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Exhibition Event: Where If Not Us? Panel Discussion and Exhibition Reception

February 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Panel Discussion and Exhibition Reception: Where If Not Us?

Participatory Design and Questions on Visual Representation – A public talk with Ines Schaber and Michael Rios, moderated by Mireille Roddier


In her talk, Ines Schaber will reference the exhibition Where If Not Us? – Participatory Design and Its Radical Approaches. A visual journey by Mathias Heyden and Ines Schaber, currently on display in the Taubman College Gallery.

A point of departure for the research and production of this project was the realization that planners and architects rarely think about the relationship of their efforts to the politics of image making and representation. However, throughout the history of planning and architecture, photography has played a crucial role in how we imagine and understand the built environment. Notably, a majority of images depict newly finished projects before they are occupied, a technique that emphasizes ideas and aesthetics over all else. Consequently, the utilization of designed spaces and their changing usage over time is something that has rarely entered the practice of image making and representation—and by extension has eluded inclusion in the understanding of the creation and management of space. While conventional practices of documentation and promotion are commonly accepted in relation to an idea of design where the planner and architect is understood as a single author, this process becomes more complicated when planning and building projects are conceptualized and organized differently, particularly in the case of participatory designs. Such projects, especially those with various protagonists involved, not only call for a different form of representation, but even more urgently require another way of working with images in the process of developing, evaluating, and understanding the nature of participatory work.

Mathias Heyden is a Berlin-based architect, activist, author, curator, and co-founder of community project K 77. Currently, he is an assistant professor of urban design and architecture at the Institute of Architecture, Technical University Berlin. Heyden is the editor of numerous publications including Hier entsteht. Strategien partizipativer Architektur und räumlicher Aneignung (Under Construction, Strategies of Participatory Architecture and Spatial Appropriation, with Jesko Fezer, 2004), and the magazines An Architektur 19-21: Community Design. Involvement and Architecture in the US since 1963 (with An Architektur, 2008).

Ines Schaber is an artist and writer, based in Berlin, Germany. She has studied Fine Arts in Berlin, architectural theory at Princeton University and holds a PhD from Goldsmith College in London, in the department of Visual Culture, Center for Research Architecture. She is currently visiting faculty in the Photo and Media Program at CalArts, California. Her work was recently shown at dOCUMENTA (13) (in collaboration with the sociologist Avery Gordon), at kunstwerke Berlin, (in collaboration with the filmmaker Madhusree Dutta), Steirischer Herbst, and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (in collaboration with the artist Stefan Pente).

Michael Rios is associate professor of community and urban design and chair of the Community Development Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis. Michael received his Ph.D. in Geography from The Pennsylvania State University and Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently working on a Graham Foundation funded project: “Curating the City: Activism, Aesthetics, and the Representational Spaces of Democratic Practice”.

Mireille Roddier is an associate professor in the architecture program at Taubman College. She shares a practice with Keith Mitnick, with whom she has worked since 1994. Their work has received numerous awards and recognition. Their ongoing interest in the mechanisms and politics of representation has fueled their design practice as well as Roddier’s own research on the aestheticization of urban decay. She is the author of Lavoirs: Washhouses of Rural France (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003) She has lectured internationally on the aestheticization of urban decay.

The Exhibition is funded by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen).

The reception will start at  5:30pm.


February 13, 2015
6:00 pm