Institute of Place Management paper

I recently presented on my placemaking typology and the agency of social practice placemaking at the Institute of Place Management's (based at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) annual conference, this year focused on inclusove placemaking. 

Thank you to all in the room for the enthusiasm with which this was revived and also for the great questions and conversations that followed. 

Link here to the slidedeck and notes

 
Placemaking typology SPPM Jan 2015.jpg

Arts in Place - free for the next 60 days!

In collaboration with Readcube, my Arts in Place book on my research into social practice placemaking and case studies in London, Dublin and Indianpailos, published with Routledge, is available for free download for the next 60 days. 

Its in PDF form and can be downloaded here

 

2016 conferences

 

January 2016 sees me delivering a paper, Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice (abstract below) at the All-Ireland Architecture Research Group annual conference; and then talk about my PhD research, in relation to community groups making change in their built environment, at the British Academy-funded Landscaping Change conference, organised by Dr Samantha Walton at Bath Spa University. I will also be returning to the American Association of Geographers annual conference in March/April, co-convening a session, Creative Placemaking and Beyond, with National College of Art and Design, Dublin’s Anita McKeown (abstract below, and more details on that will follow).

Landscaping Change conference takes place at the Arnolfini, Bristol, on 1st January.

AIARG conference takes place in Cork, 29th and 30th January.

AAG conference takes place in San Francisco, 9th March to 2nd April.

 

AIARG abstract:

Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice

This paper will present performativity in architecture as an emplaced social arts practice, performed on the margins of formal urban space and architectural practice in liminal and meanwhile spaces, a critical spatial practice (Rendell 2006) in the urban public realm.

The paper will locate this thinking in contemporary practices of ‘social practice placemaking’ (SPPM) (Courage 2014) and will draw on global examples of SPPM, including that from the author’s PhD research project, ‘Making places: performative arts practices in the city’, signposting examples of masterplanning and architectural build that have successfully incorporated this approach, such as that of Croydon Council’s award-winning placemaking-led regeneration.

It will position this contemporary practice as one where architects and artists work together in a collaborative practice, and co-produced with the micropublic (Amin 2008) in positions of relative expertism. Inherent in this co-produced practice is a subverting of sector normative representation and power, of who can speak for whom, when and how, if at all and will thus argue for performative architecture as questioning and support of intersectional production and use of space. As a post-modern social arts practice, performative architecture will be positioned in the arts canon both with and contra too the avant-garde (Kester 2013) and new genre public art (Lacy 2008), relational aesthetics (Bourriaud 1998). It will argue that performative architecture is of a dialogic aesthetic (Kester 2004, 2013), productive of new cultures of architectural knowledge.

The paper will close with a provocation to the architecture sector on its need to adopt co-productive modes of design to maintain, and arguably reclaim, its cultural significance in the built environment, essential for the future of the sector in extending its practice, reaffirming its relevance and ensuring its vital role in the current and future urban realm.

 

AAG CfP (now closed) abstract:

Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation

This session will continue the interrogation of notions of creative placemaking started at the RGS 2015 annual conference, bringing this conversation to the US and to broadening its international and sectoral/practice discussion. 

The creative placemaking (Landesman 2009) term has entered the arts-driven placemaking sector narrative presented as a ‘new [U.S.] policy platform across all levels of government’ (Markusen and Gadwa 2010:26) with a particular ethos; a cross-sectoral approach to arts-led regeneration (Markusen and Gadwa 2010) and of including non-arts stakeholders within community revitalisation (Poticha, 2011).

With contemporary debates around creative placemaking and its relations now reaching a moment in maturity and diversity a critique and a deeper understanding of practice is necessary.

Persistent questions arise around issues of arts practice/process, power relations, individual and community agency and creative placemaking’s relation vis-à-vis the neoliberal. As such, this session encourages a re-consideration of the role of the arts and creativity within socially-engaged placemaking practices for their potential to encourage self-organisation and how citizens can take the initiative in effecting their lived spacetime (McCormack 2013). It seeks to broaden the constituents in the creative placemaking discourse through presenting an international conversation that focuses on socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings, addressing issues of scale, interdisciplinarity and radical practices within creative place production and co-production.

Given the vital need also for theorists to be in dialogue with practitioners, this session is seeking abstracts from both constituencies, with papers spanning theory and practice and examples of where the two intersect in the academy or in the field. It thus aims to provide a critical assessment of creative placemaking and of community driven placemaking (Hou and Rios 2003) and social design across all settlement types and conceptual, empirical, methodological papers are invited.

