Brave New Alps

Aesthetics of Adaptation

We are very pleased to be joining the symposium Aesthetics of Adaptation organised by Paola De Martin of ETH Zürich to discuss how to undo classism within design.

13 March 2019
Cabaret Voltaire
Spiegelgasse 1, 8001 Zürich

The symposium The Aesthetic of Adaptation questions the euphoric neoliberal narrative about the rise of a creative class. We will start from Paola De Martin’s observations in her ongoing PHD (ETH Zürich, gta Institute) in which she analyzes the transformation of social upward movers’ lifestyles – climbing up from Zurich’s working class milieus into the field of design. These agents’ trajectories speak volumes about a relatively strong pressure to adapt their habitus dispositions to the tacit rules of legitimate tastes. These rules include the devaluation, exploitation, appropriation, sublimation and exotization of their former working class spaces, practices and judgements. We will discuss about the socio-historical forces that are at play within these dynamics of inequality. What can be said about class in culture when we compare Zürich’s design scene with other cities and countries of the globalized world? What can be said in this respect when we compare the design field with the fields of art and architecture? And if we want to resist classism in design practice, can we possibly learn from gender and postcolonial theories and histories? Participants/Guests (alphabetic order): Prof. Dr. Christina Cogdell (Design Historian, UC Davis the Arts, CA/USA), Dr. Bianca Elzenbaumer (Lecturer Design Theory, University of the Arts Leeds, UK, initiator of the online-platforms Precarity Pilot and Brave New Alps, I), Prof. em Dr. Ueli Mäder (Sociologist, University of Basel, CH), MA Jackie McManus (Co-author of the NALN-research project Art for a Few, UK, Lecturer Cultural Studies, University of West London, UK), Prof. em Dr. Franz Schultheis (Sociologist, Hochschule St. Gallen, CH), MA Sophie Vögele (Co-leader of the ZHdK research project Art.School.Differences, CH, PHD-student York University, CAN).