Presentation of power, sociality and economy

I love the title of the blog and I am delighted to take part in this trans-national network addressing contemporary urban space, ways of thinking about or acting upon changing urban phenomena. I will introduce some thoughts and questions:

During my graduate studies in London I undertook many dérives inspired by the Situationists. Through my camera I discovered the great detail and texture of the city and its spaces. I crawled on my knees on the sidewalks, scrutinized grates and cracks and pipes and traces of urban life and infrastructure. In the darkroom I developed images suggestive of body parts, time and labor. The close-up views and encounters intrigued me, I fell in love with the city, the smell, the touch, it's scarred and marked surfaces - the intimacy was almost embarrassing. Another take on the
Urban Readymade debate?

urb.porn. London 1990-91

After London I moved to New York, a city that has changed tremendously since the early 90's when it was still pretty wild. I found my dream loft in Midtown Manhattan. It was located in the Garment District in the backstreets of Times Square. The block had sweatshops, fabric stores, a prostitution hotel, a Mexican restaurant, and a few coffee shops. People who live here want an anonymous life with little interference by neighbors. The commercial building was illegally rented to me and my neighbors: a crazy Hassidic Jew who recited Proust in the doorway, 4 call-girls who got picked up by Limos, the super’s wife and daughter, a truck driver and a prostitution business that got evicted and replaced by a family of psychic readers. When I moved in, the huge picture window to the street was boarded up. Inside was a room with two bunk beds, and about 40 wired phone jacks. I did not ask too many questions but made myself at home. The street life was amazing. Hookers and pimps like straight out of a Blaxploitation movie, transvestites, crack dealers, under cover police and drug addicts, men pushing carts full of fabrics, tourists and families gone astray, designers in fancy suits…

streetwalkers, NY 1997

The street was flooded in light at night due to then Major Giuliani’s crime-light program. This provided perfect lighting for my video recordings. A parasite on the invested efforts, I was able to explore and uncover the raw beauty and power of the street life, the secret gestures and deals, the tricks of the trade, the plots and under cover operations. To make a long story short: After years of Giuliani's no tolerance policies, most of the criminals were locked up or moved, the streets were cleaned up and Times Square transformed into a Disneyfied family entertainment center. 9/11 and the terror alert era caused more change, and consequently, I have been concerned with surveillance, power and control issues in the urban space.

LineUp, NY 2005

I am writing all this to address the issues of instability and change in urban space in respect to (re)presentation of power, sociality and economy. Public spaces are arenas of difference and controversy. These constantly change and can be readdressed through art as political statements in the public sphere. How do we redefine or think through our changing situations both as individuals and in relation to one another? How do we offer alternative ways of being, influence change and reflect on habits? What about the fictional aspect of art as a way to propose alternatives? How do we affect our life situation in a direct way?

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