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New York: Interrogation Series (Recommended by ACFNY)

  • Storefront for Art and Architecture 97 Kenmare Street New York, NY, 10012 United States (map)

Participants Include: 
Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Peter Mörtenböck, Helge Mooshammer, author and journalist Robert Neuwirth, urban anthropologist Vyjayanthi Rao, and artist and scholar Hakan Topal

Today, urban informality has become key to balancing the ecosystem of a globalized world. While part of everyday life for billions of people, official political engagement with informality is often contradictory, obscuring and repressive – from the World Bank’s warning of a “drag on growth” to informal trade being denounced as criminal and notorious by monopolist organizations.

The contributions to the two-volume publication Informal Market Worlds aim to challenge the hegemonic stance about informality as subordinate: In the Atlas, 72 accounts of informal market places worldwide map out the breadth of current economic transformation, from the absorptive function of post-conflict and border markets to the liberal aura of metropolitan hipster markets. Assembling seminal voices in the field of global and urban studies, from Keith Hart to Ananya Roy to Saskia Sassen and AbdouMaliq Simone amongst others, the Reader connects crucial analyses of the conceptual and historical trajectories of informality with a multiplicity of perspectives on the urgencies posed by today’s informal realities.

“Interrogation Series: Informal Public Demands” reflects on what Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman—together with Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, editors of Informal Market Worlds—have termed “informal public demands”, i.e. the changes in urban policies and planning practices required to engage with informality in a productive and fair manner. A series of questions to the editors and contributors will relate these demands to the ongoing physical transformation of New York and its embeddedness in global processes of informalisation, be in the realm of finance, urban development or social relations.

This event is organized on the occasion of the launch of Informal Market Worlds – The Architecture of Economic Pressure. Atlas & Reader, ed. Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman, Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer.

Name of the books:

Informal Market Worlds – Atlas

The Architecture of Economic Pressure


Informal Market Worlds – Reader

The Architecture of Economic Pressure


Peter Mörtenböck, Helge Mooshammer

Teddy Cruz, Fonna Forman

Informal markets arise on the fault lines inscribed by global alliances of money and power: wars and humanitarian crises, national and infrastructural borders, the worldwide trade in waste and the marginal spaces of urban transformation. They act as globalization’s safety valve while also providing livelihoods for millions of people trading in the streets of cities around the world.

These books track the powers, currents and actors driving informal trade. They document the growing influence informal economies are having on human co-existence on a planetary scale. Informal markets may have turned into key urban economic frontiers, but can they also produce positive social and political change?

Bringing into focus the contested spaces at the bottom of the world economy, the Informal Market Worlds Atlas presents 72 case studies of informal marketplaces around the world—from Kabul’s post-conflict Bush Bazaar to Casablanca’s counterfeit markets, from street vending in Bangkok’s “red zones” to cross-border trade between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and from the 7th Kilometre container market in Odessa to New York’s booming hipster markets. 

Exploring the conflicted realities of informal market worlds, the Informal Market Worlds Reader brings together texts on urban informality, global struggle and design activism by eminent scholars and practitioners, including Teddy Cruz, Alejandro Echeverri, Keith Hart, Ananya Roy, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennett, AbdouMaliq Simone, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jean-Philippe Vassal and many others. 


Peter Mörtenböck is Professor of Visual Culture at the Vienna University of Technology and visiting researcher at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he has initiated the Networked Cultures project (, a platform for global research on collaborative art and architecture practices. His current work explores the interaction of such practices with resource politics, global economies and urban transformation.

Helge Mooshammer is director of the international research projects Relational Architecture and Other Markets ( at the School of Architecture and Planning, Vienna University of Technology. He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research is concerned with changing forms of urban sociality arising from processes of transnationalization, capital movements, informal economies, and newly emerging regimes of governance.

Mörtenböck and Mooshammer have published numerous essays on contemporary art, bottom-up urbanism and collaborative forms of spatial production, including in Grey Room, Architectural Research Quarterly and Third Text. Venues where their research and curatorial work has been presented include the Whitechapel Gallery London, the Netherlands Architecture Institute Rotterdam, Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, Proekt Fabrika Moscow, Santral Istanbul, Ellen Gallery Montreal, and the Venice Architecture Biennale. Their recent books include Visual Cultures as Opportunity (2015), Occupy: Räume des Protests (2012), Space (Re) Solutions: Intervention and Research in Visual Culture (2011), and Networked Cultures: Parallel Architectures and the Politics of Space (2008).

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