Mapping the Now Here

MAPPING THE NOW HERE (2012-14) is a collective, interdisciplinary long-term research project shared among researchers, visuals artists and activists. The research seeks to connect spaces and images of resistance within the current context of an ongoing socio-political transformation in the Mediterranean.

The transformations of the last 15 years, especially since the economic crisis in Southern Europe and the so-called “Arab Spring”, have led to a vast production of images of resistance. On a macro level of media visibility, we witness the emergence of various protests that seem to happen simultaneously and affect each other around the globe, expressing a profound criticism of the system. The urban streets seem to have become a “global stage” for enacting political change. Originally, the same places were designed to segregate communities and impede any political insurrection and transformation of the social order from “below”. But rather than thinking about the protests as a homogenous political movement on a “global stage of resistance”, we assume that the political space is dynamic, heterogenic and antagonistic. Within the last years, a contradictory discourse about capitalist economy and political structures has evolved, developing very different ideas of structural change. These developments have led us to think about the STREET AS A SPACE OF RESISTANCE and to take a close look at those IMAGES OF RESISTANCE produced in this time.

MAPPING THE NOW HERE creates an audio-visual political cartography of the streets of resistance in the Mediterranean metropolises Athens, Madrid, Rome, Istanbul and Cairo. The project combines research and field work methods of political, cultural and film studies with filmic production. Within these fields, we work with documentary techniques as well as with poetic means, moving between subjective experience and theoretical considerations. Through this interdisciplinary approach, we hope to understand the practices and struggles of the protagonists of resistance on the streets of the Mediterranean. We take a close-up look at the streets’ dynamics to reveal some of the political paradigms of change produced in these places. We aim to deconstruct the ideological identity of the political space through a poetic-political re-mapping of the territory, learning from the street and taking it as the laboratory for aesthetic-political practice.

Within the project, two research strands are worked through a series of perspectives and actions:

(A) STREET AS A SPACE OF RESISTANCE:  RE-THINKING STREET AS A POLITICAL SPACE / A geopolitical evaluation of the Mediterranean streets

The space of the Mediterranean metropolitan streets and their protagonists’ resistance practices and the images produced by them to visualise their struggles and demands, marks our field of work. We understand “street space” not only as a physical urban landscape, which is used as a strategic and symbolic stage for political debate. We seek to re-think it as a protagonist with its own peculiar logic and vibrant dynamics, generating ideas of politics and subjectivity, aside from opposing the political status quo. Objects, subjects and their practices constantly re-create the streets’ space and produce various notions of a public sphere. Via participatory observation of grass roots projects, political groups and individuals and a geopolitical mapping of the cities of Athens, Madrid, Rome and Istanbul we engage into the subject.

(B) IMAGES OF RESISTANCE: RE-READING THE VISUAL NARRATIVE OF RESISTANCE / A filmic perspective on migrating images of resistance

What happens to the image, once it begins to move? The travelling, migrating image connects and re-presents political struggles and spaces. It can be used as a tool for powerful political action. Yet, at the same time, it creates global narratives of resistance which are permanently turned into “ideological” arguments, not being reflected critically. Through the perspective of film- and cultural studies, we engage with the visual narrative of resistance. We focus on the use of image production within the context of political struggle and the politics of images. The critical analysis goes hand in hand with a film production that questions the mechanisms of visual ideologies, using poetic narration to interfere with these mechanisms. To re-read the visual narrative of resistance, we engage with questions as: How are narratives being constructed with images? Which kinds of narratives of resistance are being produced? Which means of image-making are at stake when we talk about media as a political tool?
Which strategies and artistic experiments in documentary and performance can be developed in order to subvert and intervene into existing representations of the urban street-space designed as stage and battlefield of political conflict?



Concept: Zampeta Papadodima, Janine Jembere, Elena Friedrich

The research is kindly supported by: European Cultural Foundation, Youth in Action Program.