3RD ANNUAL FESTIVAL, 22-24 OCTOBER 2010, LONDON
FINAL DEADLINE: 12 JULY 2010
Alongside the general open call we are seeking submissions from across the globe that interrogate and propose new futures for ‘The Corporation’- otherwise known as Financial Districts / The City / Central Business District’s / Downtowns.
Despite their uniqueness ‘Financial Districts’ are erroneously understudied. This may in part be due to a perception that they are banal, sanitised non-places, perhaps even benign. It is likely that the difficulty in accessing and penetrating the real or illusory boundaries around these sites, might also contribute to a gap in knowledge.
A contemporary interrogation of these spaces, by a spectrum of disciplines and approaches, is vital as the current crisis of capitalism can be traced throughout these ‘financial service centres’. Since the decline of European communism twenty years ago these unique spaces have been rapidly built across the globe with noteworthy similarity. Recently in centres such as London, discussions about how these spaces may be re-understood and re-used, have begun – no doubt accelerated by predictions that financial and business services are expected to rapidly decline.
Desired, celebrated, ignored, distrusted or transformed into sites of protest – what can we learn about the most avant-garde spaces of modern capitalism? What does this mean for the future of how we might conceive of cities and our lives within them? Do these spaces allow us a clear view into how we may live our lives in the 21st century?
The ambition of the festival is to contribute to new and critical understandings of these spaces via a wide range of approaches and disciplines (i.e. physical, cultural, psychological, class analysis, legal, architectural, etc). It is our hope that by making apparent this spatial dimension of global capitalism, we might unearth the theories, personalities and beliefs that inform the construction and maintenance of these significantly understudied but always compelling spaces. What will the future of the city be? Proposals can include a variety of formats – for example, films, discussions, workshops, exhibitions, presentations and ‘in conversations’.
Topics, questions, areas of investigation might include but are not limited to:
• Critical insight into the planning of recent financial districts: Moscow City, Sandton – Johannesburg, Washington D.C, Canary Wharf – London, Barwa -Doha, La Défense – Paris, Santa Fe -Mexico City, Lagos Island, Tel Aviv, Beirut Central District, Costanera Center- Santiago, Panama Financial District, Seoul City, City of Makati – Manilla, Potsdamer Platz – Berlin, World Financial Centre – Shanghai.
• Interrogation of the urban design principles and accepted logic of forthcoming financial districts: King Abdullah Financial District- Riyadh, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City – Ahmedabad, Abdali New Downtown – Amman, Yeouido – Seoul, Almaty Financial District – Kazakhstan, Istanbul International Financial Center – Istanbul, Barangaroo – Sydney.
• New perspectives, geographies and mappings of historical centres of finance – Uruk, Ur, Athens, London, Detroit, Hamburg etc.
• Projects investigating the logic of the ‘global cities race’ – insight into the competition to be at the centre of these new organising and political structures, which are predicted to outmaneuver nation states.
• Research that highlights the unique legal-spatial framework in which many financial districts operate – along with the distinctive legal structures of the corporations themselves.
• Insights into labour. Mapping who works in these districts, in which jobs, what are the pay scales? Where do these people live and how do they get into their workplace? Who runs the city after 9pm? What are their day (night) lives like? What kind of spaces do they occupy? How is the City used differently at night?
• Evaluations and critique of philanthropic projects, people and institutions (past and present) undertaken by the institutions of financial districts. Perspectives on patronage, giving and trickle-down theory in cities.
• Insight into art, commerce and culture. What are the policies for buying and collecting art? Tours of the remarkable art collections housed in the offices. Evaluations of company lead and sponsored cultural projects.
• Office design – the psychology underpinning contemporary office layout; Japanese office layout and office ladies, hot-desking utilised by business consultant companies, ‘at their office’ pioneered by accountancy companies, the location of the ‘ejection seat’, in house cafes and break out spaces, the use glass to create notions of ‘The Transparent City’.
• Sites of violence, suicide and murder. A pre-eminent target for terrorists, including the recent destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, the death of Ian Tomlinson killed at the G20 Protests by City of London Police in 2009, ‘Financial Suicide’ – the use of tall buildings (often the same ones) in busy financial centres to assist suicide.
• Interrogation of the pre-eminent ideas/themes/logics/emotions driving the development and ongoing policy support of Financial Districts– for example: Liberty by economics, There Is No Alternative, Aesop’s The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs, economic Darwinism, The Market, Wealth Creation, Creative Destruction, Trickle down, transactional humanity and contractual relations, Masters of the Universe, Advantage, Creative Clusters and The Edifice Complex.
• Representations of ‘downtowns’ in film, literature, visual art and popular culture.
• Cultural studies and ‘the city’. How contemporary, queer, post-colonial, geographic, psychoanalytic and feminist discourses can inform our thinking of these districts.
• Guided official and alternate historic and contemporary tours of financial districts.
• The emptiness, abandonment and rural-like feel of Financial Districts – on weekends and after 7pm weekdays. Is there a secret life in the city? Underground clubs a weekday worker wouldn’t know about?
• Projects deciphering/re-interpreting the lexicon and codes used by people who work in Financial Districts.
• Financial District as ongoing site of protest, rebellion, micro-resistance, revolution and potential.
• Work that draws out the peculiarities of these spaces; Streets designed so waiting ‘drivers’ can polish their cars, taxi’s with engines and metres running for hours, the epidemic of men wearing pink shirts and pink ties, the security guards that wear replica police uniforms, the coded names of modern bars.
• Financial Districts as the creator of fringes or as the edge space of cities themselves. CDBs as ‘a cliff’ or as ‘a precipice’; The City as ‘a peak’ to navigate around. Investigations of what it means to look up/down and into/over.
• Presentation of corporations/business ‘family trees’ located in a CBD and ‘organisational family trees’ of the developers building any particular city’s CBD.
• Archaeology of underground spaces – the spaces in which computer servers, power stations, isolated Internet cables and freelance financial algorithm engineers and developers inhabit.
• Projects, theories and ideologies that propose new understandings, logics, references and uses for these unique spatial districts recognisable around the world.