Category Archives: Art

GUH People: Ettore Santi

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Filed under: Art, Art+Village+City, China

Ettore Santi is a doctoral candidate in the Architecture department at UC Berkeley. He recently recieved a 2020 Mellon Dissertation Research Fellowship for his dissertation on "Designing a Land Revolution: The Corporate Reinvention of China's Rural Environment." Ettore received the Graduate Certificate in Global Urban Humanities in 2018 and took ARCH 209/RHETOR 250 Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta GUH studio course co-taught by Margaret Crawford (Architecture) and Winnie Wong (Rhetoric) in 2015, which was formative to his research development.

How were you first introduced to the Global Urban Humanities Initiative and what made you want to join?

Before becoming a graduate student at CED, I was conducting research about rural and urban villages in China as a visiting scholar in the architecture department at Berkeley. By a lucky coincidence, that semester Margaret Crawford and Winnie Wong were offering the Global Urban Humanities research studio Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta, which included a two-week study trip to southern China. I immediately signed up for the class.

At that point, I was not yet aware of the wonderful and diverse group of students I was about to join: the studio formed a collaborative atmosphere, in which we could all learn from our different academic backgrounds such as art practice, anthropology, Southeast Asian studies, and more. During the summer, we worked collectively to turn the research into an exhibit that we displayed at Wurster Gallery and the Shanghai Biennale. The studio made me realize how the Global Urban Humanities constituted a generative platform where I could develop my scholarship in a rich and interdisciplinary setting. As soon as I started the Ph.D., I signed up for the certificate. 

Tell us how you came up with your current dissertation topic on rural design in China. How did your GUH courses and/or activities help formulate your research?

I always found “the rural” to be a fascinating kind of space, perhaps because I grew up in rural Italy. During my undergraduate and graduate studies in architecture, I noticed that rurality was often associated with emptiness and backwardness as opposed to modern, vibrant cities. This contrasted with my own experience, in which rural areas were sites of intense “urban life.” I saw crowds of rural residents moving at high speed across dense infrastructural networks to catch up with the pressures of daily businesses, or gathering for an “aperitivo” in newly developed rural suburbs.

Similarly, when I was in China as a graduate student and later as a designer, I saw how architects were reconceiving rural areas to accommodate spaces for high-tech food production or rural leisure for the urban middle-class. The studio “Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta” enabled me to further explore these dynamics and formulate my research questions. Other classes offered by the initiative, such as Teresa Caldeira (City Planning) and Shannon Jackson’s (Performance Studies) seminar The City, Arts, and Public Space (CYPLAN 291/THEATER 266.1) helped me connect these questions to broader theorization efforts in urban studies and situate my potential contributions to the literature. 

Do you have a memorable moment as a GUH student that you would like to share?

Yes! The opening night of the exhibit Art-Village+City at Wurster gallery was quite memorable. We had been working so hard in the last weeks to meet the opening deadline, and the last few days had been exhausting. When I saw a line of people forming outside of the Wurster gallery, I started getting very nervous. But then, as the huge crowd started wandering around the exhibition spaces, I realized that visitors were getting curious and passionate about the collages, dioramas, videos, and the other materials we had prepared. Only then I was able to relax and enjoy the evening. Certainly, the lychee martini cocktails arranged for the opening helped… those were excellent, too! 

Tell us one thing you're reading, listening to, watching that is helping you get through this pandemic.

I am reading a great book entitled The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing. The book follows the story of the Matsutake, a Japanese mushroom variety growing very rapidly in degraded landscapes, such as deforestation lands, toxic swamps, or radioactive territories. The book shows how people left behind by these de-industrialization processes found in the mushroom a way to self-emancipate, for example by becoming pickers, traders, or informally engaging in the transnational Matsutake market. I found this work very powerful for coping with the pandemic. Not only did it make me further think about the devastating effects of the economy on the human-environment balance - an aspect that certainly relates to the pandemic. More importantly, I love how the book tells a story about the opportunities that can pop out in the many holes of capitalist extractivity. I found this perspective somehow reassuring.

What is one thing you want to do once the shelter-in-place policy is lifted?

First, I’ll do what most of us are secretly looking forward to: get a haircut! And then, I would love to go somewhere very warm with my partner, Heming. Perhaps by the sea. I want to lie under the sun for hours and enjoy that feeling of strong heat broken by the breeze. I think somewhere like Sicily would work. And while I’m in Italy, I could go hug my family, too. 

GUH People: Madison Roberts

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Filed under: Art

Madison Roberts graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor's in Urban Studies in 2019. She was a student in the 2019 GUH Undergraduate Studio on New Orleans co-taught by Anna Brand in Landscape Architecture and Bryan Wagner in English (LDARCH 154+199/AMERSTD 102), focusing on the relationship between historical memory and urban design. Currently, she is an AmeriCorps volunteer working for the city of Salinas as Housing Resources Coordinator, and we asked her to share her Global Urban Humanities experiences in this short intervew. You were one of the students in the 2019 GUH undergraduate studio focusing on New Orleans. Tell us a little bit about your…

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…

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…


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…

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…

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.…

Publication: No Cruising: Mobile Identities and Urban Life

Posted on by Anne Jonas
Filed under: Art, Geography, Los Angeles

The first Global Urban Humanities research studio, “No Cruising: Mobile Identities and Urban Life” took place in Spring of 2014, co-taught by Margaret Crawford (Architecture) and Anne Walsh (Art Practice). With six PhD students, three MFA candidates, and one undergraduate student from a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds, the course took on Los Angeles and the multiple themes generated by the concept of mobility (and its inverse: immobility). Over the course of the semester, students visited LA multiple times and explored the city via car, bus, light rail, walking, and running, focusing on the circulation of bodies, stories, designed forms,…

Art, Politics & the City in Mexico and China: Exhibit(ion)s and Publications

Posted on by Genise Choy

The Art, Politics & the City in Mexico and China symposium took place on October 23, 2015. This wide-ranging interdisciplinary symposium examined art, commerce, politics, violence, history, and urban space on both sides of the Pacific. Creative artists and scholars explored contemporary performance, film, art, and activism in Mexico City from the Revolution to today. The event also featured an exhibition on current art and urbanism in China’s dynamic Pearl River Delta (Art+Village+City) and research on contemporary Shanghai by a team from the UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative was presented in a video-based exhibit. In addition, new UC Berkeley publications and…

Art+Village+City: Post-Travel Update

Posted on by Genise Choy
Filed under: Art, Art+Village+City, China

Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta is one of two interdisciplinary courses being sponsored by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative in Spring 2015. Students in this research studio are utilizing a variety of research methods from interviews to video documentation to explore the ongoing evolution of relationships between urban and rural spaces and people, and the emerging role of the arts in China’s Pearl River Delta. From March 18th to April 3rd, the students and faculty of the Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta Studio visited the three mega cities of the Pearl River Delta: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.…