Apology and Commemoration: Memorializing the World War II Japanese American Incarceration at the Tanforan Assembly Center

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Image: Design proposal for the Tanforan Assembly Center Plaza, December 2016. Design by Harold Kobayashi/Royston Hanamoto Alley & Abey (RHAA). Courtesy of RHAA Landscape Architects.

2017 GUH-Townsend Fellow Valentina Rozas-Krause has published an article on "Memorializing the World War II Japanese American Incarceration at the Tanforan Assembly Center" in the Fall/Winter 2018 Issue of History & Memory. A series of on-site historic plaques and a photographic exhibition at a nearby train station serve as background to study the development of a new memorial to remember the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans at the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, California. The design and iconography of the future Tanforan memorial are analyzed alongside the motivations of the main actors that have shaped it: a group of memory activists, a transit agency and a shopping mall developer. The article concludes that these past and future commemorative interventions reveal the relationship between an unsettled memorial landscape and the Japanese American community's ongoing demands for apology. 

You can read a preview of her article here.

Counterpoints: The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s Atlas of the Bay Area

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The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is a data visualization and storytelling collective of scholars, artists and activists fighting for housing justice throughout the Bay Area and beyond. With the support of a GUH Student Publication Grant, AEMP is publishing Counterpoints (PM Press, Spring 2020), an atlas of the Bay Area. Mary Shi, a PhD student in Sociology and one of the atlas editors (among which includes Scott Chilberg, a recent Master in City Planning graduate and recipient of a Graduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities), writes here about AEMP's approach to community-engaged scholarship and its vision for the atlas.

The core mission of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is to inform, empower and activate individuals who are negatively impacted by housing inequity and displacement, and to support the work of organizations fighting for housing justice. By excavating pertinent data and producing accessible, powerful visualizations of this abstract information connected with individual stories of struggle, the AEMP reorients and repositions power in the community and in the hands of those who are working to restore housing equity in low-income communities and communities of color. The AEMP is, at its core, a project rooted in the idea of the constitutive power of knowledge and a commitment to entrust that power in the hands of the community.

As a collective, the AEMP has always had one foot inside of the academy and the other in its community. Currently, roughly two-thirds of its collective members have affiliations with an institution of higher learning. The desire to produce impactful, community-engaged scholarship was one of the founding motivations of the collective. Essentially, the AEMP asked, "What if we used to tools of the academy to radically empower our local communities?" What if we used the authoritative tools of the university to tell the stories of those who have been told, time and time again, their stories are 'only anecdotal,' 'missing the bigger picture,' or 'uninformed?' What if, instead of looking to our scholarly literature for questions, we looked to our community organizations actively fighting for change on the ground?

In the past, AEMP has been highly effective working with community organizations and the neighborhoods and individuals directly affected by displacement to empower those fighting for housing justice. Working alongside the San Francisco Tenants Union, Tenants Together, and other housing organizations including Causa Justa Just Cause, the Eviction Defense Collaborative, and the Anti-Displacement Coalition, AEMP has provided analysis of clinic and rent board data so that housing organizations can rapidly make sense of urban change. Storytelling projects such as the Narratives of Displacement Oral History Project Clarion Alley Mural, and Oakland Community Power Map at the Betti Ono Gallery have also served as powerful, and powerfully public, representations of the experience of displacement in the Bay Area that have helped communities make visible and articulate their collective experience of displacement and organize in resistance.

As a collective with one foot in the academy, AEMP has also been active on university campuses around the Bay, deepening the connections between students, scholars, and their communities. AEMP members have served as frequent classroom visitors and panel discussants, and have even served as partners for more long-ranging, classroom collaborations. For example, in the 2016-2017 academic year I served as both the oral history coordinator and community mapping coordinator for two different American Cultures courses. In the first, freshmen were asked to cultivate the capacity for listening closely through oral history trainings, and then paired with interviewees from the AEMP's Narrating Displacement oral history project to learn about displacement first hand. In the second, undergraduates experienced first hand the transformative power of representing data through a map when they were asked to build their own 'community power map' of spaces they felt empowered on Cal campus, while linking their maps with historical narratives pulled from the archives of past student empowerment struggles.

