This was a first-year undergrad design studio at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture taught by @srdjan_jovanovic_weiss getting the students to begin thinking conceptually about form and materials, starting with examining a kernel of popcorn, use it to then evolve into the form of a building component such as a door, stairs, or rooftop, then creating a model of the drawings, working back and forth between drawings and stiffening the model with another material, until they finally developed a larger-scale model that they interlaced together into an urban environment. Fascinating to participate in this crit, which I started by asking the students what kind of feedback would be helpful for them to have from us as reviewers. It’s challenging to come up with responses at times, but you want to find something both encouraging that acknowledges the student’s thinking and the integrity of their process, while pushing them to challenge themselves to go further in their research and development as artists. Love the cue Srdjan gives them to pursue their own obsessions to discover a process. Great studio to witness.
If half the people in Stuytown die in the next two years I’m in a position to get a pretty sweet apartment downtown.
Dept. of Self-Promotion: I wrote on the subject of posthumanism in art and architecture for the December issue of Art in America @artinamerica, considering how we can think beyond the human to extend understanding, create spaces, and enable tools of representation for other living things, inspired by projects like the Environmental Performance Agency @environmentalperformanceagency, Monarch Sanctuary by @terreform_1, Ecological Citizens by @scape_studio, Water is Sacred // Trees are Relatives by @wiisaakodewinini, Natural History Museum @thenaturalhistorymuseum, Swamp Pavilion @swamppavilion, L’Arbre Blanc by @sou_fujimoto and using the work of Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour as guideposts. Thanks especially to editors @briandroitcour and Ratik Asokan for shaping the assignment and sending back pointed questions. It’s print only, but look it up if you’re in a library or bookstore. “Other Voices, Other Worlds: Prompted by the dire ecological effects of business as usual, a number of artists and architects now embrace a ‘posthuman’ worldview, crafting projects based on a decentralized, nonhierarchical unity of all species.”
Hadn’t seen Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir since the early years but had to show up to support the Indypendent @theindypendent still running after 18 years. Thanks @leialeed for the tickets and reintroduction to the downtown political organizers! May the Committee to Protect Chinatown and the LES and Youth Against Displacement @youth_against_displacement stop the four towers seeking variances or even better get them built as 100 percent affordable units. Meetings! The Chinatown Working Group @cwg_nyc will meet as usual on the first Monday of the month at 6:30pm, 275 Cherry Street in the community room. The agenda will include: Lawsuit December Town Hall and January March Proposed prison Website Public Advocate special election December 12, 6pm to 8pm Two Bridges Town Hall At 122 Henry st Hosted by the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side And Youth Against Displacement
Thanks everyone for stopping by the housewarming party—Kitty appreciated the good conversation. Thanks @perry_streetart for the pic. Whoever secretly left the bottle of Dom Perignon in the fridge you’re kind and sweet darlings and rats for not identifying yourselves. Thanks @karenkubey for making the intro to my new flatmate Eleanor van Hest. Thanks @leialeed for bringing the ukelele and motivating me to pick up the guitar and for harmonizing. Thanks @oiiodesign @aaronburrsociety @srdjan_jovanovic_weiss @jaycheshes @matthiasneumann @ntilit @davidcooknyc @marygagler @idsrarchitecture @catec94306 @heintzmm @ameliapractice @karinbacon @idsr_arch @datasew @williamrockwell @riqueramirez @sashasumner1 @vteverez @nevarezbpm and those who don’t have Instagram handles I can find Djordje Djordjevic, Lize Mogel, Eirini Tsachrelia, Stu Rudin, Al Ramos, Garret Linn, Fran Benitez, Eiju Kawasaki, Michael Gotkin, John Glavan and those I can’t think of right now for visiting our sliced house on Conselyea.
Also a favorite place down the street, you can get a pound of fresh pasta for around $3.50, directly from the Savinos—mom, pop, and son! Stop by our housewarming at 231 Conselyea from 5 pm on and say hi.
Long line at Acme Smoked Fish for Fish Fridays. Stop by 231 Conselyea and say hi at my new place this Saturday after 5 to late.
I came back to the United States of America, but it’s good to know there’s a French-speaking country five or six hours away. This way to the gas ladies and gentlemen. Apparently the worldview of the criminal-militarized state has been thoroughly incorporated into the art world since Thanksgiving. That can be changed too, if you want it.
Scenes from modern Montreal
Douglas Coupland @douglascoupland
Click link in bio for Leonard Cohen on poetry. #kevinledo #leonardcohen #leplateau @kevinledo
Geeking out on Montreal bookstores @atelier_10 @librairiedrawnandquarterly @leportdetete
Great show at the DHC/ART in Montreal exploring the “production of national culture and its instrumentalization for political aims” by London-based Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic, titled Everything That You Desire and Nothing That You Fear. Four women discuss on a sustained level the value of preserving or demolishing buildings: the texts are all from historical documents, including architecture critics like Ada Louise Huxtable, theorists like Bruno Taut, and dictators like Mussolini. The videos are staged in significant historical and modernist buildings of the Yugoslav state and ones designed by Mies van der Rohe. In other videos, modern dancers interact with the architecture, and in some rooms, installations expand on architecture as an expression of statecraft. It makes you have to ask how our governing ideals are reflected in the built environment. Is JP Morgan Chase still demolishing Natalie de Blois’s Union Carbide Building to gain an extra 10 percent of unused floor area available in the zoning envelope? #jasminacibic #modernarchitecture #nationbuilding @dhc_art @cibicjasmina #historiclandmarks #preservation #demolition #unioncarbidebuilding
Here are the statues commemorating colonialism and the founding of Montreal in slow motion. Claude said he thinks the U.S. needs to scrap everything and start over, and that’s equally the case for all of North America, if not all of the Americas.
