UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Salon: Art Festivals and the City

17 May 2018, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Art Festivals and the City - Documenta

Event Information

Open to



PAR.LG.03, Parish Building, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE

The 2017 edition of the Documenta art festival featured a satellite event in Athens, outside of its regular host city Kassel. Held every five years, Documenta is widely considered one of the most influential contemporary art festivals, which has historically been known for its field-configuring provocations. The latest edition, however, garnered criticism of its excursion abroad as "crisis tourism," a way to exploit the political and financial situation in Athens for cultural consumption.

This panel takes Documenta as a starting point to discuss the relationship between art festivals and cities, exploring the way that contemporary art serves a particular function for the urban imaginary. Especially given the proliferation of the art biennial in cities outside of Europe and North America, this raises questions about audience, representation, and the spatial politics of cultural production. Contemporary art and its attendant symbols, references, institutions, actors, and immense wealth of resources, shapes cities in powerful ways. How do scholars from different fields assess the risks of exploitation, or the impact of aspirational politics?

Chair: Dr. Hyun Bang Shin (Department of Geography and Environment, LSE)

Introduction: Dr. Julie Ren  (Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Department of Geography and Environment, LSE)


  • Dr. Adam Kaasa (School of Architecture, Royal College of Art; Co-founder of Theatrum Mundi)

Rescheduled date

Please note that this event has been postponed from the original date on 22 February to take place on Thursday 17 May in the same venue. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Access information

  • There is step free access throughout the building via lift(s) and accessible toilets. View detailed accessibility information on DisabledGo
  • Unisex toilet facilities are located within the venue.

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