NINE URBAN BIOTOPES was an international, socially engaged art project delivering artistic research and cultural exchange. It did this both within and among social citizen and art initiatives in cities in South Africa and Europe in 2014.
It was co-ordinated and initiated by Stefan Horn in its role as the artistic director of urban dialogues Berlin.
The participating initiatives in Paris, Berlin, London, Turin and Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban all distinguish themselves by addressing vital matters of concern with regard to contemporary urban living in innovative ways. They work about and respond to issues of safety and housing, youth and migration, mobility and economical subsistence. They do so »on the ground« and »in the thick of life« in each city, which was the reason why they were referred to as »urban biotopes« giving the overall project its name.
Metropolises have become the central arenas of globalization and its resulting social developments. Within the cities’ structures, global processes inscribe themselves as »local colourful complexions«.
The aim of 9UB was to establish both a »trans-local« and »trans-continental» dialogue by interweaving and connecting new context-specific, socially engaged art projects into the existing social activities of these biotopes. It did so in order to expose, discuss and share different »intentions, methods and techniques« of imaginative urban practices for building »sustainable cities«.
From January to September 2014, nine artistic projects produced work and research in nine innovative urban settings. Three projects run simultaneously; each for a period of three consecutive months. All of them were participatory in their approach; engaging actively with both citizens and initiators of existing innovative urban development projects.
Embedded reporters represented each process of each participatory arts projects. The citizens of each local participating project were linked up by means of web-based communication and social networks, and in this way themselves become actors in an »arena of exchange«.
By combining, linking and implementing 9UB within a South African – European partner structure – local answers to global questions were discussed in such a way that they shed light on sustainable solutions and innovative ideas regarding urban development issues.
The project was mainly funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union and was selected as a success story by the European Commission.