With a view to tracing further representations of space in Mexico City my attention has been recently turning to the work of Paco Ignacio Taibo II (or PIT) in his transgressions of story-history, starting with the novel Sombra de la sombra (1986) published in English as The Shadow of the Shadow with Cinco Puntos Press (1991). The book is both an exploration of social criticism as well as a work of historical crime fiction. The story is set in 1922 in Mexico City blurring the realms of fiction and history and is based around the secret Plan de Mata Redonda, a conspiracy of army colonels, U.S. senators, and oil company magnates, with the aim to separate the oil-rich Gulf Coast of Mexico from the rest of the country and turn it into an American protectorate. Where better to explore the spatial practices of Mexico City deciphered through historical fiction and the symbols of this city’s lived representational spaces?
'slicetow, module 1', 2010 by mathilde nivet
image © zoe guilbert
Words by Staff @ Designboom
Cite de l'Architecture & Heritage in Paris, France, has organized an exhibition at Le Palais de Chaillot, entitled 'Paper Architecture' featuring designs by Ingrid Siliakus, Beatrice Coron, Stephanie Beck, Mathilde Nivet and Peter Callesen. The collection of work looks at iconic buildings and the creation of imaginary cities made of the thin sheets.
[reposted from artlog.com here]
Last week we asked you to submit questions for David van der Leer, the Guggenheim architecture and urban studies curator behind stillspotting nyc. The two-year project calls on architects, artists, and composers to create “stillspots” throughout the five boroughs, and this time around, legendary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has collaborated with architecture firm Snøhetta, the designers of the museum pavilion at the World Trade Center site. The current edition of stillspotting nyc runs September 15–18 and 22-25.
How does a museum step out of its iconic building for experimental, off-site urban studies projects? Isn’t stillness the antithesis of the city? And why include an improv comedy group? Read Van der Leer’s response Continue reading
CFP-edited book on Marxism and Urban Culture
Submissions are invited for an edited book on Marxism and Urban Culture that has received initial interest from an international publisher known for their strength in Marxian-themed series and titles.
While all abstracts using a Marxian framework to approach culture in urban contexts are welcome, it is anticipated that submissions will conform to one of two subtypes reflecting the division of the book into Continue reading
Delivering searing criticism on the psychosis of absolute power, Victor Serge’s fifth novel to be featured in my personal blog, For the Desk Drawer, is a masterly work. The Case of Comrade Tulayev was written in 1942 and is situated in the context of the Great Terror in Soviet Russia orchestrated by Joseph Stalin. In the sequence that constitutes the ‘defeat-in-victory’ trilogy (preceded by Midnight in the Century  and succeeded by The Long Dusk [1943-5]), the novel intersects in several subtle ways with Serge’s other books. The Case of Comrade Tulayev is a chronicle of the Moscow arrests and show trials in the 1930s that pulls in a myriad of characters as well as the overbearing appearance of ‘the Chief’, Stalin himself. It does so by offering at least two intersections to aspects present in Serge’s earlier novels. First, it offers a set of intersecting elements linked to specific characters that appear in the earlier books; second, it offers direct intersections on the theme of space and the state. How the spatial logistics of the state, how the modern state organises space, and how the state engenders social relations in space are thus a quintessential feature of The Case of Comrade Tulayev.
|[This just in from Beth Offenbacker at Virginia Tech]|
A progressive, generative, interdisciplinary exchange
SPIA initiates Ridenour Faculty Fellowship conference & research series.
A different conference format generating new approaches to the pressing problems of our time.
|Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs initiates a conference and research series promoting interdisciplinary discussion.
The purpose is to push through disciplinary limitations in understanding social phenomena and to suggest solutions to problems.
The first conference took place in April 2012 and focused on distressed cities.
|Our approach is twofold. First we advance a progressive, interdisciplinary exchange during each Ridenour Faculty Fellowship conference. Second, we build a research network between scholars, artists, and practitioners aimed at generating insights for practice and publications from research inspired by the conferences.|
Robert Beauregard, Columbia University, Talks About Depopulation and the Promise of Growth
John Provo, Virginia Tech, Talks About Development and Density
Margaret Cowell, Virginia Tech, Talks About Resilience
Derek Hyra, Virginia Tech, Talks About Displacement, Development and Extrapolation
Yang Zhang, Virginia Tech, Talks About Urban Planning Solutions and Culture
Visit our website to subscribe to updates,
including news about our forthcoming edited volume on Distressed Cities and also our next Ridenour conference in 2013.
[reblogged from El País; original post here]
The Madrid that may never be
The capital has been transformed by some major building projects in recent years
But budget cutbacks have since put the brakes on many other developers’ dreams
It’s past 6pm, but the security guard who comes out to meet this reporter has beads of sweat rolling down his sideburns.
“There’s nobody here but me, building work has been stopped,” he says, informatively. “There’s nothing to see.”
