zURBS wants to make people look at and re-think their city in new and different ways. By working with a wide range of urban citizens through a social-artistic approach, zURBS aims to pose alternatives to the collective co-existence (=the social) in our cities, through creative and imaginative processes (=the artistic). Our projects offer a mode of critique through a participatory and collective fantasy that focus on a “transgressive” imagination that questions aspects of the present by moving beyond the set limits and into the realm of the not yet set.
The right to the city is the right to changing the city more after our heart’s desire…it is the right to claim some kind of shaping power over the processes of urbanization.
― David Harvey
A few more words… why zURBS?
zURBS is a response to what we have observed as a general tendency of urban debates to focus on providing specific answers and solutions, rather than opening up for questions and alternatives. We seem to be living in a culture of consent where alternatives to the ruling order seems to be non-existent, and where disagreement only operates within an overall model of consensus. Often when urban issues are discussed, whether it is in the media, in a research or planning setting, the rhetorics is more about depicting what is the “right” and what is the “wrong” way to make our cities. This tendency of moral-judgment instantiates the idea that there are no alternatives, rather than criticizing this idea and searching for other alternatives.
Thus, we believe that society needs a space for disruption, conflict and ambivalence, for questioning aspects of the present, and imagining alternatives to the present and ruling order.
In order to do this, we believe that we need to balance the present dichotomy within the moral judgment of right and wrong. In this regard we need a heightened sensibility towards the present, as we can then no longer situate ourselves within fixed moral categories. By working with a wide range of urban citizens through a social-artistic approach, we aim to enhance this sensibility and thus our possibilities to re-think our cities.
The term “social-artistic” is here alluding to an approach that poses alternatives to the collective co-existence (=the social) in our cities, through creative and imaginative processes (=the artistic). Through this approach, zURBS wants to make people look at their city in new and different ways. We want to change their perception on the city in order to become more aware of their surroundings. One can say that we offer a mode of critique through a participatory and collective fantasy. We are not necessarily looking for alternatives to be realized, but to focus on a ”transgressive” imagination that moves beyond set limits and into the realm of the not yet set. In doing this we want to pose a social and political criticism questioning aspects of the present and press home the sense that something is missing from current conditions that should be basic for struggles and demands.
I have a recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we have existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?
― Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
By actively involving different urban stakeholders (such as politicians, artists, urban planners, community groups, citizens, architects, researchers etc.) to take part in various interventions, workshops and tours, zURBS wants to form new partnerships and projects that build upon a mutual understanding of the complexity of urban society, a specific urban debate, location or situation. Thus, zURBS is a different way of thinking upon city relations. It takes form as an open and accessible process where different urban spheres come together to approach an urban topic or problem from a variety of perspectives, approaches and competences that suits its complexity. This way, zURBS aims at making space for more profound and effective urban impacts that will empower citylife as a whole.