Archive

Conferences

The 6th Conference on Infrastructure Development in Africa, has just concluded with a particular focus this year on ‘Building Resilience through African Urban Culture’. Held at KNUST in Kumasi, Ghana the conference welcomed speakers from Nigeria, South Africa and UK, as well as a host of research papers presented from scholars based in Ghana.

Key note speakers (including Prof. Chike Oduoza, Dr Obuks Ejohwomu and Prof. Mugendi M’Rithaa) lucidly presented the varied and many challenges facing African cities today – with particular focus on energy use, digital infrastructure and the internet of every/things.

Prof. M’Rithaa’s presentation included some very striking map visuals, including the image below that shows the true size of Africa relative to other countries – something that Mercator projection of the world fails to reveal. You can just make out on the poor quality photo below the outlines of USA and India. He also spoke very eloquently on how our solutions must be people centred, rather than imposed solutions. Dr Ejohwomu also challenged us with many provocative questions and themes – including a cartoon showing an emaciated cow and a worker abandoning it in pursuit of an obese cattle. His challenge was that we can’t simply walk away from the problem and that Africa needs us to focus on its problems rather than attempting to flee them in the ‘global north’. This message also reinforced by Prof. David Edwards and Dr. Erica Parn in their presentation.

IMG_1313

IMG_1322

I gave a presentation on the rich modern architectural history of Ghana, and the infrastructure of culture that exists here. I focused on a series of building types including education, community centres, and libraries, as well as the town planning and historical development of Kumasi.

IMG_1309

Nearly 50 papers followed on a vast array of topics as well as a striking art installation on the plight of the African Giant Snail’s ecosystem. A new journal was launched ‘Journal of Built Environment (ISSN: 2026-5409) and next year the conference will migrate to Lagos – we look forward to hearing more from this important gathering.

Urban Heritage Activism
Thursday 16 March – Friday 17 March, 09:00-18:00
TU Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 16-18, 10623 Berlin
Register: contact@urbannarratives.org
www.urbannarratives.org

urban-heritage-activism-conference_front

The two-day Urban Heritage Activism conference will focus on heritage ‘from below’–urban history as it is lived, represented and transformed by local communities in diverse geographies and cultural contexts. Speakers from grassroots movements, academic and cultural institutions will address political ramifications and power struggles related to heritage and introduce the failures and solutions of various activism projects, especially in postcolonial contexts. Contributors will debate contemporary tensions and future strategies for interventions through a roundtable discussion at the end of each day.

In addition to the stimulating conference programme, the Simulizi Mijini / Urban Narratives exhibition Juxtaposing Narratives: Dar es Salaam and Berlin will open at 8pm on Friday 17 March with a cooking performance, live music and a DJ. Walking tours and film screenings will round off the programme of events.

urban-heritage-activism-conference_back

Speakers and moderators: Erica Abreu, Jully Acuna, Yaşar Adanali, Awami Art Collective, Comfort Badaru, Diane Barbé, Shraddha Bhatawadekar, Vittoria Capresi, Jerome Chou , Rebecca Corey, Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper, Matthias Einhoff, Anne-Katrin Fenk, Zinovia Foka, Susanne Förster, Benjamin Häger, Maj Horn, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Sehr Jalil, Leila Javanmardi, Claudia Jürgens, Georg Krajewsky, Rachel Lee, Farah Makki, Sarita Mamseri, Srdjan Mandić, Mansion, Avehi Menon, Philipp Misselwitz, Monika Motylinska, Rishika Mukhopadhyay, Laura Murray, Marcelo Murta, Naira Mushtaq, Cord Pagenstecher, Luise Rellensmann, Ana Luisa Ribeiro, Juliane Richter, Gözde Şarlak, Jona Schwerer, Annika Seifert, Gülsah Stapel, Samaila Suleiman and Mike Terry

Artists: Rehema Chachage, Cloud Chatanda, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, KUNSTrePUBLIK and Jan van Esch, Umesh Maddanahalli, Michelle Monareng, Patrick Mudekereza, Paul Ndunguru, Nadin Reschke, and Alex Römer

The Road Less Traveled is the overarching title given to a  yearlong series of exhibitions programmed at the Kohler Arts Center to celebrate its 50th Birthday Anniversary  – including a major exhibition on Indian artist and visionary environment creator, Nek Chand. The Arts Center has the largest collection of Nek Chand sculptures outside of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh – and they’ve put 200 sculptures on show in an extraordinary exhibition.

img_0960

Curator Karen Patterson was looking for a more collaborative and creative approach to curating the shows and selected a responder for each exhibition to bring new and unique insights to the work and the final shows.

Karen asked me to send her a few ideas on how Nek Chand’s sculptures might be presented and exhibited. We met in Liverpool and discussed a range of concepts, including developing a virtual reality film of the Rock Garden [something I’m really eager to do]. We spoke about the experiential, almost cinematic nature of the Rock Garden – and how it is arranged as a series of distinct ‘outside rooms’ or events. Moving through the space and watching the sculptures being ‘revealed’, hidden, and glimpsed through this process is crucial in Nek Chand’s work.

