Making Sense in the City


The idea for this symposium, which focuses on the new urban context, originated in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at Ghent University. The department does not want to focus exclusively on the purely academic aspects, however, and has therefore invited non-academic groups involved in making sense of the urban context. The international symposium wants to present a range of approaches to these issues, so that a variety of artistic, cultural and religious perspectives complements the academic approach. The organisers have not sought groups that illustrate these subjects, but have aimed for points of common interest, overlaps and confrontations.

The artistic section of the symposium has been supplied by the Firefly, an artists' collective. This organisation, founded by the artists Orla Barry and Els Dietvorst, is mainly active in the Brussels region and has gained extensive experience with artistic urban projects. Especially the five-year project The Return of the Swallows, which originated in a working-class district of Brussels and earned the collective critical attention on account of its experimental approach. The cooperation between the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies and Firefly is not new. An van. Dienderen and Els Dietvorst have collaborated in the past on semi-documentary processes in an urban context. To ensure the quality of the artists invited, they went to visit several cities to study how justice is best served to these artistic projects.

By broadening the scope of the symposium and engaging in a synergy between the academic and artistic-cultural components, the symposium will also gain broader support and attract a wider audience. With this concept, the symposium will be an interesting occasion for representing, discussing and analysing different ways of reading and creating meaning in the city.

Together with artists, curators, anthropologists, urbanists and social developers Firefly worked out a full programme with exhibitions, film projections, discussions and talks.

Firefly and Electrischen Schnelseher invited the following artists and collectives to present their work: Francis Alÿs, ODA collective, Hassan Darsi & La Source du Lion, Orla Barry, Aglaia Konrad, Els Dietvorst & the New Swallowscollective.

At the occasion of this symposium, Firefly produced a new photoproject of Aglaia Konrad and two new films: The Apple-Eater (directed by Els Dietvorst) and The Bastardstown Blogger (directed by Orla Barry).