My City's Still Breathing

Art in Discounted Spaces

Looking at areas which are overlooked, forgotten or just plain ignored.

A city is only as engaged as its inhabitants and its inhabitants’ engagement depends upon the manner in which public/private space is managed, how public transport is delivered and perceived, where people walk and don’t walk, and the spaces which are designated as ‘special’, ‘functional’ or ‘non-space’. A city is the sum of its parts, and these include the psychological spaces/constructions that give it its ‘feel’: aspirations, failures, subversions, pride, shame…these join up like so many back alleys to create an urban, call and response soul-map. In Winnipeg, a city boasting the world’s worst urban sprawl, imaginative urban planning has not and still isn’t a priority and this throws up a number of interesting inroads for artists to intervene in public, corporate, and dead space.  Artists are by no means expected to adhere to a Good Samaritan ethos, whereby if they see a space that could benefit from their attention they should act accordingly. But art is a means of examining why a space has been overlooked, forgotten or just plain ignored, and this will have social, political, and ethical implications. Why don’t more Aboriginal people live in Wolseley? Why are there BIZ faux police forces? Why do the posters stapled onto WAC public bulletin boards get taken down before the advertised event (usually art or music related) has taken place? This panel hopes to address the physical and psychical reasons why places become, seek to be, or are dismissed as ‘discounted’ and the opportunities this gives to art.

hannah_g
hannah_g

hannah_g

hannah_g Artist
Winnipeg, MB
Art in Discounted Spaces Moderator Biography
Abstract

hannah_g

hannah_g is a multi-disciplary artist and cultural worker based in Winnipeg.  She uses storytelling, poster-making, stickering, chalking, soundscapes, and writing to draw attention to everyday enchantment and issues of social justice.  She is currently the Program Coordinator of the artist-run centre, aceartinc.

A city is only as engaged as its inhabitants and its inhabitants’ engagement depends upon the manner in which public/private space is managed, how public transport is delivered and perceived, where people walk and don’t walk, and the spaces which are designated as ‘special’, ‘functional’ or ‘non-space’. A city is the sum of its parts, and these include the psychological spaces/constructions that give it its ‘feel’: aspirations, failures, subversions, pride, shame…these join up like so many back alleys to create an urban, call and response soul-map. In Winnipeg, a city boasting the world’s worst urban sprawl, imaginative urban planning has not and still isn’t a priority and this throws up a number of interesting inroads for artists to intervene in public, corporate, and dead space.  Artists are by no means expected to adhere to a Good Samaritan ethos, whereby if they see a space that could benefit from their attention they should act accordingly. But art is a means of examining why a space has been overlooked, forgotten or just plain ignored, and this will have social, political, and ethical implications. Why don’t more Aboriginal people live in Wolseley? Why are there BIZ faux police forces? Why do the posters stapled onto WAC public bulletin boards get taken down before the advertised event (usually art or music related) has taken place? This panel hopes to address the physical and psychical reasons why places become, seek to be, or are dismissed as ‘discounted’ and the opportunities this gives to art.

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9.3 mB

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9:52

Nils Norman presents at My City's Still Breathing

Photo by Leif Norman

Nils Norman Artist
London, UK
From bomb site to boutique: the playground and its journey from anarchy to economic development tool Biography
Abstract

Nils Norman

Nils Norman works across the disciplines of public art, architecture and urban planning. His projects challenge notions of the function of public art and the efficacy of much urban planning and large-scale regeneration. His work is informed by local politics and ideas on alternative economic and ecological systems, merging utopian alternatives with current urban design to create a humorous critique of the discrete histories and functions of public art and urban planning. He exhibits and generates projects and collaborations in museums and galleries internationally. He has completed a major public art project – a pedestrian bridge and landscaping project for the City of Roskilde, Denmark, participated in various Biennials worldwide and has developed commissions for the Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; London Underground, UK; Tate Modern, UK; Loughborough University, UK; Creative Time, NYC and the Centre d' Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland. At the moment he is developing two small-scale urban farming parks in the Hague, the Netherlands, that test and question the limitations and potentialities of Permaculture as a possible city-wide alternative design strategy for urban centres.

He is the author of three publications: Thurrock 2015, a comic commissioned by the General Public Agency, London, UK, 2004; An Architecture of Play: A Survey of London’s Adventure Playgrounds, Four Corners, London, UK, 2004; and The Contemporary Picturesque, Book Works, London, UK, 2000

From bomb site to boutique: the playground and its journey from anarchy to economic development tool

Nils Norman will talk about his ongoing research into Adventure Playgrounds and some of the more unusual and interesting playscapes found across Europe, Japan and the US that he has visited and photographed. He will explore the history and ideas of the adventure playground movement in Europe and Japan and how certain playspaces, like adventure playgrounds and the playgrounds of the Dutch city planner Aldo van Eyke can be seen as potential alternative models for urban planning and the production of public space. He will touch upon a brief moment in the 1950s when artists and architects were involved in innovative playground design and why this quickly fell out of fashion as fear of litigation and health and safety stifled creative collaborations. Making way for the "fixed play" risk-free playscapes of contemporary urban centres.

