The right to the city and artistic practices in public space: two versions of heterotopia

Head: Pier Luigi Sacco

Year 2019

21st-century cities are facing increasing spatial and social fragmentation that causes disconnection, marginalization, exclusion and vulnerability. Urban planners discuss urban regeneration practices as an opportunity to stimulate the integration of local communities. Artistic and cultural intervention projects, in particular, are often cited as tools to increase participation and integration, but asymmetries in decision-making processes promoted by local and global elites, sometimes including artists themselves, increase the gap between those who decide and those who bear the consequences of such decisions.

As a result, the term heterotopia, as formulated by Foucault, can be applied in a surprisingly natural way to such spaces to describe the extraneous ways in which such spaces condition the behavior and individual and collective choices so as to promote the interests of those who orchestrate the processes of urban transformation.

This research project aims to analyze the effects of the contrast between two alternative epistemologies of ethorotopia, the Foucaultian and the alternative one, implicitly defined by Henri Lefebvre's thought. The aim of the project is to analyse, from both a theoretical and a field research point of view, some artistic and cultural practices in the public space that appear of particular interest in their relationship with the forms and modalities of appropriation of the right to the city that they generate in socially disadvantaged subjects, and in particular to ethnic-cultural minorities, to the new urban poor, and to urban youth precariousness.

The project builds on a recently published paper, P.L. Sacco, S. Ghirardi, M. Tartari and M. Trimarchi, 2019, "Two versions of heterotopia: The role of art practices in participative urban renewal processes", Cities 89, 199-208, and has produced two other works currently under editorial evaluation: P.L. Sacco, S. Ghirardi, M. Tartari and M. Trimarchi, "Re-orienting the gaze: Artist positionality in community art-based projects. The Gramsci monument case" and D. Colucci and P.L. Sacco, "Postcards from the elsewhere. Emotionally unravelling the glocal megacity".