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Artist Brian Zegeer from Museum of the Mother Colony, has organize two events today at The Flock House occupation in Battery Park:

First at 6pm is a tour of Little Syria by Joe Svehlak, highlighting the first Syrian neighborhood in Manhattan.

Then at 8pm is a talk by Todd Fine about Ameen Rihani’s Book of Khalid, the first Arab-American novel.

Location: Battery Park, State Street and Pearl, mere steps away from the Staten Island Ferry (R to Whitehall) Map: http://goo.gl/maps/UZWZ

Follow vizkult on twitter: @vizkult_org

“The crisis of urbanism is worsening. The construction of neighborhoods, old and new, is obviously at variance with established modes of behavior, and all the more so with the new ways of life we seek. As a result, we are surrounded by a dull and sterile environment.

“In old neighborhoods, the streets have degenerated into highways, and the leisure is commercialized and adulterated by tourism. Social relations there become impossible. Newly built neighborhoods have only two themes, which govern everything: traffic circulation and household comfort. They are the meager expressions of bourgeois happiness and lack any concern for play” – Constant Nieuwenhuis, International situationiste 3 (December 1959) pp. 37-40

RE-INSCRIBING THE CITY:

Unitary Urbanism today.

A vizKult panel discussion held In conjunction with The 5th Annual NYC Anarchist Book Fair

Saturday April 9th 4:15-5:45pm

Judson Memorial Church (balcony)
55 Washington Square South
New York City, NY

In the late 50s up until about the end of the 60s a group of artist known as the Lettrist/Situationist International (LI/SI) made a desperate attempt to re-inscribe the city so that it’s inhabitants could break free from the bleak urban routine of work and consumption. During this period several strategies were developed under the name of Unitary Urbanism. This panel reflects on the historical importance of these strategies in order to critically examine how they relate to their own work and the possible uses within society today.

MODERATOR: Antonio Serna
PANELIST: Ethan Spiglan, Adeola Enigbokan, Dillon De Give, Blake Morris, The Walk Study Group, and Wilfried Hou Je Bek (via skype)

 

BIOGRAPHIES

Ethan Spigland received an M.F.A. from the Graduate Film Program at New York University, and a maitrise from the University of Paris VIII under the supervision of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze. He has made numerous films and media works including: Luminosity Porosity, based on the work of architect Steven Holl, Elevator Moods, featured in the Sundance Film Festival, and The Strange Case of Balthazar Hyppolite, which won the Gold Medal in the Student Academy Awards.

Adeola Enigbokan. Artist, researcher, writer and teacher based in New York City. Her work is about the experience of living in cities today. Her work has been presented in several diverse venues: at the ConfluxCity Festival, Anthology Film Archive in New York, The Royal Institute for British Architects, London and the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem. She teaches courses in Urban Studies, Media Studies, Sociology and Anthropology at several universities in New York City. Currently she is completing a doctorate in Environmental Psychology at the City University of New York. Website: http://archivingthecity.com

Dillon de Give started Lah an annual walking project that commemorates the spirit of Hal, a coyote who appeared in Central Park in 2006 and died shortly after being captured by authorities. Lah illustrates how a coyote might find its way into Manhattan with a reverse human journey out of the city: a hike retracing a potential coyote-like path through greenspaces. Citing examples of juvenile coyotes that have made long dispersal trips, the walk averages around 50-60 miles. Website: implausibot.com

Blake Morris uses walking as a core way to engage ideas and space, and also to create community. His last project was a yearlong exploration of the public works of Robert Moses, called The [Robert Moses] Walk Project, which resulted in over 50 walks throughout the NYC area. He also created the [untitled] Walk Project, and is working on Walking up an Appetite, an exploration of walking, food and technology. Currently his work can be seen at the Superfront gallery in LA, as part of Detroit: A Brooklyn Case Study.

