27 April 2009

Shared space

I liked this - not beautifully written, but as I sit on my own in my studio flat, it said something to me. Semiotically this place is so under control, so perfect: the rectilinear lines, the street and found art on the walls, the fading tulips exactly matching the yolk yellow hue of the champagne bottle next to them. I have wood floors and orchids and my clothes are precisely rolled in their drawers - I know no other way to live now, and yet is this right? (He is in New York; no, it's not.)

I put so much energy into signs, into performance, such that these things become the meaning of the space and the codes by which I read it. But that language of reading: it presumes an audience and thus a fourth wall, an inside/outside relation. What happens when you share space, what is created, what is this topology of intimacy? Instead of the single dweller writing this controlled autobiography through possessions and pristine order, Garnett's ideas implicitly suggest a reversal of this relation - new spatial circumstances re-writing the self. In turn, this raises an idea that fascinates me: equivalency between the home and the body as both spaces in & through which we live. Through pristine accessorising, Garnett was forming herself - then the accessories change, and so does that self. Thus we find ourselves assemblages not individuals, and something about human-object relations becomes a little more focused.

"That's the thing about moving in with a lover: you can't prepare yourself for it, or lay down rules or decide how it's going to be. You just muddle through. But I was, at best, just muddling through living on my own, only with a better kitchen and more acccessories. And no-one to witness the boring bits. And though I've never been prissy I was, on my own, in my own nice flat, in danger of becoming tight-arsed. [...]

"Most of the time, you just have to be your normal, boring, human, honest self. If I've loved getting to know my boyfriend more intimately than I ever imagined I'd know anyone, then I've enjoyed watching my real self unfurl itself infront of somebody else. I've never had to do it before. But everyone who lives with someone does! Sometimes I'm amazed by this feat. It's so trusting and honest of us. Amazingly, my partner doesn't appear to mind when I am boring or ratty or over-tired or sad or blue. He just puts his arms around me and comforts me. He likes it less when I am unreasonable or determined to punish him for some perceived wrong, but then one of us makes a jump and we manage to get out of whatever heavy weather we've sailed into.

[...] "A more interesting lesson has been learning to live with myself. I don't mean that in a cheesy, self-help, 'You have to learn to love yourself before anyone else loves you' kind of way. I mean that when you live on your own you can wave away the bits you don't like about yourself to an extent, but when you live with your lover you can't. It's all thrown out in front of him and you can't take it back. It's like the tree in the forest: if no-one sees or hears it fall, does it actually topple? I did lots of toppling in that flat by myself and, of course, word seeped out. I went to therapy regularly, I had a good many close friends and they, as well as my family (most of my family), got to see me at my most boring and irritable. But you don't have to win your family over in terms fo love. And I didn't live with my friends. No. In this flat there is, day to day, me, my boyfriend and not that much else. But you don't need props, I've discovered, to live together, because what you're doing isn't a performance."

Daisy Garnett, 'Moving On', in Vogue September 2008

18 April 2009

Cities lectures at LSE - Spring 2009

LSE's consistently excellent public lectures programme (follow on Twitter) has the following cities-related lectures this spring:

Architecture as Investment
Monday 27 April 2009, 6.30pm
Professor Alejandro Aravena, Professor Ricky Burdett, chaired by Tyler Brûlé

The challenge to provide affordable housing is a global issue. At a time when market forces are eclipsing architecture’s social value, Elemental’s pioneering housing is transforming urban communities in Latin America. Prof. Aravena is director of Elemental in Santiago de Chile (and Mr Brûlé, of Monocle magazine, just has the best name ever).

The Tycoon and the Tough: towards a comparative anthropology of urban marginality
Thursday 7 May 2009, 6pm
Dr Joshua Barker, Professor Chris Fuller

Anthropologists often use key figures, such as the street tough, the child witch, and the flâneur, as a means to elucidate, personify, and critique underlying dynamics of social and cultural transformation. It is a method that is widely used, but seldom scrutinised. In this lecture Joshua Barker uses examples from his research in the slums of Bandung, Indonesia, to argue that this method can make a powerful contribution to a comparative anthropology of urban marginality.

Picturing Poverty: London past and present
Wednesday 27 May 2009, 6.30pm
Sue Donnelly, Mishka Henner, Professor Gillian Rose, Dr Mike Seaborne

From Charles Booth’s 19th century maps and early photographs of East End tenements, to rich-poor divides in Hackney, this discussion will consider old and new ways of seeing poverty – understanding the underlying political processes that serve to reproduce and reduce it. Sue Donnelly is head of Archives at LSE. Mishka Henner is a photographic artist. Gillian Rose is professor of cultural geography at the Open University. Mike Seaborne is senior curator of photographs at the Museum of London.

All That Life Can Afford
Tuesday 26 May 2009, 7pm
Mishka Henner

What does poverty in London look like? And can photography expose the often hidden mechanisms that keep the rich divided from the poor? Mishka Henner discusses the making of his photographic essay, All That Life Can Afford, deconstructing its production to reveal the negotiations and obstacles involved in visualising poverty.

The Fog of Games: Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberty
Reporting the London Olympics

Thursday 28 May 2009, 7pm
Mark Saunders, Martin Slavin

The Olympics are brief and transitory television events that disguise and justify mega projects of vast urban restructuring that permanently distort our cities for the benefit of a few business interests. The common features of these mega projects are unprecedented land grabs, the peddling of myths of ‘regeneration’ and ‘legacy’ benefits, the sweeping away of democratic structures and planning restraints, the transfer of public money into private hands, and ‘information management’ to hide truths and silence critics.
Mark Saunders is an award winning independent documentary filmmaker, media activist and writer. Martin Slavin's continuing interest in photographing and writing about urban experiences, development and natural life is encapsulated in his current focus on the 2012 London Olympics in his neighbourhood.

2 April 2009

City, 1 April 09

Builders watching the bankers watching the protestors just out of shot at the Climate Camp on Bishopsgate, or perhaps this was Bank of England.

Financial Fools' Day aftermath

Aftermath of the anticapitalist (antiwar, Green, anti-Labour) protest march and rally; Hyde Park, 1st April 2009.

Please recycle?