In 2017, AEMP decided that it was time for the collective to pull together its years of work into an atlas. However, this atlas was going to more than simply a collection of past projects. Constructing an atlas was also going to be an opportunity to tell parts of the Bay Areas's story that had been overlooked before--that required a more holistic view to tell properly. An atlas would also be an opportunity to share with other scholars a powerful platform for them to tell the stories that they felt needed to be most urgently told, especially when they didn't fit the confines of academic publishing but so obviously met the needs of their communities.

And so, Counterpoints was born. On one hand, the atlas is an opportunity for the AEMP to tell a more fully regional, historical, and structural story of the Bay Area than it has ever told before. On the other hand, it is a platform to amplify the work of other scholars working in this space who have not been able to make the full impact of their data known. In January of 2018, AEMP circulated a Call for Papers throughout the Bay Area's universities looking for contributions that would fit the mission of the atlas, including throughout the Global Urban Humanities Initiative's programs and affiliated centers. The Atlas will feature many contributions from UC Berkeley students and alumni, all engaged in critical scholarship of the urban spaces they live in. AEMP collective members have also been meeting on campus throughout the summer to work on the atlas, and will continue to do so in the fall as well as act as community partner to Alicia Cowart's GEOG 183 course, Cartographic Representation. The AEMP is looking forward to further expanding its collaborations on Berkeley campus in the future, and announcing future Atlas-related events and workshops. Those interested in learning more or getting involved should reach out to Mary Shi at

GUH People: Padma Maitland

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We asked Padma Maitland to tell us about his experience participating in the Global Urban Humanities Initiative and how it shaped his current academic and professional career. Padma Maitland received the first Global Urban Humanities Student Publications Grant for the Urban Pilgrimage issue of Room One Thousand. He is currently working on two doctoral degrees at UC Berkeley, one in the Department of Architecture and the other in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. His dissertations focus on modern Buddhist art and architecture, and the intersection of Buddhism and travel in Hindi literature. Prior to his graduate studies at Berkeley, he was the Assistant Art Director of the Swayambhu Renovation Project, where he worked with a team in Nepal to restore the Swayambhunath Temple—popularly known as the Monkey Temple—one of the most iconic temples in the Kathmandu Valley. He was also the Jane Emison Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he organized the exhibition Home and Away featuring a set of Letters by the artist Amar Kanwar.

How were you involved with the Global Urban Humanities Initiative (GUH)?

I have been involved with the Global Urban Humanities Initiative in a couple of ways. I was the co-recipient of the first student publication grant, working with Lawrence Yang to co-edit a special issue of the journal Room One Thousand on the theme of "Urban Pilgrimage." Our faculty advisors for the project were GUH Faculty Dr. Winnie Wong and Dr. Andrew Shanken. You can access the issue via e-scholarship here or via the journal's website here. After that I served as a member of the GUH student advisory board.

What compelled you to join GUH?

Around the time GUH was launched, I was busy working with a small group of students to found the Architecture Department's journal Room One Thousand. Its main objective was to explore the potential intersections of architecture and the humanities and it was great to see how what we were doing aligned, but also differed, from the kinds of projects being developed as part of GUH. More than anything I enjoyed the chance to be part of a campus wide conversation on different approaches to studying cities, as well as the chance to interact with a diverse and engaging group of students and faculty GUH has managed to bring together from across the campus.

How did your experience help you with your current research or career?

Being a part of GUH allowed me to interact with amazing scholars, artists, intellectuals, and to really benefit from their advice and guidance in my research and other projects. It also showed me the value of creating forums where people from different fields can come together to collaborate and explore new ideas. I have tried to make similar moments part of my research and career.

What was your most memorable GUH experience?

The best part was always the conversations, but a particularly memorable moment was at a special presentation during one the GUH colloquium (click here for Fall 2018 speaker schedule). The two recipients of the GUH student publication grants were presenting their work. It was great to see how each group approached the project and I remember having so much fun sharing the joys and challenges of putting together a publication. I think the ability to both support and challenge each other is one of the truly amazing aspects of GUH.

What is your favorite global city you have traveled to, and why?

Varanasi. Famed as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the city presents itself as an almost complete microcosm of India and even the world. The cycles of life and death, joy and suffering, are played out along the shores of the Ganges River. Walking along the ghats, you encounter sadhus, tourists, and pilgrims. Mourners sit besides groups of photographers. School children play cricket next to people washing clothes and burning corpses. If you take a boat ride down the river, you'll likely be invited to place an offering in the sacred waters, adding your wishes to thousands of others who put their trust in the river's power each day. It is also a city of joy and discovery. Every corner or alley seems to have some unexpected story, courtyard, or temple, reflecting a continuous effort to develop the city according to the changing ideals and fashions of the times and all those who have lived and traveled there.