The Walk Study Group is New York City walking group formed by Blake Morris and Dillon De Give. Each week case studies of strategic walking practice and theory in art, politics, ecology, and philosophy, are combined with specific short walks. The course will result in an understanding both theoretical and practical and culminates with a group walk constructed by the class for the public. Website: http://www.implausibot.com/walkstudy

William Hou Je Bek Wilfried is a ‘culture hacker’ who develops generative psychogeography. Inspired by concepts of drift (dérive) from Romanticism and, later, the Situationists around Guy Debord, Wilfried uses algorithmic routes to explore a city in non-intuitive ways. Hou Je Bek organizes dérives, where people walk through a city by taking computer code as a guideline, using the body as a means to perform software. Website: http://cryptoforest.blogspot.com

Antonio Serna is an artist living and working in New York. With art as his tool, he is constantly comparing and contrasting the human construct of progress with the animal instinct of survival. The results of which have been exhibited in New York, Spain, Mexico, The Netherlands, and Texas. Antonio has also taught and lectured at Parsons School of Design, St. Johns University, and at Brooklyn College as a teaching fellow. Outside of his studio, Antonio Serna enjoys rummaging through the social anthropology of art and visual culture. Website: http://www.antonioserna.com

 

Optional Texts:

October issue 79: Guy Debord and the Internationale situationniste [PDF 7.8mb]
A Special Issue. Guest editor, Thomas F McDonough. Winter 1997
table of contents:
Rereading Debord, Rereading the Situationists – Thomas F. McDonough
Why Art Can’t Kill the Situationist International – T.J. Clark and Donald Nicholson-Smith
AsgerJorn’s Avant-Garde Archives – Claire Gilman
Angels of Purity – Vincent Kaufmann
Lefebvre on the Situationists: An Interview – Kristin Ross (1983)
Situationist Texts on Visual Culture and Urbanism: A Selection:
Guy Debord – One More Try If You Want to Be Situationists (The S.I. in and against Decomposition)
Guy Debord – Theses on the Cultural Revolution
Mich̬l Bernstein РIn Praise of Pinot-Gallizio
Constant Nieuwenhuis – Extracts from Letters to the Situationist International
Editorial Notes: Absence and Its Costumers
Editorial Notes: The Sense of Decay in Art
Constant Nieuwenhuis – A Different City for a Different Life
Editorial Notes: Critique of Urbanism
Editorial Notes: Once Again, on Decomposition
Raoul Vaneigem - Comments Against Urbanism
Editorial Notes: The Avant-Garde of Presence
Th̩o Frey РPerspectives for a Generation

In Conversation Raoul Vaneigem – Hans Ulrich Obrist, e-flux article 62, 2009 [PDF 1.1]

 


About vizKlut: This panel is part of vizKult, a loose band of artist and writers exploring the ‘cult of vision’. This group explores the ways in which the visual operates in our society and the mechanism which manufacture, shape, and control the world around us. In this sense VizKult’s emphasis is on the process rather than the products of our contemporary visual condition. http://www.vizkult.org

Additionally, in conjunction with the 5th Annual NYC Anarchist Book Fair, vizKult is presenting DISCRETE POWER, a group exhibition on display during the book fair weekend. Opening reception April 9th, from 6-8pm on the Judson Church balcony. For more info visit: http://www.vizkult.org/propositions/discretepower and http://www.anarchistbookfair.net

Chinatown Panopticon, April 5, 2010

Where did all the counterfeit Gucci sellers go? Where ever the panoticon can’t see, that’s where. Down the alleys and back behind the main streets. Passing by Chinatown NYC a couple of months back I saw this mobile observance tower, it’s hard to tell if anyone is really in there with the dark windows. It works magic in the area but doesn’t really stop the counterfeit dealers and buyers. I still see them doing business all the time to either Europeans on a tight American vacation or Americans  from outside of New York looking to look good on the cheap. It’s the cult of vision that has common folks like us breaking the law. What’s wrong with a little corporate image blood letting anyhow? The only thing they are losing is the control over who wears their brand.

Documentary of Quinta Monroy Project in Iquique, Chile from elementalchile on Vimeo.

This project by Elemental Architects (Chile) reminds me of Rural Studio/Samuel Mockbee (US) in that they involve the public in the design process. This project however goes a step further by adding the potential for expansion and further customization to be realized by the dweller after the design is complete.

Consumed,Repurpose-Driven Life – NYTimes.com
“America’s shopping infrastructure is vast and abundant. That’s the problem.”

The above is an article in the New York Times about the shopping mall crisis in the USA mentions the photography of Julia Christensen (above) which documents the conversions of big-box stores in the Big Box Reuse book and BigBoxReuse website and a new book with research on the phenomenon called “Retrofitting Suburbia,” by Ellen Dunham-Jones…

A similar book worth mentioning is Rem Koolhaas and his students’ work at Harvard called “The Harvard Guide to Shopping” …if you can get your hands on a copy. $112 and up on Amazon. [We happened to read the intro to Koolhass' "S, M, L, XL" in Vito Acconci's "Aesthetics of Information class" (Spring 08) and we also read a criticism of his books by Hal Foster in Siebren Versteeg's "Workshop in Design History" (Spring 08)]

In regards to re-purposing and mix-use space, here is a film by an artist friend of mine Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, which documents a special mix-use space in Holland.

