Art as an agent of urban change


Art as an agent of urban change


9:30 at FLOW
With Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis (UK), Cuesta (FR), Agathe Voisin & Clément Thiry (BE), Joon-Lyn Goh (MY/UK)


14:00 at the Marais Wiels
With Les Fé·e·s du Marais (BE), a collective workshop by Cuesta (FR) & Anna Czapski (BE), a game/performance by Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis (UK)

19:00 at the Marais Wiels
Performance by Laurent Petit/ANPU (Agence Nationale de Psychanalyse Urbaine) (FR)

(image: Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis)
(image: Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis)

Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis (UK)

The Portland Inn Project CIC (EN)

Artists Rebecca Davies and Anna Francis created The Portland Inn Project CIC in 2016 in a residential area of Stoke-on-Trent. In collaboration with other artists, organisations and residents, a pub was renovated and a whole new local dynamic was set into motion. They say, "We believe in the power of art: as a tool to communicate our history, represent the needs of local people and create a space for communities to come together and learn."
This project, that they will present during Feral, advocates for people-led change, and champions the importance of art in driving that change, and in cooperation with public services.

Rebecca Davies is from London and lives in Stoke-on-Trent. She has a deeply embedded and collaborative practice that crosses illustration, design, performance and event. Her work explores the role of art in making change, as a device and platform, to represent and communicate complex stories and politics.

Anna Francis is an artist and researcher whose work aims to create space to discuss and reframe city resources, through participatory art interventions. She creates situations for herself, the public and other artists to explore places differently. In recent years the interventions which Anna has worked on focus on the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and use an action research process to recognise untapped resources, plan responses to disused sites in the city, take action to change the way these sites are viewed, and potentially, make changes, which can be temporary and sometimes permanent. Through this, Anna aims to gain an understanding of the role of artists, arts organisations and communities in the development of places.

The Portland Inn Project

Project Traversées & Escales dans la vallée de la Vilaine (image: Cuesta)
Project Traversées & Escales dans la vallée de la Vilaine (image: Cuesta)

Cuesta (FR)

The practice of cultural urbanism (FR)

Alexandra and Agathe are founding members and associate directors of Cuesta cooperative. For the past 8 years, they have been developing an original form of expertise, working in a network with a number of French artists and cultural operators, which they have called "cultural urbanism". Cultural urbanism combines the different practices that contribute to development projects that aim to make territories more inhabitable for humans and non-humans alike. Cultural urbanism consists of implementing site-based artistic and cultural interventions that create the conditions for residents and users to be able to act. This interdisciplinary field is rooted in both the contemporary challenges of transition and the conjunction of several histories: that of urban planning, of art history, of cultural policies, and of popular education. This approach finds its place and its meaning at many points in the making of territories: urban scenography, uses, atmospheres, social relations, symbolic production.
They will be presenting examples and tools developed in the course of their projects, in particular those relating to ecological and social issues that echo the problems encountered at the Marais du Wiels.

For 10 years, within the Arter agency, Alexandra Cohen set up numerous exhibitions and artistic events in public space. After following SPEAP in 2013/2014 (an experimental arts and politics programme at Sciences-Po), she returned to the approach of social sciences and to believing in the role of artists in society and the making of public policy. She  is co-founder and associate director of Cuesta since 2015.

Agathe has been working for over twenty years on the relationship between art, culture, public space and urban planning. Before co-founding and Cuesta in 2015, she participated in the emergence of Dédale, an association working on hybridising art, technologies and territories. She then joined the production agency Arter, where she coordinated major artistic programmes in public spaces, both permanent and event-based, and set up an arts/landscaping consultancy unit. This experience made her want to rethink the place of art in the field of social and urban planning. This is now what she is doing at Cuesta, of which she is co-founder and associate director.


(image: Agathe Voisin & Clément Thiry)
(image: Agathe Voisin & Clément Thiry)

Agathe Voisin & Clément Thiry (BE)

Presences of use (FR)

For Agathe Voisin & Clément Thiry, the adventure is above all urban. They spend hours wandering the city, observing how it organises itself, abandons itself, transforms and renews itself. This enables them to understand the energies that inhabit it and to feel the vibrations that shape it. Their perception is sharpened by listening to its noises, day and night, its silences, its cries for life, the melodies of the trucks and the screeching of the concrete. Around the Pierre Marchant Bridge, Agathe and Clément have remained attentive to the undefined, shapeable spaces and the way in which they are inhabited by presences and spirits. They invite you to immerse yourself in these spaces, and to reflect collectively on the ways in which residents sometimes make them their own. Spontaneous developments flourish, vegetables grow and the city takes on new forms that defy the norm.

Agathe Voisin is an architect, urban planner and visual artist. She wanders the city, shaping it with its inhabitants. Her preferred medium is public space. In the past, she has focused on children, working with them to design the houses of their dreams and mogul courses. For the past year, she has been devoting herself to collective experimentation and research into the autonomous and spontaneous ways in which the city is made. She is involved in a number of public art collectives and activist groups working to preserve the city's last remaining wastelands and increase the amount of space available to residents.

Clément Thiry sings, draws and makes installations while taking night-time walks to collect the under-lit spaces of the city. Then he builds nests in which he experiments with sleep to rethink our daily lives. He moves from the role of precarious architect to that of sleeper. He builds by weaving and mixing organic and industrial materials. He uses what he finds on his wanderings. Walking is an integral part of his practice. His fragile constructions are created by adding, imprinting and knotting. What doesn't hold together is consolidated rather than remade. He is also a member of the object theatre collective Boîte à clous and the children's punk band Gyrophare.

(image: Briony Campbell)
(image: Briony Campbell)

Joon-Lyn Goh (MY/UK)

Imagining cities that embrace our agency to move or stay (EN)

Social movements hold collective desires for the cities we call home. In organising for border abolition, the right to remain or sanctuary, we are imagining how cities can embrace our agency to move or stay. How can we nurture and resource social movement imagination and experimentation as part of city-making? Joon-Lynn will introduce the work and ongoing inquiry of Migrants in Culture, a migrant-led design agency based in London, and share learnings from Saturday School, a practice space for migrant organisers to embody, imagine and design for border abolition.

Joon-Lynn Goh is a cultural organiser, working with art and infrastructure. She embraces organising as a practice in which migrant and global majority communities are protagonists of change, and where infrastructure, organisation and business are creative experiments in stewardship and worldbuilding. Joon-Lynn is a co-Founding Director of migrant-led design agency Migrants in Culture; Co-Founding Director of cancer-patient led business Sex With Cancer, and Civic Futures Fellow 2021-22 for the Greater London Authority. She declined a 2019 MBE (Member of the British Empire Award) for Services to Equality for organising a Syrian refugee resettlement programme with Bristol City Council and Citizens UK (2014-2017).

Les Fé·e·s du Marais (BE)

The Marais Wiels, the Fairy Garden (FR)

A long time ago, water gushed out of the soil. Well hidden in the hard concrete of the city, a wild Marsh came (back) to life.
Among the flora and fauna of this strange industrial site, two fairies suddenly began to twirl: Fé·e Nyx and Fi Fé·e. They were soon joined by Fé·e Do. Curiosity had got the better of them...
Regardless of the property developers' plans for destruction, more and more little winged creatures appeared in this magical, enchanted place. Their aim: to care for the Marsh and its rich biodiversity, and with it, to resist our demise. Instead of fighting, the fairies chose to act. Observing, studying, learning, experimenting, playing, creating, dreaming... everything is possible in the Fairy Garden! If they can't save the Marsh, the Marsh will save them.
The Fé·e·s will start the afternoon by introducing the Marais, so that we can understand a little better what territory we're stepping into.

Cuesta workshop (image: Au bout du plongeoir)
Cuesta workshop (image: Au bout du plongeoir)

Collective workshop with Cuesta (FR) & Anna Czapski (BE)

Why do we like the fringes?
Group investigation on the links between democracy, the sensitive city and indeterminate spaces

Cuesta and the Cifas invite you to take turns in wearing the hat of expertise, to share and connect our experiences in relation to the festival's theme.
Divided into small groups, audience and presenters, will survey the site, hunting for signals and unearthing memories. Memories that have been kept within us, because they carry knowledge that must be shared, and signals that have come all the way from the future to deliver a message.
We'll be looking at a range of subjects, reflecting on the morning's presentations, with the aim of investigating the uses of the city that defy the norm.
Sensoriality, materiality and imagination, for a sensitive city.
Information that feeds our collective capacity to take action or to stay put.
A precious time to meet and to listen to each other, a time to connect with the site and delve into the subject of the festival on a personal level.

Hayley & Bill (image: Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis)
Hayley & Bill (image: Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis)

Game/performance by Rebecca Davies & Anna Francis (UK)


A new visioning game show navigating and deconstructing structures and decision making processes. How do we as artists and citizens avoid climbing into the trojan horse for a place at the table and represent ourselves in decisions that affect our lives?

Presented by the social media famous Hayley and Bill, it's a pub quiz meets monopoly style event. YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY! is an afternoon of frivolity and fiscal dynamism where the aim of the game is for you and your team to create a vision for and spend a cut of a fictional arts and civic budget for your respective communities. Public sculpture or Community Garden? Fireworks display or Kate Bush for a day? THE MONEY IS YOURS (terms and conditions apply, you didn't think this was going to be EASY did you?!!)

Laurent Petit at work (image: ANPU)
Laurent Petit at work (image: ANPU)

Performance by Laurent Petit / ANPU (Agence Nationale de Psychanalyse Urbaine) (FR)

The Marais Wiels on the couch (FR)

Show duration: about 51 mins
Urban psychoanalyst: Laurent Petit
Liaison representatives  ANPU: Fabienne Quéméneur & Estelle Vilcot

Founded in 2008, the ANPU (Agence Nationale de Psychanalyse Urbaine - National Agency for Urban Psychoanalysis) has been entrusted with the delicate task of psychoanalysing the whole world. A living symbol of Nature's unconscious desire to reclaim its place in the city, the Marais Wiels poses a twofold question: how are we going to reconcile ourselves with the non-human while housing humans? Are we going to have to rediscover common sense, a sense of the commons or a sense of the uncommon? Should we speed up the process of rewilding? But what about mosquitoes and bacteria? Won't the badgers have the last word, yet again? We'll be attempting to answer all these questions at a conference labeled "No electricity".

After a brief career as an engineer, Laurent Petit threw himself into the wonderful world of show business, starting out as a juggler and supermarket clown. His encounter with Eric Heilmann and his work on the links between Mickey the mouse and Michelangelo enabled him to lay the foundations for a new genre, the para-scientific show, a genre in which the real and the fake are so well mixed that audiences end up losing their sense of reality.  As part of ANPU, the Agence Nationale de Psychanalyse Urbaine (National Agency for Urban Psychoanalysis) (2008-2058), he has psychoanalysed over a hundred territories as part of the ambitious project to urban psychoanalysis the whole world, project that will be presented this year in the show World Analysis.
L'or en petit is also the author of La ville sur le Divan published by Éditions le Contre-Allée (published in 2013), Happy End published by Éditions Wildproject (2021) and À la Soupe! Les 20 ans du festival, Éditions Invenit (2022).