Category | Event

Mothers: A Gaby Montejo performance

First Thursdays are like late night shopping, but good. Community-focussed arts events, they bring people to a neighbourhood or precinct to wander, absorb, participate, witness and feast until bedtime. First Thursdays have become calendar fixtures in many cities around the world.

On October Second, the first golden evening of spring 2014, hundreds of people came to Sydenham to take part in Christchurch’s first First Thursday. At 6:30, Gaby Montejo took the stage at the Honey Pot cafe ahead of the Lady Poets. The photograph beside his item in the First Thursdays publicity flyer had shown him re-imagined as Conchita Wurst. No one knew what he was going to do, but those present who knew Montejo and his art knew that it could be anything.

What he did was sit down and introduce himself.

‘But this is not about me,’ he said. ‘It’s about you. Especially you, Audrey Baldwin.’

A stunned Baldwin made her way to the stage and took her place beside Montejo. He shared his perceptions of her with the crowd – non-judgemental, gutsy and willing, collaborative, positive, a machine of excitement – and then bestowed upon her a magnificent, garish, one-metre-tall trophy. Baldwin looked delighted. The audience applauded, cheered and laughed.

Photo of Audrey Baldwin accepting her trophy.

‘I was no good at sports,’ Baldwin said. ‘I never thought I’d get a trophy like this.’ She spoke with eloquence and brevity, thanking those who have supported her, always and recently. She stroked her trophy. ‘I’ll find a space for this.’

What was Montejo up to here? He explained that his eight years in Christchurch had been a time of great change, and he meant the obvious, yes, the earthquakes and all that, but what he wanted us to notice that evening was the energy happening in the creative arts, and who had come forward to spearhead creative actions and events in post-quake Christchurch.

‘People like Audrey Baldwin,’ he said, ‘and also people like Jessica Halliday.’

Jessica Halliday – responsible, energetic, respectful, thoughtful, a gastronomist –

claimed her trophy and said, Academy-Awards style, that she just wanted to thank God. And Gaby, for giving her not just a trophy but this platform to say she’s got one of the best jobs in Christchurch.

Montejo’s next trophy went to Melanie Oliver – playful, fair to diversity, honest, optimistic, participant and driver – who was not present to accept it. Hopefully, she has it by now.

Chloe Geoghegan – enthusiastic, caring, hardworking, tenacious, her humour enlightens – was down in Dunedin ‘busy mothering another city,’ Her trophy was accepted with feeling and just a touch of mystifying snark by a man who identified himself only as Ted.

Coralie Winn – energetic, professional, adventurous, empathetic, motherly – was also not present, but her partner Ryan shot a video of Montejo’s admiration and acknowledgement for her to watch later. Ryan accepted Winn’s trophy on her behalf, saying. ‘You have no idea how much she loves trophies.’ He declined to speak further because, ‘I speak for her way too often as it is.’

Towards the end of his performance, Montejo acknowledged these trophies were a bit cheesy and generic. ‘They were all I could afford,’ he said. ‘I swear if I could get you what you deserve it would be spectacular.’ He explained that he had grown tired of waiting for someone of higher authority than Gaby Montejo to honour these people and their accomplishments.

‘And so, by the power invested in me as an art consumer and art participant, I deem these excellent, high achieving people (who just happen to be women) The Founding Art Mothers of New Christchurch.’

Montejo’s piece was part ode to the exceptional strengths, talents and efforts of these five women, part plea that they be recognised, part challenge to the old boys to think what it means to be a mother and maybe decide that it’s time to move over and make way for the new girls. It was one citizen giving back some of the love five people had poured into his city.

‘All who live here should know these art drivers,’ he said, and no one who witnessed this performance that evening could disagree with him. If you don’t know the five Founding Art Mothers of New Christchurch, change that. Seek them out. Look them up. Each one has some kind of web presence. (Gaby Montejo does, too. But this is not about him.)

 

Coralie Winn
http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/about/

Melanie Oliver
http://physicsroom.org.nz/about/

Jessica Halliday
http://festa.org.nz/about/#the-people

Chloe Geoghegan
http://www.blueoyster.org.nz/about/

Audrey Baldwin
http://audreybaldwin.wix.com/audrey-baldwin#!about

 

First Thursdays

http://www.firstthursdayschch.co.nz/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FESTA Free Rangers

Remarkable things will happen during Labour weekend at FESTA whether you’re a solo festival butterfly or more of a pack animal. There’s bound to be something to get your juices flowing (literally, don’t miss getting your sweat on in the Nomadic Sauna).