I got off the subway at Champ-de-Mars and walked past the Place d’Arms down toward the Old Port—the partly preserved historic port on the St. Lawrence River—which resembles New York’s South Street Seaport in some ways, stopped for a poutine, and continued toward the DHC/ART, soaking in the architecture of Vieux Montreal.
As a stranger, the statues marking the nation’s formation become more transparent as memorials to colonial and imperial violence, in this case commemorating the defeat of the Iroquois by the French and then the French repulsion of the English and finally the English conquest of the French, all situated in the vicinity of the Place d’Armes. It’s a history of contested space still being disputed, at times violently, as at the southern border. Yet here in Canada, I evidently might as well be a citizen of the Union of the Americas, our history of settler colonialism has so much in common across the continent.
Here I am mugging in front of a building I loved in Vieux Montreal, the Hotel Le St. James, formerly the Merchants Bank of Canada, built and then modified in 1870 and 1899, with influences too varied to encapsulate in a single style but resembling the spirit of the Ecole de Beaux-Arts.
After Thanksgiving at my brother’s place in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, I drove up through Vermont to Montreal, where Claude Boullevraye de Passillé, an architect I met when he was living in New York, is hosting me in his apartment in Mile End, a neighborhood where all of the famous Jewish delis and bagel places are, now a popular arts district with lots of industrial buildings converted into lofts, galleries, and the headquarters of the French gaming company Ubisoft, which employs thousands of workers Montreal. In one of these loft buildings where Claude has an office, we happened into the Mile End Guitar Coop, where a local band was playing traditional Son Jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico. During the reign of Louis XV, the British took over the French colony in what became known as Quebec. The French settlers became second-class citizens until the establishment of a self-governing entity within the British Empire in 1867. I’m told that as many as 10 percent of Montreal residents are ex-patriots of France who came here to work in the booming tech sector.
Throw back to this dinner on my last night in Sussarges at the Auberge de Bérange on the Route de Sommiéres northeast of Montpellier. When I walk into the inn, a bunch of truckers are eating and gossiping in front of the TV in the tavern piled up with the proprietor’s receipts and records. They shuffle me into the formal restaurant with a terrace and a buffet of appetizers—cheese, smoked meat, and marinated vegetables, and all manner of things I could not name. I order the prix fixe menu for maybe 17 Euros, and they plunk this entire bottle of local wine on the table. That’s called table wine. It was good but I could only get through half of it. The fish is served broiling in a cream sauce. I could go on about the good life in this little village near my mother’s hometown, where she grew up as a refugee. That’s nearly half the point. I love Thanksgiving, a great secular American holiday, a holiday that asks us to do what spiritual teaching and scientific research counsels us to do for our well-being—be grateful. And I love the fact that the holiday is premised on a romanticized but partly true origin story of the country that recalls when our pioneer ancestors were refugees in a foreign land in need of help because they hadn’t yet settled in and learned its ways, so they relied upon the local indigenous people to feed them and share their knowledge (when they weren’t killing them and violating treaties). Happy Thanksgiving—I’m grateful for so much.
Freshkills Park is a half-century trash heap sealed off from the surface with layers of soil, gas and drainage vents, an impermeable plastic liner, barrier protection material, and then covered with six inches to twelve feet of soil. Our tour winds through the four mounds, named the North, South, East and West Parks. A confluence of fresh water flows through the middle from the Main and Richmond Creeks. The mounds are wild with seeded grasses, fragmites along the shore, trees that nobody planted, grasshopper sparrows, and deer—maybe a coyote. One hundred fifty million tons of trash from a half century of waste lies beneath the verdant landscape. I remember when the international competition for the master plan was won by James Corner Field Operations in 2002, which set out the orientation, philosophy, method, circulation, ideas for programming, and time scale for change on the site. Most of it is still not publicly accessible, but they are beginning to design public parks, working from the edges toward the center. For the moment, the New York City Department of Sanitation still runs the site, managing a major engineered infrastructure underground that captures methane from decomposing biomass and leachate effluence, which is dried out, the water cleaned and released into English Kills. The grasses are mowed once a year, holding back the growth of trees and keeping the surface manageable for remediation, but rare grasshopper sparrows have colonized the area. The creeks are protected from the landfill by the plastic barrier and layers of material. Rain water forms ponds on top of the capped waste, and storm surges get absorbed and repelled by the mounds, protecting the nearby homes. A wildlife management team treats it as a research experiment in land use and the relations between human and other living things. It’s beginning to be programmed with tours like the ones on Sunday, led by Lize Mogel, one of the 2,200 Acres: Field R/D artists-in-residence, curated by programming manager Mariel Villeré and Dylan Gauthier. Lize says its an experiment in co-production between humans and non-humans; so much of what has grown up has been unanticipated.