Trace Evidence: An Art Exhibition and Panel Discussion at Minnesota Street Project

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Trace Evidence
Curated by Annie Malcolm and Rachelle Reichert
Exhibition September 8th – 29th
Opening event + Panel: September 11, 2018
Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco

Trace Evidence is an exhibition and a panel discussion at Minnesota Street Project, in partnership with SFMOMA Public Dialogue, in which the curators—2019 GUH Fellow Annie Malcolm and artist Rachelle Reichert—will convene visual artists from China and the U.S. who are considering issues of environmental change focused on China. Trace Evidence will take place in San Francisco in September 2018, during the Global Climate Action Summit, and is formally affiliated with GCAS.  The curators are interested in interrogating the work of art as a platform for cross-cultural conversation about climate change. Annie Malcolm discusses the conception of the exhibition and its connection to her research on Chinese art villages.

Americans gaze over to China and see the physical conditions produced by late capitalism magnified because of the scale and speed of development. China’s processes of industrialization and urbanization have degraded their environment in parallel fashion to US industrialization but, due to its rapid progress, they are uniquely perceptible.

Thinking with Timothy Morton, we conceive of climate change as a hyperobject (Morton 2013): its entirety can never be seen, yet it affects everything. How are artists taking the visual elements of climate change, pollution, and extraction and making them accessible? How are artists trying to see this thing that is impossible to see but felt everyday? Climate change is a form of slow violence (Rob Nixon 2013), harming and displacing people, enacting violence at a slower speed than violence usually occurs; climate change forces the rethinking of timescales.

The work we will show in this exhibition deals with these issues on different levels of directness. Some of the work offers the opportunity to meditate on the questions, think about scale, and be in a sensible relationship to place, landscape and environment; other works expose the viewer to the violence of extraction and the factors at work in climate change. By exhibiting both American and Chinese artists, this exhibition will look from the outside while addressing the area from within.

Coming to Berkeley to start my Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2013, my plan was to study art worlds in Beijing. In 2015, however, after my experience in the GUH studio course Art + VIllage + City, taught by GUH professors Winnie Wong and Margaret Crawford, exploring Guangzhou and Shenzhen, I changed my field site to an art village outside Shenzhen. This came in part out of the arrival at Wutong Art Village, twenty minutes down the road from Dafen Village and yet seemingly a world away from Shenzhen’s rapid speed and intense industry. Wutong sits atop the Shenzhen Reservoir, Hong Kong’s water source, and is thus an ecological preserve site. Therefore, while the art there doesn’t sell at a scale like that of Dafen, a creative enclave is given space to thrive. Southern China has a unique history in relation to urbanism and experimentation, both with capitalism and aesthetics.

The GUH course gave me a level of comfort with the studio visit form that I didn’t previously have; it taught me about presenting ideas visually, and about making research communicable through exhibition. Since I met artist Zhou Tao shortly after the GUH studio (who is one of the artists featured in Trace Evidence), I have wanted to show his work back home in the United States—his tender vision, acute methods of processing what he sees as pressing issues of our time and his creation of visual art that is cutting and human, abstract and accessible, bleak and beautiful. Trace Evidence is that desire realized, and with the added excitement of working in affiliation with GCAS to bring art and climate change into conversation.

About the Curators

Rachelle Reichert creates graphite drawings and sculptures inspired by research of Chinese graphite mines, the source of graphite used in her artworks. The drawings depict abstract shapes from up-to-date satellite images of the mines. Working the graphite to reveal its material capacities through the visual language of abstraction, she explores the cost of green technologies and industries.  

Annie Malcolm is a sociocultural anthropologist whose work explores how Chinese artists respond to environmental and urban change. Currently writing an ethnographic monograph about art villages in outer Beijing and Shenzhen, she has worked in China over the last five years in research, installation, and translation capacities. Malcolm is a 2019 GUH Fellow and participant in the 2015 studio course Art + Village + City, for which was also the director for the satellite exhibition at the Shanghai biennale. She was also editorial assistant for the 2015 GUH sponsored journal P[art]icipatory Urbanisms, as well as a contributor to the GUH Special Issue of Room One Thousand Urban Pilgrimage. Malcolm is grateful for GUH’s support on this project.

