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Model Citizens

Artist's talk

13/09/18 7:00 pm

  • This event has passed.

The model of Townhouse’s neighbourhood, Model Citizens, displayed in the exhibition What do you mean, here we are? was created by Wouter Osterholt and Elke Uitentius. They talk to Laura Carderera (V&A) about how their project with local people came about.

Model Citizens was an investigation into the urban fabric of a neighborhood in downtown Cairo. It was initiated by the artists during their time as artists in residence at Townhouse in 2008. At that time the area was in the midst of change, with businesses, institutions and individuals relocating to new developments on the outskirts of the city. Model Citizens proposed an alternative vision for the future of the neighborhood: one imagined by the community itself. The miniature model of the neighborhood was used as a tool for these conversations, to stimulate local residents to reflect on their daily surroundings and consider what they would like to change. The model was then adapted to reflect some of these changes.


Wouter Osterholt (1979) is based in Berlin. His work is site- and context specific and manifests itself along the faultlines and breaking points of our (political) landscape where social injustice, conflicts or problems come to light. He often uses the method of recontextualization of existing material, such as buildings, monuments, sculptures, rituals or archival material. Recent projects and exhibitions include: Buurtwacht, ’50 jaar Jezuïetenberg’, Bonbonniere, Netherlands. The Island of a Million Palm Trees, ‘The Nest 2017’, AlRiwaq Gallery, Bahrain,  Buurtwacht / De Vlucht, ‘Does Europe Exist v2.0’, ARTos, Greece. He was V&A off site artist in residence in 2017-18.

Elke Uitentuis (1977) is a visual artist based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. From 2005 till 2013 Elke was part of atist duo Osterholt/ Uitentuis. Together with her colleague Wouter Osterholt she realized politically engaged community art projects at, among others, the Townhouse gallery in Cairo, the MAK center in Los Angeles, the Istanbul biennale in Istanbul, IASKA in Perth, Capacete in Rio de Janeiro and SKOR in Amsterdam. Elke then got involved with the Amsterdam based refugee collective We Are Here. She founded Here to Support, an organization that strives for emancipation of undocumented migrants, setting up several educational and cultural projects that enable undocumented migrants to express and develop themselves. In 2016 Elke left Here to Support to focus solely on her artistic practice. She is currently working on a graphic novel about fleeing Europe, an investigative story about human trafficking, borders and identity.

Laura Carderera oversees the Victoria & Albert Museum’s (V&A) residency programme. Before joining the V&A, Laura worked as a Projects & Partnerships Manager at Delfina Foundation, where she developed thematic residencies for UK and international artists and curators around salient issues in contemporary art. Prior to moving to London in 2012, Laura set up a contemporary art production company in Istanbul and also worked at the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, where she oversaw their educational and public programmes for four years. Laura holds an MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University.


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