Behind him loom the Cuatro Torres – the four towers. They are behemoths nearly 250 meters tall that watch over the north entrance into Madrid, on the Castellana boulevard. Between them and the security guard’s sauna-like cabin, there is a colossal hole in the ground. These 33,000 square meters of empty land are destined to one day hold the International Convention Center – if you look closely, you can dimly guess at its concrete foundations. “Madrid’s new architectural icon” is how then-mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón defined it when he laid the first stone in Continue reading
The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is a new peer-reviewed publication cutting across both the humanities and the social sciences in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities. The journal is open to studies that deal with culture, urban spaces and forms of urbanized consciousness the world over.
Although we embrace a broad definition of urban cultural studies, we are particularly interested in submissions that give equal weight to: a) one or more aspects of urban studies (everyday life, built environment, architecture, city planning, identity formation, transportation…) and b) analysis of one or more specific forms of cultural/textual production (literature, film, graphic novels, music, art, graffiti, videogames, online or virtual space…) in relation to a given urban space or spaces.
Essays of 7,000-10,000 words (including works cited and notes) should be sent by attachment to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. JUCS is also open to proposals of special issues by guest editors working individually or in teams of two. All citations in other languages should be translated into English for the journal’s international reading public, in addition to including the original text.
While the journal does not publish book reviews, we do publish review essays—which should discuss 3-5 recent books on a shared topic or theme (or place) and run from 2,500 to 4,000 words. Review essays of urban-themed installations or other works of art are also welcome. These essays will be reviewed in house. Given our visual focus, we are interested in original, unpublished artwork on the topic of cities and in publishing articles accompanied by images where appropriate.
We encourage a variety of approaches to the urban phenomenon—the strengths of the editorial board run from urban geography to literature and film, photography and videogames, gender and sexuality, creative economy, popular music, Marxist approaches, fashion, urban planning, anthropology, sociology, Deaf culture, built environment, philosophy, architecture, detective fiction and noir, and more…
Antonio Bellón Uriarte was an artist from Jaén. He was born in 1904 and lived in Madrid for almost his entire life, until 1991 when he died. Witness to the life of the [Spanish] capital, he drew – exhaustively and down to the most minute details – scenes that depicted the life of the urb, always with an exaggerated and playful touch, caricaturing the everyday.
In this sequence from ‘Madrid’s Gran Vía’, as if it were a photo taken in the early morning, Bellón illustrates a wild and chaotic summer weekend that might just as well have taken place in 2012. One sees all of the typical characters of that era, which was so modern and so close to our own. The image draws together the early-risers, the daytime folk, the nightowls, and the melancholic seeking an elusive happiness in the early hours among the shadows of the sordid and prohibited. Packed together tightly on the pavement and the sidewalks all manner of imaginable and unimaginable characters walk along in a fantastic snapshot.
The perspective of the vignette published here shows us the Carrión building in the background and following along the slope of the avenue with the doubled lamps of the lightposts in the middle of the road, almost in the foreground, the La Adriática building (1928), the Avenida cinema (1928), the Palacio de la Música (1928) and, finally, at left, the [mixed-use] housing and office building in which one would find the Regente Hotel (1926). Closer to us, still, we see a multitude of people mixing with one another. Sailors and blouses carousing from dusk until dawn; morning cyclists moving at top speed along the Gran Vía; excursionists in search of the Cañada Real that will carry them to the Castellana, toward Chamartín or Colmenar; lost skiers with their winter gear heading for the slopes; stunned country bumpkins, ristras of seasoned pork; families with small children passing through in search of a park’s fresh air; sellers of recently made churros; hot-churro thieves; tourists who are spent, recovering, aboard buses and ready for it all; pairs of guards, with loaded rifles, their minds wandering; motorists leveling and deafening others with their powerful machines; armed hunters pursuing cats or pigeons; milkmen bored from such bad work; sentries with keys and stick on their backs; musicians playing or else taking a break, but no less animated; the accidental injury, a car propped up against a lamppost, itself in good spirits; city streetwashers using the hose to spray soldiers who happily shower naked in the middle of the street; resigned prostitutes; happy young drunk ladies; women who are also drunk and also happy; men who are quite content; ruffians taking advantage of the happiness of others; children selling newspapers; men with smiles who are hanging from the lampposts; fishermen with their rods, baskets and bait, heading for the high river basin of the Manzanares or toward the Henares or the Jarama or the Alberche or the Perales, which sometimes boasts its own fish. Many people and much happiness in this summer of 1934, 78 years ago. It might have been like the summer of 2012, or perhaps better said [if only the summer of 2012 had been like that summer 78 years ago].
The Tiny House movement in the U.S. advocates radically downsizing one’s living space. Dee Williams, owner of Portland Alternative Dwellings, lives in an 84 square-foot bungalow. Her smaller home has led to different practices. Without a monthly mortgage payment, she is able to offer other people her money and, more importantly, her time because, with fewer financial obligations, she doesn’t have to work as much. Her built environment has freed her to do more fulfilling things with her life. After watching this video,
it struck me that her relationship with space and attitude toward life are similar to those of Spanish squatters known as okupas. One reason given for squatting is to be freed from the weight of housing costs to be able to dedicate more time to other, more socially rewarding endeavors (See minute 7:45 of Un metro cuadrado – in Spanish).
For both Williams and okupas, social transformation is linked to the built environment.