The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights”. (David Harvey)
KAC (kistaartcity) was initiated in 2005 by artist’s Thomas Liljenberg and Bo Samuelsson. The project is located in Rinkeby-Kista, one of Stockholm’s most expansive suburbs regard to business, research and urban development. Here local democracy meets great challenges in the form of global politics and a new kind of network economics. The location illustrates the new divison created by globalization, where diverse socio-economic worlds are wrapped in each other. The inhabitants of the suburb are seperated and united by the invisible but palpable borders. The area is home to over 45 000 people. Almost as many commute daily to the place to work. Rinkeby was created as part of the so called million program in the late 1960s, in which one million apartment where built in 10 years, and is today associated with high degree of immigration, unemployment and low education. Located next to Rinkeby is Kista, being a result of the hope in the new ITC industry and is called ”Sweden’s Silicon Valley”.
The local situation is the starting point for the project, focusing on the effect globalization has on local power, public space and democracy. The aim is to explore how art can develop practices that remodel and rethink the concept of place through processes of participatory democracy and local empowerment. The project takes place in the form of workshops, exhibitions, Public Art and collaborative art works, in which artists, local players, citizens, and students can reconstruct and discuss site within the framework of a collective and collaborative artistic practice. A fundamental thought behind the project is that Public Art today can play a more independent (self-organized) role in the development of the city. Not primarily as ornamentation or decoration – but as a real opportunity for citizens to recreate the city and society as a collective, shared work. A strategic point of departure is the concept of “appropriation” (making something one’s own) and the interpretation of appropriation as a factor that potentially could strengthen the user’s participation in the development of the city and thereby of democracy. Appropriation is seen here as a spatial production that is in opposition to the existing and predominating power structure. The questions that arise are intimately connected with the individual’s democratic “right” to live, express oneself, influence, use and change the physical shape of the city and one’s own identity.
The project’s long-term ambition is to evaluate how this socio-centric approach can be developed as a model for a future wall-less “art-institution” and a laboratory for a participatory and critical practice in conjunction with urban development in Rinkeby-Kista and Stockholm.
A method for how workshops can be a creative part of the work has been developed, using a semitransparent mobile building, which can be set up in different public places in Kista. The building is a dynamic model for a future art institution, a living interface for the project; a piece of art with references to contemporary art, painting, architecture and social theory. Inside the building workshops with invited participants take place. Visualization of the discussion and the workshop takes place directly on the building’s semitransparent walls; which literally form the “canvas”, “sculpture” and “structural components”. The process can be described as a deliberative dialogue, communicated to immediate interaction. Within the framework of the project various collaborations also take place; with schools, companies, institutions and organizations. The purpose of excursions and artistic interventions is to annex and appropriating various types of collective space and explore the boundaries of public and private sectors and various hybrid forms in between. By examining the place of direct confrontation with local players a spatial clarity is cerated in which social patterns, relationships and power relations are highlighted.
KAC has been run as an independent art project since its inception in 2005, operated within the framework of the non-profit-driven association Kulturkontoret (the Office of Culture). By November 2008 the project received financial support from the fund Innovativ kultur and local estate owners in Kista. Since 2009 KAC runs the project Street Corner Talking, a variable Public Art work at Jan Stenbeck’s Square in Kista. Since 2011 KAC participates in the development of the project Performing Structure, in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and the Department for Computer and System Science at Stockholm University. Since 2011 KAC also has received support from the Swedish Government foundation Kulturbryggan for developing the project A Model for a Qualitative Society.