The 2019 Edition of Beyond the Obvious focuses on cultural practices in non-urban territories. Culture Crops: cultural practices in non-urban territories sparks the debate on peripheral territories. Where does their territory begin and where it does it end? How do they see themselves and how are they seen by others? What are they and how do they work?
To provoke discussion on these themes, we propose to work in three conceptual blocks:
1. Dynamics & Organisation: How does cultural work in peripheral territories take place and how is it organised?
(tags: well-being, participation, ownership, decentralisation, digitisation, cultural work, making a living)
Global transformation processes and demographic change are leading to an increased interest in non-urban areas, both in politics and by the public. Contemporary challenges are receiving social and cultural responses that derive from these non-urban territories. Such responses are tailored to the needs of the people and the place they live in, through a deep dialogue with the social and environmental context. Concepts such as participation in community life, good governance and democracy, well-being and work acquire other nuances. Technological developments also invite us to rethink the concepts of “centre” and “peripheries”, and offer self-organised communities more distributed forms of participation in the life of the community.
How are rural communities, artists, activists, museums and other collectives creating structures and devices capable of proposing other forms of participation in their community life? What kind of opportunities does digitisation offer, particularly in terms of decentralisation? How does cultural work develop in peripheral areas? Are de-industrialised and delocalised economies creating other forms of work? How can cultural workers make a living in rural contexts? How can cultural practices be sustainable in this context?
2. Urban-Rural Discrepancies: What is the difference between urban visions of the rural and what the rural is today?
(tags: cultural work, quality of cultural creation and innovation, visibility, urban-rural discrepancy)
Landscapes, nature, ruins… This symbolic vision projected onto rural areas appeals to a romantic utopian idea, in sharp contrast to the disruption of 19th century industrialisation and newborn capitalism. Such idyllic images of the countryside embody the idea of the promised land always being elsewhere, but are often contradicted by the reality of today’s cultural practices in non-urban areas, which can be contemporary or revolutionary. Contemporary cultural creation, cultural innovation and cultural careers are often thought of as unique to the urban domain. As a result, the cultural and artistic practices that arise beyond cities are undervalued, suffering from lack of visibility.
Underlying this is also the assumption that rural areas are unchanging, traditional and conservative, while the cities are full of modernisers, innovators and progressives. However, cultural scenes in the big cities may sometimes circle themselves while peripheries might be places where the most avant-gardist cultural work can germinate and viable alternatives can be implemented.
Does the image of modern life belong only in urban territories? Could the lack of a utopian urban life form the basis for a new kind of romanticism towards the rural? What does it mean to be an artist in a rural context? How can we encourage a change of perspective regarding cultural production in non-urban territories? How can we give better visibility and support artistic practices in non-urban areas?
3. Blurred Borderlines: Where does the rural begin and where does it end?
(Tags: suburbia, landscapes, agglomerations, fluctuation, migration, guests, new-comers)
Every day people travel through transitional zones, from one political, economic and cultural space to another. As a result of this fluctuation between different worlds, we become migrants, refugees, foreigners, guests, hosts… Global trends towards urbanisation and suburban expansion are blurring the borders between cities and rural areas, changing the shape of the landscapes we live in and the perception of the limits of the cities. At the same time, there is a return to the debate on borders, which can serve to facilitate or impede connections, projects and creation in these areas. Alongside this, we must reflect on the fact that global mobility will continue to increase in response to the mounting environmental pressures of climate change.
Can “places-in-between” – border areas, suburbia – become an experimental ground to rethink mobility and rights at all levels? Are we shifting back to nomadism? Are these emerging paradigm changes more visible in rural areas? Are transitional spaces a better environment for cross-disciplinary practices and diverse community interaction that can go beyond the norm and therefore provide the most fertile ground for emerging cultural and social projects?
Culture Crops is a conference on the road. Various thematic itineraries are proposed to the participants in order to experience the diversity of models of practice present in the region. These visits include facilitated debate and exchange between similar practices from other parts of Europe and offers an opportunity for learning and peer-to-peer exchange.
Conference will also feature high level keynote speeches and panel discussions, as well as capacity building workshops and a project agora.
The main program of the Culture Crops conference is open to the public. Some of the sections of the program however are only reserved for the Culture Action Europe members (23 October morning & afternoon – CAE Board meeting and Members Forum, 26 October morning – Culture Action Europe Annual General Assembly).