2014 OPEN CALL > 2014 FESTIVAL THEMATICS AND QUESTIONS > Urbanist Like Me: Cities, Design and Architecture from a Privileged Few


Photo of 'Assemble'

‘City Making’ is without a doubt, a serious endeavour, and every serious endeavour needs the best possible opportunity and platform for self-critique and parody. This section of the festival is an opportunity for ‘urbanists*’ from all across the world to ‘take-the-mickey’ out of themselves and their various roles in the urban industry. More below.


The main point of references for this part of festival programme is Tim Wise’s re-published book White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged SonThis section has also been inspired by tweets like this one by Owen Booth Re-discover the city by using a map of a different city! Get run over crossing a road that wasn't supposed to be there! #CrapSituationism and short youtube videos like this one byFosey; self-critique by Jamie Johnson in Born Rich and Highrise by Gabriel Mascaro. FAT's How To Become A Famous Architect and Notes On Becoming A Famous Architect are also great reference material. 

 Of course, White Like Me by Tim Wise is not a parody but on the contrary an effort to make serious a topic that is often trivialized, dismissed and overlooked. As the Keys to the City and Urban Industry research helps demonstrate there are urgent concerns, not dissimilar to the ones Tim Wise illustrates in his book that entangle class, gender, race and privilege. Globally, ‘City Makers/urbanists’ are an increasingly class and educationally homogenous – isolated and self perpetuating group. The ramifications of this for current and future citizens of cities have the potential to be devastating. The aim of this section of the festival programme is to shift the usual gaze of urbanists from ‘the other’ and onto ourselves.

Submissions, for example, might include films that use real footage and audio re-edited from lectures, critiques and field trips to comedic or mockumentary effect? A film could try and use every made up word freely shared by guest lecturers trying their dandiest to be the most obscure and incoherent and therefore the cleverest - ever?  A photographic essay might self-document all the old white men that end up speaking at an urban industry event, or the polite young women that ‘man’ the tables at community consultation events? Films parodying psycho-geographer drifts, one off urban gardeners or conferences titled Playful Cities, Human Cities, Connected Cities, Creative Cities etc, seem to be ready to be served up on a plate to be devoured by all? Perhaps the sharpest parody might be of earnest ‘critical thinkers’ setting up organisations such as This Is Not A Gateway? Films, performances, interventions, sound installations, photographic exhibitions … endless possibilities.

*The epistemological evolution of the word ‘urbanist’ is yet undetermined. Theories include; the requirement for professional middle classes to have job titles and the desire of these professional middle classes to demonstrate to others how expansive their interests are or to justify their over education, often resulting in studying different disciplines. The most likely scenario, proposed by @dannybirchall, is that it evolved for these groups to distinguish themselves from ‘urban’ a term used to describe poor and usually black inhabitants of cities.

Article on Gawker.com highlights how the word 'urban' is often interchangable with 'black'. The article discusses this in relation to the murder of Trayvon Martin (March 2012). 

Last updated on August 6, 2014 by This Is Not A Gateway