The city is our factory

Lecture and discussion with Stefan Roemer and Christoph Schäfer
July 11th, 2011

Christoph Schäfer will present his artistic-activist approach at the Kunstraum on the basis of his widely received visual essay ‘The City is our Factory,’ which was published in 2010 by Spector Books. Using a water color pen, Christoph Schäfer traced in this essay the conceptual landscapes and urban developments that the renowned philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefèbvre had envisioned in his study ‘The Urban Revolution.’

A few years ago resistance against urban development in the spirit of neoliberal governmentality seemed to have withered or not have found ‘a foothold on the slippery terrain of Postfordism anymore.’ Yet recently social movements have begun to flare up again, not least in Hamburg. A number of initiatives emerged and became linked; alliances between social- and artistic critic were formed. Which role can subcultural and artistic dissidence play in the new battles over ‘the right to the city,’ without being subjected to cooptation or instrumentalization or strengthening the field of power against all intentions?

The discussion with Christoph Schäfer will be led by Stefan Römer, before it will be opened for the audience.

Christoph Schäfer works and lives in Hamburg. Since the early 1990s, he has worked on urban everyday life and the production of spaces for collective desires. Schäfer is decisively involved in ‘Park Fiction’, the park at St. Pauli’s Hafenrand, based on the ‘collective production of desire’. With ‘Park Fiction’ Schäfer was part of documenta 11. Among the works of the last decade the following might be emphasized: The film installation ‘Revolution Non Stop’ (2000) transformed parts of Hamburg’s inner city into a game with the residues of the surplus production of the future ruins of Fordism. As a member of the group ‘Park Fiction’, Schäfer is interested in the exchange between different subjectivities and the collective redefinition of a public space. The installation ‘Melrose Place’ investigates the influence of new media on urban processes and imaginations in the Indian software metropolis Bangalore. ‘Hoang’s Bistro’ (2005) deals with Asian shadow cities in Leipzig. In 2009, ‘Abbellimento Strategico’ was produced for the Isola Art Center, Milano, a painting about art and ecology as camouflage for investor architectures. In the context of Kulturhauptstadt RUHR.2010, he marked places of the Ruhr uprising in 1920 with the means of city marketing: ‘Auslaufendes Rot – Anti-Monument fuer die Rote Ruhr Armee’ Christoph Schäfer also collaborates with the Hamburg activist network against gentrification ‘Es regnet Kaviar.’ In 2010, his first book ‘The City is our Factory’ appeared at Spector Books.

The artist Stefan Römer is engaged in a discursive practice concerned with intervening in the contemporary field of art. With his deconstructive readings of Conceptualisms, e. g. in his essay film, ‘Conceptual Paradise’, and the related Wiki project, Stefan Römer not only critiques the prevailing reception of Conceptual art as an artistic production that seems to suppress visual strategies, but above all develops a different model of the relationships between word/image and practice/theory; he also established a deconstructive, artistic form of ‘theory as practice and practice as theory’. In this regard, he views the internet as an expanded form of exhibiting. With this Wiki project, Stefan Römer’s interest lies in developing alternative ways of artistic presentation that are not limited to physical space.