Urban wastelands are at the centre of conflicts around cultural, economic and historical hegemonies. The common notion still remains that wastelands are of no value until developed. However these types of spaces hold a unique and valuable role in the future of humanity as we question notions of progress and strive for more sustainable models of living. Urban wastelands support inner city biodiversity, provide carbon sinks, improve hydrological attenuation, provide open space and represent freedom from the controlled built environment. As metaphors wastelands typify the cause and effect of our constant (re)development.
"Promoting the idea of wasteland is obviously a tricky idea politically, since wasteland is a symbol of the withdrawal of the public authorities – withdrawal, not abandonment."
Gilles Clément, 2008, www.blogsthema.marseille.fr
"The voids of the city are spaces which disrupt the urban tissue, leaving it incomplete and throw into question the use of those spaces. Sometimes called urban ruins, they are at the limit between private and public space, without belonging either to the one or to the other. Urban voids are containers of memory, fragments of the built city and the 'natural' environment; memories of the city which constitute a random, unplanned garden."
Noll and Scupelli, 2009, www.parole.aporee.org
Wasteland Twinning hijacks the concept of ‘City Twinning’ and applies it to urban Wastelands in order to generate a network for parallel research and action.
Founded by Will Foster, Matthias Einhoff, Lars Hayer and Alex Head, WTN has grown into a network of active and passive ‘explorers’ in over twenty different cities across the globe. By working from first hand experiences of these multiple sites and contexts, the network has expanded in a chaotic and engaged manner, led by those who are passionate about the sites into which they investigate.
This relatively horizontal organisation structure requires a high degree of flexibility and operates through a de-centralised process whereby individuals and groups are offered intellectual, peer to peer support while seeking funding autonomously and in collaboration with other members of the network.
Research foci are developed over longer periods of time before coalescing into formal bids and collaborations. Work is therefore produced in closer relationship to the drives of artists and researchers, rather performing to the annual rotation of content production, short term funding and long term precarity that often dominates the creative output of small artist-run organisations.
As such the nature and content of what ’twinning’ might mean has been revised and challenged in every stage of the project. As a means to further the goal of shared dialogue and research into wastelands the following thematic focus aims to open a space within which to explore new means of researching, discussing, collaborating through and re-interpreting the wasteland-twinning process.
From a sociological point of view I am always present within my work. Research (and art) always benefits from this acknowledgement of complicity within a project’s outcomes. Presence draws attention to the problematic nature of knowledge production within precarious environments in which the dynamic of power is inherent for those with or without a voice.
From the Tee Pee Dorf in Berlin to Roma families in Bucharest and the inhabitants of Ledok Tomoho, Indonesia, Wasteland Twinning has made a point of witnessing vulnerable and alternative people in a manner that refrains from drawing uneccessary or unwanted attention to these groups. Human presence represents less a thematic focus than a sober reflection of how economic and environmental upheaval continues to demand new forms of provisional cohabitation and creativity across the globe.
Human presence takes many other forms within the context of the wasteland. One is present within the ecology of a site when one plants lavender on a balcony that drifts into the wasteland. Architecturally human remains litter the surface and the subaltern. Presence speaks to the imaginative too as urban interstices often populate the internal environment of the dream.
Wasteland Twinning now welcomes a further round of submissions to join the network! Interested in interdisciplinarity, first hand research and long term collaboration?
Apply to Join the Network: info(at)wastelandtwinning.net
Wasteland Twinning Network is an independent, international network of artists and researchers exploring the uses and functions of wastelands in cities. Wasteland Twinning hijacks the concept of ‘City Twinning’ and applies it to urban wastelands in order to generate a network for parallel research and action. The Network provides the potential for collaboration and activities within a broad spectrum of individuals, collectives and organisations.
We are interested in submissions from practitioners with backgrounds in multiple fields including but not limited to: visual art, design, architecture, film, anthropology, archaeology, design, geography, history, politics, psychology, biology, social sciences, sociology and visual culture.
The following dictionary definition provides the parameters for the type of urban space at the centre of our enquiry:
An unused area of land that has become barren or overgrown.
A bleak, unattractive, and unused or neglected urban or industrial area’
(Oxford Dictionary, 2007)
It is understood that any definition of ‘Wasteland’ is problematic. For example, terms such as ‘unused’ presents a degree of absence and suggests inactivity. What constitutes inactivity in the eyes of officialdom is different to that of informal users. Attempting to define unused urban terrain is complex and polemical, often influenced by our own associations and projections. Terms such as wasteland, derelict, vacant, unoccupied, like the spaces themselves, defy clear location and categorisation.
To apply to join the network, compile and send information about a wasteland site that you as an individual (or organisation) are currently exploring (or intend to) in the city in which you are based.
We are interested in both research and action with the intention to hold a committed and sustained engagement with the urban wasteland site you are exploring. In the Network we are particularly interested in collaborative projects: http://archive.wasteland-twinning.net/projects/games-broadcast/ and http://archive.wasteland-twinning.net/projects/wasteland-twinning-ceremony/
wasteland-twinning.net is a workspace for you to publish and share your explorations with the rest of the network and website audience.
Please see an example of a wasteland profile to get an insight to the type of initial information we require: http://archive.wasteland-twinning.net/sites/cartography-of-sukrewar-ghat/
Your application should include the following:
Email your application to firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest writer / researcher
The critical discourse surrounding urban wastelands is diverse and far-reaching. We encourage contributions in the form of essays, articles and research to be published on wasteland-twinning.net We accept submissions of single written works or reports on a relevant project to be profiled on the ‘Resource’ section of the website. Please send an expression of interest via email.
Online Writer’s Residency
Wasteland Twinning Network is seeking long-term engagement with a writer for their Online Writer’s Residency. Using the Network’s activity as inspiration for critique and editorials, as well as your own research into related topics, written contributions will be published on the Network’s Research Blog. Please send an expression of interest via email and an example of your writing.
If you are interested in getting involved in the Wasteland Twinning Network but feel you do not fit into any of the above categories, please send an expression of interest by email for our consideration.
All contributions should be submitted to wastelandtwinning(at)gmail.com
After submitting your application please allow up to two weeks for a reply, as your application will be peer-reviewed by the Wasteland-Twinning Network.