CITY INC. Bata cities - Corporate Towns // Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau Exhibition 2011
The Exhibition “City Inc.” observes the outcome of a city utopia of the early 20th century. Inspired by fordistic theories, garden city principles and socialist ideals, the Czech shoe company Bata went on its mission to „shoe the world“. First experimented in Zlin, in Czech republic, the production of a company town as an easy to adapt and easy to export model, based on the modernists architectural precepts, found its conceptual principle in combining several components: production, architecture, urban planning, social welfare and communication. Encouraged by the geopolitical context of colonization and growing international trade and labour division, Bata cities, as places of production and places for modern life, were mass produced and mass transported around the world: finally the Bata empire formed a corporate network of 80 cities of production.
The exhibition introduces two examples of Bata`s corporate towns, Batanagar (India) and East Tilbury (England), places which illustrates opposite directions depending on the remaining presence or final absence of the Bata production in the city. However, looking at the past through a preservation politics or moving forward to a new future, both cities still share the same corporate identity. The show allows not only an insight into the local complexities and contradictions of the lived space of the two Bata cities and their transitions over time but reflects the uncertain futures of these two company towns in a broader context: in relation to the urban footprints of contemporary global companies.