Julio Velasco | Associated Researcher

Mobilities, Migrations, Reconfiguration of Spaces
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: juliovelasco  ( at )  hotmail.fr Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700 or 70707

Position : Chercheur Associé | Disciplines : Esthetics , Cultural Sciences |

CV File

DAAD scholarship in the programme Research Grants


Centre Marc Bloch de Berlin



Berlin, a city that creates artists. Practical function and symbolic function of a territory in contemporary art creation


This postdoctoral research on art districts in Berlin aims to analyse the causes and consequences of the existence of these forms of gathering for artistic creation and their evolution since the reunification of Germany. Indeed, these places of art have often been studied from the point of view of the modifications they produce in their neighbourhood (gentrification for example) and for the non-artistic populations, but they have been much rarely taken into account for their contributions and their consequences on the visual creation itself. The few works that take this into account justify these artistic territorial groupings mainly for practical reasons, which are often, as we shall see, questionable - such as the low price of real estate in a given area - ignoring the symbolic function of these gatherings and their influence on artistic productions.


To address these issues, a transdisciplinary inquiry that brings together analyses in art and art sciences, urban geography, sociology, art history and aesthetics seems necessary. We have already done a work of this kind in our doctoral thesis (PhD). The research that we present here takes its source in this work and is, at the same time, its continuation. This doctoral thesis in Art and Sciences of art, carried out at the University of Paris 1, under the direction of Mrs Olga Kisseleva, is titled "The artist as strategist, topography in visual creation in Paris at the beginning of the XXIst century" and is based on the comparative study of six contemporary art districts located in six cities and five different countries – among them Berlin and, specially, the Faubourg Saint-Denis in Paris, which is the central element of this work – and historical cases from the end of the Middle Ages to the first half of the twentieth century. The PhD is now finished and its defence took place on July 3, 2017 at the Sorbonne. It showed the great richness of the subject, notably by highlighting the dual practical and symbolic function of the territories of art, underlining the very complex relations that these two aspects maintain between themselves. This work also allowed us to develop a methodology for transdisciplinary work, in order to lay a solid foundation for the main hypotheses we present here.


Title of thesis

The artist as a strategist. Topography of contemporay art in Paris at the beginning of the 21st century

Summary of thesis

This work is about the question of art territories, but not for their repercussions on their neighbourhood, but for their contribution to the plastic creation itself. In the first part, the terms of the research are defined: the word "strategy"; the "art districts" according to their use; the "people of art". The second part presents, in addition to a historical synthesis, six territories of contemporary art: Faubourg Saint-Denis (Paris), which is the backbone of this work, Macarena (Bogota), San Telmo (Buenos Aires), Belleville (Paris), the Red Hook (New York) and the city of Berlin. The third part analyses the individual work of seven contemporary art personalities who lived in Faubourg Saint-Denis since 2000: Nathalie Heinich, Nicolas Bourriaud, Jean-Philippe Antoine, Thomas Hirschhorn, Esther Shalev-Gerz, Pierre Huyghe and Olga Kisseleva. The last part links this research with the work of its author. The conclusion highlights a series of hypotheses emerging from this study: places of art as an instrument of identification of the different groups working in art; the notion of "debate" as a form of strategy, with an internal level (who participates and in what capacity) and a global level (the role of art in society); artists considered not as a socio-professional category, but as "products" of every social group; art as a form of participation in a common territory more than as a self space.

Institution of thesis

Laboratoire d'Art et Sciences, Université de Paris 1- Panthéon Sorbonne


Olga Kisseleva

Berlin, ville créatrice d'artistes. Fonction pratique et fonction symbolique d'un territoire dans la création plastique contemporaine


- "L’image des artistes et des acteurs de l’art contemporain à travers leurs quartiers" in Art collaboratif et territoire, Editions de la Sorbonne, Paris 2018.

- L'artiste comme stratège. Topographie de l ’art contemporain à Paris au début du XXIe siècle. Thèse de doctorat en Art et Sciences de l'art, sous la direction d'Olga Kisseleva, soutenu en 2017 à l'université de Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne.

- "La « Double vie » ou Portrait de l’artiste"in Du travail collectif à l’œuvre, sous la dir. Olga Kisseleva, Nouvelles éditions Place, Paris 2017.

- "El ruido del agua" in Ecología desde el arte digital, sous la dir. Luis Germán Rodríguez Leal et Felipe César Londoño López,

Publication Fundación Telefonica, 2015. http://www.fundacion.telefonica.com.ve/publicaciones

- “Art, société et biodiversité”, in {plastik} n° 4, 2014. http://art-science.univ-paris1.fr//document.php?id=931

- "Art et « gentrification »", in Actes du colloque Tours 2012, Paris 2014. http://cths.fr/ed/edition.php?id=6814

- “Double Life”, Les presses du réel, Dijon, 2011.