EVENT 7/2/12: The Critical and Activist Practice

The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is hosting an event that explores “what it means to be Critical and Activist in the context of design/art/architecture/urban practices.

Image courtesy of: Wobbe F. Koning’s flickr stream

When: MONDAY JUL 02, 06:30 PM

Austrian Cultural Forum
11 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022

Why you should go:
Perhaps you want to tap into a richer understanding of how to be a community planner/activist/designer/advocate within a tricky political framework with few financial resources, or maybe you are a big fan of James Rojas?

From the ACFNY website:

WochenKlausur Features, New York (USA), a project by Vienna-based group WochenKlausur, who are part of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s tenth anniversary exhibition, OUR HAUS, focuses on contemporary positions and practices on the topic of housing and public space.

For the duration of the exhibition (which runs through August 26), nine New York-based organizations, associations, interest groups, and activists who deal with issues of housing and the urban built environment were chosen to use the ACFNY Gallery space for one week each. From July 2 to July 8, DSGN AGNC will be the WochenKlausur “NPO-in-residence” at the ACFNY.

This panel discussion organized by DSGN AGNC will explore the question of what it means to be Critical and Activist in the context of design/art/architecture/urban practices. As practices increasingly engage social and environmental issues the question remains as to how to effectively work within the fragmented, decentralized and often weakened fiscal and political structures that characterize the neo-liberal city. The panel will discuss how designers can fully engage in political processes rather than accept short-sighted solutions and to be advocates for projects that go beyond token investments on ‘green’ and ‘social’.

To unpack these issues the following five topics will be discussed by invited speakers and the audience:

Strategist Practices: Identifying and Mapping Urban Conflict
Speaker: Sarah Williams, Columbia University

Tactical Approaches: On Media and Quick Action
Speaker: Daniel Latorre presenting Occupy Town Square and The Illuminator

Erase Autonomy: Blurring Disciplinary Boundaries
Speaker: Paula Z Segal, 596 Acres

Working With, not For: Community Participatory Processes
Speaker: James Rojas, Latino Urban Forum

Designing Processes, not Products: No Outcome is Ever Final
Speaker: Mabel Wilson, Columbia University

Moderator: Anthony W. (Tony) Schuman, NJIT
Tony Schuman is a registered architect and associate professor of architecture in the College of Architecture and Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), where he has served as both undergraduate and graduate program director. Tony was a founding member of a series of advocacy and activist organizations in the architecture and planning professions, including Urban Deadline, The Architects’ Resistance (TAR), Homefront, and the Planners Network.

This conversation and other research and projects will be included on a zine on Critical Activist practices that DSGN AGNC will design and publish while on residency at the Austrian Cultural Forum from July 2nd-8th. The zine will be launched during a panel discussion on media and publishing at the ACF on July 8th at 3PM. More information on this second panel is forthcoming.

DSGN AGNC (design agency) is a research and design collaborative. They offer the concept of critical activism as an operational platform which posits that that folding activism into the discourse of critical spatial and design practice opens up new possibilities to rethink the structure and scope of the design process. Critical activism also postulates that no product is ever final – designs, buildings, landscapes and urban systems demand broad and holistic community-based processes that can change over time with both constants and variables.

#whOWNSpace arises from the the questions that the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought up about ownership and use of open space in New York City, North America, and cities around the world.


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