Her project Bread and Games, Plant and Play (2004) proposed an infrastructural intervention for the St George's housing estate area in Liverpool 1.

In Designs for the Real World (Generali Foundation, 2002), Azra Aksamija presented her studies of Arizona Market. This market grew through a process of self-organisation in post-war Bosnia, when no regulated state existed and this was the only way people could get their essential supplies. It is now the largest black market in the Balkans and it employs over 30,000 people in over 2200 businesses. As the market grew to this size, problems regarding crime, disease and safety increased and needed to be addressed. The government responded by developing a masterplan to turn it into a shopping centre. The masterplan left no room for self-organisation.

In Designs for the Real World, Azra exhibited video, photographic documentation, diagrams, maps and quotations to show the behaviour patterns that make up the market and to suggest interventions. Azra put forward a way of keeping the market that would allow for self-organisation. One intervention she suggested was a system of ‘provocateur poles’, which would offer an infrastructure for accessing water, electricity and so on while also encouraging the shops to cluster in these areas. This would then free up other areas for leisure activities and parking. The exhibition included a prototype of one of the ‘provocateur poles’.

Azra’s project for International 04 continued to look at ways in which formal and informal systems can work together in urban planning. Her project Bread and Games, Plant and Play (2004) proposed an infrastructural intervention for the St George’s housing estate area in Liverpool 1. This is a residential area on the edge of the city centre.

Bread and Games, Plant and Play (2004) was realised as a series of ‘navigator closets’, units of stacked plastic storage boxes (in Biennial logo colours). These closets were placed in various public spaces of the L1 area and were intended to provoke and initiate a process of self-organised and self-sustainable urban behaviour. The contents and uses of the boxes were decided with local residents. The boxes were meant to be taken, exchanged or stolen.

The project built on Azra’s idea of ’urban navigation‘, the guidance of self organised urban behaviour, developed through her studies of Arizona Market into a practical application. What happened was tracked and documented. Showing this in the context of an international exhibition guaranteed it attention.

An intervention such as Bread and Games, Plant and Play (2004) offered a refreshing way for community development teams and urban planners to work with an artist. Art has already become a very familiar feature within regeneration schemes but on the whole it comes along with a pressure to succeed. This project presented an opportunity for the local community which they could take or leave. It made no promises and set no expectations.

Bread and Games, Plant and Play, 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool



Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Neighbourhood Renewal Community Chests
The Austrian Cultural Forum, London
Liverpool 1 Partnership Group