Episode 12:

Rural gentrification, contemporary art, and other options, old and new

07 Nov–08 Nov 2020
KW Institute for Contemporary Art & Werkstatt Haus der Statistik, Berlin, DE

VILLEGGIATURA discusses patterns of rural gentrification and the role of contemporary art within them. Histories of displacement differ from city to city, countryside to countryside. But for all the specificities, the common traits of latter-day land grabs may help plot a common way forward. If art and culture have a contribution to make—what can it be in terms of business as usual, and as a best-case scenario? VILLEGGIATURA addresses historical developments, as well as strategies of visualization that might make better models possible—technologically, ideologically, financially speaking.

Despite the colossal challenges at stake, most city types are more familiar with rent levels in Kreuzberg than with the wholesale commodification of Brandenburg. Since time immemorial, the pastoral has served the urban as a metaphor to gain a sense of self. Over the Renaissance, villegiatura represented a summer retreat in the style of Ancient Rome, a country estate as arcadia incarnate. This imperial nonchalance lives on, in some parts, and VILLEGGIATURA addresses both these time-honored abstractions, and the infrastructures that enable them.

Importantly, we will move beyond (self-)criticism, and aim for viable future scenarios. How to see the city as part of a larger biosphere, and not an island in a sea of beautiful or boring landscapes. The urban has an advantage over rural areas inasmuch as displacement patterns are a hot topic that regularly makes headlines. This is thanks to the networks that turn Berlin and other metropoles into battlegrounds for the “Right to the City.” Meanwhile, the absence of rural gentrification within mainstream debates has a complicated effect on Identity crises, and on Heimat sentiments that come with it. Is there any chance of turning political contrasts between city and countryside into tactical coalitions?

Language: English, German