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17.9 mB

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19:29

Lee Rodney

Lee Rodney Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, University of Windsor
Windsor, Canada
Art and the Post-Urban Condition Biography
Abstract

Lee Rodney

Lee Rodney is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Windsor. She has written on contemporary art, cultural theory and visual culture in a range of books and journals. Her current research investigates the fragmented cultural geography of border regions in North America. Collaborative projects include the Visible City Project and the Border Bookmobile.

Art and the Post-Urban Condition

In the last few years Detroit has been garnering attention from mainstream media as the poster child for the recession. It is difficult to say exactly what forces have converged to bring this city into the spotlight once again after years of disavowal and neglect, or to draw any conclusions about whether Detroit could ever be subject to a full cycle of gentrification.  What is certain, however, is that that many artists, designers and architects are no longer just interested in depicting Detroit as subject matter,  (meditation on late capitalism or modernity as failed utopia), but rather as a challenging and complex urban experiment, one that attempts to chart a different course than the repeat cycles of business development and demolition that have plagued Detroit since the early 20th century.  This phenomenon is not new: there is an important legacy of urban research that has been building over forty years. The work of architects Steven Vogel and Kyong Park, artist Tyree Guyton, and the radical geographer Bill Bunge have in their various ways been keen participant-observers of Detroit’s strange urban condition. But it now seems that there is a critical mass of interest in Detroit (both from within and outside), and much of the recent activity has taken root in the form of artist/architectural collectives.

Detroit’s Canadian sister city, Windsor, has suffered from some of the same economic woes that have befallen Detroit.  Both cities share a post urban condition that is symptomatic of the auto industry. As a region it is among the largest international urban areas in North America: sprawling, industrial and low density. Recent border politics are slowly dividing this region as it becomes more difficult to cross. However, these challenges have created opportunities for artists to engage, examine and make visible the political and economic forces that have shaped these cities.

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18.6 mB

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20:32

Michael Van Rooy

Michael Neelak Van Rooy Author, Winnipeg Cultural Capital of Canada Arts Ambassador (Literary)
Winnipeg, MB
Crime Fiction as a Tarnished Mirror . . . Biography
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Michael Neelak Van Rooy

Michael Neelak Van Rooy is an author, administrator, and teacher. He has written three books in the critically acclaimed Monty Haaviko thriller series set in Winnipeg beginning with An Ordinary Decent Criminal (2005) published by Turnstone Press. In 2006 it won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book by a Manitoba Author. It is published in Germany by Verlagsgruppe Lubbe as Ein gewohnlicher Verbrecher and is being released in the United States through Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books in August of 2010. A film version is in pre-production with Winnipeg’s Far Point Films and Big Mind Productions.

 

The second book in the series, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Criminal, was published in Canada in 2008 and is due out in the U.S. in 2011. The third in the series, A Criminal to Remember, will be out by the end of June 2010.

 

In 2009 Michael received the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. He has been shortlisted for both the Margaret Lawrence for Fiction and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.

 

Michael’s short fiction and articles have appeared in The Toban, Swerve, The Minstrel, and Prairie Fire. He has written and performed material for CBC radio’s Definitely Not the Operaand wrote a segment of the Ginger’s Walk play at the 2009 Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

 

Professionally Michael is the Program Coordinator for the Writers’ Collective for Professional and Developing Writers, a mentor for the Arts and Cultural Industries Fiction program, the Publicist for the THIN AIR Winnipeg International Writers Festival and the Administrator for the Canadian Mennonite University School of Writing. He is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of Prairie Fire Press.

 

Michael Van Rooy passed away in January 2011.

Crime Fiction as a Tarnished Mirror . . .

In truth crime is inherent in human cities and in our civilizations, it is integral. Crime creates/alters/distorts our common spaces in a dozen ways we recognize and in many ways we do not.

In the real world graffiti can be an organization delineating its sphere of influence. Broken needles, empty baggies, are the tracks and trails of the addict and the dealer. The sex trade worker is a signpost to a certain type of space.

The unpleasant truth is that crime serves a social need. There would be no prostitution, no bootlegging, no drug dealing, no money-laundering, no illegal weapons sales and so on, ad infinitum, without a market. That market is provided, in the end, by normal, law-abiding citizens looking for something that is cheaper or impossible to find anywhere else.

Crime is, however, very frightening to the normal, law-abiding person. And the space where crime dwells is both frightening and attractive - it arouses curiosity and righteous indignation both. The writer of fiction can best describe these spaces. The writer can make them real and accessible and bring the average citizen into the world in a safe and vicarious way.

In that way the role of the writer is to give voice to the ghosts that inhabit the cities; the forgotten and misunderstood atrocities that blend with fiction until the lines between truth and lies vanishes.

Historically the crime writer colours the truth, shades it, and goes on to influence it. Imagine Jack the Ripper’s London without Sir Arthur Conan Doyle painting the city for us first. Imagine Los Angeles without the poetry of Raymond Chandler. Imagine New Orleans without the brutal honesty of James Lee Burke.

There is a place where art and crime meet and that is in crime fiction. It exists because the space where crime dwells is both frightening and attractive to citizens at the same time. In the best case the writer of crime fiction provides a tarnished mirror for society but a mirror none the less, as true as any other.
 
AUDIO pending
 
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15 mB