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Intervening Spaces

Respatialisation and the Body

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Edited by Nycole Prowse

Intervening Spaces examines the interconnectedness between bodies, time and space - the oscillating and at times political impact that occurs when bodies and space engage in non-conventional ways. Bodies intervene with space, creating place. Likewise, space can reconceptualise notions of the subject-body. Such respatialisation does not occur in a temporal vacuum. The moment can be more significant than a millennia in producing new ways to see corporeal connections with space. Drawing on theorists as diverse as Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lefebvre and Grosz, temporal and spatial dichotomies are dissolved, disrupted and interrupted via interventions—revealing new ways of inhabiting space. The volume crosses disciplines contributing to the fields of Sociology, Literature, Performance Arts, Visual Arts, Architecture and Urban Design.

Contributors are Burcu Baykan, Pelin Dursun Çebi, Michelle Collins, Christobel Kelly, Anthi Kosma, Ana Carolina Lima e Ferreira, Katerina Mojanchevska, Clementine Monro, Katsuhiko Muramoto, Nycole Prowse, Shelley Smith, Nicolai Steinø and İklim Topaloğlu.

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Michelle Collins

Abstract

This chapter discusses ritual sound as an intervention on the body that enacts respatialisation, creating a space inbetween, where there is the potential for transformation. This anthropological research investigates the ritual sounds of keening, as a corporeal intervention, within the context of the modern day Keening ceremony. In the preceding chapter Burcu Baykan examines the body not as a complete, bounded entity with distinct boundaries between interior and exterior, but rather as porous, leaky. The limits of the body’s pliability are considered here also, where boundaries potentially dissolve and spatial-corporeal divisions collapse through interventions on the body via keening sounds. Conventional notions of space are transcended in Keening ceremonies and an ambiguous space emerges. This chapter suggests an alternative experience of being and relating as an outcome of ritual sound inscribed on the body. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential for individual and communal transformation through inhabiting inbetween spaces.

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Katsuhiko Muramoto

Abstract

Current discourse on sustainable architecture is often too narrowly defined and much of the discourse concentrates on technological questions, especially on energy efficiency. A key assumption unquestioned in this approach is the separation between the natural world and the subject, a one-way mode of causation defining the subject’s instrumental relationship with nature. Under this Cartesian paradigm of subject-object duality all things are knowable and controllable and an object (i.e. nature) is considered primarily in terms of its utility to human beings – through technology humans can control the environment and manage resources in a way that meets humanity’s needs and desires.1 The Modernist slogan ‘Form follows function’ is now replaced by Form follows energy performance. Cloaked and obfuscated under the current approach in architectural practice are the relational connections to the other. Drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Tetsuro Watsuji, this chapter elaborates a structure of reversibility and attempts to reconceptualise the interconnectedness and ‘interdependentness’ between body, space and nature in relation to the current sustainability discourse in architecture. It argues that scientific and technological advancements alone are not sufficient for a sustainable future. What is urgently needed is a new paradigm where we become aware of relational bodies.

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İklim Topaloğlu and Pelin Dursun Çebi

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Public space can create social memory and enliven cities through the use of constructed spatial elements, streets and squares, as well as through the spatial events and interventions that take place in these particular spaces. With the help of these elements, urban space becomes its own open-air exhibition. People from all walks of life can create an ongoing communicative relationship with the space and with the city. Today, a new design culture is stimulating production, action and interaction. Multiple and elusive meanings, a pluralistic environment and the participation of the audience in design are emphasised. In the discipline of art and architecture we are moving from static, definite and finished icons to more open, changing and reflective spatial entities. New forms of art and new architectural installations in urban spaces provide an experimental medium for citizens to communicate with their surroundings. They can re-structure their spatial perceptions and reconceptualise the spatial structure of the city. By disturbing usual everyday practices, rhythms and choreographies, these new art forms propose alternative living scenarios in public space. It is these creative spatial interventions that enliven both the body and the city. Resonating with the work of Shelley Smith, Nicolai Steinø, Ana Carolina Lima e Ferreira and Katerina Mojanchevska in this volume, the aim of this chapter is to discuss the contributions of participant and audience-oriented art and architectural installations to urban public space. Selected installations are examined in terms of their spatial potential, their ways of transforming public space and the tactics that are used for the redefinition and recreation process. It is believed that decoding the design features of these sophisticated installations will enhance our spatial awareness and help both designers and architects to create more such innovative concepts and, in the process, encourage the re-definition of public space.

