• Where If Not Us? Participatory Design and Its Radical Approaches: A Visual Journey
    Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
    Jun 27, 2013 to Aug 24, 2013
    Mathias Heyden & Ines Schaber

Mathias Heyden and Ines Schaber, "Edgemont Elderly Home And Low-Income Housing: revisited with Henry Sanoff," 2010, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Where If Not Us? seeks to develop a method to visualize self-determined and participatory design and its radical approaches in the United States. Taking up research by Mathias Heyden on community design that uncovered significant questions about the politics of imagemaking, the project aims to develop a form for visual research that could become part of a progressive future of such architecture/planning. However, the work does not suggest a simple game of catch up and the  documentation "overlooked" projects: instead, it reflects upon the making of particular community design projects in dialogue with those involved, considering usage and appropriation over time. Based on those reflections, the method draws on correlated work over the past years to renegotiate the relationship between bottom-up driven architecture/planning and image politics. Consequently, Where If Not Us? hopes to contribute to more general discourses about visual interpretations and readings of the built environment and its complexities, and to suggest promising formats for communicating these processes through a complex understanding of "the document." The first public presentation of the project was in October 2011 in Philadelphia, on the occasion of the of the national conference "Design in Action 2011"—a joint meeting of the Association for Community Design, the Association of Architectural Organizations, and the Architecture and Design Education Network. The first presentation of the project in an exhibition format, accompanied by related events, was shown in summer 2013 at the Graham Foundation.

Mathias Heyden is an architect, activist, organizer, author, curator, and cofounder of the Berlin community project K 77. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the chair of urban design and urbanization at the Institute of Architecture, Technical University Berlin. Heyden is the author of numerous publications including Hier entsteht. Strategien partizipativer Architektur und räumlicher Aneignung (Under Construction, Strategies of Participatory Architecture and Spatial Appropriation) with Jesko Fezer, 2004 and the exhibition and magazines An Architektur 19-21: Community Design. Involvement and Architecture in the US since 1963 (An Architektur, 2008).

Ines Schaber is an artist and writer based in Berlin, Germany. She holds a master in fine arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and a PhD in research architecture from Goldsmiths College in London. Her work has been shown at the Storefront for Art and Architecture (New York); the Brussels Biennial (Brussels); Centre d'art Passerelle (Brest); Art Sheffield (Sheffield, UK), Kunsthall Mucsarnok (Budapest); and Documenta 13 (Kassel). Previous Graham-funded projects include Movers and Shapers (2001) in collaboration with the architect Jörg Stollmann, which investigated the visual politics of master-planned communities in Arizona, and Picture Mining (2006). Her recent publications include "The Workhouse (with Avery Gordon) and Obtuse, Flitting By but Nevertheless There—Image Archives in Practise, both forthcoming.