Posts Tagged ‘activists’

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Revolutionary Plots: Urban agriculture is producing a lot more than food

July 9, 2012

Can it be the antithesis of war, or a cure for social ills, or an act of healing the divisions of the world? When you tend your tomatoes, are you producing more than tomatoes? How much more? Is peace a crop, or justice? The American Friends Service Committee set up a series of garden plots to be tended by people who’d been on opposite sides of the Yugoslavian wars, but a lot of people hope to overcome the wars of our time more indirectly through their own gardening and farming.

We are in an era when gardens are front and center for hopes and dreams of a better world or just a better neighborhood, or the fertile space where the two become one. There are farm advocates and food activists, progressive farmers and gardeners, and maybe most particular to this moment, there’s a lot of urban agriculture. These city projects hope to overcome the alienation of food, of labor, of embodiment, of land, the conflicts between production and consumption, between pleasure and work, the destructiveness of industrial agriculture, the growing problems of global food scarcity, seed loss. The list of ideals being planted and tended and sometimes harvested is endless, but the question is simple. What crops are you tending? What do you hope to grow? Hope? Community? Health? Pleasure? Justice? Gardens represent the idealism of this moment and its principal pitfall, I think. A garden can be, after all, either the ground you stand on to take on the world or how you retreat from it, and the difference is not always obvious.

Excerpt of a text written by Rebecca Solnit, at Orion. Continue HERE
Image above via NYT

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(Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture / Call for Submissions

January 30, 2012

For the next 306090 book, guest editor David L. Hays wants to know, “What is essential knowledge for architecture?”What is essential knowledge for architecture?

This frequently posed question targets fundamental principles of design, those basic criteria and priorities through which disciplinary stability is ensured. Yet, insofar as relevance is a core value of architecture, in both theory and practice, the contingent nature of the future guarantees that some forms of knowledge not presently considered essential will eventually become indispensable.

With that condition in mind, the editors of 306090 15, (Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture, seek contributions that envision possible futures for architecture through speculations about new disciplinary knowledge. What specific methods, materials, or understandings—tools, ratios, formulas, properties, principles, guidelines, definitions, rules, practices, techniques, reference points, histories, and more—not presently considered essential to architecture could, or should, define its future? Pertinent knowledge might be previously forgotten, currently undervalued, generally misunderstood, or not yet recognized. Architects have long looked both to the outmoded traditions of their discipline and to other fields altogether when imagining possible directions for their work. In blurring the boundary between essential and non-essential knowledge, this inquiry seeks not to codify the contemporary state of the art for architecture, nor to assert the value of multidisciplinarity, but to envision, and potentially catalyze, new disciplinary approaches.

(Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture will serve as both a gauge of contemporary concerns and a manual for emergent theory and practice. Submissions are sought from practitioners, theorists, historians, critics, artists, activists, and anyone else with direct or indirect interest in the future of architecture.

Click HERE to submit and for more information.
Deadline: Friday, March 30, 2012

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Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence. Call for Papers

January 25, 2012

Synopsis: This conference aims to reflect on the relevance of the concept of dissidence for architectural practice today. Although dissidence has been primarily associated with architectural practices in the Eastern Bloc at the end of the Cold War period, contemporary architectural and other aesthetic practices have in recent years developed a host of new methodologies and techniques for articulating their distance from and critique of dominant political and financial structures. Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence asks how we can conceive of the contemporary political problems and paradoxes of architecture in relation to their precedents? Devoid of the agency of action, Cold War dissidents articulated their positions in drawings of fantasy-like paper architecture, while contemporary forms of architectural practice seem to gravitate towards activism and direct-action in the world. The political issues – from interventions in charged areas worldwide to research in conflict zones and areas undergoing transformations – currently stimulate a field of abundant invention in contemporary architecture. Both, Cold War dissidents and contemporary activists encounter problems and paradoxes and must navigate complex political force fields within which possible complicities are inherent risks.

New forms of critical practice, and political and spatial dissent are manifold, appearing in stark contrast to contemporary architectural practice in which professional courage seems to have been translated into structural “virtuosity” of surfaces. This conference seeks to map out and expand on the methodologies of architectural action and reinvigorate the concept of dissent within the architectural/spatial field of the possible. A more historical thread that runs through the programme will seek to weave the genealogy of political/spatial practices from the Cold War dissidents of the Soviet Bloc to the activists of South American favelas.

Dissidents in the former communist countries used a specific set of codes to question the ideological doctrine of the state party. Architects who were otherwise employed in state run architectural collectives, or as staff in architecture schools met to produce writings, private lectures, secret installations and architectural articulations of allegories and legends – activities that challenged the ’stifling’ standardized language of Soviet architecture. Many of these ‘paper architects’ questioned the relationship between art, architecture and politics, but also, and significantly so, the ideological, and thus also ethical function of various forms of ‘creative practices’. The political melt-down of the Soviet Bloc reconfigured this complex field of political codes, architectural gestures and references. The withdrawal of the architect from large ideological concepts regarding social utopias mirrored that fragmentation and dissemination of (neo)liberal market structures. Large ideological battles were replaced with a multiplicity of local, or issue-specific conflicts within which forms of activism have been integrated. Dissent against large integrated and complex networks is no longer possible. All that is left is to navigate the complex fields of forces in a reflective and innovative manner. But can the assemblage of gestures and techniques of past struggles and ‘dilemmas’ of working in politically suppressive regimes help to inform those of today?

The conference thus seeks to attract contemporary spatial practitioners, architects, urbanists, journalists, activists, filmmakers and curators, asking them to reflect upon contemporary forms and conditions of dissent and their potential problems and inevitable paradoxes. It welcomes, too, the reflections of architects and architectural historians to reflect upon previous articulations of political dissent through architectural practice.

Text taken from http://dissidence.org.uk