Tag Archives : Reimagining the Urban


Reimagining the Urban: Ying-Fen Chen

A Vision of Site-Responsive Arts Collaborations in Communities

It had been a blue Monday for me before I arrived at the symposium, Reimagining the Urban: Bay Area Connections Across the Arts and Public Space, at noon. I had just finished a class in the morning and was still suffering from the flu. In the crowded auditorium, there weren’t many seats left, but I found one next to a stranger. After brief introductions, I lapsed into silence and wished the symposium end soon that I could go home to recover from my virus. Ten minutes later, in the third section of the day, I not only knew the name of the stranger near me, but had enjoyed a stimulating conversation with her about her vision—site-responsive community-led arts collaborations—against the gentrification phenomenon in Bay Area.

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Reimagining the Urban: Kuan Hwa

When Linda Rugg spoke of how “we” define ourselves in relation to the bay, who are the “we” to whom she refers? When Brad McCrea said that the bay is different for “us” as it was then compared to now, are these generations of people in the past and in the present even the same entity? What if some family, previously included in the “we” during the 1970′s, moved away from the bay area in the 2000′s?; would the “we” be substantively changed or does the “we” persist to inscribe those who no longer belong to an area but identify themselves as having once come from it? What would justify an invocation of the “we” to transcend a specific temporal collectivity and ideology? I just moved to the bay area. What justifies me to take claim over the bay as my home, and my inclusion in the “we” of the bay area?

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Reimagining the Urban: Kate Mattingly

Before the symposium began, a cluster of people on the waitlist stood next to the balcony. Their view of the floor below looked something like this. Threads held tiny pieces that resembled straws or mini-bones and were constantly waving, but at first glance, the mobile appeared motionless. It took a moment to notice these pieces were in motion, and even closer inspection showed that tiny weights (visible in the picture below) ascended and descended just below the ceiling, mapping the mini-bones’ movement in vertical axes.

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Reimagining the Urban: Alec Stewart

Kicking off the Reimagining the Urban symposium, Margaret Crawford spoke of a real estate development boom in San Francisco that has contributed to an exodus of roughly 10,000 artists from the city. This familiar narrative is one of rising real estate prices forcing the working classes out of neighborhoods such as the Mission while yupsters move in, bringing with them expensive restaurants, high-priced boutiques, and exclusive national chains. A similar process is occurring on a larger scale in the Mid-Market area, where over40 active real estate projects will bring several million square feet of new office, residential and retail space—not to mention new entertainment and dining options—into a previously “seedy” neighborhood.

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Reimagining the Urban: Megan Hoetger

The long-term is a durational temporality. If I set this against the continuous present of the participle, ‘re-imagining’–the keyword which leads the title of the symposium–what kind of time do I find myself in? The call for the long-term engagement is a particularly fraught one for the field of visual art practice forcing the surface a series of questions, like: how long is enough for an artist to engage a community? How long should the dialogue be? How long does the project go?

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Reimagining the Urban: Kimberly Richards

The complexity of the discourses about the city, arts, and public spaces has prompted me to reflect upon the merits, necessities, and challenges of interdisciplinary work. In order to assess the strategies that are being employed in the Bay Area to navigate this difficult terrain, I traced the conference’s discussion around collaboration and recorded when the prefixes “inter,” “cross” and “trans” were used so as to reveal something about the nature of the “connections across the arts and public space.”

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Reimagining the Urban: Leslie Dreyer

Dr. Shannon Jackson, who co-organized Reimagining the Urban, opened the symposium with questions including, in summary: What kinds of creativity are valued and for whom? And how can collaborating across sectors create solutions rather than obstacles? Another question to ask here would be: solutions for whom? Margaret Crawford, who blogged about Richard Florida’s theory and Creative Class policies “pushing up rents and displacing local businesses and residents,” restated Jackson’s questions by mentioning San Francisco’s “success” alongside the displacement of long-time local and influential artists. I was curious how the panelists would address questions of equity and access in their strategies of “reimagining.”

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Reimagining the Urban: Hallie Wells

What is spontaneity if not serendipity—a surprisingly pleasant encounter, saying yes to adventure, walking up the steeper street on a whim and being rewarded with the better view? Spontaneity, perhaps because of its association with creativity and positive action, popped up throughout the conference as a human potential that urban art projects and development plans should tap into. Spontaneous interactions can be facilitated by architectural and design features, as Deborah Cullinan and Andy Wang noted of the 5M Project, or by technological innovations such as those discussed by Joel Slayton of Zero1.

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Reimagining the Urban: Christina Gossmann

The last session of the day, What is the “Bay” in the Bay Area? Creating Nature, acknowledged the elephant in the room—the Bay—but it also revealed the ambiguity of ownership surrounding this, “our” Bay. From Brad McCrea’s mention of changing legal rights (“Most things you can do on land, you can’t do in the Bay.”) to Louise Pubols’ historical account of the Emeryville shoreline as a “junky throw-away space” where artists/students/people were not afraid of “messing up,” we caught a glimpse of an immensely complex puzzle: public nature.

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