City Mine(d)

Group – Brussels, Belgium

1997 onwards

www.citymined.org

City Mine(d) is an NGO based in Brussels that has been in operation for over ten years and now has branches in Barcelona and London. Including artists, activists, academics, social organisations and politicians, the group came together around a series of actions in derelict buildings in Brussels in 1995 and formalised itself as an NGO in 1997, dealing with issues arising at the intersection of art and politics in the city. Through a critique of the increasing privatisation of public space in Europe, City Mine(d) describe their aims as searching for new forms of citizenship and working towards the re-appropriation of public space, virtual or otherwise. Their work takes the form of urban interventions, action research projects and they try to influence policy at a European level through localised action and through establishing a network of like-minded people and projects.

Interventions such as Ball, literally a bright orange ball of 3m diameter, are used to appropriate urban space. They describe Ball as a tool: it claims space through its sheer size and physicality, whilst also highlighting the lack of opportunities for young people to play in the city. Reminiscent of the early projects of Coop Himmelblau and those of Haus-Rucker-Co, City Mine(d) deliberately create temporary interventions that empower citizens and allow them to assert their presence in the city. These could be as small and simple as Ball or large-scale events such as their annual PleinOPENair festival in Brussels.

A recent action research project, Micronomics, focused on the role of small-scale economies in resisting capitalist market forces, and questioned the use of markers such as growth and productivity to measure the success of economies. The project involved local communities, academics, and specialists and included a weekly flea market, bartering schemes, as well as the Micronomics Festival. For City Mine(d) these action research projects are a means of collectively testing out and developing their ideas. They use networking as a basic tool to bring together residents, users, participants and city authorities, acting as a facilitator and negotiator.

Other Work

City Mine(d) (ed), Generalized Empowerment: Uneven Development and Urban Interventions (Brussels: City Mine(d), 2006).

City Mine(d) (ed), Networkbook for Urban P/Arts. 42 initiatives capturing London's Public Space (London: City Mine(d), 2004).

References About

Doucet, Isabelle, "Planning in Search of Ground: Committed Muddling Through or a Critical View form Above?," in The Territorial Future of the City, ed. Giovanni Maciocco (New York: Springer, 2008).

Quotes

'Our ultimate objective is to realize an international urban movement.'
- City Mine(d); http://www.citymined.org/ffuq.php

'The name tries to capture the re-appropriation of the city -city mine -; the city as a creative resource like a goldmineÐcity mine -; interventions placed as explosives that blast away obstacles to change - city mined-; and action research about cities -city mind.'
- City Mine(d); http://www.citymined.org/ffuq.php

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