The (In)formal City: Searching for (In)formality

INFORMAL CITY_exhibAt GIfA, 77 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
from 18 November 2013

The (In)formal City constitutes an example of an immersive and process-driven project of exchange, premised on international comparison and collaboration between two interdisciplinary teams of participants from Berlin and Johannesburg respectively. The primary focus of this exchange is to challenge often overly simplistic understandings of the terms formality and informality. In the context of this project, each participating team consists of students and young professionals from architectural, planning and (urban) geography backgrounds: researchers and practitioners interested in the complexities inherent in the current and ongoing pervasive global occurrences of urbanisation. Specifically the exchange, analysing conditions underpinned by (in)formality in these two very particular cities, concerns itself with and investigates aspects around commonalities and differences between formality and informality – not only within the two contexts, but also between them.

The initial leg of the project took place during the first half of July 2013, when eight participants and two ‘seniors’, based in Johannesburg, were hosted in Berlin. The second part of the exchange takes place from 17 November until 30 November, when the visiting group of Berlin-based participants and ‘seniors’ will be hosted, in turn, in Johannesburg. As was the case during the Berlin leg, questions around and interrogations of often limiting binary understandings of (in)formality will inform the research of the combined group of participants in Johannesburg. A key aspect of the methodology attached to the exchange is that participants will work in tandem. Pairs of Johannesburg- and Berlin-based researchers will again collaborate – with the aim of deepening their understandings of (in)formality – in the their developing pursuits of core research themes and interests initiated during the Berlin phase off the project.

The exhibition at GIfA, The (In)formal City: Searching for (In)formality in and between Berlin and Johannesburg, serves as a simultaneous welcome, to Johannesburg, of the Berlin-based team, and an introduction, to Johannesburg audiences, of the project at large, specifically initial insights into the collaborative work which was conducted in Berlin earlier in 2013.

The project – The (In)formal City – was initiated by Inpolis and the Goethe-Institut in Berlin and is funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The cooperation partners and hosts, in Johannesburg, are 26’10 SOUTH ARCHITECTS and Alexander Opper (University of Johannesburg).

NOTE: The exhibition will also be accompanied by the screening of the celebrated film Jeppe on a Friday (2013, 87 min.). One of the film’s co-directors, Arya Lalloo, will be present at the exhibition opening and film screening.

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