The annual Festival of Transitional Architecture is a free, public event that engages with the city of Christchurch (New Zealand) by exploring urban regeneration through large scale collaborative projects and urban interventions. It is the first and only festival of its kind in the world.

Over the course of Labour Weekend events, performances and projects happen across empty sites and in vacant buildings within the city’s four avenues, reintroducing life and urban activity to the centre. This rediscovery of the inner city invites a variety of collective investigations into the nature of civic life and opens it up to the community’s desire to participate in the remaking of their city.  www.festa.org.nz

After the huge success of the inaugural FESTA last year, when 30,000 people swarmed to Luxcity, it’s great to know that Jessica Halliday returns as Director Extraordinaire, and with their stellar crew, FESTA is looking conspicuously like THE Festival to be at this year.

Chief Egg of the Freerange Pirate ship, Barnaby Bennett, is currently the Chair of the FESTA Board, and he’s been a relentless captain of advocacy and awesomeness for Christchurch. It’s not surprising then, that a fair few Freerange Captains couldn’t resist charting a course for the City Within A City.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to catch up with a Free Ranger at FESTA.

On Friday I’ll be hanging out in the Pallet Pavilion at Anissa Victoria’s Twilight Vintage Market from 4pm, from there you can pick up some of my new drawings if that kind of thing tickles your fancy. The Twilight Market will be stocked with interesting finds, good food, a bar, and live music, the perfect reason to wander through the blue fortress at dusk before things go crazy on Saturday.

 

Dusting off after Casual Friday, Barnaby Bennett will be hosting Urban T(act)ics, an open discussion with Chris Morley-Hall (founder of the Cuba Street Carnival), Federico Monsalve (Freerange director and design writer), James Coyle (architect/musician, Newtown Festival, Wellington),  Lucinda Hartley (director and co-founder of Co-design, Melbourne), and myself. Urban T(act)ics will be a chance for “groups and individuals doing similar work in Christchurch to learn lessons from other cities and to meet people curious about what is happening here. All presenters work in organisations that have influence in their city but not as part of government, and will reflect on how their work can be considered an action, activity or tactic within the city.

From there, Big Saturday gets huge, with the itchy anticipation of the main event, Canterbury Tales, building to a crescendo of surreal satisfaction.  Clink your glasses, see you in the morning!

 

The Sunday Sesh warms up with an all ages drawing workshop I’ll be running called Supernova City. Inspired by dream cartographers of the city, the workshop will work collectively to make drawings and traces of the city as we experience it, blurring past memories and future dreams on the same massive canvas. We’ll be at the Pallet Pavilion from 10-2pm, I’ll be posting our progress up on Facebook and Twitter (@byronkinnaird and @FreerangePress), hashtag drawing, hashtag cant wait!

The first ever gathering in the flesh of the Freerange Directors seems almost too good to be true (and it might not be true), but we’ll be getting together to launch Freerange Vol.7: The Commons at 6pm at 88 Worcester Street, one of the Canterbury Tales sites.  This issue is hugely relevant to Christchurch, so drop by to celebrate in Commons style with us.

 

There are seriously so many things to get involved in over the long weekend, check out the full programme, there’s bound to be something to do whether its learning about the Arches or the Pallet Pavillion, building a house, or meeting the puppets.

 

Full programme here.

www.festa.org.nz

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Ten Rules on Being an Architecture Student

In 2007, Dr Peter Wood (aka P-Dubs), Senior Lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Architecture, gave a cutting and hilarious assessment of student culture to open the first formal day of Ctrl Shift 07, the Biennial Pacific Student Congress of Architecture.  A few of the Freerangers who put the Congress on recently revisited his lecture, and had to share his Ten Rules on Being an Architecture Student, transcribed here to capture Peter’s deliciously acerbic critique.

1. Dress right.  Cheap clothes should look expensive, and expensive clothes should look cheap. Under no circumstances should cheap clothes look cheap, or expensive clothes look expensive, except at crits.

2. Always work at least one all-nighter for every studio. Two is better as it suggests that you’re not doing the first one to follow the rules. Never do more then three in a row as this suggests genuine psychological problems, or it will lead to genuine psychological problems.

