Stephen Kovats


How do you create a capital city in the wake of a new nation, which is still spinning from the aftermath of four decades of brutal conflict? Stephan asks this question in relation to South Sudan, the world’s newest country, which gained independence in 2011. In the case of a new state still working to define its own cultural and societal contours, the capital city takes on an even greater symbolic – as well as pivotal function.¬†Juba, is South Sudan’s nominal capital since the 1972, this dusty town, now finds itself in the eye of a storm of competing interests, speculation and hectic unbridled development – a chaotic city juggling ‘nation building’ against the sheer basics of urban survival. Within this chaos what are the infrastructures that we establish? Could Juba become the first Open Source City, representing a nation of open governance?

#OSJUBA is a project directed by Stephen, which proposes and actively is testing what it means to apply the methodologies of the international Open Source / FLOSS, free culture, accessible technologies and hacktivist communities in creating a vision for the new capital of South Sudan as a national ‘Open Systems’ framework .


Stephen Kovats is a cultural and media researcher with a background in architecture and urbanism, founding director of r0g – the Berlin agency for open systems, cultural hacktivism and critical transformation. He was artistic director of transmediale, Berlin’s festival for art and digital culture 2008 – 2011, co-director of the McLuhan in Europe 2011 Centennial Network, and the international programs curator at V2_Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. He came to Germany during its unification, spending most of his time exploring Eastern and Central Europe through which he initiated the ‘ostranenie’ media art forum at the Bauhaus Dessau. In doing so he developed a deep interest in open cultural and technological systems, working to apply these on the transformation of societal and urban landscapes. With the r0g_agency he looks to further the power of open systems through initiatives such #OSJUBA which seeks to harness the power of open source and cultural technologies in the establishment of the new state of South Sudan, or the CELLSKID youth, technology and bio arts initiative in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.





Date of publication

Mon 2 Sep 2013