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Panel discussion on The Privatisation of Cities, or, A Waterfront Ecocide?!Talk programs | 20.01.2021
The Museum of Contemporary Art invites you to a panel discussion on
“The Privatisation of Cities, or, A Waterfront Ecocide?!”, a part of the “Overview Effect” project
Thursday, 21 January 2021
The discussion will take place on Zoom and will be available via the Museum’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MSUB.MoCAB/
Radomir Lazović, member of the Minor Council of the initiative “Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own”
Tihomir Milovac, museum advisor at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb and representative of “Nezavisna lista Zagreb” (Zagreb Independent List) in the City Assembly of Zagreb
Daniela Stojković, founding member of the Danube Civil Society Forum and member of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River
Moderators: Novi Nebojša Milenković, art historian, author, and civil activist, and Zoran Erić, MoCA Belgrade
The topic of discussion:
Whose cities are our cities? Are we living today in a materialisation of the anti-utopia of cities whose development is in fact destroying them? Using the examples of the (un)developed projects of “Belgrade Waterfront”, Zagreb’s “City in a City” or, informally, “Manhattan City”, as well as “Novi Sad na vodi" (Novi Sad Waterfront), we will try to provide an answer to the question whether a city belongs to politicians, investors, or its citizens.
The production of social and urban space through a symbiosis between “business” and politics – whereby politics itself is perceived as a mere tool in the service of new-money “urban capitalists”, who receive support and concessions for founding monopolist “companies” – typically ends by securing short-term profits for the “investor” and inflicting lasting damage to the community’s quality of life. Emblematic of this “system” is precisely the use of authoritarian mechanisms of state power – including non-transparency in the decision-making sphere, ignoring official urban development plans and the opinions of experts, and evading communication with the citizens, that is, their systematic exclusion from the decision-making processes that make a direct effect on the quality of life in their city. Hiding behind economic feasibility studies, creating new jobs, and the like, politicians, who operate as spokespeople of their own “investors”, typically care about only (their own private) profits – in total disregard of the environmental sustainability of such projects and with a chronic lack of a vision that would enable their city to make strategic and long-term investments in the wellbeing of its citizens.
We are deeply aware of the fact that the process of shaping a city is invariably a broader social and ideological process, which also implies providing urban spaces with meaning as well as changing their meanings, ultimately re-structuring society itself. Therefore, is it viable to plan and implement such changes while entirely ignoring and neglecting the citizens’ interests– and what social mechanisms, if any, may citizens resort to in the struggle to defend their right to their own city?!
What are the many things that Belgrade lost with the onset of the implementation of the “Belgrade Waterfront” project and what types of consequences will that and similar “urban planning” projects around the river Sava (the Sava embankment, Makiš field) have for the environment? What did Zagreb gain by rejecting the proposed General Plan, which practically (and permanently?) disabled the implementation of the project “City in a City”? What kinds of threats in terms of environmental protection and urban planning are facing Novi Sad with the anticipated implementation of the project informally known as “Novi Sad na vodi” (Novi Sad Waterfront)?
We will discuss all of those questions with our panellists.