3. Meet the right people. This is a tough one because architecture students, architectural academics, academics, and in fact anyone from your immediate cultural grouping, is not the right people. The right people should meet three criteria: they should have money, they should want to give you their money, and they should not be interested in telling you how you should spend their money. Your parents are a good place to start.

4. Show dismissive scorn toward successful architects. After all, they are just cynical old fuddy-duddies who sold their creative integrity to developers because their bums like leather car seats, and anyway, you’ll never be like them.

5. Attend all openings. Art exhibitions, public lectures, new buildings, roof shouts, car doors, the only thing that matters is how disdainful you look, and the amount of free food and drinks.

6. Be I.T. savvy. It’s a digital world, and the more digital you look, the easier it will be to pass architecture off as a modern activity. Fortunately this has never been easier, it doesn’t matter what you listen to, whether its Burt Bacherach or anything else on your MP3 player, or that your laptop contains pictures of dairy cows, or that you only pretend to text-message due to the inability of bovine hooves to operate cellphones. The only real point is how shiny, expensive and visible your gadgets are.

7. Become moderately proficient at espousing the views of a continental philosopher.  Avoid the big names as its most likely that someone will know more about them than you. Choose instead a minor player from some Marxist circle and pick out the bits of their writing that might possibly have something to do with architecture. Liberally sprinkle these through your comments at openings.

8. Learn the lingo. Every attempt must be made to speak in architectural jargon. People might live in houses, but architects design responsive environments that challenge domestic paradoxes which combine atavistic references with new post-post-modern epistemologies.

9. Avoid student counseling. Conventional wisdom has it that student counseling is the quickest way to arrange a medical certificate for an assignment deadline extension. But once they have you on the couch describing your childhood, who knows what might happen. Instead, go to Student Health, tell them it hurts to tinkle, and save the antibiotic prescription for the bronchial condition your all-nighters will give you.

10. Organise an international congress. If only because it makes achieving the other criteria much easier.

 

Peter Wood, on Ctrl Shift 07: Biennial Pacific Student Congress of Architecture. [DVD] is available in most architecture Libraries across Australia & New Zealand.

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UP THE PUNKS 2012: The City Seen Through Thirty Something Noisy Years of Wellington Punk Culture.

 
 
 
 
 
“Not in the habit of saving things for posterity or thinking themselves as history. Not caring about the past, not seeing too much future to look forward too. Whether or not that was really true, it was definitely the understood attitude and mood… I’ve just started on this book and already I’m on a tangent…”

Aaron Cometbus

 

Time. It’s treated quite strangely in the world of punk rock. Most people arrive as though they were the first. And they leave out the back door to make way for a younger, more energised generation. Aaron Cometbus, of the Bay Area fanzine Cometbus, nailed it in a retrospective on his first 20 years of zine-making. When it came to cultural self-awareness, he claimed that punks were decidedly evasive. Whether fueled by  idealism or nihilism, they were preoccupied in a haze of the ‘spirit of the times’. The view from the blazing vehicle of punk rock is framed by a combination of radical ideas, growing pains and fast guitars. Vision under such speed is surely fuzzy. Beyond the ‘here and now’ getting a cultural perspective to the past (or future) is hard. But the last decade or so has seen a renewed interest from within and without Wellington’s punk community with a call to explore the vestiges of time and uncover the recesses of the city’s nearly forgotten punk past.

Enter Wellington’s own unique and peculiar cultural time-machine – UP THE PUNKS! It travels to depths of 35 years ago and up to the active present, exhibiting the stories and artefacts of a vibrant, living underground community. The ongoing documenting and open source archiving initiative provides an important means of linking together a body of diverse works such as music, arts, literature, activism and various aspects of DIY culture, which would otherwise seem disparate across generations past and present. Youth culture is rarely this prolific and broadly expressed. It is a showcase of spirit – the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

 

Original poster for UP THE PUNKS 2002 designed by Kerry Ann Lee

 

To claw back the history of an obscure society, obsessed with its very obscurity, is not an easy task. Works can be as fleeting as youth itself, leaving little trace, if any at all. But memory will still prevail. People still fondly recall the legendary performance of influential bands which never lasted long enough to produce more than a rough demo and play at some house parties; rants from a younger version of someone-you-know found in a photocopied zine which was subsequently lost to time and a small print run; piles of old screen-printed posters and merch; dusty records and cordially exchanged mixtapes now warped and stretched; abandoned film negatives of rallies and hangouts with cherished friends. Interesting and unexpected things happens when returning to these places.

