The Role of Art in the New City

This post is part of our Re-imagining Cities discussion series, following the third edition of the NewCities Summit in Dallas in June 2014.

The specific use of visual space as it relates to art’s role in the new city was at the heart of Huang Rui’s keynote address.

Persuasively, Huang cited his own personal experience in Beijing where his current artistic studio space used to be an industrial factory. Huang was particularly adamant about the need to not be quick to condemn, literally and figuratively, a seeming dinosaur industrial space to the fate of demolition, but instead, give new life to these forlorn, abandoned areas by reviving them as cultural centers.

Huang was a proponent of vigorous urban recycling and redesign of spaces once thought to have outlived their former utility. Bridging back to his own experience, Huang reminded the audience that the once foreign history of an old factory space suddenly could become the highly useful presence of his current art space.

It is up to artists to take charge of the preservation of these raw urban spaces, argued Huang. He conveyed the idea that artists are the ones specially endowed with the vision to appreciate both tangible physical, as well as imagined, space. And, by extension, Huang emphasized that when an artist works towards re-configuring and repurposing an urban space, using all the powers of his or her creative and artistic imagination, then a city is well on its way to being re-imagined.

Keynote: Art and the City – Huang Rui – © NewCities/Rex C Curry


Huang Rui, The Stars Group, Artist and Co-Founder