Get Real! Art, Gentrification and Real Estate in the Time of Political Crisis, Climate Change and Shrinking Resources

  •  Pop-up bar with a construciton side at the background in the South-West of St Petersburg. Photo: Anna Bitkina
    1/1 |  Pop-up bar with a construciton side at the background in the South-West of St Petersburg. Photo: Anna Bitkina
New Holland, Pavillion, Admiralteyskiy channel emb., 2
12.10.2019 - 16:00
Related project: 
Get Real! Art, Gentrification and Real Estate in the Time of Political Crisis, Climate Change and Shrinking Resources
Panel discussion with artists and urban experts and the launch of the 5th season of the project ‘Critical Mass’
October 12, 2019
16.00 - 18.00
New Holland, Pavillion, Admiralteyskiy channel emb., 2
Speakers: Kasper Akhoj (Denmark), Ahmed Al-Nawas (Finland), Nina Støttrup Larsen (Denmark/The Netherlands), Lybov Matyunina (Russia/The Netherlands), Metasitu, artist duo (Latvia/Spain), Pinar Ogrenci (Turkey/Germany), Joost Stokhof (The Netherlands)

The issues of housing construction, distribution and ownership concern residents and authorities of all the world's major megacities. Rising real estate prices, gentrification, massive influx of tourists, large-scale construction projects in historical parts of cities on the site of demolished architectural monuments are radically changing urban landscapes and forcing out those who can no longer afford to stay there, including local people and traditional small businesses. Affordable housing is becoming a problem and an increasingly inaccessible resource in the world, thus polarizing societies and stimulating social stratification.

On October 12, the 5th season of the “Critical Mass” will launch with an open discussion with the artists participating in the new season. Entitled ‘Get Real!’, it is  devoted to the emerging and complex issues of housing, real estate and contemporary and historical housing conditions in post-socialist and neoliberal contexts. All the speakers will talk about their projects and initiatives dealing with the issues of real estate and its ownership, diverse housing programs and projects, social urban landscapes and participation of citizens in decision making on city level. TOK curators will speak about their research in the framework of the 5th season of ‘Critical Mass’, which will take place in the South-West of Russia. 

Together with the audience we will discuss urban planning and housing development, various mechanisms and schemes of mortgage, grassroots initiatives and activism in the field of housing, relationship between local authorities and homeowners, alternative ways of owning real estate, and both historical and contemporary aspects related to property ownership. The participants of the discussion will also address the possibilities of contemporary art and curatorial practices to infiltrate into political and social structures by exploring issues of housing, legislation, urban infrastructure and citizens collective actions.

Critical Mass’ is a large-scale art project based on the principles of researching the urban environment, locating problems and potentiality of various public spaces and suggesting solutions for their improvement together with curators, artists, researchers, local communities and governments. The project was initiated by the Creative Association of Curators TOK in 2009, since then over 40 Russian and international artists have participated in its activities and 36 new works have been commissioned for public spaces and educational environments of St Petersburg. ‘Critical Mass’ is divided into seasons each of which lasts for about two years and focuses on different problematics related to urban development, public space, collective memory and perception, and the role of citizens in decision making about the city life. 


Ahmed Al-Nawas is an art curator and educator. Central to his approach to curating is collaborative practice, constantly re-envisioning and re-defining it. A collaborative practice of knowledge production, content building and forms become central do the project. His praxis is informed by his location in the interstices of society, constantly examining and contesting the notions of margins and center. 

Kasper Akhøj (Copenhagen, 1976) works primarily with sculpture, film and photography. His work often explores objects, situations and the residual histories of art, design, architecture and the institutions that present them. He is interested in states of rapture and their expressions in modernity, as well as in pan-european and non-western histories of post socialism. He has a particular interest in art’s relation to real-estate, as well as socialist housing and architectural design, and the transitions into market economies.

Nina Støttrup Larsen (1981, Copenhagen, DK) is an artist based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her work uses artistic strategies and long term research as a tool to plot out global structures of power in relation to economy, legal infrastructures, geopolitics, and the(post–)colonial present. In summer 2019 she was working on a project in Strasbourg dealing with the question of social housing and how to use legal frameworks to protect the citizens from being de-housed.

Lyuba Matunina, visual artist with a degree from Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Fine Art, Amsterdam and background in political science and journalism. For the last couple of years she’s been working on experimental documentary series “I am a tool of gentrification”. It aims to function as a speculative proposition on using gentrification within the artistic community and is an attempt to make a platform for discussion and solve situational propositions.

Pınar Öğrenci (1973, Van, Turkey) is an artist and writer with a background in architecture. Her body of work, which consists mostly of video art and installations, is at the intersections of social and political content, everyday practices, and human stories. Carrying anthropological characteristics, her work focuses on collective movements - ranging between activism and religious rituals-, nationalism, assimilation, war, forced displacement, and urban policies. During 2018-2019 she conducted research about IBA 1984-87 project at Kreuzberg in Berlin and the results of the idea of ‘participation’ of the migrants in the creation of the social houses. 

METASITU (Eduardo Cassina and Liva Dudareva) is a practice, pendulating between Kyiev and Athens that establishes porous tribes. They use art as a platform to support their research, a medium to reach different actors, and a tool to establish bridges across disciplines. This allows them to  abuse urbanism discourses, develop new tools to empower individuals in the way they relate to the territory, and challenge spatial power hegemonies. Currently they explore the speculative nature of global real estate markets and the fundamental value systems that are embedded in the domestic spaces.  

Joost Stokhof is an illustrator from Amsterdam. Through his drawings he tries to figure out both his surroundings and himself in connection with those surroundings. Small things that are often ignored or overlooked tend to play a huge part in his work. He collects them on paper and this way give them the space they need to let them tell their story clearly.



The 5th season of Critical Mass is supported by Nordic Culture Fund, Consulate General of the Netherlands on St Petersburg and Goethe Institute in St Petersburg