November 28, 2017 - Para-Platforms: On the Spatial Politics of Right-Wing Populism
e-flux Architecture
November 28, 2017
November 28, 2017

Studio Miessen with Stephan Trüby, Rechte Räume Atlas, 2016.

Para-Platforms: On the Spatial Politics of Right-Wing Populism
a symposium during Open Week—Gothenburg Design Festival, hosted by Markus Miessen

HDK – Academy of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg
Box 131
SE-405 30 Gothenburg

Hannes Grassegger (on Disrupting Democracy), Stephan Trüby & Markus Miessen (on "Rechte Räume," spaces of right-wing populism), and Christina Varvia/Forensic Architecture (on the NSU case)

Para-Platforms dealt with the rising tide of right-wing populism both in Europe and globally, focusing on the physical and virtual spaces being utilized and designed towards their development. Participants have been developing new formats of investigative design research, enabling an independently initiated form of design practice. Problematizing familiar spaces of symbolic and ideological significance, as well as virtual platforms of anonymised, extremist political discourse, contributions illustrated a new spatial topology of contemporary political engagement and mobilization that demand critical investigation.

Hannes Grassegger focused on the "revolutionary redistribution of power" that post-internet politics represent, and the simultaneous collectivizing and atomizing effects of new communications technologies. Stephan Trüby and Markus Miessen discussed research on the hidden sanctums of right-wing populism dotting the German countryside, reinforcing the continued importance of brick-and-mortar spaces in politics. Christina Varvia of Forensic Architecture presented a case study that consolidates the relationship between digital platforms of discourse and the real spaces they occupy and employ.

As part of the "Design Politics" series, Para-Platforms brought together spatial practitioners, theorists, and writers to address the various spaces envisioned, devised and authored by architects, designers, and non-designers alike that are reshaping our contemporary political landscape. The symposium investigated this ongoing discussion while attendant themes of new realities of politics and its relationship to site—specifically towards the cultivation of right-wing populist praxis—showcased how design plays an important role in how these realties are being constructed and how they can be undone. Discussing these emergent architectures, both as fixed and fluid structures, is crucial to understanding the current rising tide of right-wing populism. An increased atomization of the political sphere means that—more than ever before—we exist in a realm of separate, parallel realities, exacerbating already fragile constructs of supranational governance and democratic statehood, resulting in the fragmentation of our global political landscape.

In spring 2018, Sternberg Press and Merve Verlag will publish a reader, which will expand the theme in order to illustrate and develop some of the most relevant current thinking around the subject. The publication will include previous and future contributors to Design Politics such as Benjamin Bratton, Mahmoud Keshavarz, and Patricia Reed, amongst others.

Mind the gap: the granite threshold at the doorway to SPÄTI that was installed by Studio Miessen was cut from a WWII-era decorative column, originally commissioned by the architects of the Third Reich from a quarry in Southern Sweden.

"Design Politics" is a new extra-curricular format and platform at HDK, the Academy of Design in Gothenburg. As a series of discussions, Design Politics brings together the relevant actors and individuals currently engaged in the critical analysis of emerging spaces of politics.

"Design Politics" was originally devised by Erling Björgvinsson and is now directed by Markus Miessen & Mattias Gunnarsson.

Open Week—Gothenburg Design Festival

Artistic Lead and Festival Curator: Onkar Kular, Professor of Design at HDK

Para-Platforms: On the Spatial Politics of Right-Wing Populism
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