It was also a decade since I completed my PhD research – and I felt it was a good time to revisit my measured drawings and catalogue of the Rock Garden. Karen agreed to exhibit my survey work and I got the catalogue reprinted at A3 size and its 250+ pages hard bound. I really enjoyed ‘re-discovering’ my old work. The survey drawings had been kept rolled up in a plastic tube for ten years, and I carefully extracted the coil of drawings, not knowing in what condition they might be in. Thankfully, they were exactly as I’d left them- tattered at the edges, full of rips, holes and dog-eared corners. I sent them off to the Arts Center, hoping they wouldn’t get lost in the post…

img_0897

The catalogues of Nek Chand’s work

 

I arrived at the Arts Centre a few days before the official opening, having seen the CAD drawings of the proposed show, produced by the exhibition designer and co-curator Amy Chaloupka. There’s always a disconnect between an architectural drawing and what it represents – and this was no exception. The scale of the exhibition is vast – and the amount of work required to produce, install and prepare the ‘terrain’ is incredible. One really gets a sense of what it is like to be in the Rock Garden – without there being any sense of pastiche or mimicry. The sculptures are arranged according to type on a series of terraced podiums that sweep through the space, compressing the visitor into a narrow gorge-like passage where the sculptures are densely arranged facing into the walkway. This approach puts the sculptures at eye level and really enables a dialogue to emerge between the viewer and the figures.  As well as the concrete sculptures there is a collection of the cloth works – an often overlooked component of Nek Chand’s work – they are again arranged as a group and tightly gathered so that they read as an ensemble of works that need to be walked around, and examined.

In addition to Nek Chand’s sculptures there is an archway reminiscent of the Phase-3 part of the Rock Garden. Contained within this segment of the exhibition are four panoramic photographs, the catalogue and the survey drawings.

img_0994

Installing the Drawings…

img_1013

Panoramic photos and drawings. The catalogue sits on the perspex stand.

img_1012

Survey drawings of the Rock Garden

You can find out more about the other wonderful exhibitions here: https://www.jmkac.org/exhibitions/theroadlesstraveled and there will be a conference on 26th-28th September 2017. None of this is to be missed….

 

img_2077

Simulizi Mijini/Urban Narratives is an interdisciplinary inquiry into urban heritage in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Berlin, Germany. Through artist residencies, student exchanges and discursive events, the project seeks to develop a more inclusive approach to urban heritage that embraces multiple voices and supports diverse readings of urban environments from a ‘bottom-up’ perspective. For more information about the project and the programme of events, which have already included two summer schools, 10 artist residencies and a one-day symposium in Dar es Salaam, please visit our website: www.urbannarratives.org

We now announce a call for abstracts for a two-day international conference at the Technical University Berlin from 16-17 March 2017, which, together with a coinciding exhibition at ZK/U, will culminate the project.

For the Berlin conference we invite contributions that focus on heritage activism in diverse geographical and cultural contexts. Abstracts that address the political ramifications of urban heritage, particularly in postcolonial environments, are particularly welcome. We wish to engage the grassroots movements around the world that are demanding a more inclusive approach to heritage, redefining how places in the built environment are valued and preserved. In addition we will question the role of research and scholarship as well as other forms of political, cultural and arts practice in supporting heritage movements. Rather than convening an academic event, we will create a multidisciplinary platform for activists, scholars, artists, cultural producers, students and local residents to debate urban heritage, present innovative approaches and put forward inclusive solutions.

Abstracts are invited that address case studies in urban heritage activism in relation to the following topics:

(curating urban heritage)

How can information about urban heritage be gathered in diverse urban contexts at a community level? What are appropriate methods and tools for data collection? What role does oral history play? How can the data be archived in an open, accessible and transformable way? What strategies for curating urban heritage ‘from below’ have been successfully tried and tested?

(media and protest)

What can new technologies, such as augmented reality or virtual reality, offer to urban heritage research, curation and communication? What effects have social media had on documenting and archiving urban heritage? How have they affected protest movements? How can technologies be employed to hack or amend existing official heritage narratives?

(activating urban heritage)

Building on the Faro Convention, how can awareness be raised about urban heritage as a common cultural good and human right? What tactics can be used to increase public consciousness and foster local participation in the heritage discourse? How do we begin to (re)determine what is preserved and what is recognised as ‘historically relevant’ at a community level, thereby including diverse, minority and forgotten, ignored, or silenced voices?

(performing and preserving)

How can urban heritage be communicated to a wider audience effectively? How can its significance be understood and supported beyond the community level? What artistic, performative and curatorial strategies have been developed to convey the significance of certain places and practices within communities and neighbourhoods? How can these be used to protect and support their continued presence?  

Submissions and Deadline
Please submit a 300 word abstract including contact details and a brief CV to rachel.lee@tu-berlin.de by 15 December 2016.

Travel Bursaries
A limited number of travel bursaries will be available towards covering the costs of traveling to Berlin.

Book Publication
A selection of contributions will be included in a book publication, forthcoming in 2017. Authors interested in contributing to the book will be expected to submit a 1500 word synopsis of their conference presentation by 15 February 2017.

Dar es Salaam Symposium
The Berlin conference picks up on issues raised at the Reconfiguring Heritage from Below symposium held in Dar es Salaam in April 2016. There speakers from Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, South Africa, Turkey, Belgium and the UK presented heritage case studies and projects from postcolonial contexts.

http://urbannarratives.org/en/events/

Notes
As an interdisciplinary, transnational programme, we encourage contributions from all horizons to apply. We seek to increase the number of women, people with disabilities and non-Western contributors in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage them to apply.

This project is funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

ksb_sw-kopie