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What would a city look like if it was built through an open-source process? That’s exactly what Raleigh’s Visual Art Exchange wants to find out with a new exhibit called IMBY, or In My Backyard.
Inspired by local and national debates between the YIMBY (yes in my backyard) and NIMBY (not in my backyard) camps, VAE staff realized that, often, the only voices heard about city development are those of the people who feel the strongest. The impact of that development, however, affects many, many more.
“We wanted to experiment with how creativity could further engage people in the process of planning a community, and how reaching a wider audience could create more equity in the process,” says Kyle Hazard, VAE’s exhibitions director. “The goal is to expose attendees to the challenges that surface when density, community, accessibility and growth all collide, and possibly find new, crowdsourced and more equitable ways to look at solutions to those challenges.”
The month-long, collaborative, experimental exhibit will be built completely by the public. Attendees will have the opportunity to build the community in which they would like to live, from scratch. Almost like a real-life SIM City, but with more creativity and flair, the gallery will start out with empty pedestals and a whole lot of cardboard. The city will grow from there.
“If, to build that community, they decide it is necessary to topple a building, move a community center or even move an entire neighborhood out of a particular area, [visitors] will have to physically pick up and move those resources, creating a more personal connection to development,” says Hazard of the public’s participation. Guests will be given prompts for things to include, such as roads, power and accessibility, and will occasionally be asked to draw disaster cards that introduce natural, medical, social or structural challenges to resolve.
According to Wake County government statistics, a total of 164 new residents move to Raleigh per week. With the inevitable growth, it’s becoming increasingly clear that residents will have to come together in real life and agree, or compromise, on how that will work for everyone.
“As a staff, we’re interested in seeing what the answer to our original question was—what does a publicly built, open-source community look like?,” Hazard says. “Then, we hope to engage people from the NIMBY and YIMBY camps to see how those attitudes affect how a city is developed.”
While VAE has invited the public into the gallery for collaborative projects before—to write concerns on toilet paper flushed away for the new year in January of 2017, for example, or a month-long, publicly built, giant collage project four years ago—this will be the first community city built in the gallery. Part interactive art installation, part game, and part community conversation VAE encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to come out and participate.
To get in on the action, visit the Visual Art Exchange between November 2 and 24 at 309 West Martin Street.
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