Get a preview of the exhibition
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Please join us on October 7, 8 & 16th at our residency at Creative Time’s Living As Form, “a vast collection of documentation of 100 socially engaged projects from the last twenty years and from locations around the globe.”
Our residency features a new iteration of our ongoing work on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), in collaboration with Temporary Services’ MARKET.
More on the Buscada SPURA project
More on MARKET
You may know SPURA as the parking lots along Delancey Street. More than forty years ago, the area was razed for “slum clearance” and few renewal projects have been so contested. Very few of the originally-planned buildings were ever built, and many people were once displaced from the site, some now live on it, and many people live in the blocks around it. Many different communities claim SPURA, and imagine different futures for it.
Our work builds on Gabrielle’s City Studio class at the New School, and considers the past, present and future of this contested site, collaborating with community organizations, and using a visual urbanist approach to create a series of annual exhibitions to create space for dialogue.
On October 7th, 8th and 16th, in residence at MARKET, we continue to present and explore the multiple stories of SPURA. Please join us, and students from four years of City Studio us to tell your own SPURA stories, to talk with others at our booth, and to discuss the future of the neighborhood.
We will also be hosting a walking tour, on October 8th at 2pm, in collaboration with Dutch artists Bik Van der Pol, to explore the layered nature of SPURA, the hidden and intersecting voices behind the often perplexing physical, political and personal landscape of SPURA.
Sign up for our walking tour
Friday, October 7, Saturday October 8, Sunday October 16th, 12-8pm
Special guided tour on the complexities of SPURA : October 8, 2pm
the historic Essex Street Market, SE corner of Essex & Delancey Streets
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Join us this weekend at the Visible Evidence conference! We’ll be speaking on August 13, at the day-long workshop at Hunter College : The City and the Expanded Documentary.
It will be a great day, and we’re looking forward to our panel, “The Urban Documentary, New Forms for New Cities” in which we’ll be talking about the new ways that our recent project, The Triangle Fire Open Archive, explores new ways to know the city and its history – through unconventional archives, visual urbanist approaches, and creative forms of participation. In particular, we’ll be talking about some of the newest objects and stories about the 1982 Chinatown garment workers strike (one of these, above) – and the way gathering these objects in the context of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire tells a complex story about the city.
We’re looking forward to a compelling conversation with chair Martin Lucas and our co-participants, Lise Gantheret and Samara Smith.
9:30 AM – 11:00 AM, August 13
WORKSHOP: “The Urban Documentary, New Forms for New Cities”
Hunter College, Dept. of Integrated Media Arts / 544 Hunter North Bldg / E 68th & Lexington Ave.
The urban documentary has taken new life formally and socially as concepts move away from origins in ‘single channel’ form to a broad variety of new lives in locative media contexts, including GPS triggered audio and video, web-based media from issue-based blogs, to games, to social mapping. Sometimes these are projects initiated by filmmakers, at other times, they are framed by architects, urban planners and organizers. What do these new practices look like? What is their justification? What happens to documentary notions on these new platforms where the boundaries between subject, maker and location shift? This workshop is designed as an introduction to some of these practices in a form useful both to makers and theorists.
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On March 25th, the 100th anniversary of the Triangle fire, we were honored to attend the centennial events on Washington Place – with the crowd filling the blocks from Washington Square Park all the way to Broadway. We were also excited to see objects from the Open Archive filling the jumbotron screen above the speakers on the platform. It was wild to see our good friend Amy Reddinger’s sign from the Madison, WI rallies (which she had contributed to the archive) beaming above the trees, while the inspiring Mary Bell from the Wisconsin Education Association Council was speaking. Finally, it was phenomenal to have stories and voices from the Open Archive featured on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show that morning.
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In late January, Buscada attended the first of a series of meetings hosted by MAPP International Productions to plan a new arts and community-engagement project about global interdependence, inspired by the interdependence movement championed by Benjamin Barber and others.
The meeting brought together a collection of artists, writers and performers to explore ideas of civic engagement and art practice.
We took this opportunity to ask the diverse group one deceptively simple question :
How do you get people to engage in dialogue?
This is the beginning of a new project in collaboration with MAPP International Productions to understand the processes and practices of engaging civic dialogue, art practice and pedagogy. This project is a continuation of our work begun with The America Project Teaching Method.
How do you answer this question for yourself? How do you encourage dialogue? We hope this is the start of a long and productive conversation.
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Most New Yorkers know SPURA, but often, unless they’re Lower East Siders, they don’t know that they do. Many have walked through the LES along Delancey Street, noticing the parking lots on the south side of the street near the Williamsburg Bridge. Or, they’ve walked down Norfolk to Grand Street, noting the unevenness of development and an odd sense of unfinished-ness they can’t put their finger on.
This is SPURA, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. It is more than six square blocks that 42 years ago were subject to highly contested “slum clearance” – resulting in the displacement of many people – and an unfinished “renewal,” with few planned buildings actually built.
These decades-old events have resulted in one of the largest and longest-standing undeveloped city-owned plots of land. SPURA is at the center of Lower East Side debates on affordable housing, debates which have sometimes been painful and highly race- and class-based. There are passionate communities involved in the question of SPURA, communities which for 42 years have been unable to reach productive dialogue and negotiation.