Image: ​Zhou Tao The Worldly Cave [Fán Dòng] 2017, film still. Courtesy the artist and Vitamin Creative Space

Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Nixon, Rob. 2013. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Mapping as Research with Trevor Paglen

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Filed under: Art, Journalism

From the Arts Research Center blog:
By Laura Belik (GUH Graduate Certificate Student and instructor of the Fall 2018 Colloquium: The City and its People)
April 24, 2018

Trevor Paglen’s work and interpretation of space are great examples of the association between art and research. Blending photography, installation, investigative journalism and science, Paglen’s approach reveals that there is always more to an image than what we anticipate, and that these perceptions announce strong political meanings as well.

Paglen’s background and professional life include being a musician and composer in the punk-scene; doing an MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago; and later receiving his PhD in Geography at UC Berkeley. “You are creating your own space”, reflected ARC Director Julia Bryan-Wilson, in conversation with the photographer. We can see how this is reflected in the images he produced especially when it comes to his series of photos of official places/objects that “don’t exist”; that are a political secret. “Open Hangar, Cactus Flats, NV, Distance ~ 18 miles, 10:04 a.m” (2007) exposes classified military bases and installations located in remote areas. The photo taken from a distance, combined with the heat waves and extended exposure time looks like a blurred landscape. The dichotomy of what you can and what you can’t see; what we know and what is hidden from us, is precisely a conversation the artist is trying to have. Parallels to a criticism on the “war of terror” and the military hidden agenda are addressed revealing the physical aspect to these ideas, and at the same time, how they continue to be obscured from us.

The artist sees both the landscape and the act of seeing and understanding it as a performance: “It is not just about making images of this space, but a performance of someone trying to make the image of that space.” Paglen talks about the aesthetics of these acts, and how they are an example of the tension between what is seen and not seen. Beyond the final image, we ought to remember that there is a political performance happening behind those lenses as well. Images become allegorical for Paglen in that sense, and photography in this case, is understood as a platform in direct connection to the history of survey, fear, borders, etc.

Other topics present in Paglen’s images are addressing artificial intelligence, and figures created only through algorithm representing a space, which leads to conversations on the role of the machine as the curator; on another project, similarly to the one on classified military spaces, Paglen offers a closer look to our sky, tracing airplanes, drones and secret satellites once again confronting people about the things we don’t know, bringing to light hidden images. The latter ultimately evolved into the project the artist is currently working on of his own satellite to be launched within the next few months. His goal with this new proposal is to launch something that has no specific purpose other than its aesthetics, as a purely artistic gesture of a giant mirror that reflects light down on earth. Although understanding this object as a very contradictory one, the artist also argues that by doing this experiment, for the first time one will be detaching the history of the satellite from a military one, therefore he names this as an “impossible object”.

About the writer and ARC event: 

Laura Belik (PhD Student, Architecture) reviewed the Arts Research Center Event: Mapping as Research: Trevor Paglen in conversation with Julia Bryan-Wilson on April 24, 2018. To celebrate his first comprehensive artist monograph, Trevor Paglen (UC Berkeley Geography PhD and 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellow) discussed his work with ARC Director Julia Bryan-Wilson. Paglen’s work relentlessly pursues what he calls the “unseeable and undocumentable” in contemporary society. Blending photography, installation, investigative journalism, and science, Paglen explores the clandestine activity of government and intelligence agencies, using high-grade equipment to document their movements and reveal their hidden inner workings. The new publication includes a survey text by Bryan-Wilson and presents over two decades of Paglen’s groundbreaking work, making visible the structures and technologies that impact our lives.

Jiwon Chung Workshop: Theater of the Oppressed

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Filed under: Performance

Movement, Bodies, and Relationships of Power, Oppression, and Resistance

Theater director Jiwon Chung recently led a Global Urban Humanities (GUH) workshop in which students considered systemic violence through a series of exercises based on the work of Augusto Boal. City and Regional Planning student Jeff Garnand, who participated in the workshop, reflects on how physical movement helped students from many disciplines consider power relationships.

Coursework in the humanities and social sciences often – should, must – bring students into contact with systems of oppression, hierarchy, and domination. And all students have had experience with these forms of power in their own lives in various institutional and social settings. Many have studied, and some have participated in, resistance movements that seek to challenge the exercise of power as a form of domination themselves. But how often are we provided with a forum in which to consider these manifestations through the methods of theater and performance?


