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What is the Relevance of History in Imagining Our Urban Futures? Panel discussion

Festival of the Future City
Fiona McDermott, Goda Palekaite and Monika Platzer 

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Our panel discusses the role of history and historical research in understanding urban public spaces.

The pandemic has raised the degree of control that we are gradually starting to see as the new normal. This is especially of concern in countries and cities seeking to construct rigid grand narratives based on one interpretation of history. As part of this, we are witnessing renewed political discussions about the fate of certain monuments or buildings as well as campaigns to change street names and statues.

Can historical knowledge and discussion be relevant in shaping our future cities and living environments? Can artists, researchers and architects working with history help imagine more democratic urban futures?

Speakers include: researcher Fiona McDermott; artist and researcher Goda Palekaitė; and art and architecture historian Monika Platzer. Chaired by Shawn Sobers, Bristol History Commission and University of the West of England.

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Part of the Europe Readr project initiated on the occasion of the current Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Run in association with EUNIC.

In association with

Fiona McDermott

Fiona McDermott is a researcher at CONNECT, the Research Centre for Future Communications and Networks at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Her research concerns the intersection of emerging network technologies with the materiality and politics of cities. She is also a member of ANNEX, the curatorial team for the Irish Pavilion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021, and is co-editor of the book, States of Entanglement: Data in the Irish Landscape (ACTAR, 2021).

Image credit: Johnny Savage
Goda Palekaitė

Goda Palekaitė is an artist working in the intersection of contemporary art, performance, artistic research, literature, and anthropology. Her long-term projects explore the politics of historical narratives, the agency of dreams and collective imagination, and social conditions of creativity. Her solo shows include the Centre Tour à Plomb in Brussels (Architecture of Heaven 2020), Konstepidemin in Gothenburg (Liminal Minds 2019) and RawArt Gallery in Tel Aviv (Legal Implications of a Dream 2018). In 2019 she received The Golden Stage Cross and the Young Artist’s Prize from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. In 2020 she published her first book of fiction, Schismatics (Lapas books).

Image credit: Adrijana Gvozdenovic
Monika Platzer

Monika Platzer studied art history at the University of Vienna and is a curator and head of collections at the Architekturzentrum Wien (AzW). She lectures at the University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology and is editor of icamprint, the journal of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums. Her research focuses on twentieth-century cultural history and transnational architectural history which was the subject of her latest publication, Cold War and Architecture: The Competing Forces that Reshaped Austria after 1945.

Image credit: Iris Ranzinger

Shawn Sobers is a filmmaker, photographer, writer and lecturer. His research is primarily concerned with the use of media and arts in participatory education, advocacy, heritage, marginalised voices and untold stories. He has chapters and articles published in peer reviewed journals and books, and has spoken at a wide range of conferences. His research has spanned a wide range of diverse topics, from the use of youth media in informal education, through to using media as an ethnographic research tool exploring subjects such as the legacy of the slave trade through to disability issues and walking. He co-founded Firstborn Creatives production company in 1999, and has made programmes for BBC 1, ITV West and Channel 4. Much of his work is positioned within the discourses of participatory methodologies, community media, autoethnography and visual anthropology. He is a Senior Lecturer of Photography at University of the West of England, and a PhD supervisor and examiner.

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Festival of the Future City

Festival of the Future City takes place every two years in Bristol. This year – due to the pandemic – the festival brings together live on-stage, live online and pre-recorded events. Check the project page for details and follow #FutureCity21 on Twitter.

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