute for Creative Cultures (ICC) at Coventry University (CU). The aim of ASC is to enquire into how art, design, film, digital technologies, and cultural institutions contribute to making a more socially just city.
We think that the production of cultural artefacts and the way they are received and used by us creates new social behaviours as well as new spatial paradigms. Digital technologies play a significant role in our everyday lives, these platforms and interfaces are important to the way in which the city thrives socially as well as economically. The use of technologies has steered the formulation of Smart cities as a new urban paradigm in city development managed by property ownership and for commercial gain. In this context, for ASC researchers the well-being of all their inhabitants – including animals, plants, buildings, and land formations must feature as a key part of the design of cities and their infrastructures. We prefer the idea of the ‘silly city’ to the smart city. A ‘silly city’ positions the well-being of publics, and the non-human at the centre of urban life. This approach sees us figuring out ways for future placemaking, that are neither top down nor bottom up. The tools we use include critical urban studies, critical infrastructure studies, post humanism, postdigital cultures, political science, sustainable development, media studies, critical race studies, cultural geography, activism, art, design, and architecture. Through our research, we host projects that explore how publicly funded cultural institutions can contribute to the making of more democratic cities. Most of our research activity is practice-led and action-based. For example, the ‘Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for Empathetic Exchange’ project (SPACEX RISE) enquires into societal benefits of spatial practice projects – specifically the role they can play in instigating public exchange and promoting empathetic ways of living together in urban space – among community leaders, voluntary organisations, cultural institutions, key local government departments and the public. We also publish on the benefits and limitations of practice research as a method for action in the city. Our PGR community’s practice-led research contributes to the aims and interests of the ASC, investigating the relationship between space and artistic practice with a view to the positive societal change.
Mahsa Alami Fariman is a researcher, educator and urbanist based at Coventry University. Having studied architecture and urbanism in Iran and the UK, she has worked in a number of multidisciplinary architecture and design practices in the Middle East. Prior to joining Coventry University in 2022, she has studied PhD in urban sociology and working as Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London, as well as research assistant at University of Warwick and De Montfort University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and works as Assistant Lecturer in Planning and Urban Environments based at Coventry University’s School of Energy, Construction and Environment where she teaches on human geography- and built environment-related subjects. Mahsa’s research intersects urban sociology, gender and feminist studies, architecture and urban planning. She is currently co-editing a book entitled: City, Public Space and Body: The Embodied Experience of Urban Life.
Ahmadreza Hakiminejad is an urbanist, educator and researcher based in the UK. He is Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Studies in the School of Energy, Construction and Environment, Coventry University. He has taught in the British HE since 2013 and completed his PhD in Built Environment in 2018. Prior to joining academia, Ahmadreza has worked as an architect in the Middle East in both public and private sector roles. He is a member of the Editorial Team for the journal: Engineering Future Sustainability, a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is also a jury member in the international architecture and design competition: Tamayouz Excellence Award. His research interests revolve around critical urban theory, politics of space, urban and architectural history and theory, and urban sociology. He is currently co-editing a book entitled: City, Public Space and Body: The Embodied Experience of Urban Life.
Mel Jordan is professor of art and the public sphere. She is the leader of the research strand ArtSpaceCity, in the Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University, UK. From 2016 to 2019, she was head of Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art, UK. In 2018, Jordan (along with Andy Hewitt) formed the Partisan Social Club, before which she worked in the collective Freee (with Dave Beech and Andy Hewitt). Her research is concerned with the potential of art as a political tool through its role as a form of opinion formation in the public domain. As part of the Partisan Social Club, she has exhibited at Coventry Biennial; Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, London; and Edinburgh Printmakers. Recent journal articles include ‘Toppling Statues, Affective Publics and the Lessons of Black Lives Matter Movement’, (2021); ‘Depoliticization, participation and social art practice: On the function of social art practice for politicization’, (2022); ‘On practising politicized practice: What do we learn?’, (2022). She is PI for the Spatial Practices in Art and ArChitecture for Empathetic EXchange (SPACEX RISE) project. This is an ongoing project funded by the European Union’s HORIZON 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) project number 872561 (https://www.spacex-rise.org/). She is currently working on a book entitled ‘Spatial Practices and the Urban Commons’.
Alex Parry is an artist doing a practice-based PhD exploring how art workshops act as a form of world building and speculative fiction – in terms of ideas, social relationships and materials produced. She has an interest in creating inclusive structures for group work and is part of Studio Yea with Eva Freeman and Youngsook Choi who are a group of artists exploring how to support each other in these precarious times. Alex has an MA in Contemporary Art Practice: Public Sphere course from the Royal College of Art, and a BA in Social Anthropology and Media from Goldsmiths University. She has worked with the Pumphouse Gallery, FACT, and Hackney Council and recent publications include Structures within structures: Examining alternative cultures of learning in the institution in Art & the Public Sphere Journal, Volume 10, Number 2.
Giorgia Rizzioli is an AHRC – M4C PhD candidate at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures. Her areas of interest revolve around media experimentation and cultural valorisation in film and media studies. In specific, in her doctoral project she is engaged with film curation as a method to investigate the connections between the cinematic dispositive and the urban space. Recently, she has collaborated as curatorial assistant and researcher in the setting up of the Coventry Biennial Hyper-Possible 2021. She is currently curating Screening Coventry: Past is Now an outdoor experimental cinematic event due in Coventry on 23rd of April.
Recent publication: Rizzioli, Giorgia. “Archive. Creative Practice and Creative Placemaking”. In Coventry Biennial 2021: Hyper-Possible edited by Anneka French, Ryan Hughes and Michael Pigott, 60-69, Coventry: Coventry Biennial Ltd, 2021.
Marley Treloar is a first year PhD researcher at Coventry University exploring the development of participatory community practice between digital and physical spaces within cultural organisations. She graduated from Kingston University MA Museum and Gallery Studies in 2019 and has worked across the arts and heritage sector working as a freelance curator, public programmer and education officer. Marley is the creative director of Co-Curation, artist run curatorial collective exploring participatory, community and digital collaborative artistic practice.
Publications: Recycle Archaeology: community reuse of archaeological disposals, Makings Journal: Disruption, 2022. (Pending Peer-Review)
Frances Yeung is an AHRC M4C funded Collaborative Doctoral first year student and an artist. Her research project is a collaborative between the Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC), Coventry University and NN Contemporary Art (NNCA), based in Northampton.
Post-pandemic, like many other art organisations, NNCA is more than ever invested in digital curation and online programming, finding innovative ways to disseminate art and culture. My research focus will be utilising the NNCA’s Library Stack Archives and open-source digital resources, platforms and infrastructures, to articulate digital engagement programmes for the public, with a more caring, inclusive and socially-just approach, and therefore benefit the local communities.
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