Zagreb Workshop: ALTERNATIVE CITY TOURS

Thu-Fri 24.-25.5. at the Student Centre Gallery (approx. 10-17 daily)

The workshop sets out to explore, map out and develop alternative city tours that give insights into the city of Zagreb based on unofficial information that reflect the everyday lives and interests of different groups of local people. Content might include nicknames for places or day-to-day practical information (child-friendly cafes and good public toilets, where to find free parking or good shortcuts, etc). The aim of the workshop is to collaborate with diverse groups of users, to discover and document overlapping and perhaps conflicting modes of inhabiting the city.

Types of information to be collected and compiled into the tours include:
Place nicknames: Unofficial place names that people use commonly for places, streets or local landmarks, but which do not appear on official maps and documents.
Changed geographies: Sites of significance that no longer exist; shortcuts by foot, bicycle and car.
Competing perceptions of urban spaces: Different readings of a space held by different groups, e.g. teenagers calling an area yuppie yet yuppies calling the same area rough because teenagers hang out there.
Changing demographics: For example, districts where groups of immigrants settle, or where foreigners buy up investment properties.

Contemporary vernacular information, the way that people describe their urban environment and use local knowledge to navigate it, reveals much about the politics of place. We take a view of the city as a dynamic social network, rather than a physical environment – the built environment is merely the setting, or backdrop, for social activity. Moreover, that environment is very often designed to contain, obstruct or exclude particular groups or individuals, and we’re interested in the ways people find of negotiating these structural exclusions and going about their daily lives.

Plan for the workshop:

The participants in the workshop can identify in advance colleagues, friends and relatives as contacts and sources, and begin to collect information. Everyone should bring to the workshop some initial material, e.g. hand-drawn maps of the areas/points of interest.

In the workshop these materials and ideas will be collated and explored further as a group, going out to the city, identifying and documenting places of interest. Tours will be produced then out of the collected material. These may take a variety of forms, from live sessions with local residents to podcasts, recorded tours on headphones, downloads for mobile phones or even radio broadcasts. The tours or initial drafts for tours will be part of the exhibition Centrifugal: sequence II at the Student Centre Gallery (26.5.-10.6.). The project will then be developed further, in collaboration also with the local residents in Helsinki and Belfast, into an online archive.

The workshop is part of an ongoing project, a collaboration between Belfast-based Aisling O’Beirn and Daniel Jewesbury, for Centrifugal exhibition series in Zagreb, Helsinki and Belfast:

Aisling O’Beirn is a Belfast-based artist, whose recent work is derived from a research into various informal accounts of place, e.g. urban myths, anecdotes, place nicknames, etc. See http://www.aislingobeirn.com

Daniel Jewesbury
is an artist and writer, and works as a researcher in digital cultures at the Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster. He is currently making a new film about the fragility of memory and biography.

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