Tu 15 Sep 09
A Sense of Belonging and the Open City
Post-democratic Investigations in the Rotterdam City Theater
This year’s “Internationale Keuze Debat”, the conference traditionally organized by the Rotterdam City Theater as part of its International Theater Festival, explores the role that theater as a public practice can play in the search for viable forms of solidarity in our so-called post-democratic society.
Given the connection between A Sense of Belonging’s subject and the 4th IABR’s theme of Open City: Designing Coexistence, both spotlighting the importance of active citizenship in public space, the Rotterdam City Theater invited the IABR to join the conference.
The IABR asked Kristian Koreman of ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensible), office for (Landscape) Architecture, to participate in the conference. Other speakers include Benjamin Barber, Anton Zijderveld and Nataliya Golofastova, and moderation is by Pieter Hilhorst.
The Rotterdam based ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] was founded by Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman, and is contributing to all three 4th IABR exhibitions: to The Free State of Amsterdam with the project Het Nieuwe Diep: The “Free Street” of Amsterdam; to Parallel Cases//IABR@RDM as tutors of a project by students of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture; and to Open City: Designing Coexistence with Central District, one of the Maakbaarheid-projects sub-curated by Crimson Architectural Historians.
A Sense of Belonging
It seems as if today, the relationship between government and citizens has been reduced to a mere business exchange; the democratic constitutional state is losing its power and citizens are losing their faith in politicians. But the government is not a company and the citizen is not a consumer. This lack of solidarity also plays a part in the Dutch political debate. How, in our post-democratic society, can this vitally necessary commitment gain shape and content?
As of yet, there are no answers to this question, despite the call for a strong and committed citizenship.
As early as 1984, political philosopher and Bill Clinton’s former advisor, Benjamin Barber, pleaded in his book Strong Democracy for active citizenship in public space. Barber considers churches and schools to be places for citizenship, something that is called the maatschappelijk middenveld in The Netherlands (in Britain and America known as “the civil society”). However, isn’t this “midfield” at this moment rather a place for polarization and moral insecurities than a model of self-awareness and solidarity? Can the arts contribute to the activation of citizens to start using this public space again as a meeting place? May we dare to hope that in particular the theater can be the place to provide A Sense of Belonging?
The speakers are Benjamin Barber (political philosopher, Bill Clinton’s former advisor and the author of many books including Jihad vs. McWorld and Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age), Anton Zijderveld (sociologist and author of Populism as Quicksand), Nataliya Golofastova (director of To a Wider Horizon) and Kristian Koreman (bureau for (landscape)architecture ZUS.).
The debate will be moderated by Pieter Hilhorst, and will be in English.
Concept and production: Rotterdam Art and Culture Council and Rotterdam City Theater, in collaboration with the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.
Rotterdamse Schouwburg (Rotterdam City Theater) - Grote Zaal
Tuesday 15 September 2009, 8:30 pm
Tickets: Rotterdamse Schouwburg