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In 1970 the Northern Quarter was destroyed to make way for ‘Little Manhattan’, a modernistic, business-oriented dream donned with two World Trade Centre towers as its crown jewels. This project failed, leaving the two towers mostly empty for years until the owner’s renewed interest in the area in 2017, initiating plans for its redevelopment. Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve witnessed these changes from their studio located on the 25th floor of WTC-tower1 and decided to intervene in the debate by making a film with the actors who claimed a voice in the transition: politicians, an activist, the private owner, designers and others. In WTC A Love Story these actors, replaced by performers who are partly instructed by the actors, become mirrored in a recursively generated narrative. Through this method of recursively weaving fiction and reality, the process of political representation is accelerated, bringing missing perspectives and voices to the fore. The film thus investigates how participation and representation can be organized differently. Against the backdrop of the WTC towers, the film shows how creative and participatory engagement and input are instrumentalized within the decision making processes leading to gentrification. 

The talk with initiatives from the Rotterdam context, moderated by Jack Segbars, explores which methods are useful to critically analyze the current political-governmental climate, characterized by bureaucratic elusiveness and appropriation of resistance, and what new forms of organization may offer  to counter the socially deep and affecting processes of gentrification and the destruction of living environments, as is happening in the Tweebosbuurt in Rotterdam? In what activist ways can we engage in the political-societal debates and in city planning? What possibilities are there for art and artistic practices? Which actors need to be included in regards to the ‘redevelopment’ of the social sphere, and what would such a cast look like?

Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve

Lietje Bauwens and Wouter De Raeve will be speaking about the process of filmmaking as a tool to intervene in existing urban debate and push the social needs of the neighborhood onto the agenda.

Cultural Workers Unite/Anti-gentrification School

Cultural Workers Unite/Anti-gentrification School are a bottom-up initiative that directly and practically aims to counter the effects of gentrification through social mobilization. They are invited to speak about their initiative, the methods they use and the underlying cause and conditions leading to their initiative.

Fucking Good Art

Rob Hamelijnck and Nienke Terpsma of Fucking Good Art will be speaking from the perspective of their long running practice in which FGA (journal) plays an important role. In their practice they combine artistic research and mobilization of social protest. This summer they present Rotterdam Cultural Histories#19 in TENT/Melly in which the current housing crisis and resistance against it are linked to protests in the seventies and how these effected democratization and urban planning.

Florian Cramer

Florian Cramer as reader of the Willem The Kooning Academy, maps the different forms of artistic resistance that are active against the backdrop of current socio-economic politics. He manifests himself (both virtual as concrete, and as supporter of Bij1) as visible actor within the public-political domain reporting political manifestations and artistic practices.

Joke van der Zwaard

Joke van der Zwaard is one of the initiators of Leeszaal West, which enduring presence and social commitment are both an expression of resistance as of engagement with the city of Rotterdam. She is furthermore involved in Recht op de Stad (A Right to the City) a newly formed collaboration between different advocacy and interest groups as united form of representation and protest.

Mustapha Eaisaouiyen

Mustapha Eaisaouiyen is one of the leading figures of Recht op de Stad (A Right to the City) for which he has written the social protocol. He is also invited as representative of the protest and residents committee of the Tweebosbuurt which has manifested loudly against processes of gentrification and the municipal politics that have enabled these. Their public presence has proven to be a significant political factor.

This programme is made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

19:30 – 21:30

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


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Thursday Night at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Luca Napoli

Thursday Night Live! is a weekly programme of lectures, screenings and discussions on architecture, design and digital culture. Developments and critical insights are discussed by thinkers, designers and makers from the Netherlands and abroad.