Let artists shape a resilient city

I published a short opinion piece in “The Straits Times” (Singapore) last Thursday (April 10th 2014). As Singapore newspapers are hard to find for many of us in the rest of the world, here’s the text of that piece (I had to keep it very short and fulfill the edit requests of the newspaper… I am also doing a longer article in a book to be published soon by the organizers of the i Light symposium).

Last month (March) I was invited to give a keynote address on art and sustainability at the i Light Symposium held at the URA Centre in Maxwell Rd. The aim of the conference was to bring together leading thinkers in the area of Light and Art, interrogating art’s power to improve society. I had diverse conversations with artists, architects, social scientists and others, on unsustainable development. I visited neighbourhoods ranging from Marina Bay to Bukit Brown.

These first impressions raised my awareness of the specific challenges of urban resilience for Singapore. In particular, impending climate change raises the question of Singapore’s “resilience” to serious future crises. Will it survive when the trusted approaches that granted wealth and stability to the island in the past will be severely tested?  Continue reading

Talk in Singapore on March 12th


I am invited as keynote speaker to open the “i Light Symposium” on the morning of March 12th 2014 in Singapore, as part of the 3rd edition of the ‘sustainable light art’ festival i Light Marina Bay 2014.

Symposium program: click here

I entitled my talk: “The City is our Anthropo-Scene! Art as a Verb and Urban Sustainability Transformation”. (A publication will follow later in 2014, edited by festival curator Ong Swee Hong, in which I will contribute a short essay based on that talk…)

Thanks to the kind generosity of my hosts, I will be able to come to Singapore earlier in March, and will meet and interview several artists who are engaged in ways related to ‘cultures of sustainability’ in Singapore…

“Art and Sustainability” now available as eBook

art and sustainabilityThe 2nd, emended edition (2013) of my book Art and Sustainability: Connecting patterns for a culture of complexity, was just released as eBook a couple of days ago. It is distributed online (as are all the other books published at ‘transcript Verlag’) by De Gruyter. Here is the direct link: http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/398120?format=EBOK&rskey=zhSzLU

UPDATE (April 15th 2014) – Beware! This ‘eBook’ format as distributed by De Gruyter is targeted at libraries, and is not practical for individual customers. The eBook is only available for download in chapters, not as one big PDF file… Some colleagues complained to me, I then enquired near my publisher “transcript Verlag” and here is what they wrote back to me:

“De Gruyter Online might be accessable for individual customers but the E-Books are mainly directed to libraries who actually prefer not only the PDF format but also to be able to download each chapter individually (that is, among other reasons, because libraries buy access to the plattform rather than to every single book.) As libraries are a very large group within our customers, it is of utmost importance to us, to provide them the content in the exact way as they need them. [...] However, we will start selling the ebooks on our website and several other online-shops soon. Here, you can download the whole book in one.
We will – in time – inform our authors about this possibility. “

2 pieces of news

(1) A new review of my book “Art and Sustainability”, in Russian:

I have come across a new review of my book “Art and Sustainability”, in a Russian academic (peer reviewed) journal:

Yatsyk, A. (2013). Sacha Kagan. Art and Sustainability: Connecting Patterns for a Culture of Complexity. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2011. Laboratorium: Russian Review Of Social Research, 5(2), 193-196. Retrieved from http://soclabo.org/index.php/laboratorium/article/view/334/852

Here is a short quote from the review (I used Google to translate):

“Sacha Kagan’s work is impressive in the breadth of concepts, names and theories, the depth of their study, the saturation of the empirical material. Despite the impressive volume – more than five hundred pages – it is built very logically and systematically [...] This work is not run like a hundred meters. Rather, it is like a marathon, you can not get that right the first time. However, it is worth it.”

(2) A video-conferenced plenary presentation at an academic conference in Australia:

I am giving a talk (through ‘Google Hangout’, from Lueneburg, Germany) in a plenary session at an upcoming conference at Curtin University (Perth, Australia). The conference name is “The Aesthetics of Sustainability”, on October 3rd and 4th 2013. The title of my contribution (on October 3rd at 2pm local time in Perth) is: “Complexity as experience: aesthetics towards cultures of sustainability”.

See the conference website here: http://humanities.curtin.edu.au/schools/DA/conference.cfm

Toward an Ecological Critique in Art? On Art Criticism in Times of Ecological Crisis

On August 29th 2013, I presented a paper entitled “Toward an Ecological Critique in Art? On Art Criticism in Times of Ecological Crisis”, at the 11th conference of the ESA (European Sociological Association) in Turin, Italy. (The presentation shared some insights I gained thanks to a number of ecological art practitioners. I will soon work towards a publishable article/text on this topic, so that the insights from these artists, curators and critics/writers can be more widely shared.) I also chaired two sessions within the ‘Sociology of the Arts’ research network, which included some interesting presentations.

Lasting from August 28th to 31st and with 2500 participating sociologists around the theme of “Crisis, Critique and Change”, the conference included many interesting presentations from all areas of European sociology, including (but not limited to) the research networks and streams I could visit at the conference, i.e. sociology of the arts, cultural sociology, environment and society, sexuality, and also a research stream on post-growth transitions.

At the ‘business meeting’ of the ESA Research Network ‘Sociology of the Arts’, we gave the first edition of our PhD student paper Award, and I was re-elected for another two years as board member. The new chair of our board is Dan Eugen Ratiu and the new vice-chair is Ian Sutherland. Next year, in early September 2014, Dan Ratiu will be organizing the next ESA Arts conference, in Cluj, Romania! (The call for papers will be released in November… and announced also on the Cultura21 website.)