Call for Applications: Urban Ruins

Dr Grace Halden is hosting an exhibition for the Being Human Festival in November 2017. The nature of the exhibition is to showcase student artistic responses to the theme of ‘Lost and Found’ in relation to urban ruination.

Applications are now invited for exhibits from School of Arts students. This opportunity is excellent for CVs and for applications for further study; a great way of showing research dissemination and event organization.

This event is an exciting opportunity to reflect on what it means to live within urban spaces problematized by constant design, dereliction, and rejuvenation. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind the event!


Research-led underpinning for the event (the inspiration)

Ruins are often monuments to history and the destructive event which rendered them ruined, like Pompeii. But what does it mean to live with ruination that has been created through abandonment? This event engages with the theoretical work of Anthony Vidler, Tim Edensor and Jonathan Veitch on ruination as well as the work on urban and public space by Liam Murphy Bell, Gavin Goodwin, Dikmen Bezmez, Daniel R. Kerr and others. On the theme of ‘Lost and Found’, this event encourages visitors to consider the spaces around them and how sites and buildings have become ‘lost’ due to various political and economic pressures. London is an area ripe with dereliction and restoration and along with contemplating what is means to live amongst ruins, we also think about what it means to live with renovation and rejuvenation. By combining numerous disciplines including art and geography, this event offers something for everyone.


How the event corresponds to the ‘Lost and Found’ theme of the festival

Focus on city living and the politics and economics of abandoned spaces gives the exhibition contemporary relevance. The exhibition will help visitors rethink the spaces they inhabit when working, living, and travelling in London. With related issues of homelessness, austerity and so forth, an investigation of ruined and discarded buildings will be of particular interest. The theme of ‘Lost and Found’ is at the heart of the exhibition. When thinking about ruination we are contemplating loss. However, the ruin is also present in some form and thus is both lost and present simultaneously. Often, we see ruined spaces reconceptualised as monuments and memorials; but, we also see these spaces renovated as alternate spaces (for example, a ruined bank into luxury apartments). The exhibition seeks to tease apart what ‘lost’ and ‘found’ means when urban ruins form part of the city but are also divided from contemporary living.


The structure of the event

The event will feature the creative works of 5-8 BA, MA, and PhD students on the theme of urban ruination. The artists will be present during the event to discuss their work with visitors. There are three aims for the exhibition. Firstly, to present critical and conceptual academic work on ruination and urban spaces in an easily accessible and creative format to engage a wide audience from a variety of backgrounds. Secondly, to use a range of artistic forms (film, photography, art, virtual reality, and performance) to explore city living and ever-changing urban spaces. Thirdly, to strengthen connections between formal education and experience-based learning through creating dialogue and collaboration between students and the public. The last objective will be achieved through an activity in which members of the public decorate (through image or words) their interpretation of the city on a paper brick to be stuck on a steadily building wall.


Applications are welcome from all Birkbeck students. The deadline for responses is the end of July and all applications should be sent to Grace Halden by email ( The application and guidance form can be acquired here.

 urban ruins image


Image by Barbara Krawcowicz, used under a CC VY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.


Author: CCL

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