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Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade

Artists' Books
24 × 16.5 × 1.5 cm
160 pgs

New Belgrade presents a previously unpublished 1986 text by French philosopher and urbanist Henri Lefebvre. Printed as a facsimile of a recently discovered manuscript, Lefebvre’s text is based on the concept of workers’ self-management, an idea central to urban restructuring processes. The facsimile is contextualized by accompanying essays from Ljiljana Blagojevic, Zoran Eric, and Klaus Ronnberger, and a foreword by Neil Smith.

Edited by Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, Helmut Weber) and co-published with Sternberg Press, Berlin.

Produced in conjunction with Bitter and Weber’s exhibition at Landesgalerie Landesmuseum, Linz, Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade presents a previously unpublished 1986 text by French philosopher and urbanist Henri Lefebvre. Printed as a facsimile of a recently discovered manuscript, Lefebvre’s text is based on the concept of “autogestion” (worker’s self-management), an idea central to urban restructuring processes. The text is contextualized and interpreted by accompanying commentaries and essays.

The text from Henri Lefebvre was submitted as part of a proposal with French architects Serge Renaudie and Pierre Guilbaud for the International Competition for the New Belgrade Urban Structure Improvement in 1986, sponsored by the state of Yugoslavia. In his urban vision for New Belgrade—the capital of former Yugoslavia founded in 1948—Lefebvre emphasizes the processes and potentials of self-organization of the people of any urban territory to counter the failed concepts of urban planning from above. For Lefebvre, at this late point in his life, the promises of both modernist capitalist as well as state socialist architecture and city planning had failed. Yet, Lefebvre viewed New Belgrade and Yugoslavia as having a particular position in what he has elsewhere called “the urban revolution.” As Lefebvre states, “because of self-management, a place is sketched between the citizen and the citadin, and Yugoslavia is today [1986] perhaps one of the rare countries to be able to pose the problem of a New Urban.”

About the Authors

Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber have worked since 1993 on projects addressing cities, architecture, and the politics of representation and of space. Sabine Bitter is based in Vancouver and works at Simon Fraser University. Helmut Weber is based in Vienna. Their exhibitions include Right, to the City, Upper State Gallery, Linz; We Declare: Spaces of Housing, Gallery Gachet, Vancouver; Live Like This! Camera Austria, Graz; Caracas, Hecho en Venezuela, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver.

Ljiljana Blagojevi is an architect, historian, and theorist at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, Serbia. Her research focuses on relations among space, politics, and ideology in the architecture and urbanism of the twentieth century. She lectures, teaches, and publishes widely in Serbia as well as internationally.

Zoran Eri is an art historian, curator, and lecturer. He holds a Ph.D. from the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Currently he is working as Curator of the Centre for Visual Culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade. His research fields include the meeting points of urban geography, spatio-cultural discourse, and theory of radical democracy.

Klaus Ronneberger studied social pedogogy, cultural studies, and sociology. He worked for many years at the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt am Main and currently works there as a freelance publicist. He is a member of the urban studies group “spacelab.”

  1. autogestion

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