The First World Congress of the Missing Things

June 2014 | Lexington Market | Baltimore | Maryland | US

Conceived by Barbara Holub (transparadiso) realized together with Marie-Christin Rissinger and Elisabeth Stephan, (students at Social Design, University of Applied Arts, Vienna) Local Collaborators Priya Bhayana (BROMO Arts District) Michael Benevento (Current Space) Staycie Francisco (Maryland Transit Administration, MTA) Kate Ewald, Liam Flynn & Jessica Beil (Open Plough) Nick Petr (Alternative Press Center Library) Performance at the closing ceremony Simone Klien Additional project contributions (Baltimore) Pablo Machiolis, Andy Shenker, Jude Lombardi Additional project contributions (Vienna) Marit Wolters, Lucia Hofer, Nika Kupyrova (students at TransArts, University of Applied Arts Vienna; CI and concept for the opening ceremony)

The 1st World Congress of the Missing Things is a public art project that turned the passage way Lexington Market Station into a public space for conversations and negotiations. The 1st World Congress of the Missing Things utilized a particular non-hierarchical spatial setup that encouraged public conversations with various agents and inhabitants. The implemented table installation allowed for one-to-one conversations by appropriating space as a flexible urban tool. This project took on the form of a Congress that shifted the usual format with its division between a panel and an audience from exclusion to inclusion.


The citizens of Baltimore were invited to present there issues. In this Congress, one-to-one communication was enhanced, and topics were presented simultaneously. Furthermore, no differentiation between “experts” and “audience” existed. Everybody, particularly the underrepresented (i.e. those who usually don’t have a public voice – and by no means have access to participating in a Congress) were encouraged to submit and publicly present their issues of Missing Things, partaking in decision-making as a self-initiated process of political engagement. The outset of the Congress was - on the one side - to return the responsibility to the inhabitants and take action and position their visions to the public, to politicians and to decision-makers. At the same time the authorities and decision-makers were equally invited – in order to bring together the diverse interests of the respective backgrounds of people.


Baltimore is a shrinking city (from originally 1.000.000 inhabitants to currently 600.000). "Baltimore shares some characteristics familiar in other post-industrial European cities: shrinking size and population, mixed ethnic population, social disintegration, an economic background of de-industrialization, efforts to reduce crime, and a vibrant cultural scene" (quote from the call). The City of Baltimore and the BROMO Arts district aim at reactivating the neglected area around Howard Street and Lexington Market by employing an art project engaging in urban issues. This area used to be the center of a lively downtown area. The aim was also to stretch beyond the BROMO Art District and engage people from other areas of Baltimore in order to address the difficult and complex situation of Baltimore as a shrinking city with the inherent challenges involved.


Text | "One Perspective" by Marie-Christin Rissinger

The First World Congress of the Missing
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 72.9 KB

“The First World Congress of the Missing Things” was initiated by Anton Flakes and is part of TRANSIT, an initiative of the Washington, DC cluster of the European Union National Institutes for Culture and the Baltimore Office of Promotions & the Arts, and supported by a grant from the European Union.

The European culture institutes involved are: Austrian Cultural Forum, British Council, Goethe-Institut and the Embassy of Spain.

The project is also supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US. Additional support for the Congress is provided by the Maryland Transit Administration.