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Contested City: Art, Planning, and Community Power

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The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 5th Avenue

Martin E. Segal Theatre

New York, NY 10016

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Join us for an evening exploring how public art and public history can come together to create places for dialogue in support of activism in the contested city. A diverse panel of community activists, arts practitioners, and scholars, including Kemi Ilesanmi (Executive Director of The Laundromat Project), Prithi Kanakamedala (Bronx Community College), and Gregory Jost ​(Director of Organizing at Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association) ​will respond to Contested City: Art & Public History as Mediation at New York's Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, a new book by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani. Contested City simultaneously reveals untold stories of fifty years of community activism in Manhattan's Lower East Side around the highly contested Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA)—and sheds light on the importance of collaborative creative public projects in this complex place. (See more context/information on SPURA and the book below).

This event is free and open to public, but to attend, please RSVP.

The narrative of Contested City has bearing on the new mega-development of Essex Crossing now rising on the SPURA site, as well as the many places around our city in which housing is precarious and neighborhoods are threatened. This discussion is for everyone who seeks tools to make their neighborhood more just. There will be a book signing after the event.

Click here for more information about the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) and the complex history behind this 50-year fight for affordable housing in Manhattan's Lower East Side in an interview with Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani WNYC's All of It.

Speakers Bios:

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani is an urbanist, curator, and artist pioneering public arts and urban research for community engagement, and is author of Contested City: Art and Public History as Mediation at New York's Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. She is principal of the design and research studio Buscada and teaches urban studies and public art at The New School. She was the Post-doctoral Fellow in Visual Culture at the International Center of Photography and holds a PhD in environmental psychology from the Graduate Center, CUNY. She regularly consults with arts and culture organizations on community and art engagements and strategic visioning. Her creative practice has been shown at institutions including MIT, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Center for Architecture, the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, and Tate Britain. Her work on cities, culture and photography has appeared in journals including Visual Studies, Urban Omnibus, Space and Culture, Society & Space, and Buildings & Landscapes.

Kemi Ilesanmi is Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. She is inspired by the immense possibilities for joyful justice at the intersection of arts and community. She has previously worked at Creative Capital Foundation and Walker Art Center. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. She has been honored by the Metropolitan Museum and Project for Empty Space. She serves on the boards of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and The Broad Room. A graduate of Smith College, NYU, and Coro Leadership NY, she is currently a Sterling Network Fellow.

Gregory Jost is a Bronx-based researcher, organizer, and facilitator with expertise in affordable housing, the history of race and place in American cities, and strategies for community control of reinvestment. He serves as the Director of Organizing at Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, and is an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Fordham University where he teaches Urban Issues and Policies and Community Service and Social Action. Gregory is the Board Chair of New Economy Project and supports the Undesign the Redline work of Designing the We. He is currently researching and writing a book on the history of Redlining and the Bronx.

Prithi Kanakamedala is an Assistant Professor of History at Bronx Community College. Her research interests include the Black Atlantic, 19th-century free Black communities in Brooklyn and New York, race and citizenship in the early republic, and the material culture of New York City. As a public historian she has worked with Danspace Project, Place Matters, Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center, and Irondale Ensemble Project. She curated the semi-permanent history exhibit Brooklyn Abolitionists at the Brooklyn Historical Society and served as Historian for the larger public history project "In Pursuit of Freedom" which examines Brooklyn’s anti-slavery movement. Prithi holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex and is originally from Liverpool, England.

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Date and Time

Location

The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 5th Avenue

Martin E. Segal Theatre

New York, NY 10016

View Map

Refund Policy

Contact the organizer to request a refund.

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