The Global Urban Humanities program brought together students, faculty, and engaged members of the community for a workshop on considering systemic and structural violence, offering them the opportunity to work with Jiwon Chung, a theater practitioner and adjunct faculty member at the Graduate Theological Union with a long and deep connection with Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed.


Chung uses Boal’s work as a way of helping students and communities recognize both the targeted and diffuse operation of oppression, and then using the format of movement, performance and theater as a generative space for conceiving forms of individual and collective resistance and counternarrative to advance social justice.

Workshop participants came from a range of fields in the arts, social sciences, environmental design, and humanities, bringing to the workshop their own disciplinary expertise and epistemologies. At the opening of the workshop, we were invited to meet each other, wandering the room loosely and encountering our fellow classmates and beginning to create webs of connection and affinity through prompts offered by Jiwon. The exercises became increasingly intense, as participants engaged in relationships of power through body movement, and were asked at each turn to reflect upon how it felt to be dominant and oppressed within a given scenario.

In one exercise, the entire class was engaged in movement that tied each participant to multiple other participants; I happened to be at the center. Small movements on my part had dramatic effects on my fellow participants one or two levels out. There was a cascade of power in each gesture: a small movement of my hand sent people sprawling across the floor at the periphery, struggling to keep up under the constraints of a system which had been imposed without consultation or consideration of the participants.

Jiwon invited us to reconsider these dynamics, inventing new ways to respond to the exercise of power that was happening right in front of us. We were able to respond to power, to critique and resist it, at some points ignore it or create alternate ways of being in our autoconstructed system that respected, or attempted to respect, the needs of those who were oppressed in these embodied relationships. The oppressed were able to respond both as individuals and collectively, to reshape the dynamics in the room toward a more just relationship.

A major strength of the workshop for attendees was a very visceral experience of power, as well as seeing visually and experiencing through the body the relationships that people are placed within knowingly or unknowingly, and the points at which empowerment over one's own or collective decisions is truncated or constrained, as well as the slow unfolding of possibilities to modify those dynamics. Jiwon was a very sensitive and attuned facilitator – I really appreciated his style and attentiveness to power and the attendees as intersectional subjects nested in webs of multiple and varied power relationships. Part of what I hope we are all getting in our coursework and time at Berkeley is a facility for empathy, and the workshop was an excellent way to further develop that facility in everyone who participated, regardless of their chosen field: empathy should know no disciplinary boundaries.

At the end of the workshop, everyone agreed that they had learned a great deal through working with our bodies, with feeling, exercising, and resisting power. Participants came away with a mindfulness and a deeper understanding of the ways that power works overtly and also very subtly, and opened our minds (and bodies) to the ways in which oppression is exerted within and across disciplines and in society at large. We could see clearly that there was no easy answer, and no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing oppression and power, but in experiencing its effects through our own bodies we gained in our consciousness and awareness a somatic understanding that can and will carry forward into our own academic, social, professional, and personal lives.


Posted on by Anne Jonas
Filed under: Art

Global Urban Humanities faculty member Jason Luger is co-teaching the GUH Core Seminar in Spring 2018 with Angela Marino: Populism, Art and the City. He recently published a review of  ArtWORK:  Art, Labour and Activism by Paula Serafini, Jessica Holtaway, and Alberto Cossu inAntipode. Here is a short excerpt from the review:
"Contextually, the volume fits well amidst geography’s creative (re)turn (De Leeuw and Hawkins 2017), and also the convergence across several fields where the political–and political socio-spatial relations–has once again become central to discussions (as Dikeç and Swyngedouw 2017 argue). Serving as a bridge between the parallel and related–yet often disciplinarily distinct–literatures on art geographies, politics and political economy, and comparative urbanism, Serafini et al.’s volume represents an important effort to bring these areas together. While other recent works (e.g. Luger and Ren 2017; Zebracki and Palmer 2017) likewise approach the flows and networks of art’s relationship to the urban landscape (or “artscape”), this collection zeros in on the production, embodiment, and practices of processes that are both the art’s subject and involved in the art’s impact and meaning (p.2). This less conceptual, more descriptive focus on the political production of art, rather than just a focus on the meaning/interpretation of the art itself is welcome. The volume is also pointedly political, which is required in these insurgent (and populist) times."
The full review can be found here.

