22nd Oct 2012 7:00pm-8:30pm
Sallis Benney Theatre
FREE PUBLIC PRESENTATION
Utilitarian Dreams: Havana: the Brighton Dialogue
Sallis Benney Theatre
Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton
58-67 Grand Parade
Brighton, BN2 0JY
Tel: 01273 643010
Thursday 22 October, 7pm
The Design Research Institute and the Urban Performance research group from the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts will host a public event, the Brighton Dialogue, to mark the publication of catalogues documenting Utilitarian Dreams: Havana, a collaborative project ongoing since 2005 between artists and architects based in Havana, London and Brighton.
The evening will take the form of an illustrated discussion between Utilitarian Dreams: Havana participants, reflecting on how different artists and architectural practices represent cityscape, its constituent elements, and the forces of change – planned and unplanned – acting upon it. Exhibitions have been used to set the agenda for other Dialogues, the first of which took place in Brighton during 2005, and currently work is being produced for an international exhibition, titled Insiders, which will be hosted by the Arc en Rêve Centre d'Architecture” in Bordeaux.
The focus of the Brighton Dialogue will be the Utilitarian Dreams: Havana international residency and exhibition (2006). The panel will include architects Katrin Bohn and Andre Viljoen, Faculty of Arts University of Brighton; Yuneikys Villalonga, independent curator based in Havana and founder member of Utilitarian Dreams; Jenny White, Director of the British Council, Havana; and Catalina Lozano, Residencies Coordinator for Gasworks | Triangle Arts Trust, funders of the international Batiscafo residency in Havana. Peter Murray, Founder and Director of the London Festival of Architecture, will chair the discussion.
Through an open dialogue the participants will celebrate the work of Utilitarian Dreams: Havana and explore both the impact that cross-disciplinary work has for individual practitioners and its wider impact as the expression of an evolving collective endeavour.
The Utilitarian Dreams research project developed following the publication of Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: designing urban agriculture for sustainable cities (ed. Andre Viljoen, Architectural Press: 2005).
Viljoen and Bohn’s CPUL concept proposes a radical alteration to the way cities are conceived and designed, by introducing city-traversing networks of open urban space including urban agriculture.
Bohn and Viljoen believe that when presenting new design ideas architects are confronted with questions about how to communicate in a way that is comprehensible to a public beyond the architectural profession. In addition to articulating the rationale for a design idea, means of representation are required to capture qualities that are often experienced rather than rationalised.
With this in mind, they instigated a series of projects working with artists dealing with the recording and observation of urban conditions. Cuba was selected as the site for these investigations due to its extensive and urgent introduction of urban agriculture following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This work started with exploratory investigations and a site research visit to Cuba with the British artist Tom Phillips. Phillips’ work has documented and revealed change, the process of observation, and personal and collective histories within urban environments. With support from the British Council, contact was made with the Cuban curator Yuneikys Villalonga, who in turn introduced Bohn, Viljoen and Phillips to the work of Cuban artists exploring readings of Havana, a city simultaneously displaying evidence of social and functional transformation within a fabric largely unchanged since the Cuban revolution. Following these initial meetings, exhibitions were initiated in Brighton and Havana, to provide a forum for a series of live experiments between the participants, allowing the discourse to move beyond conversation and into practice.
The Brighton Dialogue event will include presentation of work created for these exhibitions and explore how Utilitarian Dreams: Havana has impacted on international urban discourse.
Image by Pavel Acosta, created for Utilitarian Dreams: Havana
Pavel Acosta Football (From the series Stolen Spaces) inkjet print, 100 x 66 cm
Artist’s statement: Pavel Acosta
“I have been very interested lately in the way people sort out and materialize their needs, wishes and utopias. Especially when this implies a re-formulation of spaces that people share in the city.
In the series Stolen Spaces, I photograph street versions of popular sports that take place in spaces full of “architectural barriers”, but where the determination of participants (poses, style, outfit) paradoxically make them closer to the ideal of the professional player. The game actually happens in people’s head: only there, the structure of a football field is superposed on a terrace roof, a garage entrance or a garden.”