Architecture

TRANSlocacions : bringing SPURA to Barcelona

January 5th, 2015 by gabrielle | No Comments

In October, I had the pleasure of opening the TRANSlocacions conference hosted by Idensitat ID and Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona. My talk, on my ongoing Layered SPURA project, focused on the ways in which we can understand some of the complexities and controversies of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area by understanding the different ways that people have moved through this site of 40-year-old urban renewal and recent gentrification – as visitors, immigrants, tourists, and even conquerors.

In particular, I talked about the need to reframe students’ roles in a “community engagement” project such as this – to make sure that our collaborations with our community partners were in fact mutually determined and mutually beneficial, and to ensure that my students, most of whom have no personal connection to the area, are practicing a kind of productive, rather than consumptive, visiting when engaging with SPURA and its multiple communities.

It was a great pleasure to talk with colleagues from Barcelona afterward, and to hear that my concerns, and practices, resonated with their own. In particular, it was fascinating to hear how the painful histories of a small section of the Lower East Side could resonate so deeply with people working in collaboration with the residents of the Raval, a small neighborhood of Barcelona just behind the location of our conference at Arts Santa Monica. There, my colleagues noted, gentrification and displacement did not come from one large-scale redevelopment effort by private real estate, but rather, had been spurred by large-scale development by cultural and state institutions – museums and universities. This insight makes clear the great need for nuanced thinking about power, particularly in the heady, popular, and sometimes over-lauded relationship between universities and communities.

One colleague explained the challenges of the Raval, and more generally the pitfalls of non-critical collaborative relationships involving universities, by saying, “We call them the three tenors [the university, the museum, and the art center], because they’re so busy singing loudly, no one else can get a word in edgewise.”

 

 

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Layered SPURA : publication

July 29th, 2013 by gabrielle | No Comments

 

The RFP for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) site has gone out, the bids from developers are coming in, and it is possible that new things will happen at the SPURA site. My article “Layered SPURA : Spurring Conversations through Visual Urbanism” featured in Radical History Review asks some questions about  this process : What of the site’s history? What of the ongoing need for affordable housing? What of the need for thoughtful architecture in the building of all housing? Will these things be heeded in this process? How can thinking these through, and new ways of thinking about contested space, help inform the way we think about and plan for SPURA? “Layered SPURA” explores my four-year visual urbanist project on SPURA, a collaboration with students and community groups to use creative practice to ask complex questions and to reconsider the city.

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A new exhibition : Layered SPURA

January 21st, 2012 by buscada | 1 Comment

Layered SPURA : Spurring conversations through visual urbanism
On January 31, join us at the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design, for a new exhibition curated and designed by Buscada, and celebrating four years of our work on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area – and spurring conversation about what’s next for SPURA!

Opening events on January 31
Curator’s gallery talk w/ Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani : Jan 31, 6:30 p.m.
Opening reception to follow, 7-9 p.m.

Exhibition : January 23 – February 25, 2012
More information on the exhibition
More information on the Layered SPURA project

Where
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, The New School 66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, NYC

More than forty years ago, New York City took ownership of 14 square blocks on the Lower East Side for urban renewal and “slum clearance.” Its legacy is a row of parking lots on the south side of Delancey Street. Few renewal projects have been so contested, and very few of the originally-planned buildings were built. This is SPURA, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, one of the largest underdeveloped city-owned parcels of land.

The Layered SPURA / City Studio project, headed by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, explores this complex site using a hybrid approach of pedagogy, art and research, and involves long-term collaborations between Lower East Side community organizations and students in Bendiner-Viani’s City Studio, a part of the New School’s Urban Programs. This exhibition, a culmination of four years of student, faculty, and community collaboration, does not suggest solutions for a place beleaguered by top-down planning, but rather hopes to spur new conversations amongst people with different points of view about SPURA’s past, present and future.

The project has collaborated with many local community and art organizations including Good Old Lower East Side, Pratt Center for Community Development, Place Matters, common room, Buscada, Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Art Center and Creative Time.

Get a preview of the exhibition

Student artists involved in four years of the project include : Oscar Brett, Sarah Charles, Anastasia Ehrich, Jamie Florence, Savannah Foster, Zachary Fried, Matt Fujibayashi, Kara Gionfriddo, Joshua Guerra, Leijia Hanrahan, Anke Hendriks, Jaclyn Hersh, Vinh Hua,  Evan Iacoboni,  Candace Kiersky, Sohee Kim, Lila Knisely, John Lake, Sam Lewis, Rachael London, Hannah Lyons, Claudie Mabry, Stephanie Messer, Corey Mullee, Amy Nguyen, Katherine Priebe, David Privat-Gilman, Ian Pugh, Adam Schleimer, Kaushal Shrestha, Matthew Taylor, Gabriel Tennen, Samantha Washburn-Baroni, Brittney Williams, Emily Winkler-Morey, Alexander Wood and Hannah Zingre.

Support is provided by The Office of Civic Engagement and Social Justice at Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts, The Urban Design & Urban Studies Programs at The New School, and The New School for Public Engagement.



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Reflecting on Urban Encounters

November 1st, 2010 by gabrielle | No Comments

Our 2010 Urban Encounters festival at Tate Britain this past June was a great success, and I thought it worthwhile to reflect on our intentions for this year’s event.

This organization, co-founded by myself and Paul Halliday, and now a Buscada project as well, addresses the dialogue and practice of visual urbanism.

This year’s main event, Urban Encounters: Routes and Transitions at Tate Britain on 29 May 2010, was inspired by the multiple meanings of these words : routes and transitions. All of the talks will soon be available for download and listening on iTunes U through Tate Britain, but meanwhile, a short explanation of the intentions an interests behind this year’s main event.

We were particularly interested in both embodied local routes, as well as global flows and the individuals who experience both of these kinds of movements through space – as well as through time.

The other part of this theme – transitions – was been inspired by our interest in change – and its relationship to the city, as well as the city-dweller. What does a still (or even a moving yet finite) visual medium have to say about change? about the change of landscapes? the change or transitions or adaptations made by people themselves, traveling these global and local routes in the processes of migration and life otherwise? Are there traces that can be found, or new geographies made through the visual?

The panels addressed these routes and transitions through three major themes –

Global Routes: Personal & political addressed global routes / global flows of capital, colonialism and war, as they intersect with personal routes and connections through space and time.

Making Transitions: Practice & location considered the ways in which migrants and migrant stories inhabit, and create, locations – from front rooms to municipal buildings, housing developments or the space of radio waves. This panel asked how the process of “making space” is a part of the movement between nations and neighborhoods?

The Remembered Road: Archives & pasts explored the way in which archives from the official to the personal can be read, re-read, or reinterpreted, to find the traces of different kinds of migrant, and mobile, histories – and to understand cities’ multiple pasts.

There are some enormous questions here, and some thrilling answers and provocations were posed by our speakers’ work.

Yet, a mix of dialogue and practice is at the heart of Urban Encounters – we encourage dialogue amongst our panelists as well as with our audience. In building the field of visual urbanism and we hope that you will engage in a dialogue with us. I hope that those of you who were not able to join us at the event will listen to the podcast when it becomes available – and for those that were able to join us at this or past years, please get in touch to continue the dialogue here, via facebook, twitter, or email at info [at] urbanencounters.org.

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