About Jason Luger - 
Jason is the co-editor of the volume Art and the City: Worlding the Discussion through a Critical Artscape (2017), and his research has been featured in academic journals such as CITY, Antipode, Geoforum, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Media and Culture. 

About the authors of artWORK - 
Alberto Cossu is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Milan, Italy.
Jessica Holtaway is a PhD candidate in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Paula Serafini is a Research Associate at CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies, University of Leicester.
The book is available for purchase here 

About Antipode - 
Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published five times per year by Wiley-Blackwell and produced by The Antipode Foundation. Its coverage centers on critical human geography and it seeks to encourage radical spatial theorizations based on Marxist, socialist, anarchist, anti-racist, anticolonial, feminist, queer, trans*, green, and postcolonial thought. 

On statues, and what can and cannot be said

Posted on by Tina Novero
Filed under: Art, History

From the Berkeley Blog:
By Andrew Shanken (GUH fellow and co-instructor of the GUH course City of Memory )
August 18, 2017

I’ve been loath to write about what’s happening with Confederate statues, but a few sleepless nights cured my diffidence. As an architectural historian who works on memorials and has dabbled in the history of historic preservation, I’ve vacillated over the years between a Ruskinian position (“let it moulder”) and a Rieglian position, trying to establish some basis, however culturally relative, for how we value parts of the built environment.

My first thought on the matter at hand is that there have been waves of iconoclasm since memorials and statues first became fixtures in the built environment. While the present phenomenon is part of a modern reaction to what are essentially political interventions in the built environment, Romans regularly cleared out the statues that cluttered the Forum. It was a form of political erasure, a fine art for any successful autocrat. France experienced moments of “statuophobia” tagged to the waves of revolutions that swept through that country in the 19th century. More recently, statues came down after the fall of the Soviet Union and its former puppet states, Saddam statues fell in Iraq, and across the world reactionaries have used iconoclasm as a form of violence manqué, often alongside actual violence. This sort of erasure has been a tool of the left and the right; iconoclasm is not a politically fixed act.

But it is erasure and this is a point that we need to explore a bit more vigorously. What are these statues saying and should we be silencing it or responding to it? I’m not totally sure I know the answer to that question.

There is, luckily, a history of contest in the south over Civil War and civil rights statues, one explored in a recent book by Dell Upton: What Can and Can’t Be Said. The title gets right to the heart of it. We are witnessing a rupture in the basic conception of what can and can’t be said publicly.

White nationalists, emboldened by the present regime, feel empowered to speak and are using monuments to do so. This is not a new use for these monuments, but the situation is amplified, acute, raw. These monuments are linguistically flexible. They can be quietly beautiful one moment, a seemingly harmless piece of civic adornment—and many were erected, we have forgotten, during the reign of the City Beautiful—and harnessed for evil in another. People have rushed in to counter the darkness unleashed in places like Charlottesville verbally, bodily, and violently. The violence has a larger context, of course, but some of it may issue from the fact that these statues are bold: tall, dignified, larger than life, often aesthetically powerful, and laden with layers of dark history. Going back to Upton’s title, what words can possibly counter that! Fists, lassoes, physical force of some sort seems to be the answer for many people. Where words fail to win the day, the statue comes down.

But should it? It is, I suppose, not enough to argue that these statues are artistically significant. Beautiful things get destroyed routinely. We may rue their passing, but preservation often has a mightily precious view of artistic and age value.

Perhaps there is some verbal or cultural equivalent to a martial arts move that could turn the power of these statues against them. Can they be lampooned, subtitled or otherwise diffused by further intervention? At the moment, I think not, at least not now. If Americans were capable of meaningful, civil dialogue, the white nationalists would not be marching and Antifa would not be storming the marches. But perhaps these statues have a role to play down the road, didactically, politically, aesthetically. I was astonished to learn that there has been for about 20 years a return to erecting Stalin statues in the former Soviet lands.

Serious dialogue begins with empathy. Perhaps we might begin that dialogue with a considered act of empathy toward these statues. They are prisoners of war, in effect, and deserve that consideration.

