Archive for category The City
Reblogged from Occursus – Amanda Crawley Jackson’s account of the Furnace Park project.
Originally posted on occursus:
In summer 2012, occursus – a loose collective of artists, writers, researchers and students that coalesced around a weekly reading group I had set up with Laurence Piercy from the School of English at the University of Sheffield – organised a series of Sunday-morning walks along unplanned routes in Shalesmoor, Kelham Island and Neepsend. As we looped through the chaotic mix of derelict Victorian works, flat-pack-quick-build apartment blocks, converted factories and student residences, sharing stories and sometimes, quite simply, wondering what on earth we were doing there, without umbrellas, in the rain, we came across the acre and a half of brownfield scrubland we’ve named Furnace Park. In collaboration with Matt Cheeseman (from the University of Sheffield’s School of English), Nathan Adams (a research scientist working in the Hunter Laboratory at the University of Sheffield), Ivan Rabodzeenko and Katja Porohina (founders of SKINN – the Shalesmoor, Kelham Island and Neepsend Network), we’ve been working for over a year now to obtain planning permissions, finalise the lease, clear the site, fundraise and establish a network of partners who have brought their own vital expertise to this experiment in place-making.
So what is Furnace Park? Maybe it’s best to start with what it isn’t. It’s not a children’s playground; it’s not a carefully planted urban oasis and nor is it a readymade space for leisure and the consumption of culture. Furnace Park is a process, rather than a product. A site of collective agency, it brings together groups and individuals who are interested in exploring what can be done with a brownfield site. It’s a project founded on the premise that place-making involves a multiplicity of voices and a sneaking suspicion that right here, right now, the most ‘salutary changes in our world [might] come from a creative social body rather than from the political sphere’ (Andermatt Conley 2012: 109). We’d like to think that Furnace Park is a community-enabling place, although this community is no doubt a temporary and heterogeneous one, grounded in a commitment to shared work rather than a shared identity; to difficult and provocative conversations rather than consultation and consensus. It’s an arts-led space, in the sense that we have adopted and embraced the methodologies of art as a critical and engaged practice that enables alternative perceptions and understandings of the real (Locas 2010). Art as process, then, rather than art as object. A disruptive laboratory, the space seeks to curate and host strange encounters between researchers and creative practitioners, fostering indiscipline rather than interdisciplinarity through the practice of conceptual unhoming. Furnace Park is about the urban as oeuvre – a collectively produced and ongoing, open (art) work. It’s about thinking through how the arts can be involved structurally and methodologically in the production of the urban, rather than at the level of marketing, consumption and decoration. It’s about encouraging, through arts-led practice, ‘the emergence of [a] critical relation to the normal and habitual’. A commitment, then, to ‘moving between multiple ways of seeing the world’ (Locas 2010: 18); to growing – through the chance afforded by localisation, simultaneity and encounter – a radical imaginary that might construe and produce the urban (even if always provisionally) beyond the hegemonic agendas of regeneration, tourism and economic leverage. An imaginary that might take up the call to disrupt the logic of capitalist realism (Fisher 2009) and disclose other possibilities, other perceptions of the urban real, thereby mobilising a counterpoint to the pervasive and influential mantra: there is no other way.
So the intention, at least, of Furnace Park isn’t to contribute to the regeneration of Shalesmoor, although we are working with a site that many people locally have described as ‘an eyesore’, an abandoned and neglected space that encourages anti-social behaviour. (It’s interesting, actually, that the crime figures for this area are very low – another example of how hegemonic, learned perceptions construct and shape our encounter with the real.) We haven’t arrived with the intention of doing good, or of enabling economic growth, attracting business to the area or bodies into beds, or even making an aestheticizing intervention in the area. It’s true, however, that we are part of an already ongoing and dynamic process. There’s a thriving vintage emporium, critically acclaimed real ale pubs, a chic restaurant, some vibrant cafés, recording studios, artist studios, media labs and a handful of exhibition spaces and clubs that attract substantial audiences from across the city. The public transport links are good, it’s within walking distance of the city centre and there’s plenty of rented accommodation already attracting students and young professionals. It remains to be seen what effect these classic ingredients of gentrification will have on the area in the future. What will happen to the social housing and small manufacturing companies? What effect will projects such as our own have on the sex workers and drug users who inhabit the streets and peripheries of local spaces such as the Furnace Park site? What does it mean for us to deem this space a wasteland? What is the power of taxonomy and to whom is it granted? Who and what will be displaced by our re-appropriation? What are – and what will be – the politics of this place?
