Invisible Borders: Mapping Social Boundaries and Spatial Practices in Moscow


Cities like Istanbul, Jerusalem, Berlin, San Isidro are known for their internal borders that divide peoples, states, economies. These are cities on the edge, visible intersections between worlds; however, all cities are border cities in that spatial divisions are produced through urban planning, city management, and cultural production.

This workshop foregrounded the less visible nodes and edges within the city of Moscow. We examined the social divisions that official administrative maps and infrastructure enforce while identifying opportunities to create intersections, the formal and informal conditions that foster access and intersection in the city. To do this, we interfaced city data with location-based social research to examine the relationship of official boundaries with those that are the product of social practice. We analysed the manifestations of invisible borders that exist in the city, document how they function, and consider interventions to activate, make them visible or remain hidden intentionally.

Some outcomes of the project were presented in the form of maps and a catalogue of types of socially significant borders and layers in Moscow.

For further details and to follow our journey across invisible borders, visit the workshop website:

Workshop organizers:

Nitin Sawhney – Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the New School, with a PhD from the MIT Media Lab. Nitin’s research, teaching and creative practice engages the critical role of technology, civic media, and artistic interventions in contested spaces. He examines social movements and crisis contexts, though forms of creative urban tactics, participatory research, performance and documentary film.

Christo de Klerk – graduate of MA Media Studies program at The New School. Christo is a design researcher with Project Borders, an app and exhibition that compares the invisible borders we cross every day in the city to the experience of crossing international borders.

Shriya Malhotra – graduate of MA program in in Cities and Urbanization at The New School, Shriya is an urban researcher and artist with Partizaning in Moscow. She uses participatory arts like games and cartography to engage people and create better cities.

Katya Levitskaya – current graduate student at MS Design and Urban Ecologies at Parsons the New School for Design. Born in Moscow, Russia; graduated from Moscow State University of International Relations with specialization in Public Relations. Interested in cities as complex systems of social dynamics, in a problem of communication and education in a local urban context of her hometown; grasping the ecology of living in the urban environment.