focuses on change and placemaking in the city, seen both as a physical and imagined entity. The project comprises a group exhibition featuring existing and new work by four artists, a public intervention and a talk. Alongside artists, collectives from the UK and beyond contribute to the exhibition with audiovisual material that documents their engagement with the public realm.
and its main idea that small-scale actions have the power to bring about positive change in urban communities. Acknowledging creative practice and collectivism as agents of change, the exhibition invites artists and collectives whose practice addresses issues of place and social change.
Change can begin with imagination and improvisation. From the ideal-city renaissance paintings to the modernist urban utopias, art has always been drawn in exercises of re-imagining the city. Contemporary artists engage with the city and its life in complex ways that merge art, political theory and activism. Against the backdrop of realities such as privatisation and gentrification, the low budget interventions by artists and self-organised systems mirror the inventiveness of the informal cities that Nabeel Hamdi talks about. Either working against radical urban changes or working towards change, such projects open up possibilities for other and better places to exist.
The act of balancing between utopian visions and real urban challenges is taken as a starting point for the exhibition, but not in order to seek consensus. The exhibition is built on the premise that placemaking is not just about spaces and the hard facts about them, but also about people, their desires, fears and illusions. The works and projects on show invoke both the ‘hard’ city of real data as well as the ‘soft’ city of emotions as constituent elements in the processes of placemaking.
, Global Financial System Timeline (working document),2012
Jane Lawson, Global Financial System Timeline (working document),2012,detail
Lauren O'Grady, Other Possible Locations, Crossroads, 2012, Gallery installation view
Small Change Cast List
Sevie Tsampalla (GR)
is a Manchester based curator. As a founding member of the collectives Reconstruction Community and Audiovisual Artists Anonymous, she initiated public art interventions in Athens and Brussels. Alongside an interest in collaborative processes, her practice aims to explore crossovers between art and broader modes of cultural production. Her most recent exhibition was Some Misunderstanding at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
Lauren O’Grady’s (UK)
work draws from cinematography, model making and folklore. Other Possible Locations is a series of small-scale wooden sculptures, that together make up a miniature crafted city. Made up of familiar (Crossroads, Motorway bridge) and yet uncanny elements, this fragmented landscape seems full of potential and at the same time deprived of it. www.laurenogrady.com
Jane Lawson (UK)
creates work about processes and systems, seeking alternatives to the dominant economic model and the limitations it imposes on our forms of social organisation. Alongside existing financial timelines, the artist will map out possible futures, situated beyond the end of capitalism.
Noor Nuyten’s (NL)
small-scale sculptures attempt to make visual sense of the world, but often end up re-making it, by renegotiating borders and proposing alternative ways of measuring space or time. Among the works on show, Measuring space, a balloon filled with helium stretching a tape measure, will measure the gallery’s physical space through gradual change.
Claire Weetman’s (UK)
interventions document, but also disturb people’s movements in public spaces, questioning the usual patterns through which one experiences the city. Alongside past projects realised in Istanbul, Liverpool and Shanghai, Claire has been commissioned to realise new work in public space, responding to issues of placemaking in Stoke-on-Trent.
is a commissioning agency based in Manchester, that takes a collaborative approach to commissioning by shaping a process that allows artists, residents and agencies to work together. Buddleia was set up in 2010 by independent curator Kerenza McClarnan, as an attempt to help develop a culture of ‘socially engaged’ art practice within the city. www.buddleia.co.uk
Plus-tôt Te laat (PTTL) (BE)
is a diverse and non-hierarchical collective from Brussels, founded in an unemployment office in 1998. Having initially focused on the politics of institutional neglect of artists in financial need, the group expanded its collaborative approaches to address social and urban urgencies in Brussels through video, text and posters.
Quartier Midi (BE)
is a neighbourhood association (Comité) from the area around Brussel’s South (Midi/Zuid) railway station. Acting within a context of private and state-led investments, it opposes house demolitions in order to build office buildings and shopping malls. The association visualises its efforts and exposes the politics behind the area’s transformations through a series of video’s and posters that are created collaboratively.
is an independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led investigative journalism and participatory media. Set up by Mark Saunders, its work ethics are informed by non-hierarchy and openness. Spectacle has been collaborating with collectives, among which PTTL, and developing practices that encourage residents in sites undergoing regeneration to use video as a tool for making their voices heard.
Network Nomadic Architecture (NNA) (GR)
is an open research laboratory from Athens. Consisting of architects, artists, groups and individuals, NNA is interested in public space, territories under crisis, urban transformations and their cultural, social
and political extensions.
public works (UK)
is an art and architecture practice working within and towards public space. Projects span across different scales and address the relation between the informal and formal aspects of a site. public works has been commissioned by Buddleia to develop a project which looks to bring collective and community making to Cheetham Hill, Manchester. www.publicworksgroup.net