Coexistence: “Since the year 2000 this Latin American migrants pentecostal church shares their worship space with a ping pong club in Amsterdam. Each weekend they transform the space.”

Finally, this is a great little guide book from architects Atelier Bow-Wow in Japan called “Made in Tokyo“… It’s an index of all the uniqueness of Tokyo’s architectural condition: very little space…

Laguna de San Gabriel, photo by Eloy Zarate and Benjamin Dominguez family
Laguna de San Gabriel, Los Angeles, California, May 16, 1965 opening day, by Eloy Zarate and Benjamin Dominguez family as appeared in this NPR article.

After reading and listening to a few accounts of new Hamas-made hole-in-the-wall that separates Gaza and Egypt, I couldn’t help but notice the many flexible uses of concrete in the area, depending on which story you read in the New York Times…

Here Steven Erlinger reports the brighter more optimistic uses…

Muhammad Mowab, 22, a student and barber, bought a cartload of cement for $5.40 a bag, compared with $81 now in Gaza, where Israel has banned importing cement except for specific humanitarian projects. “I’ve been waiting a year to get married, so I can build a house,” he said, then laughed. “Now there are no more excuses.” – “Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt”, By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, January 24, 2008

Next day, he sites the mournful uses…

And many Gazans simply wanted to buy fresh milk and feta cheese and fill canisters with diesel fuel, gasoline, motor oil and cooking oil. Some bought the cement needed to make concrete for sealing the graves of their loved ones, which they have had to try to protect with paving stones, metal and boards. “More Business Than Pleasure for Hurried Palestinians”, By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, January 25, 2008.

Later that same day, he sites the criminal uses for cement, this view not his own or from an interviewee, but a statement from Israel.

Hamas gunmen could be seen quietly taking delivery of hundreds of bags of cement. Israel has sharply restricted cement imports to Gaza, even for aid projects, because it says Hamas diverts the supply to build fortified tunnels and emplacements for use against any major Israeli military action. -“Tens of Thousands More From Gaza Enter Egypt Seeking Consumer Goods”, By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, January 25, 2008.

I began to wonder if Steven Erlanger was the only guy reporting from the Gaza?? A couple of days later, on January 28th, I heard a radio report on the BBC that was similar to his Steven Erlanger’s first report, it had an interview with a Palestinian, in the interview the Palestinian was excited about purchasing cement from Egypt to repair his home, again stating that it might attract a wife. (I couldn’t find the link to the story because the BBC’s website has the WORST search capabilities, but if you heard it too, email us the link)

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Image above, a more innocent use of concrete at the Laguna de San Gabriel cement playground in California, circa 1960. Even here, American’s have found a danger to this use…(read rest of that report on NPR “Residents Unite to Save Concrete Animal Park” by Jennifer Sharpe)

GVSHP merchandise

Things they come and go and boy have the times a’changed! So what’s left -besides our memories- if we don’t preserve today what will prove historical in the future?

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in New York is one organization that is on the mission to preserve historical landmarks in and around the village belt of the city. We blogged about them last year when we heard that one of the last turn-of-the-century horse-and-carriage buildings slash former studio of Frank Stella was set to be demolished. It’s seems like as an organization it has been growing stronger since then. Click here to get an idea of their recent highlights in preservations. Their site is full of useful information about the past, present, and future of the village area or Manhattan (although some of the information is sometimes a little bit hard to find).

Memories and souvenirs, is one way to remember the past, this year the GVSHP has put up a few interesting items just in time for the holidays. They are also selling $25 individual/$37 Dual or family memberships to the GVSHP, which gives you (according to GVSHP membership page):

  • Regular issues of GVSHP’s newsletter, The Anthemion
  • Free 6-month subscription to The Villager newspaper for you or a friend
  • Free access to GVSHP’s extensive research resources
  • Invitations to attend GVSHP’s many lectures, symposia, discussion series, and walking tours–many at a discounted rate
  • Give at the $100 level and above and you will receive a set of lovely Greenwich Village note cards
  • Give at the $500 level or above and you will receive an invitation to a special thank you event at a unique Village location

If you’re less interested in gifting membership there are also other more tangible items that you can purchase for the holiday season… More in the GVSHP merchandise page…