Non-material values in public spaces?

”Responsibility for non-materialist values in the public spaces: Why, Where and by Whom?” was the title of an interesting discussion on religiousity, spirituality, public spaces and religion hosted by the Museum of World Cultures in Göteborg today.

The problem statement as a starting point for reflection was this: ”Modernist theories of development predicted that secularization would eventually lead to the disappearance of religion. Today we are rather witnessing the opposite.” The seminar started with a filmed dance performance, ”Defensa – Tesoro II”, choreographed by Eva Ingemarsson, where the dancers reflected on dialogue and spirituality (look on the clip below). Later during the seminar this was also showed in live performance. Another way of adressing these intriguing and global questions, where other senses are used rather than the rational thinking.

The combination was interesting. As always more questions than answers were raised, which was also the point. One question resting is: How is our public space used for non-material values? Art and culture deal with symbolic value and often request (or just take) a space in the public arena for Artistic expression. Although authorities have a tendency towards more and more regulations of public spaces which makes access difficult.

The Artist Mark Brest van Kempen, in San Francisco, has done a beautiful piece at the University in Berkeley called ”Free Speach Monument” (1991) which puts the light on spaces for free dialogue and thinking. A reaction towards the regulations of public spaces is, for example, the movement Reclaim the Streets. The thought of public open spaces as the arena where people can debate, discuss, reflect and as the base from which democracy is built, need perhaps new oxygen?

Download the programme here: programme-and-background-material.

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