Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI MMG), Göttingen, Germany 

03-05 June 2024

The International Art and the City Conference was initiated in 2019 and has been hosted in different cities around the world every year. The 6th Conference sponsor is the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI MMG) Göttingen and it will take place at the Institute’s facilities 03-05 June 2024.

The primary purpose of this conference is to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogues and collaborations among scholars with a specific focus on the intersections of art, urban spaces, the "right to the city," aesthetics, and the politics of the urban environment. It aims to shed light on various aspects related to these themes, such as artistic rebellion on the streets, the aesthetics of urban social movements, and art activism in urban spaces. The conference serves as a platform for bringing together an international team of scholars, fostering diversity of disciplines and perspectives on the intricate relationships between urban space, art, and social change. This diversity allows for a multifaceted understanding of the ideologies, relationships, meanings, and practices that emerge from the interactions between art and the urban environment. The conference strives to offer insights and promote a better understanding of how these interactions play out in different regions ultimately contributing to the broader discourse on urban life, art, and social transformation.

The role of art in the urban space encompasses a range of spatial and temporal dynamics, leading to dialogical, political and aesthetic interactions. On one hand, art contributes to urban development, tourism, public health, race relations, and general welfare. On the other hand, plays a crucial role in urban activism and social change, encompassing movements such as the 'right to the city', anti-gentrification, urban social movements with their spatial, ideological, and ecological agendas, as well as struggles for democracy, civil rights, and individual and collective freedoms. These movements have been extensively studied from a politico-aesthetic perspective, focusing on plural resistance against authoritarian governments, struggles over the use of public space, social and structural inequalities, and human rights issues. However, there is a need for a specialized framework and language within contemporary art practice that places urban space and its social urgencies at the core of its production. 

Recent discussions on the social aspects of art have emphasized its therapeutic, ethical, unifying, reconciliatory, and functional attributes, particularly in relation to easing tensions between communities and city authorities. While valid, this criticism overlooks art's potential for struggle, contestation, re-appropriation, and the creation of shared spaces for socialization, mobilization, and political action. To further advance these discussions and broaden the understanding of art's relationship with the political and social dimensions, Art and the City Conference explores the aesthetic experience of the city from the perspective of social dissidence and democratic citizenship. The conference extends an invitation to scholars and researchers in the humanities and social sciences fields, encouraging them to explore and discuss various aspects of art in relation to urban environments, such as:

  1. Art's role in reclaiming cities as spaces of resistance and catalysts for change,
  2. How art confronts and reshapes the concept of public space, fostering new interpretations and engagements,
  3. Art's ability to provide innovative and transformative avenues for citizen participation and involvement in urban settings,
  4. The power of art to activate, capture, and subvert experiences within urban spaces, thereby challenging conventional perspectives,
  5. The empowering nature of art that enables marginalized voices and subjects within the city to assert their presence and agency,
  6. The production of new narratives surrounding social organization within gentrified urban spaces through artistic expression,
  7. Art's capacity to challenge and redefine our sensory and perceptual encounters with the city,
  8. The coming together of artists and migrants to challenge and transform urban space towards the formation of an inclusive culture and inclusive urbanism,
  9. Art's integral role in the aesthetics of urban social movements and their commitment to participatory (direct) democracy,
  10. The exploration of the potentials and drawbacks associated with the interaction between eco-art and urban ecologies.
  11. Architectural strategies for equitable sustainability and ecological consciousness in the city.


Prof. Eva Branscome, Architecture and Cultural Heritage, The Bartlett School of Architecture

Interdisciplinary Artist Kathryn Gohmert

Interdisciplinary Scientific Committee 2024

Konstantinos Avramidis, Architecture, University of Cyprus

Sabina Andron, Architectural History, University of Melbourne 

Eva Branscome, Architecture and Cultural Heritage, the Bartlett School of Architecture

Anna Dempsey, Visual and Performing Arts, University of Massachusetts

Friederike Landau-Donnely, Cultural Geography, Radboud Universiteit

Robert Nilsson Mohammadi, Society and Culture, Malmö University

Alla Myzelev, Art History, the State University of New York at Geneseo

Konstantinos Pittas, Architecture, Cambridge University

Joshka Wessels, Media and Communication, Malmö University

Tijen Tunali, Art History, Columbia University

Contributors are invited to submit abstracts that should be 500 words maximum. Along with the abstract, please include a brief, recent Curriculum Vitae (no longer than one page) and send it to the conference convener, Tijen Tunali, at by Friday, January 15, 2024.  

There will be no online presentations. The third day of the conference will be an excursion to Göttingen and Kassel.

Selected papers will be invited to contribute to the edited volume Routledge Companion to Art and the City contracted by Routledge or to a special issue in the Urban Studies Journal.

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