Inaugurate the format of convivial tables as sites of soulful encounter, negotiation and caring
With three settings of a table located in public space – playground, community garden, transitory zones in public spaces in Vienna, Ankara and Shanghai we have created translocal interventions in everyday urban life for reflection and rest, for encounter and dialogue, for work and play, for all generations. The tables (can be already existing urban furniture or temporary built or refurbished ones) spark a site of common encounter and of care into being. According to Arendt, tables are also sites of the political, as they gather people and topics. We draw the attention to practices of care and uncare in everyday life in public space; these practices may be visible or invisible. We center these debates around tables, thus each and all tables become caring infrastructures per se. One key table is an exhibition table in the MAK Museum of Applied Arts in Austria which the students build and which features three videos of caring practices and tables in Vienna, Ankara and Shanghai. This also turns the attention to vulnerable groups, their needs and the structures of discrimination leading to acts of uncare, sometimes involuntarily, at other times planned. In articulating these issues, we hope to a) sensitize inhabitants for mutual care b) invite them to experience and perform acts of social encounter and care in presence of others c) sensitize planning and policy practitioners on the deficiencies and on the ideas for a more careful, respectful and solidary way of interacting with human and non -human actors in public space. Drawing on May`s (2013) call for a soulful and unalienated approach to care as mutual presence and altering moment of encounter, the tables can be seen as some of these manifold spaces which render “moments of presence” (May, 2014) as those types of social encounters in which affective contact shapes existential forms of meeting others while mutually realizing and respecting them in their subjectivity beyond existing differences, hierarchies and institutions. The plan is to start from these experiences realized during a studio project at TU Wien in summer term 2021 on intergenerational aspects of care with an international student group and elaborate a joint online and later hybrid course format with Technion, ETH and TU Wien in which different types of tables - improvised, virtualized, materialized - become key agents of caring change, and central resources of teaching for translocal public space.
Team TU Wien: S. Knierbein (urban studies, landscape architecture), M. Glaser (urban ethnography, ETH CASE), A. Gabauer (political science, planning), P. Krebs (ethnographic filming, planning), L. Breitfeld (architecture), A. Cosgun (architecture), P. Dersch (social economics), Y. Fang (architecture), C. Görgün (architecture), Y. Haase (planning), C. Hahn (planning), D. Hong (planning), C. Jinglei (architecture), O. Kafka (social economics, planning), M. Karamanoglu (architecture), H. Majewski (planning), L. Mi (architecture), M.A. Said (architecture), M. Prem (planning), L. Schöfer (planning), X. Wang (architecture), Z. Zhou (architecture)Team Technion: M. Aharon Gutmann (sociology, urban studies), and further colleagues (tba)