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Shelley Smith and Nicolai Steinø

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Urban public space in a Western context has become increasingly functionalised and pre-determined. Designations for use and by who, have become more prolific and have introduced formalised codes of accepted behaviour. This represents a barrier to the appropriation of public space by citizens, particularly when it comes to less conventional cultural practices. This in turn becomes a barrier for both inclusion and how space is defined and conceptualised. This is problematic in a notion of public space as the space of exchange and meeting place of ‘the other,’ and as an essential part of building an inclusive, tolerant and stimulating urbanity. In this regard, architecture, design and urban planning are neither innocent nor neutral agents in the process of conceptualising, interpreting and materialising space. Design has the capacity to foster uniformity and unambiguity or to invite plurality and ambivalence. Activating the physical practice of parkour, this chapter takes its point of departure in alternative urban practices to discuss the role of architecture, urban design and planning in materialising space between segregation and intolerance on the one hand and inclusion and curiosity on the other and the degree to which space is appropriated as place. Focussing on material details for jumping and climbing, as well as the overall spatial structure for trajectory, parkour emphasises the background and the foreground, while architectural urban space focuses on the middle ground. This chapter examines this potential and its implications for an urban architectural practice aiming for plurality and ambivalence, rather than uniformity and unambiguity. Further, in the context of this publication which intends a more permanent record of the dialogues and interweavings created by the papers presented at the 4th Global Conference on Time, Space and the Body in 2014, this chapter will draw out some of the points that demarcate potential meetings with the other chapters in this section.

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Katerina Mojanchevska

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The decades of transformation from government to governance have increasingly been about redistributing political power and citizens’ participation in decision-making processes, both on national and local levels. The rationale behind this institutional redesign is the benefit of direct participation of those affected in the decision-making process. In the more immediate relationship with the citizens and the more fragmented sources of power, cities are able to democratise the public space from below and include diverse publics (and not only those skilled and vocal in their claims) into deliberation over redistributive process of public goods. Various theories of policy-making seek to encapsulate the new relation between the citizen(s) and the institutions, such as: collaborative policy-making,1 communicative planning,2 the Just City approach,3 multicultural planning,4 to name but a few. While being quite distinctive and drawing inspiration from different disciplines, they share some common features, such as disappointment with technocratic planning and beliefs that the civil society and self-organised citizens’ groups are the key to social transformation and empowerment of groups outside (and sometimes against) the state.5 Yet, there are serious challenges in meeting these objectives. Andrea Cornwall and Vera Coelho note that widening participation is more than ‘invitations to participate’ and ‘for people to be able to exercise their political agency, they need first to recognise themselves as citizens rather than as beneficiaries or clients.’6 In advocating participatory approaches that operate beyond representational democracy and voicing the perspectives of different social groups in respective bodies and spaces, this chapter studies if and in which ways do self-organised citizens’ groups shift the power balance in urban and social making of cities and if the control over public planning process is real or symbolic. The research is based on qualitative methodology and is limited to the city of Skopje, Macedonia and its neighbourhoods.

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Anthi Kosma

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This chapter attempts to compose a collage between memories of events from a personal experience of the author and the references that other authors contribute to describe drawing as action, a ‘gesture’ through which the body externalises itself. Drawing is described as an action of coming-into-presence, which means presence before signification. It is also defined as a non-representative art where the form is not the traced figures but the body as a form by itself, the body as generator of space. Four short narratives are used in a phenomenological approximation to describe body from an inside point of view where spacing by trace is experienced. The act of making traces appears out of intimacy and exteriorises – through a dynamic and diagrammatic kind of writing – aspects of the abyss of oneself in a process where ‘every time is a singular time.’1 Drawings are ruins, testimonies of these moments, moulds of the gestures that traced them. The experience of drawing is also ‘an interior matter,’ an experience that disappears when the action stops and a performing art begins, which is always accompanied by images in ‘a phantasmatic dance.’2 If contemporary drawing is defined by Alain Badiou as a ‘description without a place,’3 this chapter looks forward by describing events where space is presented in its formation as an out of place description. ‘Out of place’ because drawing is not perceived or not concerned as a given, available or formed form. On the contrary, it is the gift, invention, uprising or the birth of form.

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Ana Carolina Lima e Ferreira

Abstract

Rio is a contrast of beautiful landscapes and seaside dreams and violence, danger and lack of infrastructure. It is a city where people suffer from inequalities. The Theatre of the Oppressed created by Augusto Boal (1931–2009) is an initiative crossing physical and cultural boundaries, giving voice to people and allowing urban transformation. This method was developed when he was exiled during the Brazilian Dictatorship. In the 1980s Boal returned to Brazil and in the 1990s he was elected a city councillor in Rio de Janeiro. His ‘Legislative Theatre’ created a platform where many suggestions were received from the people to formulate new and coherent projects of law. With public participation, ideas were collected and transformed into Boalian theatre interventions in public spaces. Through this approach, Boal implemented fifteen city laws and two national laws. Nowadays the people of Rio are still suffering due to urban transformation. The theatre group, however, still continues their actions by democratising cultural products providing possibilities to activate and strengthen the citizenship. They still believe in the importance of implementing projects, activating participation and turning the oppressed into protagonists – creating a dialogue through aesthetic media. Art reframes urban intervention into public art pieces; theatrical participation into empowering performance; and the work of community leaders into a process for urban change.