Studio Invisible Cities
Studio lead: Cith Skelcher
Cultures of Care
Studio Invisible Cities will this year be undertaking a critical exploration of ‘Culture’ in the context of the UK’s City of Culture 2021 - Coventry.
From the latin cultura or colere ‘growing, tending’, Culture’s etymology suggests a nurturing, situated practice that can connect us to both our community and our natural environment. Enlightenment thinking cast nature as an object of study and a force to be controlled and culture, through the mediums of art, custom, and language, became a powerful instrument of civilisation.
In his manifesto ‘Design after Design’, Jeremy Till describes the modernist project as a direct descendant of the enlightenment, ‘with its addiction to progress, growth and extraction, (being) the primary cause of the climate emergency’ and indeed the damaging and exploitative practices of colonisation. Against a backdrop of climate and cultural crises, Studio Invisible Cities will explore the restorative and redemptive possibilities of new, situated ‘Cultures of Care’ within Coventry.
Amongst the most devastated cities, post war Coventry adopted the modernist project in a relatively humane way; the recasting of its cathedral and its pattern of precincts with public art intermingled suggested a level of understanding of the negotiation between past and present; people and place. The ‘City of Culture’ status has provided Coventry with an opportunity to celebrate its identity but also to sell an image of itself to court investment. Whilst trading off the gritty glory of its brutalist fabric and vibrant and diverse community in its dazzling promos, the city is planning to use the huge sums of investment raised to flatten huge swathes of the post war city centre, replacing it with a deadening monoculture of generic retail and private residential apartments.
So once the show has left town, what of its cultural legacy?
Inspired by stories from the city, Studio IC will reveal hidden inequalities, cultural practices and latent ecologies within the city. Working within the complexity of the ‘real’ city and within a feminist ethics of care we will propose careful/ radical/ fantastical/ alternative ‘cultures of care’ for Coventry.