Where Imagination Slips Into Reality

STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen)
12 Oct / 16 Oct, 2015
Cittadellarte, Biella
TOPICS/TAGS: spatial practices, self-organisation, urban commons, reimagining urban life, responsibility, participation

Gradually, over more than a decade, the responsibility for re-drafting the socially engaged future of the city is being taken upon by an unusual coalition of those that would have - until recently - hardly be considered eligible. This module will dive into social, political, but also practical sides of a wide range of projects, encompassing STEALTH.unlimited’s own work as well as projects developed by other practitioners in the artistic and cultural field.

Factors like a dissolving welfare state, deregulation policies, privatisation agendas, but equally an increasing awareness of the unsustainability of the ongoing financialisation of urban development (think of the ongoing economic downfall), have laid open a terrain in which artists, spatial practices, cultural and artistic institutions, NGO’s or neighbourhood initiatives have claimed a territory previously reserved for governmental organisations, real-estate developers and urban planners. Accompanied by a new kind of engagement that seeks to involve citizens as well as a new realm of professionals, these actors or organisations are already making many vital contributions, even if they are still primarily perceived as peripheral or secondary to the discussion on urban development.

Where Imagination Slips Into Reality will explore the transformation of such practices, and their transition from temporary artistic interventions, via larger urban imaginations, to interventions that clearly step beyond the field of art. What they have in common is a search for a shared creation, different models of governance, and intense participation of communities in various, essential aspects of a life in common. We will explore what are the motives to embark on such endeavours, but equally what are the toolsets we can work with, and which the potential of such approaches. Can our imagination consciously and with determination be transposed into reality? And importantly, once achieved, how can these initiatives carry on beyond the presence of that initial creative force?

This module is meant for artists, architects, citizens groups, activists, curators, city administrators etc.


October 12th
Guided tour to Cittadellarte, including the Pistoletto, Arte Povera collections and temporary exhibitions (curated by Luca Furlan).
Getting into the week through a conversation about the exhibition project “A Life in Common”(STEALTH.unlimited/Cittadellarte). Cross-section through seven key aspects of urban life and ways in which artistic/architectural/cultural responses can re-define our city, in terms of how we live (housing), how we produce (economy), the resources we have at hand (food, energy, water…), the new civitas (citizens, migration), and the politics of the city (collective decision making).
Screening of a section of the program of “Matrix City” (curated by STEALTH.unlimited/Kristian Lukic for Impakt Festival). Trigger for the next days: is the “imagination” brought forward in the projects that will be introduced desired to slip into reality?
Setting the space for the next day.

October 13th
(Mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be used as opening for a critical reading of the projects brought in: what society is outlined through them?)
Introducing the project “(Dis)assembled” that lays out the possibility to take the making of the city as a common effort into our hands. A large collection of materials and tools are brought to life on the not-yet-planned outdoors terrain at Gothenburg’s waterfront, to give it a future direction – through the action and imagination of visitors and neighbours of the Röda Sten Konsthall. Included are screenings of the works exhibited within the project, like The “72 Hours Urban Action” (Bat Yam Biennale), “Passage 56” (Atelier d'Architecture Autogérée), “Eichbaumoper” (Raumlabour).
Intuitive assessment of the project by participants, and elaborating each ones stance.
Speculating what sort of society the project outlines, in groups.
Bring conclusions to the others (by using and annotating up to 10 slides from the project presentation).
Common discussion.
Setting the space for the next day.

October 14th
Introducing “Once Upon a Future”, an imaginary fast-forward to a possible Bordeaux in the year 2030 – the year in which the city desires to reach the magic number of one million inhabitants. In this work of social fiction made for the biannual EVENTO 2011, citizens initiative takes a major role in envisioning, managing and governing the city.
Following intuitive assessment of the society outlined in the project by the participants groups are formed.
Groups develop an assignment based on their “desired” or “non-desired” assessment.
Common discussion.
Setting the space for the next day.

October 15th
Introducing “Smarter Building”, an initiative in Belgrade, starting out of a cultural context to imagine and realise affordable housing through collective action and cooperation. Other forms of collectively devised housing will be introduced too.
Following intuitive assessment by the participants groups are formed.
Groups get an assignment based on on their “desired” or “non-desired” assessment.
Common discussion.
Setting the space for the next day.

October 16th
Zooming out: to what larger picture projects like the ones discussed contribute?
The last day is dedicated to the concept of “urban commons” that is regaining momentum in the international debate on and around spatial and social justice, the use of natural resources, and digital cultures - both through practice and exploration, the concept of commons has started to enter the contemporary city.
Collective reading and discussion of a number of selected texts on commons.


The following projects and texts will be discussed during the week:

“A Life in Common”, exhibition and research project (STEALTH.unlimited/Cittadellarte): http://www.cittadellarte.it/attivita.php?att=68#sub

“Matrix City”, program for Impakt Festival, Utrecht (STEALTH.unlimited/Kristian Luikic):

“(Dis)assembled”, project and an exhibition at Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg (STEALTH.unlimited): http://www.stealth.ultd.net/stealth/29_dis.assembled.html

“Once Upon a Future”, exhibition and research project for Evento 2011, Bordeaux (STEALTH.unlimited/Emil Jurcan/arc en reve architecture center):http://www.stealth.ultd.net/stealth/30_once.upon.a.future.html
including the novel written with Bruce Bégout:http://www.stealth.ultd.net/stealth/projects/30_once.upon.a.future/download/booklet_EN_web.pdf

“Smarter Building”, housing initiative initiated by Who Builds the City, Belgrade (a/o STEALTH.unlimited), text written for magazine ERA 21:

“Commonng the City”, conference recordings (see under Documentation) on the topic of urban commons, held at the Architecture Museum, Stockholm (STEALTH.unlimited/The Royal Institute of Art-KKH):



STEALTH.unlimited (Rotterdam / Belgrade) is a practice set up in 2000 by Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen. Through intensive collaboration with individuals, organisations and institutions, STEALTH connects urban research, spatial interventions and cultural activism. Ana and Marc’s projects mobilise thinking on shared future(s) of the city and its culture, like, Archiphoenix: Faculties of Architecture at the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennial (2008), the Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (2009), IMPAKT Festival Matrix City in Utrecht (2010), the fiction-based project Once Upon a Future made for Evento in Bordeaux (2011) or the exhibition A Life in Common with Cittadellarte/ Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella (2012) and Medellin (2014).

download the full documentation about the module and the mentor in PDF format

Participation fee
570.00 €