The Role of Urban Imaginaries for Creating Liminal Spaces for Social Change and Critique

Lisbon / Hybrid Conference Panel
@Urban Creativity 9th annual conference and activities
July 7, 2022

The city, the most diverse and fastest growing human habitat in recent (and not so recent) history, presents a place for social identification and radical imagination, not only for its inhabitants, but for everyone who lives in relation to or in conjunction with urban spaces. Urbanity and urban imaginaries have infiltrated every strand of life, every social stratum, and influenced lived subjectivities within and without city centers. The city appears to be the place, where the social faith of humanity will be decided, as the urban mind encodes our understanding of the world as we know it.

At the same time and in view of numerous geopolitical crises we face today, it seems unclear where humanity is headed and how we will surmount the challenges ahead. Imagination seems crucial to devise plans and strategies for shaping future life-worlds, especially in fast-growing urban assemblages. The imaginary turn in urban studies and beyond bears witness of the importance of contemporary utopias for creating future urban environments.

In this panel we, therefore, invite architects, designers, artists, and urban researchers to share their visions, on how urban imaginaries can be used to critique the status quo of city life, while devising strategies for change and renewal, in the light of multiple global challenges reflected in the urban realm. In our contribution for 2022’s Urban Creativity Conference we want to show, how a wealth of creative strategies can infiltrate the urban fabric and open liminal spaces for critique and transformation. We want to demonstrate that the future is not inescapable, but that approaches from the worlds of design, arts, architecture, and science can provide spaces for change and social critique that inspire all of us to be part of the solution.

We invite you to be part of a multidisciplinary exchange that points towards new imaginaries of life in the city and beyond, to inspire strategies for change from the smallest to the largest scale, to use urban imaginaries for creating new utopias and to create liminal spaces that anchor the spirit of transformation in everyday urban environments.

Philipp Schnell is an urban researcher, based in Salzburg and Vienna, teaching research design and academic writing. In his research he places a focus on Arts-Based and Qualitative Methods to discover urban life-worlds and expressions of urban subjectivity. He is interested in graphic methods for documenting city life and uses creative approaches for revealing facets of contemporary urbanity. He is a member of Sektion Stadtforschung at the Austrian Sociological Association (ÖGS) and has published texts in the fields of space theory, urban studies, and Arts-Based Research.

Andreas Duscha is a conceptual artist with a focus on analogue photography. He mainly works on topics such as time, architectural representations of power and creative strategies for urban critique and renewal. He studied Conceptual Practices at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and Psychology at the University of Vienna. Since 2021 he is teaching at the Institute of Photography at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He exhibits regularly in museums, foundations and international galleries and his work has been shown i.a. at Belvedere 21 Wien, Kunsthaus Zürich, ISCP New York, Manifesta, Rovereto, Biennale de Fin del Mundo (Ushuaia) and ACF Bratislava.

Xenia Lesniewski is an ultra-contemporary, multidisciplinary artist from Vienna. Her work includes painting, installation, collaborative projects, performative situations as well as curatorial practice and urban planning. Lesniewski’s oeuvre moves at the interface of art and life as well as within the examination of current social developments and public space. A process-oriented, interdisciplinary approach that plays with urban imaginaries to create and infiltrate liminal space guides her artistic practices, which are focusing on the re-appropriation and re-purposing of urban spaces.

Itai Margula is an architect, designer, exhibition designer and freelance curator with an office in Vienna. With his team he develops exhibition formats for museums, publications, and art books as well as individual design solutions and architectural projects. In 2018/2019 he attracted great attention with his scenography for the exhibition »Shrew Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures« curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf. He worked as a designer for Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Fondazione Prada, MAK, Belvedere, Jewish Museum Wien, and the Secession. His works on visible and invisible urban realities were exhibited and published at the 11th Architecture Biennale in Venice.

Valerie Messini is an independent digital artist, researcher, and registered architect. She holds a position as senior scientist at the Peter Weibel Research Institute for Digital Cultures at the University of Applied Arts as well as at the IKA (Institut für Kunst und Architektur) at the Academy of Fine Arts, both in Vienna. In 2017, she co-founded 2MVD, an artistic collaboration that focuses on combining architecture with innovations and advances in the field of digital art and technology. She is currently working on her PhD “void set – about emptiness in virtual space” supervised by Peter Weibel at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Conference Website:
Conference Program: