Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

Art Speaking Solidarity

Expanding the pedagogies of solidarity, Nasreen Navab, the DC-based displaced Iranian artist, makes a case for the humanizing pedagogy of art and art making. She discusses transnational solidarities produced through the transnational artists movement. Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is an art and literary movement that holds public art and book exhibits in various quarters of the world in response to the U.S. destruction of Baghdad literary quarters in Iraq. The language of artwork brings together memories, voices, and struggles, and evokes an urgent need for transnational solidarities.
Reflecting on her memories and imprisonment during the Iranian Revolution, Navab suggests that the role of artists is to bring people together through music, drawings, posters, movies, and theaters, and to open up new connections, claim space, and form new communities. Referring to the reading of Palestinian poet Mourid Baraghouti’s poem “It’s Also Fine” in one U.S. exhibit, Navab relates how the poem reminded the audience about the Ferguson uprising and connected two places that were previously seen as separate. Through artmaking Navab encourages us to not only remember events in the past but also to project humane futures. Navab also warns that capitalism thrives in movement and flux, thrives through cyclical crises, and by always pushing people around from place to place. In fact, artmaking itself is implicated in making capitalism palatable, enjoyable, and enticing. But artmaking, Navab proposes, can be used to mark social life with each of our artistic inclinations and to develop ways to grow roots in a place in order to reproduce humanizing relationships across generations and geographies.

Reading Suggestions

Nahid Navab 2018. (2018). Retrieved 21 August 2018, from

Flying Words: Nahid & Nasrin Navab | Fenwick Gallery. (2017). Retrieved 21 August 2018, from

Barghouti, Mourid. (2009). IT’S ALSO FINE. Retrieved from

Sandercock, L., & Attili, G. (2010). Digital ethnography as planning praxis: An experiment with film as social research, community engagement and policy dialogue. Planning Theory & Practice11(1), 23-45.

Inam, A. (2010). Navigating ambiguity: Comedy improvisation as a tool for Urban design pedagogy and practice. Journal for Education in the Built Environment5(1), 7-26.

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