Get Real! Online discussions series

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Series of online discussions about housing policy and new forms of (co)existence.

December 2020 - June 2021

As part of 5th season of Critical Mass (2019-2021)

Speakers: Anna Zhelnina, Ola Hassanain, Wilf Speller, Grigory Yudin, Zvi Efrat, Chad Freidrichs, Ingrid Ruudi, Matīss Groskaufmanis,  Merve Bedir,  Roman Osminkin and more

During the next few months TOKs’ curators will host a series of online events that aim at straightening the critical discourse around the theme of the 5th season of the collective's ongoing project “Critical Mass”. The title of the  season  - “Get Real!”  - refers to “real estate” and calls for critical revisiting and reimagining of the ways we live and cohabitate.

An unpredictable future, growing precarity and social segregation make the issue of affordable housing a key issue for city residents around the world, from Moscow to Los Angeles and Hong Kong. New season that is planned for 2019-2021 focuses on the emerging and complex issues of housing, real estate, urban development, contemporary and historical housing conditions in post-socialist and neoliberal contexts as well as pressing socio-political and environmental processes in megacities.

The series of discussions aims to take the “housing question” out of its disciplinary isolation by placing existent knowledge in an artistic context. By proposing interactions between artists, curators, sociologists, architects, anthropologists, historians, local storytellers and natives of city areas we will offer an expanded set of discursive formats, artistic and research methods and semantic constructions for cross-disciplinary and decolonial analysis of the topic of housing policy. The series of discussions will enable its participants and the audience to develop a cognitive apparatus for describing contemporary political reality and the influence of various factors related to the issue of housing on our body, consciousness, health and experiences.

The Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living and well-being. In contemporary neoliberal society, this right becomes a privilege: in the situation of rising prices for urban real estate, social inequality and population growth in large cities, affordable housing is becoming less and less accessible. The housing stock almost everywhere in the world is transferred to banks and to rental housing owners who control the residential real estate market. The growth of cities and the densification of central city districts creates additional hierarchies within urban areas and new formats for the interactions between citizens, government, business and each other.

Covid-19 and its long-term economic consequences require the reassembly of many social structures and rules for organizing life, including housing policies. During the online meetings with invited experts we would like to touch upon various aspects including housing activism triggered by the home renovation programs, the conditions and consequences of contemporary mortgage, reflections on property rights and thin lines between private and public. We will also zoom into well-known and underrepresented historical and contemporary cases of social and political discrimination of people and entire communities through systematic deprivation of housing and territories and will also analyze examples of collective rethinking of living space and architecture using the optics of gender studies, feminism and sexuality. The program will cover questions of alternative economic models and formats of cohabitation, new forms of neighboring, as well as the accessibility to housing in connection to social status, class, ethnicity, age and related mechanisms of survival of marginal and unprotected social groups that are more vulnerable in a situation of economic instability, precarity and growing government control. Each discussion will place individual and collective experiences at the center of the processes in order to conduct a deeper investigation and draw a more precise description of the consequences of global capitalism on people's lives and reflect on the regional particularities of these processes through the lens of housing and real estate.

*The series of discussions will take place as a part of TOK’s ongoing project of contemporary art “Critical Mass” that takes place in St Petersburg since 2010 and aims at researching the public spaces of post-Soviet cities. During the 5 season of “Critical Mass” (2019-2021), together with an international team of artists, sociologists, urban experts, architects and residents of St. Petersburg, TOK will explore the principles of building new city districts, study housing programs and issues of ownership and distribution of housing in different societies and conditions. Participants of the 5th season land their research on the South-West area of St Petersburg  - one of the most rapidly developing areas of the city. The aim of the series of online conversations is to expand the discussion field around the issues of the 5 season of “Critical Mass”, which will conclude with an exhibition project in St. Petersburg in June-July 2021. The launch of the 5th season with presentations of invited artists took place in St Petersburg in New Holland in October 2019.

Supported by: Creative Industries Fund NL