Celluloid Landscape

Posted on by Tina Novero

Celluloid Landscape
From the Arts + Design blog:
By Gene Stroman and Chip Sullivan (2017 ARC Fellows)
Spring 2017

Cinema can be useful for landscape architects and other designers of the built environment. Over the course of the Spring semester, Professor Chip Sullivan and I have been exploring this proposition. We have delved into the body of previous theory on the intersection between architectural design and the art of filmmaking. We have also enthusiastically worked our way through a list of “Landscape Films”, where landscapes and urban places take on more of a central role than just the setting for a story to take place; films that we believe are pertinent to the design and understanding of cultural landscape. This research resulted in a series of provoking conversations about film and landscape, ranging from the particularities of set design to the landscape philosophies of certain filmmakers and their works. These weekly conversations provided a basis for further writings and drawings on the topic, and a new lens from which to approach our daily landscape design practice.

So, what exactly is so compelling about the art of cinema, and how can it influence environmental designers? The list is long, and we have only begun to scrape the surface. On a practical level, cinema can function as an important research tool for designers to study the histories, existing conditions, and cultural perceptions associated with a site. Moving image can also function as a form of representation that can help to express the more ephemeral qualities of site design like light, sound, movement, impermanence, and other spatial qualities that are not as effectively covered in the toolkit in use by designers today.

The history of motion picture is filled with examples of landscapes that are specifically designed and created for film, for example the artful, modernist garden of Villa Arpel in Jacque Tati’s Mon Oncle (1967) or the landscape that is used as a production camp and staging area to drag a 320-ton steamship over a mountain in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest (Fitzcarraldo, Werner Herzog, 1982). Chip maintains that many of these filmic landscapes are more successful than those designed by architects, city planners, and landscape architects. The apparent success and popularity of these filmic landscapes provoked our curiosity about the process of filmmakers, and we found that it is actually very similar to that that of the Landscape Architect; there are many lessons to be learned from a filmmaker’s approach to research, concept development, representation, storytelling, and much more. One shared interest of ours is the potential of dreams in landscape design, and we looked into the process by which filmmakers have long been able to tap into this wellspring of creativity, excelling in the translation and testing of their dreams manifested in celluloid dreamscapes. Idiosyncratic as this example may be, the synergies between the two disciplines are plentiful and can provide new insights for the development of our discipline.

Many of these topics are considered and written about more extensively in a blog that we kept over the semester, Celluloid Landscape. We hope to keep posting on this page, and will publish a selection of the research (both writings and illustrations) in a pamphlet this summer. The ARC Fellowship has provided us with the opportunity to build on the interests and research we’ve developed individually over the years, but this time in a collaborative academic setting that has allowed for critical dialogue and a more effective process for shaping ideas. The research we’ve pursued has been invaluable to our own practice, and we hope that this interdisciplinary investigation can help to stimulate new ways for those in the architectural disciplines to perceive and design the world we inhabit.


Chip Sullivan is a Professor, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, author and artist who teaches in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. This year he was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Jot Carpenter Teaching Medal, the ASLA’s highest honor for education. His latest graphic novel “Cartooning the Landscape” was recently published by the University of Virginia Press.

Gene Stroman is a Graduate student in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. With a previous degree and professional background in Urban Planning, he is especially interested in cities and the way in which places accrue meaning and cultural value over time. Gene is currently serving as the managing director for Ground Up, the Department of Landscape Architecture’s student-run journal.

Awakening the Dragon: Art, Urban Space + Authoritarianism

Posted on by TIna Novero
Filed under: Art

By Tina Novero, Program Coordinator, Global Urban Humanities

The latest Global Urban Humanities Brown Bag lecture on cities featured urban geographer Jason Luger, lecturer in the UC Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning. Luger’s talk explored the tensions between art activism within the authoritarian confines of Singapore.

Luger explained that organization and mobilization around an annual firing of two remaining “dragon kilns” provides a metaphor for the underlying power of community efforts toward social change. The annual 3-day “Awaken the Dragon” festival involves thousands of local participants in making ceramics that fill kilns measuring over 88 feet in length.

While Singapore’s government supports the arts as a nation-building strategy, the process of art-making often involves input from diverse stakeholders. Art-making provides a platform for national discourse on a wide range of pressing social issues from censorship of theater to LGBTQ rights.

“Art-making–and the artistic encounter–is one way that critical voices can emerge through the nooks and crannies of the authoritarian structure,” said Luger.

Luger’s research was conducted in 2012-2015 and included interviews with artists, activists, and state officials. He is currently co-editing a book entitled Art and the City: Critical Artscapes / Resilient Artists (Routledge, 2017).