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Hans Ulrich Obrist: The last time we met was with Rem Koolhaas in 2001, and we spoke about what could be called your “city projects.” What are you working on related to this subject at the moment?

Antonio Negri: I can start by saying that while discussing the concept of the multitude, Michael Hardt and I found ourselves facing the question of the city, which we brought up as part of the question of the territorialization of the multitude, the space in which the multitude deploys itself. To be honest, I think that while a number of problems started to clear up after we wrote Multitude, others remained in the shadow, like this fundamental question of space.

Antonio Negri:   (…) But today the city, and the metropolis in particular, have become directly productive. And what exactly does this production consist of? I would say that it consists of the movement of people—it is in the construction of urban cooperation, in the liberty and the imagination of people who define and provoke it. Look at Brazil. They say “But there is so much misery…” And of course, it’s true! But I would respond, “Then go look what is in that misery.” Because there is an incredible capacity for creation in that misery, in those favelas. Music, human connections, and, of course, at times, deadly connections as well. But there is an enormous creativity that produces new things, and that creativity does not come without negative aspects.

HUO: (…) It’s a question that art students ask themselves a lot, and it bothers young artists too: one asks oneself whether there is still a space for resistance.

AN: Today the elements around which we can create points of reference—even points of resistance to the market—are the ones built on the land of the common. Because the common basically signifies that which costs nothing, that which is necessary, that which is participatory, that which is productive, and that which is free! And I believe that there are new use values already present in our common, and that these values can be easily spotted. Just think of the metropolis, where ninety percent of what we do are common things that cost us nothing—or at least could cost nothing if we made the effort to make them so…

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“The beginning of my whole journey was night trains. It’s a slow way of travelling and now we are working with Tino [Seghal] and Olafur [Eliasson] on solar airplanes. They fly at a hundred miles an hour, so it would be a little bit like travelling on a night train. Travelling might get slower again, if it’s sustainable. All my shows have been conceived on night trains: the kitchen show, the hotel show, the Robert Walser museum, “Cloaca Maxima” in the drainage museum. I would take a night train and reflect on the conversations I’ve had with artists like Boetti or Fischli and Weiss and arrive in the next city. Somehow that night train rhythm was an idea factory”

“Amnesia: The unsettling feeling of walking through a square that once was important and bustling with life, now being forgotten and desolate. The physical structure of the city does not always correspond with the living collective urban memory. 

Urban Condition: “The Berlin Wall as architecture was for me the first spectacular revelation in architecture of how absence can be stronger than presence. For me, it is not necessarily connected to loss in a metaphysical sense, but more connected to an issue of efficiency, where I think that the great thing about Berlin is that it showed for me how (and this is my own campaign against architecture) entirely ‘missing’ urban presences or entirely erased architectural entities nevertheless generate what can be called an urban condition.” (Rem Koolhaas in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist)

Utilization: Significant for Berlin is how an apparent difficult situation is utilized and transformed into something positive and productive.  People creatively use scrap-material, occupy under-utilized spaces and tend to be collaborative”.