 

Punk was always positioned in relation to a wider context, differentiating itself from mainstream society. But over time, as we all know, things change, the mainstream changes too, and so each generational iteration of punk rockers bear traces of that change too. I can’t help but recall the backdrop of a transitional Wellington city in the 1990s, its people waking up from the quiet slumber of economic downturn. People were crawling out of brutalist buildings determined to paint over the grey walls that had only served to compliment the depressive color of the sky.
Whether or not these are actually my own memories, I’m reminded of something geographic, something spatial and material, tangible and almost graspable; squats on the waterfront as Te Papa was still in construction; un-refurbished flats with remnants of 70’s décor; walking home after school via The Freedom Shop, the local anarchist bookstore which was housed in a rustic shed on upper Cuba St before being squeezed out by the Bypass; the hired-out community halls; picking bottles off the street during shows; skinhead encounters in Newlands; skateboarding with mates in the Hutt; the patience required to order records and zines from overseas…

 

The Cure jamming at a house party in Mount Victoria, August 4, 198.1

 

UP THE PUNKS presents a case for continuity between generations otherwise fragmented and disjointed. In doing so it proves, in my mind at least, that the past 35 years wasn’t just an excuse for playing silly buggers after all (although there was a great deal of that too). It’s evidence of a sustained cultural activity. In such a hotbed for ideals put into action, ideas can last a long time, or burn out alongside musical trends, fashion, and haircuts. I’m curious as to how punk – peripheral by nature – has extended and adapted to other aspects of society, or whether (in many cases I imagine) it is left to the embarrassments of youth. It would be interesting to know what happened to those kids as they enter different areas of society, as they develop skill-sets for new contexts and responsibilities. It is contributions from these people that keeps the UP THE PUNKS online archive lively. I can think proudly of punk friends who are now educators, union organisers, lawyers, academics, artists, health care professionals, engineers, innovators, activists, musicians, amazing parents, and just all round good people.

 

A film made by Chris Knox on the punk and post-punk ‘Wellington Scene’ otherwise known as the ‘Terrace Scene’ in 1980. 

 

Without continuing to sound like a back-in-the-day-old-timer, it has to be said that a big aspect of the UP THE PUNKS effort is to present Wellington punk culture as a living community, uniquely localised and continuing today in full force. It stands in contrast to the picture painted by a Te Papa exhibition ten years ago that presented punk as a petrified historical nomenclature that only happened elsewhere. The ongoing spirit of participation from enthusiastic new blood will ensure that punk respond to a changing world, ultimately securing the promise of it’s future.

 

And because of the open sourced, participatory nature of the UP THE PUNKS archive, we now have a means of looking back through the noise of time. With the raw information available to all, the historical narrative of punk in Wellington can be constantly rewritten and contested.

At 16 years and counting, Punkfest is New Zealand’s longest running annual punk event.

 

UP THE PUNKS proposes one last important thing; that this living history is also a slice of the city’s history. It’s “the Wellington you didn’t know you didn’t know” as aptly put by John Lake in the Pledgeme fundraising campaign. The minor stories told here reveal the material culture of life in Wellington as told by the people themselves. It is also relevant for the story of independent music in New Zealand. These stories are our history and it’s a history to be shared by all.

 

 

A Pledgeme campaign to fund UP THE PUNKS 2012 has just started. Come along and check it out if you like!

UP THE PUNKS 2012 exhibition and celebrations: November 6-10

 

Exhibition Opening Night: November 6, 2012, 6PM, Thistle Hall
Gettin’ Worse: Punx Still Angry, November 7, San Fran Bathhouse. Check out the new breed with Numbskull, DILFS, Influence and more…

 

Closing Night Party, November 10, Thistle Hall Upstairs
All ages gig expanding the definition of punk with So So Modern, Rogernomix, All Seeing Hand, Mr Sterile Assembly, Johnny and The Felchers and more…

 

www.upthepunks.co.nz
www.facebook.com/upthepunks.wellington

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Hobo Camping

Last month I was cycle touring through Japan with a friend from Melbourne, John.

Throughout the trip he often spoke of Hobo-camping, that is just ‘sleeping rough’ in a park on on bench somewhere, no tent, no sleeping mat, sleeping public style. He had read about Japan being the ideal place for it on some ‘urban camping’  blogs.

