“Enstranging” the City, Montreal
Under Construction/Working at the new Queens Museum
In November 2013, the Queens Museum opened to the public after a major renovation that doubled its size. The renovation coincided with the launch of an artist-in-residence studio program, and expanded community programs. The expansion makes a clear statement: the Queens Museum is a space open to alternative arrangements of life and work, which go beyond the scope of the typical art museum. As a research-artist, I worked with four museum workers during April and May 2014—a resident artist, a custodian, the director of development, and a curator—to share their experiences of the renovated museum as living/working space. The project is grounded in theories of environmental psychology that approach spaces as “settings” which can be supportive, or inhibiting, of various social interactions. My goal was to assist and bear witness to each participants life/work at the museum, and to better understand the spatial and labor relations that are behind the “socially engaged” art scene. The presentation of the project took the form of public participatory discussion at the Queens Museum, in the space where the old museum does not quite meet the new one.
The Renters’ Archive
In a nation of homeowners, where owning property is the still The Dream, New York stands out as a city of life-long renters. Founded in 2013, the archive’s mission is to gather and reflect upon varied experiences of renting homes in New York City. A New Lease for New York is one action of The Renters’ Archive. A lease is a legal contract that defines the roles of “Tenant” and “Landlord,” and anticipates, or limits, the relations between these two entities. The action provides a chance for renters to reflect upon and transform relationships with their spaces, our neighbors and our landlords. An artist acting as “notary,” types out a new lease for each renter in triplicate, according to his or her dictation. The participant receives 2 copies: one for him or herself, and the other to share with his or her current landlord, if so desired. Artist-Notary keeps one copy for The Renters’ Archive.
Developed in collaboration with architect and urbanist Carlos Medellin, the brief was to produce an urban researcher’s guide to Moscow. The text is pocket-sized, and 69 pages long. Based on psychogeographical research conducted between October 2011 and August 2012, this project calls upon the researcher to actively engage his or her sensory experience–through walking, telling stories, making maps, searching out encounters with strangers or getting lost–as an important methodology for producing knowledge about the city of Moscow.
City of Islands within Islands
is a commissioned project developed in Moscow during the eventful winter of 2011 to 2012. For the first time in 20 years, people took to the streets to demand change in the system of government. At the same time a plan was announced to double the size of the city, radically altering its physical plan and architectural landscape. In the midst of all this simmering upheaval, I went for walks around the city with its inhabitants. City of Islands within Islands is a document of residents’ experience of the psychic boundaries of their city, in the moment of their breaching. The project has two parts: a samizdat (Soviet style do-it-yourself pamphlet) & a map
is an ongoing collaborative project (with Moscow-based photographer and videographer, Maria Semenenko) about the history and fate of a particular community in the Northeastern district of Moscow. Poselok Severnny (or Northern Town) was founded at the end of World War II, as one of Moscow’s four main water treatment and resevoir settlements, which supplied fresh, clean water to the center of the city. In the post-Soviet era, Poselok Severnny, like many such Soviet settlements, is undergoing drastic changes as it becomes enveloped by the growing megapolis of Moscow. This video project documents the changing town, through the everyday experiences of its residents.
For the initiated visitor to the Russian city, access to the habits of citizens is at first as difficult as access to the Russian language. During 10 months in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, I discovered a language of everyday life in the cities’ most public and most intimate spaces. These mundane images, repeated over and over, form patterns. Domestic habits, sedimented over time, form the vernacular of the Russian city.
Sociological Party Marathon
Commissioned in response to the climate of DIY, or Delai Sam, urbanism that is rapidly gaining momentum in Russian cities. Sociological Party Marathons were organized in urban districts in which residents feared the loss of their homes to new regimes of luxury real estate development. 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.