Performative Urbanism is a research cluster of

Institute for Urban Futures 

With this project,  we focus on making a series of urban scenographic actions we call Feminist City Light Capers (FCLC). Based in Montreal, the FCLC collaborators perform ephemeral, site-responsive scenographic actions in different locations of the city. What distinguishes our practice from other urban interventions is our intentionality: to collaborate, through creative action, at night. We undertake our actions in urban locations we desire to occupy or pass through after hours, but which feel -- to us -- somehow off limits . Locations include a bridge, a tunnel, the shoreline of an urban river, and a mountain in the middle of the city. For us, desiring the dark is a critical mode of spatial practice for enacting speculative gestures (Stengers) whereby the dark of night is transformed from a site of potential, gendered risk, into a site of collective creative agency. In our temporarily transformed spaces of darkness, we joyfully demand our right to heteronormative space.

 

The FCLC emerged partly in response to questions of how safety is negotiated across gender and experienced in the city, and how the night is a different geography of experience.[1] Through our feminist spatial practice we consider urban lighting as genre, and the politics of visibility as experienced through the tension between the realm of night, temporary, renegade or user-created lighting, and the use of permanent or ‘officially sanctioned’ urban night lighting. As enactors of the FCLC project,  we take inspiration from  writings on feminist spatial practices (muf 2001; Rendell 2003; Schalk et al 2017) and from contemporary performance practices that ask us to consider how the field of scenography has expanded (McKinney and Palmer, 2017), or moved “beyond scenography” (Hahn, 2018). What kinds of scenographies of desire emerge when we work through a feminist lens, vis à vis embodied encounters with the built environment at night?

 

Keywords: feminist spatial practice, scenography, gendered space and the built environment

A research-creation collaboration with Caroline Alexander, PhD, Dr Cynthia Hammond (Department of Art History ), and Dr Shauna Janssen (Department of Theatre).

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Concordia University, Montreal