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On the Black Market of Cultures

Using the example of black market organization, as well as that of the unleashed urban development on the fringes of European cities, a research team in collaboration with the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) investigated cultural networks in the form of international art and architectural projects and urban initiatives.

Mirroring human cohabitation, they offer a valuable contribution to the understanding of a new world order, which is particularly sensitive to troubled regions and melting pots in Europe.

Vienna (TU). - Professor Peter Mörtenböck from the Institute of Art and Design of the TU Vienna together with his colleague researcher Helge Mooshammer from IFK (Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften - International Research Center for Cultural Studies) investigated three vast informal markets in Moscow, Istanbul, and Bosnia (Brcko) as part of an EU Project entitled "Networked Cultures" that has been going on since 2005.

"Various art initiatives reflect upon the cultural transformation in Europe that has been caused by spatial conflicts, migration, new mobility, and global economics. If we think of geopolitical sites like Kosovo, Bosnia, Istanbul between Europe and Asia, Russia, it becomes clear that new spatial structures emerge between various regions. But these spaces are in the first place not only geographical territories, but they also have imaginary and symbolic borders that become accessible particularly through art," explains Peter Mörtenböck. The networks that are woven between these art and architectural activities act as mediators and as operational fields in a proliferous and global entanglement of people, places, and interests.

A book with the same title "Networked Cultures," that was launched in Bregenz on April 17 and came out in collaboration with the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) and the Goldsmiths College of the University of London, encompasses, based on selected projects and four theses, the cultural dynamics on the continent that tie cultural networks together into a European map. Around 50 interviews with groups and individuals that work in the fields of art and architecture, curators, theorists, and activists, cover among others the questions "what does informal organization look like in Europe?" and "what forms of cultural interaction emerge in such a new production manner of space, politics, and knowledge?" Mörtenböck: "Markets like the Cherkizovsky in Moscow, established during the Gorbachev era, emerge without any proper legal structures. Art projects have only recently begun to produce an engagement with these sites. These illicit activities as well as the building of informal settlements (e.g. hundreds of Roma settlements around Belgrade) meet the public eye through art projects. Art makes these activities, which sustain the livelihood of a society, transparent, and contributes to the understanding of a new constantly changing world order."

This project, which will continue until 2009 and will be presented in cities like New York, Toronto, Berlin, London, Istanbul, Moscow, Belgrade, and Rio de Janeiro, has also generated a homepage as a collaboration platform and meeting point of already more than 1,000 art and architectural initiatives:


For further inquiries, please contact:
Professor Peter Mörtenböck
Institute of Art and Design
Vienna University of Technology
Karlsplatz 13/E264, A-1040 Vienna
Telephone: +43/1/58801 - 26417
Cell phone: +44/7914578994
Daniela Hallegger, M.A. / M.S.
TU Vienna - PR and Communication
Karlsplatz 13/E011, A-1040 Vienna
Telephone: +43-1-58801-41027
Fax: +43-1-58801-41093

Werner Sommer | idw
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