What is it about?

By observing theatrical interventions in Zurich, the interdisciplinary research project „re/occupation“ – which takes place at the institute for theory (ith) of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in cooperation with the Schauspielhaus Zürich and the ETH (Professorship for Architecture and Urban Design) and which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) -, aims to examine how performative techniques can be used for producing and designing public in urban space. It applies an interdisciplinary approach using the following disciplines: design studies, architecture, urbanism, theatre studies and philosophy.

The object of investigation is Ciudades Paralelas, a several days long festival in the city of Zurich, which plays different functional spaces such as a train station, a hotel, a library, a shopping center, an appartement, a factory, the court and a rooftop. Artists from Germany, Argentina and Switzerland revive these spaces by their interventions and open up new perspectives to the audience. The interventions do not take place in traditional typologies of public space (like streets, parcs, places), but occupy new/other urban spaces, in which public is practiced. The mini-festival is curated by Stefan Kaegi (Rimini-Protokoll) and the Argentinian director Lola Arias. Partner and producer is the Schauspielhaus Zürich.

The research project generally deals with the core question: How can artistic strategies be used – for scientific research – to investigate the sustainablity of the theatrical interventions of Ciudades Paralelas in Zurich. The four disciplines – theatre studies, urbanism, scenography and philosophy – work independently from each other using their own questions and methods.

Three joint meetings – we call them laboratories – built the herat of the project, in which the state of the arts will be discussed and similarities and differences will be looked for. They also serve to determine, if or/and how the four disciplines can support each other. In addition and as kind of external „controllmechanism“, 4 to 6 artists or scientist of other fields of practice will be invited as experts. Within the single branches of the research project, questions will be developed in order to illuminate the theatrical event and its surrounding from different perspectives: description of the artistic interventions in the urban spcae, the concrete design of public, the usefulness of theatrical techniques for creating and designing public (space).

Theatre Studies – Imanuel Schipper (head of project, ZHdK)
What kind of dramaturgies, stagings and materialities are used for the theatrical interventions in the urban space of Zurich? Which role does the audience play: How strong is the audence included and emancipated (in contrast to the traditional audience-situation)? As a consequence, the significance of these new forms of theatre have to be discussed: What it meana for the institution of „stadttheater“, for its image in town and for its audience.

Philosophy – Clemens Bellut (ZHdK)
The contribution (from a perspective of humanities) investigates several aspects of a philosophical discussion about the political public sphere. It includes positions from Arendt to Habermas, from Lefebvre to Agamben and Rancière. There will be a construction of the term „public“ as a thesis,that has to be evaluated for its usefullness with the help of the artistic interventions.

Urbanism – Tim Rieniets / Gabriela Muri (ETH)
The research project Re/Occupation (sub-project urbanism) takes Ciudades Paralelas as an opportunity to investigate a rather unexplored subject within the public space discourse. The focal question of the project asks if it is possible to stimulate qualities of publicity in urban space by means of performative techniques from theater. Which performative techniques are especially suitable for generating publicity? What spaces are the most appropriate for being revalued through performative techniques?
For the research project Re/Occupation (sub-project urbanism) publicity is not understood as a politically, legally or medially predefined sphere, but rather a societal act of mutual perception and interaction between different groups and individuals. From this point of view publicity is constitutive for public space and for the kind of human coexistence we call ‘city’. Consequently, publicity is not bound to particular types of space (e.g. streets, squares or public amenities), but can happen at any place, where mutual encounter and exchange is possible: in shopping malls, train stations, libraries, hotels, factories and the like.
To be able to understand and evaluate the meaning of performative interventions for the emergence of publicity, a selection of projects by Ciudades Paralelas will be investigated through empirical research. The research project Re/Occupation (sub-project urbanism) will operate in an interdisciplinary field of urbanism and cultural science. In order to capture the interdependencies between people, spaces and performative action, the project will implement a plural mix of research methods including ethnographic, cartographic, film and text based techniques.
Re/Occupation (sub-project urbanism) is an interdisciplinary student-project and a joined collaboration between the Professorship of Architecture and Urban Design (ETH Zurich), the Lectureship Sociology (ETH Zurich) and the Institute of Popular Culture Studies (University Zurich).

Scenography – Stephan Trüby (ZHdK)
In this part, the focus is on materiality and function of the played spaces. The conversion the space experienced through the theatrical interventions will be analysed. A diachronic approach will analyse how public space has been subject of conversion in the past and its traces in the architecture and use.

The project is interwoven in a network of several reserch projects of the Institut Design2context about urbanism such as the CAS and the conference „Civic City“ (R. BAur, J. Fezer, M. Göhrlich, M. Robbles-Duran), the research project „Atmospheres and Urban Hot Spots“ (E. Blum) and “Places in the City“ (S. Berthold). Additionally, it is linked to several Institutes of the ETH and the MAS Scenography /ZHdK.