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  • Džokić, Ana
    et al.
    Royal Institute of Art. STEALTH.unlimited.
    Neelen, Marc
    van der Linden, Martijn Jeroen (Contributor)
    Méndez de Andés, Ana (Contributor)
    Marčetić, Iva (Contributor)
    Currion, Paul (Contributor)
    Upscaling, Training, Commoning2017Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    When on September 15, 2008 the financial conglomerate Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy – and with that ‘officially’ sparks the international financial crisis – still few would anticipate the invasive effect this crisis would come to have on the professional and personal life of many across the world. Today, it’s implosion remains a mere ‘blip’ in the universe of events that followed.

    On closer observation, this financial turmoil started out as a ‘mortgage crisis’, largely fuelled by unsustainable or speculative investments in real-estate in cities across the world. In the run-up to the boom-and-bust of 2008, some – among them architects, urban designers, spatial practitioners, artists, activists, but also economists and others – started preparing for what they understood as (the necessity) of a different world to come, beyond the broken neo-liberal dogma. Today, fragments of such a different reality are unfolding in front of us. Modest, but for real.

    STEALTH.unlimited (practice of Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen) is one of the protagonists in this field, pointing to the responsibilities and capacities of architecture in contemporary societies, and acts between the fields of architecture, art and activism. With “Upscaling, Training, Commoning”, in 2011 they set on an expedition of sorts, to transform their practice. Following a decade of research addressing urgent cultural and urban issues ahead (resulting in publications, exhibitions, spatial interventions), now they use questions, doubts or limitations of such a practice as a lead towards direct long-term engagements with specific spatial process and/or communities.

    The resulting practice based exploration has been far away from a distant or objective research condition. It is subject to volatile political and economic situations, to conflicting interests or the engagements with(in) local communities encountered in the work. In this, three lines of exploration have been followed; that of the practice assuming new responsibilities, of the economies of engagement and disengagement, and that of the urban commons.  

    The title “Upscaling, Training, Commoning” relates to the awareness that the relevant activities and approaches need to be nurtured, and that the imperfect contexts in which this take place can be seen as ‘training grounds’ to arrive to practices of commoning. Hence, upscaling, training, commoning describes a trajectory (to be) taken.

    The artistic research (PhD) “Upscaling, Training, Commoning” concludes with a set of six books, and includes comments on the trajectory taken since 2008 by: the writer Dougald Hine, the economist Martijn Jeroen van der Linden, architects Ana Méndez de Andés and Iva Marčetić. The concluding book, set to words by the writer Paul Currion, features a fictional narrative, looking what the future could possibly hold, in which collective action might enable citizens to navigate through difficult times to create a new political economy.

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