Plot Work as an Artistic Praxis in Today’s Cityscapes

Plot Work as an Artistic Praxis in Today’s Cityscapes:

An Introduction to the Lectorate Art & Spatial Praxis / The City

By Patricia de Vries

This is a print publication of the inaugural lecture of Research Professor (Lector) Patricia de Vries at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, in Amsterdam. In this lecture, she elaborated on the research area of her research group Art & Spatial Praxis. The research group Art & Spatial Praxis focuses on artistic practices that broaden our imaginations of alternative social orders and ways of living within capitalist city structures.

The thematic focus of Art & Spatial Praxis builds on Sylvia Wynter’s rich notion of the plot. With her conception of the plot, Wynter connects the historical enclosures of the plantation to today’s cityscapes. The plot stands for other possibilities that are always present.  It represents possibilities rooted in different values and different social orders. This is to say, cityscapes and public spaces are relational, contingent and always contested. The plot challenges the forces of domination, appropriation, exploitation, commodification, gentrification, segregation, digitization, and quantification.

What if plot work is a praxis that is socially enacted, embodied, narrativised, and materialised in art practices? What could the plot as artistic praxis be(come)? What constitutes it? What conditions and sustains it? What kind of behaviour, ways of seeing, knowing, and relating does it encourage? In short: what does the plot mean as a spatial art praxis in today’s cityscapes? These are some of the questions the research group Art & Spatial Praxis engages with. These are also pressing questions in the increasingly regulated, privatized, surveilled, and diminished public spaces in ever-more neoliberal cities.

Over the years, De Vries has written on a range of topics – be it on fungal co-existence or facial recognition technology: the relationship between society, art, design and research is always the connecting thread.

Printed and Published by the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 2023

This publication is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerrivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence.