[urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University


“Scenographic City: using scenography to understanding urban experience”

[urban interfaces] member Sigrid Merx will be presenting at the international seminar “Scenograpic City: using scenography to understanding urban experience”.

This international event discusses examples of urban scenography and considers scenographic strategies as part of urban research and futures. The seminar is part of an exploratory, interdisciplinary project at the University of Leeds.

About this event

Contemporary scenography, no longer confined to theatre stages, is now being used to interrogate and transform urban space. The ‘place-orientating methods of scenography shape other social and art practices’ (Hann 2019: 5) and it ‘provides a critical tool to reflect, confront and realign worldviews’ (Hannah and Harslof, 2008:19). Scenography can be ‘a device for critically reflecting…intervening, defamiliarizing and re-orienting experiences of hegemonic spatial politics on an urban scale (Janssen 2019:208).

Now, following prolonged periods of lockdown, the need to understand the diversity of urban experience and the ways in which people feel themselves to belong in the city seem more urgent than ever. Might the affective, creative and imaginative dimensions of our lives that scenography deals with provide new ways of thinking about the ‘spatial politics of urban change’ (Janssen 2019:208)?

This international seminar will consider examples of recent practice and ask:

  • What characterises a scenographic approach to the urban and to placemaking?
  • What can distinctively scenographic perspectives on urban experience reveal?
  • How do scenographic techniques facilitate change and transformation of the urban


Marina Hadjilouca (Cyprus + UK) Scenographic tactics in contested public spaces
Dorita Hannah (Aotearoa/New Zealand) Navigating urban scenographies of the ‘real’
Shauna Janssen (Turtle Island/ Canada) Urban Scenographics: Towards Partial Perspectives, Situated Practices, and Unsettling Existing Perceptions of Place
Joslin McKinney (UK) Understanding urban space as scenography
Sigrid Merx (Netherlands) Creative Urban Methods for sustainable urban futures

Respondent: Rachel Hann (UK)

Sigrid Merx – Creative Urban Methods for sustainable urban futures

In this presentation Sigrid Merx will present the work of the Utrecht University interdisciplinary research initiative CRUM, short for Creative Urban Methods. Today, in academia as well as in urban planning, we can observe an increasing interest in creative urban research methods, on the one hand, and in collaborative approaches to city making, on the other. These comprise methods such as data walking, performative mapping, experimental ethnography, dramaturgical analysis, and action-based research, research by design, and critical making; methods that can be characterized as performative methods, mapping methods, and/or making methods. They, like scenographic practices, share a perspective toward spatiotemporal and relational structures of urban environments, dynamics of change and forms of mobility, and with a phenomenological emphasis on embodied experiences. Presenting some recent workshops it will be argued that creative urban methods can be particularly valuable for addressing challenges and questions around sustainable urban futures and facilitating the necessary awareness and insight needed for a grounded actionability of academic researchers as well as citizens in co-creative processes.

Dr Sigrid Merx is an Associate Professor Theatre Studies at the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University where she teaches in the BA Media and Culture, and in the MA Contemporary Theatre, Dance and Dramaturgy and MA Arts and Society. She is currently the Director of Education of the Department. Her current research focuses on the dramaturgy of contemporary socially engaged theatre and performance practices, in particular performative interventions in public space. She investigates how situated art and performance can act as productive sites to negotiate contemporary frictions, concerns and debates in and about urban, public spaces. Sigrid is part of the UU research platforms [urban interfaces] and Creative Urban Methods and community member of the Creative Humanities Academy. She is the initiator of the minor Creative Cities and one of the core members of Platform-Scenography.

How to join the meeting
Please register for this event via this link.