A fascinating and challenging contribution to Refugee Week – from cities@manchester
Originally posted on cities@manchester:
by Jonathan Darling, Geography, University of Manchester
Today sees the start of Refugee Week 2013, an annual celebration of the contribution of refugees to the UK that seeks to promote better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. Refugee Week has been held annually since 1998 as a response to negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers and hostile media coverage of asylum in particular (Refugee Week 2013). Refugee Week promotes a series of events across the UK, from football tournaments and theatre productions to exhibitions and film screenings, all designed to promote understanding between different communities.
Ajoutez votre grain de sel personnel… (facultatif)
Originally posted on LES LIGNES DU MONDE:
On n’est pas le même partout. L’équilibre entre 2 villes ; deux pôles ; et ce qui les relie : un fil de la vierge léger léger : le trajet en train. Il y a longtemps que cette vieille édition rose de 1994 (achetée sur conseil : “tu aimes le train, c’est un roman à lire dans le train, d’autant que tu prends souvent cette ligne” (fut un temps avec arrêt à Firenze, ville non mentionnée il me semble dans le roman)) passe d’étagère en étagère. Donc près de 20 ans après – laissé mûrir le livre, commencé une fois à l’époque, prêté plusieurs fois depuis – la litanie des gares, l’aller pour Rome.
car s’il est maintenant certain que vous n’aimez véritablement Cécile que dans la mesure où elle est pour vous le visage de Rome, sa voix et son invitation, que vous ne l’aimez pas sans Rome et en dehors de Rome, que vous ne l’aimez qu’à cause de Rome, parce qu’elle y a été, dans une grande mesure, qu’elle y est toujours votre introductrice, la porte de Rome, comme on dit de Marie dans les litanies catholiques qu’elle est la porte du ciel, ce qu’il faudrait absolument que vous sachiez, c’est pour quelles raisons Rome possède sur vous un tel prestige, et aussi comment il se fait que ce prestige ne possède pas suffisamment de solidité objective pour que Cécile puisse s’en faire consciemment, volontairement, l’ambassadrice à Paris, comment il se fait qu’Henriette, malgré tout ce que la Ville des Villes représente nécessairement pour elle, avec son catholicisme, ait pu considérer l’attachement que vous lui portez comme l’expression même de ce qu’elle vous reproche,
cities@manchester on Manchester, the original shock city
Originally posted on cities@manchester:
by Brian Rosa, PhD candidate in Geography
Manchester is a city of superlatives: it was the prototypical “shock city” of the Industrial Revolution, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx’s model for everything that was abhorrent in the industrial capitalist city, and one of the birthplaces of the labor and women’s suffrage movements. In its heyday, Manchester was depicted in literature of Engels, Alexis de Toqueville and later the paintings of L.S. Lowry, as an uninterrupted, chaotic anti-landscape of chimneys and smoke, strewn across a featureless topography. Its unprecedented configuration invoked equal parts awe and dread, moral panic, and tempestuous visions of the future. In 1833, Toqueville described the crowded conditions, poorly constructed housing, hulking factories, and environmental degradation of Manchester: “From the foul drain the great stream of human industry flows out to fertilize the whole world. From this filthy sewer pure gold flows. Here humanity attains its most complete development and its most brutish; here civilization works its miracles, and civilized man is turned back almost into a savage” (cited in Konvitz 1985).
Originally posted on LES LIGNES DU MONDE:
Comme je me renseigne sur Alechinsky, sa vie son œuvre, je finis par trouver des dessins sur plans – de Paris (ça me revient : “tu sais Alechinsky, il a utilisé des cartes comme support, ça devrait t’intéresser”). Je sélectionne ici les arrondissements que je connais mieux.
L’arrondissement de ma naissance.
I’ve written previously about the relationship between Bleston and Manchester, and about the links between Butor and Sebald, and I’ve just been exploring the fascinating collection of essays on Sebald in Melilah, the Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies, alerted by Helen Finch’s recent blog about Sebald’s Manchester. It’s good to see the link with Butor explored a bit more, but I would have to take issue in some respects with Janet Wolff’s article, ‘Max Ferber and the Persistence of Pre-Memory in Mancunian Exile’, which I think fails to fully identify the deeper connections between the two writers.