 

 

What Do (Social Practice) Artists Do?

Taking inspiration from Frances Whitehead's What do Artists Know, I am working on a similar list/manifesto for What Artists Do, in particular, What Social Practice Artists Do.

This is spurred in the first instance by the confusion I sometimes meet in others around what the art is in this type of practice, and having to explain how play, or cooking or gardening or talking is art, I feel now is a time to really call out for what this practice is and how it does it.

In the spirit of social practice art, this of course is a collaborative endeavour and when this gets published (in my thesis, on my website, in papers and at conference), all will be named.

So, my question to all of you, what is it that (social practice) artists do?

Please either email me or reply on the comments below. The results of this will be published here in due course. 

Dinner at the Carey Estate for residents, cooked by the artists, part of the drawing shed's Some[W]here in 9 Elms, Wandsworth project, May 2015 

Dinner at the Carey Estate for residents, cooked by the artists, part of the drawing shed's Some[W]here in 9 Elms, Wandsworth project, May 2015 

Moving beyond creative placemaking at AAG 2015

This April I presented a paper on my Indianapolis case study, Big Car, at the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Chicago.

With 9.5K delegates and sessions that span all forms of geography, the conference was as busy and buzzing as you’d expect. The arts had a healthy presence in the programme and my paper, ‘Moving beyond creative placemaking: the micropublic of a social practice placemaking project’ was presented as part of the Creative Placemaking and its Micropublics. The session was convened by Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds, and Saskia Warren, University of Manchester; fellow speakers were Micheal Rios, University of California, and Annette Koh, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

My paper aimed to disrupt the creative placemaking term as one misused in the placemaking sector; from a vernacular aspect, commonly to mean any placemaking with any arts component in it; and on a policy level, as a placemaking approach that uses the arts in placemaking to economic ends. The focus of my PhD research has been on what I have come to term social practice placemaking, one where the arts are situated at the grassroots and primarily employed for social and cultural gain, the economic imperative found in creative placemaking either missing or of lower significance. Amin’s micropublics of the title was used as a theory to explain the agency of such projects to galvanise people around arts and place and this was framed in the example of my Indianapolis case study, Big Car. 


Open Engagement 2015

I attended this year’s Open Engagement conference on social practice art, held at Carnegie Mellon University and at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

The week started with a day tour of various arts projects across the city, a day curated by the Office of Public Art, a public art consultancy based in the city and working across the region. 

The tour started at the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild, an arts education establishment working across artforms with young people and adults at all levels of education through after-school classes, adult ed and summer schools. We then went on to visit the inspiring City of Asylum, a human rights organisation that formed to house asylum-seeking writers, the houses of which have been decorated with the artist’s work of poems and prose. The afternoon started at contemporary art museum Mattress Factory with presentations from a variety of social practice arts projects, including Side Street Projects, a mobile social practice placemaking group with an HQ in Pasadena; and the awe-inspiring research and practice project on I-Hotel, San Francisco’s anti-eviction human rights and race politics legacy. We ended the day at Spaces Corners, a photography publisher and gallery, talking about its social and crowdsourced project, A Peoples History of Pittsburgh.

The theme of the conference was ‘place and revolution’, discussion panels and presentation approaching this theme from as varied angles as social practice art is varied itself. Stand out session’s included that by artist Jon Rubin on the Conflict Kitchen project, using food to galvanise political and social consciousness across the globe; and the Ethics and Aesthetics of Place panel, which included meaningful discussion and case studies of projects with a clear ethical imperative matched with a high arts value, Public Matters and Skid Row Housing Trust; and presentations from USA projects On The Map|Over the Rhine in Cincinnati, Table Alchemy by Amber Arts in Philadelphia and Wassaic Project, NY.

The conference closed with a keynote from Rick Lowe, founder of the legendary Project Row Houses, artist and recent winner of a MacArthur "genius" fellowship. Rick talked with great humour, passion and compassion about seven things that he has been thinking of around social practice.

His thought of ‘learning how to see place rather than making place’ in particular is prescient for the placemaking sector, with many, and especially those from a social practice approach, questioning a dominant placemaking ideology that is ‘place-making’ rather than ‘place-led’; this comment in particular made me think if the variety of placemaking practice that I identify in the placemaking typology and the relative value in practices placed on working with the value already in place rather than placing value in place from outside. 

City of Asylum houses, Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh. L: House Poem, Huang Xiang, R: Jazz House. 

City of Asylum houses, Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh. L: House Poem, Huang Xiang, R: Jazz House.