Actions: What You Can Do With the City
26 November 2008 until 19 April 2009
Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920 rue Baile, Montréal, Québec
16 October 2009 until 13 March 2010
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
4 West Burton Place, Chicago, Illinois
The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) presents Actions: What You Can Do With the City, an exhibition with 99 actions that instigate positive change in contemporary cities around the world. Seemingly common activities such as walking, playing, recycling, and gardening are pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists, and collectives featured in the exhibition. Their experimental interactions with the urban environment show the potential influence personal involvement can have in shaping the city, and challenge fellow residents to participate.
Actions: What You Can Do With the City documents and presents specific projects by a large and diverse group of activists whose personal involvement has triggered radical change in today’s cities. These human motors of change include architects, engineers, university professors, students, children, pastors, artists, skateboarders, cyclists, root eaters, pedestrians, municipal employees, and many others who answer the question of what can be done to improve the urban experience with surprising and often playful actions.
The exhibition features international contemporary architectural projects, design concepts, research studies, and other ideas conveyed through a range of materials including architectural drawings, photographs, videos, publications, artefacts, and websites. Rather than using traditional tools associated with urban planning and design, the instigators of these actions offer an intensely focused personal engagement.
The 99 actions featured include projects related to the production of food and possibilities of urban agriculture; the planning and creation of public spaces to strengthen community interactions; the recycling of abandoned buildings for new purposes; the use of the urban fabric as a terrain for play such as soccer, climbing, skateboarding, or parkour; the alternate use of roads for walking, or rail lines as park space; the design of clothing to circumvent urban barriers against resting on benches or sliding on railings; among others.
The design concept for the exhibition is by Andrea Sala, Milan, and the graphic design including typography and display brochures is by Project Projects, New York City.
Actions: What You Can Do With the City is curated by Giovanna Borasi, CCA Curator for Contemporary Architecture, and Mirko Zardini, CCA Director and Chief Curator, with Lev Bratishenko, Meredith Carruthers, Daria Der Kaloustian, and Peter Sealy.
Actions: What You Can Do With the City is accompanied by a book of the same title, which presents original research and writing that further examines the exhibition’s exploration of how the design and experience of contemporary cities can be shaped by human actions. International in scope, the 30 essays are published for the first time and include personal observations by a range of activists alongside scholarly reflections on the positive impact these individual initiatives have on the city. The texts are interspersed with a selection of 34 specific actions drawn from the exhibition.
Introductory essays by the editors Mirko Zardini and Giovanna Borasi provide historical perspective and establish the curatorial framework for the exhibition and publication. Original essays are contributed by Jochen Becker, Vikram Bhatt, Katrin Bohn, Brendan M. Brogan, Coloco, Henk Döll, Fergus the Forager, Omar Freilla, George J. Grella Jr., Fritz Haeg, Tali Hatuka, Dan Hill, Sarah Hill, Ocean Howell, Hans Ibelings, Momoyo Kaijima, David Ker Thomson, Zoe Laughlin, Sonia Lavadinho, Nina-Marie Lister, Alejandra López, Thomas Leo Ogren, Emily Rauhala, Richard Reynolds, Debra Solomon, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, Jeroen van Nieuwenhuizen, and Andre Viljoen.
Co-published by Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, and SUN, Amsterdam, the Actions publication received support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Designed by Novak, Amsterdam, the 240-page, soft-cover book includes 70 colour and black and white illustrations, and features a folded poster as cover wrap. The volume is available through the CCA Bookstore in English and French editions for $42.95 CAD/USD (ISBN: 978-0-920785-82-9) and in selected bookstores.
The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) is an international research centre and museum founded in 1979 on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive Collection, exhibitions, programs, and research opportunities, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.
This accompanying website presents a toolkit to inspire actions in the city. Its databank of individual actions featured in the exhibition can be sorted and browsed in multiple ways, including by the type of tool employed in the action or the curatorial organisation of the exhibition. The website features photographs and video resources, and challenges users to respond by posting their own thoughts or initiatives on how to improve the city through individual action.
The Actions website is created by Bluesponge, Montréal, with creative direction by Marian Kolev and concept by Mouna Andraos. The website is a 2009 Webby Award Honoree and the recipient of a 2009 Silver MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums (AAM). The CCA’s online initiatives are led by Steffen Boddeker, Director of Communications, with Alexandra McIntosh, Editor, CCA Website.
Action in Chicago
Actions: What You Can Do With the City is on view at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts , Chicago, from 16 October 2009 until 13 March 2010. Gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm; every third Thursday of the month, 10 am to 9 pm. Free admission. Group tours available. For further information: 312 787 4071.
Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts makes project-based grants to individuals and organisations and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.