beautiful. a real vision of a future for all of us.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a new Archiving the City intervention, called “The Renters’ Archive” based on my experiences of renting apartments in Brooklyn over the past decade. This project was commissioned by The Laundromat Project, and developed in collaboration with The Laundromat Project’s Create Change Fellows.
THE RENTERS’ ARCHIVE: Bed Stuy edition
SATURDAY, SEPT 21
12:30 – 4:30 PM
Venue: For My Sweet Gallery
(1103 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11238–between Franklin & Classon)
C train or Shuttle to Franklin
RSVP & Info: TheRentersArchive@gmail.com
In a nation of homeowners, where owning property is the still The Dream, New York stands out as a city of life-long renters. The Renters’ Archive project provides a way to explore the experience of being a renter, by looking at the objects and habits and relationships and dreams that a person collects over the course of a renting life. On September 21, 2013, The Renters’ Archive will present the opportunity for residents of Bed-Stuy and surrounding neighborhoods to reflect upon their own experiences of being renters–a situation shared by approximately 80% of the neighborhood’s residents.
Please stop by and share your own experiences of renting (or landlording) by partaking in a series of artist-led workshops and performances.
IKEA Disobedients is a project of the Madrid-based firm, Andrés Jaque Architects/Office for Political Innovation. The project challenges the insidious notions of neat and nuclear urban domesticity promoted by the ubiquitous IKEA catalogue, by initiating a socially-engaged art/architecture project that explores the variety of complex domestic arrangements that form the (decidedly messier, non-condominumed) basis of our urban lives. The “architectural performance” was included in the recent MoMA exhibition “9+1 Ways of Being Political: 50 years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design.” According to the curators’ description of the work,
The performance takes place in a setting made of IKEA-hacked pieces and invites neighbors in Queens to reenact their politically-charged domestic activities. According to Jaque, the performance suggests disobedience to the lifestyles proposed by brands such as IKEA, proposing “an urban counter-notion of the domestic” instead—one that discloses how politically active citizens can and do act outside of the privacy of their homes.
Excerpt from a letter, from a daughter who had just recently seen the film, to her mother:
from Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky
As researchers, academics, para-academics, teachers and artists, we rarely have time to meet and share our experiences, talk shop and compare notes about what we are working on, especially the tricky projects that are not easily classified as one sort of activity. This is why I was motivated to organize this symposium with some of my favorite researchers, artists and geographers, next week in London.
A perfect visualization of the urban animal in her natural habitat. Kenzo Resort 2013
Archiving the City is coming to London!
From February 26 – 28, The University of Westminster School of Architecture and the Built Environment is hosting a conference called: Within the Limits of Scarcity: Rethinking Space, City and Practices.
The conference is organized as part of a new multi-university initiative called Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE), and is focused on bringing together thinkers from around the world to explore how conditions of scarcity in urban areas might prompt creative responses from designers, architects, planners and how “design-led actions” might improve the conditions of living in cities.
I will be presenting a paper on Wednesday, Feb 28, called “We must begin to build for ourselves a city in which we want to live.” Most of the Wednesday program focuses on design & urbanism in Eastern Europe during the socialist and post-socialist eras, and also features interesting papers from Christina E. Crawford, Michael Klein, Mejrema Zatric and Sante Simone.
During the winter and spring of 2011-12 residents of Moscow and Saint Petersburg went into the streets en masse for the first time in 20 years, demanding change in the regime of political and social inequality associated with the great imbalances of wealth in their country. As a response to the massive movements in the streets and on the Internet, the Russian government, in the form of the security forces and the parliament, began a brutal crackdown on all dissent. New laws criminalizing almost any public gathering as unauthorized political rallies and increasing the fines for participation in such gatherings 150-fold, along with parliamentary proposals to monitor and shut down internet service providers delivering ‘offensive’ content, are all intended to freeze movement and quell political unrest. However, there are unintended results of such inequitable uses of power: instead of freezing any specific movement, the entire field of action is activated. In such a tense, electrified field, one small action can precipitate lighting strikes in response.
It was into this newly electrified field that I arrived in October 2011, invited to Moscow and Saint Petersburg to collaborate with architects, sociologists, and activists committed to DIY methods for reclaiming urban development at the grassroots level. In Russia, as I soon discovered, discussion of urban development, architectural preservation and ‘community building’ are often the aesthetic surrogates for more dangerous political arguments. Wealth and political inequality are more than ever expressed in the ability to control these discussions. In fact, in a turn eerily reminiscent of life during the Soviet era, inequality in Russian cities is often evidenced by the (in)ability to simply go out of one’s home and gather together with fellow citizens.
In collaboration with a group of Moscow-based “urban hacktivists,” Partizaning.org, I developed a concept for working with the new momentum for grassroots-level change in both cities. Operating on the principle that change begins in small movements, with simple communion between strangers, I asked: Could people, barred from meeting outside, claim as public the intimate space of the home? Working in urban districts in which residents feared the loss of their homes to new regimes of luxury real estate development, I organized Sociological Party Marathons. Strangers from different parts of the city met at a predetermined point. Bringing food and drink, these strangers asked to enter the homes of local residents, to sit, have a party, and learn intimate aspects of their relationship with the area. What emerged among participants in these gatherings and subsequent workshops was a new understanding of how people perceive inequality between neighbors. The form of the party-marathon suggested both the fun and freedom of the carnival and the structured exhaustion and euphoria of an athletic race through a city. The concept demanded a great deal of trust between strangers, and courage to make public the most restricted spaces in Russian cities. As one participant who balked at the prospect of ringing a stranger’s doorbell remarked: “this boundary is the most important in a Russian’s life.”
How is so-called artistic research different than an ethnographic account by an anthropologist who employs visual research tools? Can art practice address urgent socio-political topics successfully?
He goes on to explain what he believes is the value of artistic research:
In contrast to any scientific model that aims to either explain, or interpret social or natural phenomena, the outcome of artistic research can be best measured by its ability to engage with seemingly unrelated matters, things and concepts, and in return with its ability to generate some forms of intelligible affects.
Topal also points out an important aspect of artistic research practice: the practical use of intuition.
When an artist enters into a social realm to conduct research, intuition allows her/him to generate in-situ knowledge, therefore a particularly practical intellectual opening. In this regard, in artistic research, more so than any other scientific exploration, intuition is utilized as a method to identify a wide range of modalities.
Check out the complete article here.