Search graduate:

Mira Samonig

  • Urban Studies
  • MA
  • the matter of right-wing populism in Polish LGBT-free zones; towards a with-standing xenourbanism? // tender talks fly to pieces
  • Tutor: supervised by Kaija-Luisa Kurik and Sean Tyler, additionally advised by Keiti Kljavin and Maroš Krivý
  • master thesis // clay works
  • 21x27x1 // various dimension

Thesis Abstract

Almost a third of Poland had been declared an ‘LGBT-free zone’ in 2020, stigmatizing the LGBTIQP+ community as a threat to Polish identity; this labeling remains a reality for many Polish towns. In this thesis, I am turning towards the concept of the ‘LGBT-free zones’ as a case to investigate the material reality of right-wing populism. I seek to develop a third position to a historical or new materialist understanding in order to investigate such material reality. By that, the ways values find physical expression and thus possibly mobilize oppressive attitudes into ever new futures ahead are traced. It becomes quite evident that the way structures of oppression are advanced and maintained within the public realm exists quite dominantly in everyday narratives. In a bottom-up manner, right-wing populism is advanced on the street; yet, it is by far not perceived by everyone. This marks the entry point for sketching out a possible approach to how the discipline of urbanism could position itself in social struggles. Drawing on Helen Hester’s xenofeminism, the thesis introduces the concept of xenourbanism describing urbanism based on the conceptual notion of solidarity without sameness. I argue that the notion of xeno- as a prefix attached to urbanism focuses on an inherent transformational potential within the current, rendering a perceived unarming reality into a weapon of contestation and by that suggesting trajectories away from paralyzing no-alternative narratives. 

Clay Works

The work tender talks fly to pieces is an artistic research project accompanying the thesis the matter of right-wing populism in Polish LGBT-free zones; towards a with-standing xenourbanism? Alongside theorizing a possible xenourbanism that could offer trajectories away from paralyzing no-alternative narratives, the clay pieces resemble landscapes of negotiation.
Each piece has been reworked over different time spans, trying to come to terms with the smoothing out qualities of my hands and the cracking qualities of the clay. The resulting forms have been matched with a glaze made from stones, rocks, gravel, and wall pieces from Łódź, a Polish city currently declared an LGBT-free zone.

When xeno- in urbanism asks for solidarity without sameness, the clay asks my fingertips to not wanting to tame it. When xeno- in urbanism embraces an appropriation of existent struggles, then the material existence of the LGBT-free zones in Poland is not to be dismissed but to be repurposed.

5 x 5,5 x 3 / high fire clay, one time reworked / sprinkled with graffiti wall pieces
7 x 6,5 x 6,5 / high fire clay, three times reworked / matched with glaze from a wall-graffiti