I would agree that Passing Time is not about Manchester in a straightforward way but I think Wolff takes that too far when she says that ‘none of this is about an actual city’, and that Revel’s diatribes against Bleston are ‘the ravings of a neurasthenic, whose debilitated psychological state produces monsters in the environment’. (p. 52) This is not a new charge – reviewers have in the past diagnosed Revel with depression or schizophrenia. But I’d argue that rather than alerting us to an unreliable narrator, the mismatch reminds us that Bleston is not just Manchester, not just any particular city. It contains many cities, real and fantastical.
But it is based more upon Manchester in its physical reality than on any other city, and contrary to Wolff’s statement that ‘there are no physical descriptions at all (quite unlike the Manchester of ‘Max Ferber’)’, there are many descriptions of Manchester landmarks, as J B Howitt has shown (in his article ‘Michel Butor and Manchester’, even though Butor takes and uses those features which are relevant to him, and changes or ignores those that are not.
What interests me most, however, is Wolff’s argument that the Manchester of The Emigrants fades into insignificance in relation to ‘another geographical, phantasmic and persistent presence’.
My studies of Butor are concerned precisely with identifying that presence in Passing Time. More anon.
- Janet Wolff, ‘Max Ferber and the Persistence of Pre-Memory in Mancunian Exile’, in Melilah, 2012 Supplement 2, Memory, Traces and the Holocaust in the Writings of W.G. Sebald. (Guest editors: Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Janet Wolff)
- J B Howitt, ‘Michel Butor and Manchester’, Nottm French Studies, 12 (1973), 74-85
Fascinating piece on place and memory from Annie Harrison
Originally posted on cities@manchester:
Guest blog by Annie Harrison.
This article draws on the work Annie is doing for her MA by Research in Art Practice at MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University and an associated artists’ residency at Lime, an arts and health organization. Annie also works as a Project Assistant in the School of Medicine at the University of Manchester.
My art practice is concerned with place and memory. Both contribute to our sense of belonging, which in its turn plays a part in social cohesion. I am particularly interested in how memory is affected by the loss of place, and how the visual arts can aid memory in a rapidly changing urban environment. In my MA, I am researching the site of the recently redeveloped Central Manchester Hospitals and working with hospital staff to recover what the Swiss artist Christian Boltanski calls ‘small memories’, the memories of ordinary people.
Fascinating – another encounter between Paris and the British industrial northern city. Thanks to Gerry for posting this.
Originally posted on That's How The Light Gets In:
Passing through one of the rooms of the Walker Art Gallery recently I happened to notice, in the corner, a small display of photographs – some by Henri Cartier-Bresson alongside others by local photographer Edward Chambre Hardman. I was surprised to discover that not only had the great French photographer visited Liverpool in the sixties to make a TV documentary about the north, but that he had taken photographs less than half a mile from where I now live. It seems a little fantastical, the idea that the master of the ‘decisive moment’ wandered along Lodge Lane with his Leica.
But it’s true, as one of the photos on display at the Walker confirms. It’s a picture taken outside Lodge Lane wash-house in 1962. In those days there were still several public wash-houses in Liverpool, where women from the local streets who didn’t possess a washing machine would take their laundry. Most families had an old pram to transport cloths to the wash-house, and in the photo Cartier-Bresson shows the prams parked down the side entrance in Grierson Street. Kids would be ordered by their mums to mind the pram by standing outside for hours.
Some fascinating materials here from Occursus – but the Notation as Art material in particular blew me away.
Originally posted on occursus:
The next reading loop (Wednesday, May 2nd, 7pm, Bloc studios) will be a more experimental workshop, thinking through how a wasteland might be re-thought (and perhaps re-made?) through sound. We’ll be asking not ‘What do we want to see in this space?’, but: ‘What do we want to hear in this space?’ The discussions will feed in to the broader project to develop a live project in a wasteland in the Shalesmoor area of Sheffield.
The session will be led by Adam Denton and Richard Moran.
There is no set text as such for this week; rather, we suggest a variety of materials into which you might like to dip your toes before we start sharing and discussing our ideas!