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Presentation text of the september 2012 residency in Johannesburg

Play/Urban :

Time based media /audience /people as infrastructure / research /site-specific /interventions /performance Body politics /staging /collaboration /play / chance /randomness /collaboration /networks /collective action

Play/Urban is a collaborative project initiated by two art schools, ESAD Strasbourg and WITS School of Arts. A foundational objective of Play/Urban has been to critically speak to the gap between creative practice (artistic production) and research (theoretical production) especially as they operate within a postgraduate level of study. This initial and common concern has developed into a project that is ambitious, exciting and has important implications for the functioning of research and pedagogies in both schools and beyond.

The project has developed to include a range of individuals, collectives and institutions in order to articulate a series of residencies in both France and South Africa. These moments of collaborative working facilitate exchanges between students, pedagogues, artists, researchers and cultural activists. The first residency is planned for September 2012 in Johannesburg and is organized around a series of actions that foreground the heterogeneous space and time of the urban as a catalyst for developing modes of play as forms of research.

The residency intends to mobilize the concept of play as constitutive of a set of processes or a range of methods for interaction with the urban. Rapid urbanization on a global level has produced a multiplication of how people inhabit, move or connect with, within or around spaces and times. These spatial and temporal dimensions, fraught with tension and constantly overlapping constitute the core field of action in Play/Urban. The urban, its virtual and real dimensions, forms the context or the field of play for real-time collaborative actions. The residency will focus on creative practice in the city as well as through a virtual web based platform that reflects, critically engages with as well as makes visible the real-time actions.

The field of play is also intended to critically build on recent intellectual (and institutional) developments in creative or practice-based research. These questions of research and the structure of time-based art and theatricality are important as they suggest critical and transformative ways of re-thinking the methodology and conceptual frameworks within the pedagogy of the academy and the art school.

Play/Urban, has a further dimension of transformation at stake in its location within the city. The situatedness of the residency in a space not controlled by the academy or the art school provides a range of audiences/participants/collaborators that are integral to functioning of the city but are often overlooked or instrumentalised in both artistic practice and urban research. Play/Urban implicitly involves an engagement with these (new) constituencies as it explores a range of actions with variable levels of visibility.

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