Each year for the past three, I have taught a class called City Studio which takes a visual urbanist approach to SPURA. I teach students creative ethnographic, visual, archival, and community-based methods to understand and represent SPURA’s contested urban space.
My classes research in archives and with community members, take part in community planning processes, and work in partnership with our community collaborators, GOLES, Place Matters and the Pratt Center for Community Development. Finally, each year’s class creates and curates an exhibition to help envision the site’s past, present and future(s), and try in one small way to spark, and create space for, productive and peaceful dialogue on the area.
This week was a big one for SPURA itself and for my class.
Today saw City Studio 2010’s final critique (one project, “Framing SPURA”, above) – and it was one that bodes very well for our exhibition which will open at common room 2 in February 2011. Images from all of the projects in the final critique are here, on flickr.
This week, SPURA itself has been in the spotlight. The question of SPURA has been under consideration by Community Board 3 for the past few months, in fascinating conversations, and some heated debates since October about the possibilities for affordable housing on the site. This Monday saw the debates grow more heated – but led a step closer toward agreement, and, importantly, to the potential for a larger stake for affordability on the site. The next few months will be crucial for SPURA – and what its development means for those displaced from the site, for those living in the neighborhood, and for the city at large.
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In the Fall of 2009 I embarked on an experiment with my colleague, landscape architect Elliott Maltby : co-teaching a hybrid design and social science studio on public space at Parsons the New School for Design. I reflected on the interdisciplinary process of developing our “Public Space Critical Studio + Practice-based Seminar” on this blog few months ago, here.
Once the class was over, Elliott and I did some deeper reflecting, and wrote an article on our experience of developing and teaching “hybrid ways of doing.” I am pleased to announce that this article, valuable for anyone thinking about interdisciplinary collaboration and teaching, is now available in the most recent edition of the International Journal for Architectural Research. “Hybrid ways of doing: A model for teaching public space” by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani and Elliott Maltby is downloadable here and from the project as featured on Buscada.
We welcome your experiences with this kind of teaching and thinking.
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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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Gabrielle (principal of Buscada) is co-founder of Urban Encounters, a project on the dialogue and practice of visual urbanism. The Urban Encounters conference is now in its 3rd year. This year’s event takes place May 29, 2010 at Tate Britain.
Buscada collaborates with Urban Encounters to curate, participate, organize and publicize the event through multiple media.
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Urban Encounters: Routes and Transitions
29 May, 2010, 10am – 7pm (with reception)
Tickets: £25 (£15 concessions) Please visit Tate Ticketing.
Download the Routes and Transitions poster
Urban Encounters: Routes and Transitions explores the dialogue and practice of visual urbanism to bring together international researchers, academics, photographers and artists concerned with the transitional nature of contemporary urban space. It will be of particular relevance to those engaged with urban image-making, analysis and research. This third annual conference will address how photographic practices and archives intersect with an understanding of local and global routes as “places”, considering the temporality of place and the cross-cultural juxtaposition of locales.
This conference approaches the city as a palimpsest of routes and its panels will consider local, global and remembered routes through film, photography and other visual urbanisms. Considering the cultural geographies of migration, change, place, identity and the process of making transitions, the conference will facilitate an on-going interdisciplinary dialogue about the growing field of urban visual practice, method and enquiry.
This symposium is the center of the Urban Encounters Festival, which takes place in several UK-based and international locations this spring, including the London-based galleries Photofusion and Viewfinder, and at the events Urban Encounters: City to Sea at Bognor Regis, UK and Urban Encounters at the Festival of the Image, Manizales, Colombia.
Yazan Khalili, Goldsmiths, University of London
Nirmal Puwar, Goldsmiths, University of London
Kuldip Powar, independent filmmaker
Suki Ali, London School of Economics
Manuel Vazquez, Independent photographer
Michael McMillan, independent curator
Joseph Heathcott, The New School
Lasse Johansson, Fugitive Images
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One of the most inspiring things I did in the past few months was to take a trip with my friend and colleague Amy Reddinger to visit Elizabeth Ahn Toupin in Somerville, Massachusetts. An English and Women’s Studies professor, Amy has been writing (in part here and here) about how the complexities of Hawaiian statehood and identity are evidenced in postwar Hawaiian cookbooks. These are cookbooks that differed greatly depending on whether they were written on the mainland and exoticized the island, or written on the island, and hinted at deeper issues of identity and politics. Of course, these books were sometimes written for, and received in distinct ways by, different audiences. Amy’s work considers how these cookbooks engage the “intersection between American nationalism, colonialism and the domestic realm” and her work makes visible what she calls the “complex discourse on race, national identity and Hawaiian statehood that emerges in the post World War II discourse of domesticity.”
In particular, Amy has noticed that some of the prominent Hawaiian cookbook writers were also active in the statehood movement, and so, has been investigating this connection further. It was one of these investigations that brought her to visit the aforementioned Elizabeth Toupin, an eloquent and fascinating woman who has written many cookbooks, as well as being a Dean at Tufts and a social researcher, among many other things. Our afternoon at Toupin’s home in Somerville was one of delicious food, heady conversation, and the exploration of many well-thumbed and annotated books. It was also exciting for me to cross a multitude of disciplinary lines to work with Amy and to get to know Liz. In my role of photographer and ethnographer, it was a privilege to be there and I look forward to the rich work of Amy’s that I feel sure will emerge from those conversations.
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