A research and on-site project. The class of the Design for the Living World spent two months at the International Artist Residency at the Combine Studios in Phoenix, AZ, became involved with local initiatives and the neighbourhood, and worked with Postcommodity on the installation of the Repellent Fence, a land art and community-based project on the US-Mexico border.

Title: The Arizona Project – Conversations in Phoenix
A research and on-site project by the Design for the Living World class, University of Fine Arts/Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) Hamburg, by the invitation of The Arizona State University Art Museum and International Artist Residency at the Combine Studios.
Date: October-November 2015.
Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA and US/Mexico border (Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora)
Students: Finn Brüggemann, Maria Christou, Tino Holzmann, Barbara Niklas, Anastasia Reschke, Konouz Saeed, William Schwartz, and guests of the class Charlotte Livine (Time-related Media, HFBK Hamburg) and Radoš Vujaklija (Time-related Media, HFBK Hamburg).
The Class of the Design for the Living World in collaboration with: The Arizona State University Art Museum and Postcommodity.
Supported by: The Arizona State University Art Museum and Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) Hamburg



Conversations in Phoenix

The stimulating conversations we had with the people we met and worked with in Phoenix were among our most fruitful, and unexpected, experiences in the city. They shared with us their knowledge about land, migration and immigration, resettlements, community engagement, the construction of history, and the issue of public space (or the lack of it) – this last issue was especially challenging for us as Europeans, who found it hard to understand a city where people don’t walk but mainly drive. We developed several projects, mostly in the form of research, but there were two exceptions: The Tour, which was a performance, and the Interactive Storytelling Workshop. None of these projects would have happened without the knowledge, insights, and generosity of the people we met in Phoenix.


Working with Postcommodity on the Repellent Fence

In early October 2015 we spent a week in Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, neighbouring cities that are separated by the US-Mexican border. We worked with the indigenous artist collective Postcommodity on their land-art project The Repellent Fence.

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The Privilege of Citizenship

The Privilege of Citizenship was a public event organized by the Design for the Living World class at Galiano’s Cafe in Douglas, as part of Art Walk on G, the first bi-national artwalk in Douglas, Arizona, USA and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. The event took place on Oct.10, 2015.

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The Tour: The area is a fiction, the story is real

THE TOUR: The area is fiction, the story is real

THE TOUR is a performance that explored Phoenix and its downtown arts district by looking at reality through fiction. Andrew, a computer generated voice, led participants on guided walking tours. His staff amplified stories about the neighborhood and its history with a portable PA system. But as was the case with Phoenix, Andrew’s stories were delusional and fictitious.

So as to correct the record, concluding each tour the staff ushered participants into the tour office for informal discussions to challenge the information they were given. Responses were mixed and emotional, sparking deeper discussions challenging racism, poverty, politics, predatory development and the role the arts district has in it.

A project by: Finn Brüggemann, Charlotte Livine, Konouz Saeed, William Schwartz, Radoš Vujaklija, and Marjetica Portč. Part of the ASU Art Museum’s International Artist Residency Program located at Combine Studios, Phoenix, Arizona.
October-November 2015

THE TOUR, video by Finn Brüggemann, Charlotte Livine, Konouz Saeed, William Schwartz and Radoš Vujaklija.
The audio in the video includes both the original computer generated narration and live recordings from the tour.

Brochure: THE TOUR Transcript of Conversations
The Tour: Transcript of Conversations pdf

THE TOUR Script pdf

THE TOUR Project Description, composed from the discussions with the participants

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Interactive Storytelling. Thoughts on Co-Living.

by Maria Christou and Anastasia Reschke

As part of the artist residency in Phoenix we got introduced to the situation of predominantly Mexican immigrants in the United States and learned that especially discrimination through racial profiling, the separation of families through, partly illegal, deportations and the exclusion of public services (i.e. libraries, health care, financial support) can be counted among the most pressing problems.

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The Desert Landscape Project
by Carie Marill, Erick Lundgren and Design for the Living World

The Desert Landscape Project is a proposal to transform an empty lot next to Combine Studios into a desert landscape. Currently, the lot is covered by gravel and small patches of grass, which are cut and sprayed with weedkiller as part of regular maintenance. The city of Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert. What sort of relationship do Phoenicians have with the desert?

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El Campito
by William Schwartz

El Campito was once a lively neighborhood and home to a whole conglomerate multi-generational, Mexican-American families. Today only a few houses still stand in one of Phoenix’s historic barrios. Comprised of empty lots lined with gravel in efforts to stunt any growth, El Campito is on the verge of disappearing.

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There is no existence without coexistence
An approach to the city and its citizens
by Barbara Niklas and Tino Holzmann

With 1.5 million inhabitants, Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the US. However, in 1960 the population was only around 50 000. The rapid increase was caused by a variety of factors, including economic growth, the invention of air conditioner for private households and the dream of a home of ones own with land and garden. As a result of this last factor the population density in Phoenix is extremely low. Compared to Berlin with 3.908/sq km or Mexico City with 6000/sq km, Phoenix has only 1.173/sq km. This widely spread city structure seemed felt strange to us. Because of the long distances, citizens almost exclusively use cars as a way of transportation and encountering people in the street is a curiosity. Other than the rest of the city Downtown Phoenix, where we were located, is characterized by high rise buildings. For a long time, there was no residential living in the centre. The area was planned as a business district, which is still visible by the fact that there is only life during working hours, when commuters are in the centre.

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