Flâneur – New Urban Narratives will launch next July 2nd in Smithfield Square, as part of the 7th edition of PhotoIreland Festival, bringing the works of two great photographers to the streets of Dublin. Flâneur – New Urban Narratives is a new, European Union funded, 2 years long project, asking photographers to apply a new approach to their work within the urban territory. It seeks to offer a fresh perspective on the dynamics of European cities and urban landscapes.
As part of the project, each of the participating host partners commissions up to 3 photographers to produce work around the flâneur concept in their city. The works are then displayed in a series of large cubes, dispersed over a metal pathway that becomes part of the public space where it is installed. The cubes become lightboxes at dusk, creating a special display and extending the enjoyment of this open-air gallery throughout the night. The structure has been already in Mansfield (UK), Photo London (UK), Triennial of Photography Hamburg (Germany), Cortona (Italy), and Lisbon (Portugal), and it will head to Lodz (Poland), Dublin (Ireland), Riga (Latvia), Kaunas (Lithuania), and Derby (UK).
The photographers commissioned to produce work as part of Flâneur project in Ireland are Esther Teichmann and Rik Moran. The artists will enjoy a residency period before the festival in two different locations. The approach proposed by PhotoIreland to the project partners is to explore in particular the built environment in rural areas, away from big cities, and also to consider the role of the female flâneur, the flâneuse.
Esther Teichmann already visited in April to work on her commission, staying at Cow House Studios, Wexford. Rik Moran arrives to Dublin now, in mid May for his residency. They will both give a talk and a masterclass during PhotoIreland Festival 2016 – details will follow.
Background of Flâneur – New Urban Narratives
The project was initiated and is headed by the Lisbon based organisation Procur.arte, and it involves 20 European partners (festivals, cultural organisations and public institutions) from 10 European countries:
Procur.arte – Lisboa, Portugal (Project leader)
QUAD/FORMAT – Derby, United Kingdom
First Art – Creswell, United Kingdom
Fundacja Edukacji Wizualnej – Lodz, Poland
Gloc – Festimagem – Aguas da prata, Brazil
ISCTE – Instituto Universitario de Lisboa – Lisboa, Portugal
ISSP – Riga, Latvia
Lluernia Associacio Cultural – Olot, Spain
Next Level Projects – London, United Kingdom
Cortona On The Move – Cortona, Italy
PhotoIreland Festival – Dublin, Ireland
Photo London – London, United Kingdom
Triennale der Photographie Hamburg – Hamburg, Germany
Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Lisboa, Portugal
Vsl Sviesos rastas – Kaunas, Lithuania
Camara Municipal de Lisboa – Lisboa, Portugal
Egeac – Lisboa, Portugal
Canal 180 – Lisboa, Portugal
Cap Magellan – Paris, France
CCCB Centre de cultura contemporània de Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain
Baudelaire describes the flâneur as someone who wanders around the city with the purpose of experiencing it. Since then, the concept of the flâneur has been used as a tool to help understand urban phenomena and modernity, in economic, cultural and historical terms. Walter Benjamin refers to the flâneur as a product of modern life, an asphalt botanist, and defines the city as the sacred ground of flânerie. Following the dynamics of the 20th century, the relationship between the art practice and the urban context, became particularly fruitful – as the so called spatial practices show, questioning the city with the contribution of different media and techniques, and defining the artist as a stroller, a wanderer, a flâneur.
Flâneur – New Urban Narratives is a network project based on an international partnership of some 20 organisations from 11 different countries. Its main purpose is to carry out artistic interventions in public spaces through contemporary photography. The Project encourages artists to create new interpretations of the urban terrain, having the concept of flâneur as a starting point and considering the physical context of the city as a social kaleidoscope in constant evolution. Besides the art projects and interventions in the public space, Flâneur is comprised of several other dimensions brought to light in workshops, masterclasses, artistic residences, creative camps and conferences – initiatives intended to foster a critical analysis of contemporary photography and contribute to a discussion about the public space as a social territory.
During its two year span, Flâneur will be represented in the 13 partner cities. The artwork is created by photographers invited to pursue artistic residences in each city, as well as local photographers, thus mixing outside and inside point of views, and it’s further complemented by the artwork produced in ateliers open to local residents. The work created in all these cities is presented in photo exhibitions in public spaces, bringing to the squares, parks and streets pieces of artwork, which would normally be enclosed in museums and galleries. It’s, at the same time, a process of deconstruction and democratisation of art enjoyment, sharing it with a heterogeneous audience. The exhibition display, based on modular backlit structures, allows for a specific design in each of the different spaces. The display itself becomes a replication of the city, open and accessible 24 hours a day.
Flâneur generates a transversal overview of the different social dynamics which are the fabric of the urban territories. The peculiarity of this particular “portrait” is the fact that it’s produced by a broad and diverse group of creators, who, with a common theme, take a fresh look at the plurality of realities that define each urban space. Flâneur shares with the public these contemporary and plural views, inviting you to engage in your own flânerie around your own city and rediscovering it.
The interventions of Flâneur comprise three main aspects:
The city, as a whole, is the geographic scope for the invited photographers. With the Project theme as a starting point, the photographers are then free to explore the city during the 15- day artistic residencies.
The Masterclasses and ateliers are organised preferably within the area of the exhibition, aiming at specific neighbourhoods or quarters and engaging schools and local associations in order to involve the local residents with Flâneur.
The square is the exhibition site in the public space, in a way, its point of convergence. From the point of view of the intervention, the square is the reflection of the city on a different scale. It’s also the departure point for the “Blindwalks” intervention, offering an interaction to the visiting public with the exhibition and the surrounding area.
For more details about the project you can check the official Flâneur – New Urban Narratives website, or download the Flâneur Booklet that include the work done to date.
The installation in Smithfield Square is kindly supported by the Dublin City Council.