So one night on the shores of Lake Biwa a little north of Kyoto with no camping grounds around and the possibility of rain during the night he suggested we should Hobo camp, I wasn’t that keen at first but with lack of any nice spots to free camp I went along with it.

We rode along the shore of the lake looking for a likely shelter, we found one, a pagoda with two benches under cover, surrounded by a low wall and long eaves in case the rain came. It was right beside a small road and a restaurant, which luckily closed at 9pm, there was also a ubiquitous drink vending machine nearby which threatened to cast effervescent light across us all night whilst we tried to sleep. I suggested we try unplug it and indeed the plug was exposed and there for the pulling but then I half-jokingly mentioned that in Japanese style this would probably alert someone somewhere that the Calpis and Pocari Sweat (two of the more amusingly named Japanese soft  drinks) were warming and they would come to plug the machine back in. We resolved to just hunker down behind the sides of the pagoda and try block the light of the drinks machine out. So we lay back, both succumbing to the hard boards we rolled our sleeping mats out, leaned our bikes against the benches and watched the tiny bats emerge form the rafters and fly out in search of insects on the wing.

I slept surprisingly well until around 2am when I awoke to a car idling right beside the pagoda. I lay there thinking the car would move on soon, it didn’t, I began wondering what it was doing there, they could clearly see our bikes and probably realise we were trying to sleep. For an hour or so it just sat idling and I fell back to sleep, then I woke to see the guy from the car putting a plastic container on the bench where John had been sleeping (he had since moved down onto the grass outside), he placed a cellphone atop the water and then hung a inflated swimming ring right above John’s head. I caught Johns eye, and he looked as confused as I was.  But it was 3am and the guy since had returned to his car, and driven off, so we went back to sleep. I woke a couple more times as the car returned to idle outside the pagoda.

When the sun cam up at 5am, John and I got up and sat bleary eyed looking at the water container, cellphone and swimming ring, and then turning to look at the car still idling next to the pagoda, I didn’t know what was going on. We slowly packed our stuff up and rolled down the lake shore 100m to a picnic table to make coffee and eat breakfast, as soon as we did the rest of the cars inhabitants emerged, a women and 3 children who supposedly had been sleeping inside the idling car the whole time, the kids ran down to the lake to swim (it was midsummer it was already swim worthy at 5.30am).

We realised that the family had come to the lake for the day and wanted to ‘bags’ that pagoda for the day, and decided they needed to get in early, real early obviously (even though that stretch of the lake was deserted) and that the something valuable like a cellphone is needed to make the claim (or maybe they are going to ring it if to wake us lazy gaijin up if we slept in).

It was a strange experience, both showing how safe Japan is (I don’t think I’d feel safe sleeping on a bench by the side of the road in New Zealand or Australia) but also how focused some Japanese can be, that guy knew he was going to get that pagoda for his family and two Gaijin cyclists weren’t gonna stop him.

I’ll leave you with this unrelated photo.

P1030462

 

MD

https://twitter.com/FreerangePress/status/245002191537057792

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Future City: London’s Olympic legacy

Now that the Olympics have been over for almost three weeks, I think I’m FINALLY over the severe depression that comes after one hell of a party. For two magical weeks, London wasn’t London: People were friendly! The tubes ran on time! Even the weather behaved! Well mostly….

And what a show the city put on – from Team GB smashing the medal tally to permanently high excitement levels and endless cultural activities this was an amazing time to live in the capital of Old Blighty. In short – London delivered. Greg Baum of the Sydney Morning Herald even conceded that London trumped Sydney in 2000 saying, ‘[London’s] Olympics had Sydney’s vibrancy, Athen’s panache, Beijing’s efficiency and added British know-how and drollery.” Jon Stewart dryly noted that London managed to put into the Opening Ceremony the only thing Beijing left out – actual humans.

But taking a step back from the Games, the real dividend gained by London was the culmination of all the capital investment and urban transformation that has taken place in preparation. To look at the London of 2012, is a very different picture to the London of 30 years ago. In the space of my lifetime, this city has become a place people actually want to visit and live in as opposed to a place people feel beholden to come to due to colonial apron strings, financial concerns or because it’s the ‘gateway to Europe’.

Don’t get me wrong, London is still far from perfect. The anger that boiled over in the London Riots last year is a case in point, as are the continued difficulties navigating such a labyrinthine city structure, steep transport costs and high rates of petty crime. And let’s not talk about the weather.

