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.

* * * *