These problems weren’t magically washed away because of two weeks of sporting glory but London managed to leverage the Olympics to not only push through vast new infrastructure with long-term benefits but to also challenge perceptions about how the city functions.

While London is one of the world’s most developed cities, it hasn’t always been one of the most enjoyable. As Pritiker Prize winning architect Richard Rogers’ says, ‘It’s hard to remember how depressing London was in the seventies and eighties.’ He argues that London has returned with a vengeance since the bleak days of Thatcher and if the Olympics represents London coming into its own in the 21st Century, the Tate Modern’s opening in 2000, marked the inception of this new era.*

We all know the amazing story of Tate Modern – How Sir Nicholas Serota took the almost recklessly bold decision to use the location of an old Power Station, in a disused part of town with no tourist amenities nearby. But nobody envisaged just how successful it would be – the Southwark area around Tate Modern has subsequently been completely regenerated and the gallery is set to expand in the future to deal with high visitor demand.

If Tate represents the beginnings of London forging a modern identity, areas such as Kings Cross and Hackney further illustrate the city’s growth and adaptability. 20 years ago, the inner-East suburb of Kings Cross was a rough transport hub notorious for rampant prostitution and drug abuse. Now the Eurostar departs from here, Kings Cross station has been impressively extended, the trendy Central St Martin’s College has moved into a purpose built space and there is still over £10 billion worth of redevelopment slated to take place (such as Google’s new London headquarters).

While the suburb has resembled a large construction yard for the past five years, many of the projects were pushed through to finish in time for The Olympics, and what a difference the lack of cranes makes. Beyond the immediate area of the station are still your manky chicken shops and council flats, but there are now smart urban pathways, chic bars, galleries and gastro pubs making this a place to actively visit, instead of purposely avoid.

In the bidding process for the 2012 Olympics, London had a firm focus on legacy, of putting in a sustainable long-term development plan that would see the Eastern suburbs continue to grow after Olympic fanfare had died down.

The 1992 Barcelona Games provided the model for London. Spanish architect Josep Acebillo, who led the Barcelona Olympic project said: “We were the first Olympics conceived primarily for the transformation of the city. London was influenced by our philosophy.” Of the £10 billion public funds pledged for the Olympics, only 10% went towards new sporting venues, while the bulk was used for improvements to transport, housing and re-shaping Barcelona’s seafront. According to Mayor Jordi Hereu, the Games “were the start of Barcelona going from a local to a global city.”**

London was already a global city, but the pitch here was to go from malfunctioning to modern, to transform the deprived East into a relevant part of the larger city. Unlike post-Olympics Athens and Beijing where the sporting venues have been underutilised or left to gather dust, London has ensured there is a purpose for each venue. West Ham football club will take over the main stadium; the Athletes Village will be transformed into residential apartments. Other venues will be dismantled and sold after the Paralympics end – Rio has already expressed an interest in the de-mountable basketball stand for 2016 but there is no information yet as to what will become of the world’s largest McDonalds….

London also pushed through a huge piece of infrastructure in the form of the gleaming new Overground rail system. This massive commitment to join East to West and provide transport options beyond the beleaguered tube, has opened up whole swathes of the city and made them accessible in a way that was inconceivable ten years ago.

How the Olympic park will knit into the East London community will be the ultimate answer to the Games legacy but the city has already proven that leveraging deadlines based on a global event is the most effective way to raise money, sort out approvals and deliver large scale projects on the ground. The calibre of the delivery is directly related to the vision that has accompanied the project. London has envisioned well and delivered much to be proud of and grow from as it enters a new phase of modernity. In the post-Olympics world, London as a city has a great deal to look forward to.

* For a thorough evaluation of Tate Modern’s place in London – and Sir Nicolas Serota’s role within this –see Calvin Tomkins, Profiles, “The Modern Man,”in The New Yorker
** All quotes about Barcelona taken from The Standard

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Make-Space for Architecture : Draft One

On March 28 we’ll be unofficially opening the doors on a shifty new architecture dedicated gallery for Sydney named Make-Space for Architecture. Unofficially. Officially we open in May – and not a day sooner with all the work still to be done – but in the meantime we’ve been generously offered a space in Sydney’s historic Rocks to (confusingly) pre-open in.

We’re setting up this gallery to be an independent venue promoting the agency of architecture in Sydney, focussing particularly on engaging the public in thinking and talking about architecture. We’re also playing with – at least initially – making the gallery mobile so that it can temporarily inhabit various places around Sydney.

In line with our tentative developmental state, we’ll be ‘not opening’ with an exhibition called Draft One – an informal series of events loosely forming a month long conversation about contemporary Sydney, architecture, what Make-Space could be and who would like to be involved (this involvement invitation extends to all freerangers, of course). Documenting this will be an on-site drawing (inspired by Byron Kinnairds wonderful ‘The Institution of Architecture’) collating Make-Space’s draft documents with anything that gallery visitors feel compelled to add around 3 themes: The Way We Live, Architecture/Make-Space and Utopia.

A series of small events will provoke and support this conversation:

  • An evolving 3-dimensional drawing that engages the public and visitors in 3 topics: The Way We Live, Architecture/Make-Space and Utopia.
  • Online conversation occurring across Facebook and Twitter
  • 3 public conversations with local experts: Politics in architectural production, Ethical/Critical Praxis and Experimentation
  • A series of public meetings discussing organisational aspects of Make-Space
  • Hosting screenings for BLDBLOG’s Breaking Out and Breaking In Distributed Film Festival
  • Continuous streaming of videos and podcasts about architecture
  • Hosting student design studios

We’ve also compiled an over-ambitious and broad set of goals to simmer and reduce over the next four weeks:

MAINTAIN INDEPENDENCE : Agility to respond. Support diverse and pluralist points of view.

CATALYSE CREATIVITY : Seed creative moments through events. Unlock creative potential.

NURTURE CRITICAL PRACTICE : Use design as a tool to challenge the status quo. Explore the extremes of practice modes.

FOSTER PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT : Engage and inform communities and the public about the agency of design and architecture in the city.

AGITATE POWER STRUCTURES : Publish and support alternative positions on established power structures.

DEMYSTIFY DESIGN PROCESSES : Open up the priorities and processes of architectural production to public view and scrutiny.

RECALIBRATE VALUE : Explore alternative value structures within the city.

SUPPORT URBAN EXPERIMENTATION : Learning through failure. Incremental development.

EMBRACE DIVERSITY : Retain an inclusive and diverse platform of opinions. Examine pluralism in urban society within a framework of rigorous debate.

POLITICISE DESIGN : Expose the political nature of design and it’s use in the manifestation of ideologies.

If you’re in Sydney in April, come visit us in the Rocks – otherwise our progress can be tracked here (www) and here (twitter) and here (spacechook)

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Anti-kettling technology, What?

There is a really interesting article just published by the Guardian which outlines new technology being developed by a young bunch of folk in London.  The aim of this technology, which has its first run successfully on Saturday afternoon, is to use social media technologies to enable large crowds of protesters to avoid the aggressive containment techniques (kettling) currently used by the British police.   As the guardian article notes, while the main action is presently happening in Egypt, this development deserves a footnote in protest history. The new software is called Sukey from the Nursery Rhyme ““Polly put the kettle on, Sukey take it off again.

The Guardian Article here.

and while we are here, a couple of good insightful articles into wtf is happening in Egypt at the moment.

Robert Fisk at the Independent:

Gywnne Dyer: Current Protests Reminiscent of 1989

and of course the great series of photos of protesters kissing security forces during the protests.

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Apathy Protest!

This Saturday the 8th of May in Wellington, there is a very tricksterish event happening which you should all go to.  It starts at 4pm at the Charles Plimmer Park at the end of Majori Banks Street.  This is part of a project by Toby Huddlestone and Sarah Jane Parton that will be broadcast live to Wysing Arts Centre in the UK. The artist statement below is really interesting as a take on the trickster theme that we are investigating this year at Freerange.

Protest Apathy stems from an observation that the best way to be subversive these days is to work ‘internally’; to puncture from the inside. The now antiquated mode of sticking your fingers up to authority just does not work any more, as more and more attempts at dissent and disobedience are subsumed by ‘the machine’ (authority/establishment/

government/media). The idea of proclaiming that ‘everything is OK’ and there is ‘no reason to moan’ is massively sarcastic – we know the opposite to be true. But by not defining one’s political stance and protesting in this way actually renders authority impotent, as they cannot stop something that is essentially about nothing and apparently ‘positive’. This ultimately becomes subversive, although knowingly non-specific.
Here’s a slightly low quality, but very interesting presentation by the artist about the Protest Apathy work.

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