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Office for Public Culture


The Office for Public Culture is a platform for research, public dialogue, and the creation of cultural productions that motivate public discourse. The Office enacts these functions with the involvement of artists, scholars and residents.

The Office is organized in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University.




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Open Discussion on The Common

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Friday, March 28th, 4-5:30

Our Workshops on the Domains of Public Culture last month elicited several consistent responses from participants. One of the ideas that came up repeatedly was the idea of "the common" (or "commons"). Most recently Erin Fishersuggested we discuss Hardt and Negri's "Commonwealth". Rather than wait to organize a more formal discussion we asked Erin if she would join us for an open discussion on "the common" during our office hours this Friday, March 28th from 4-5:30. Please join us for this informal, open discussion.

One topic of discussion will be the clarification of different uses of the terms “common(s)” and “public” in various contexts. The idea of the common is also related to the "Right to the City". It figures prominently in David Harvey's book "Rebel Cities", one of the texts we sourced for our discussion on "The Right to the City" last month. Chapter 3 "The Creation of the Urban Commons" is based on his article "The Future of the Commons" originally published in the Radical History Review in 2011.

Micheal Hardt and Toni Negri have addressed the idea of "the common" in many texts, including "Commonwealth". Recently, they published a free book "Declaration", which includes quite a lot on the common and a discussion of the institutional supports it necessitates.

We suggest that participants watch Michael Hardt's lecture "The Right to the Common" in preparation for the discussion.https://vimeo.com/52096598. (If you find the intro too long you can skip to 7:30 for the start of the lecture).Erin Fisher is Library Program Manager at the Mary Idema Pew Library at Grand Valley State University.

Facebook Event

Additional Resources:
http://antonionegriinenglish.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/93152857-hardt-negri-declaration-2012.pdf

Hardt and Negri, Commonwealth
http://ebookbrowsee.net/michael-hardt-antonio-negri-commonwealth-pdf-d77529901

David Harvey, The Future of the Commons
http://davidharvey.org/media/Harvey_on_the_Commons.pdf 2011 from Radical History Review

The Common(s) Course currently happening at 16 Beaver
http://www.16beavergroup.org/common/

http://mappingthecommons.net/en/

Michigan's Lakes Tragedy of the Commons.pdf


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Public Gender with Anna Campbell and Jill H. Casid

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Homomonument Amsterdam, from Kissing on Main St, Jill H. Casid, polaroid, 2013

Public Sex/Public Gender: a discussion with Anna Campbell and Jill H. Casid

Friday, March 21st 4-5:30pm
Office for Public Culture, 428 Bridge Street NW (intersection of Bridge, Broadway, Summer)
This event is Free and open to the public.
(coffee and light snacks provided)

This informal discussion will explore how gender and sexuality operate in, with and counter to notions of the "public," via a series of case studies to include art objects, installations, images, texts, and art/activist campaigns. Conversation points will include Anna's ongoing project "The Slow Club" and Jill's ongoing series "Kissing on Main Street" as well as Jill's essay for "Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public." Other case studies will include Elmgren and Dragset's "Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime," Cece McDonald standing her ground, Gordon Matta Clark's "Day's End," the activist group Fierce's "Queer Piers, Forty Years" project, and notes on queered citizenship and homonationalism.

Anna Campbell is an artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Design at Grand Valley State Unviersity. Jill H. Casid is an artist and Professor of Visual Studies in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she founded and directed the Center for Visual Cultures.

The Office for Public Culture presents this discussion as a pilot program using specific artworks to structure discussions of complex issues in public life. This discussion richly engages the domains of public culture we presented in workshops last month including considerations of public Spaces, public Practices, public Events and public Imaginaries.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215405818583517/
Join the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1448729908695887

The Office for Public Culture is a platform for research, public dialogue, and the creation of cultural productions that motivate public discourse. The Office enacts these functions with the involvement of artists, scholars and residents. The Office is organized in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University

If you prefer to no longer receive these emails please let us know at opublicc@gvsu.edu.



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Public Discussion: Right to the City

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Friday, February 21st 4-5:30pm
Office for Public Culture, 428 Bridge Street NW (intersection of Bridge, Broadway, Summer)
This event is Free and open to the public.
(coffee and light snacks provided)

What right do people have to occupy urban space?


Recent events in Grand Rapids—such as the displacement of non-commodified, cultural spaces, the (ab)Use of city property, and the issue of homelessness and the political environment—call for some reflection about the way that we think about residents and spaces. What responsibilities do cities have to provide space(s) for people to occupy and how might we organize the politics and economics of such provisions?

The "Right to the City” was one of several major concepts developed by urbanist Henri Lefebvre. For Lefebvre in Paris, the idea emerged as both a cry (of pain and suffering) and a demand (for change and alternatives) surrounding the 1968 revolutions and uprisings happening in cities all around the world. As Lefebvre describes, the Right to the City is a “demand...[for] a transformed and renewed access to urban life." David Harvey (author of Rebel Cities) has extensively written on Lefebvre and the Right to the City and says, “the right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

Topics to discuss include the right/access to urban life, the demands of the right to the city, the role capitalism and neoliberalism play in financial crises (particularly 2008), the commons versus the public goods, culture as the ultimate commodity (and its subsequent exploitation), the urban “precariat,” (the monopoly of) rent in the urban environment, and the possibility of collective action for radical social change.

Recent, local examples:
Displacement of non-commodified, cultural spaces – DAAC, The Bloom Collective
Homelessness and the political environment – Spatial dynamics surrounding the Downtown Market and the highway underpass and other locations
(ab)Use of public property – City-owned land, South Field, Movies in the Park

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215405818583517/
Join the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407873036131054

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Resources for the Discussion:

We recommend spending some time with these three resources before the discussion, but if you don't please join us anyway:

1. Video: Are Slums the GLobal Future?, by Ananya Roy

(If video does not load try refreshing the page)

(if embedded video does not work follow this link to the video http://youtube.com/embed/1xk7dr3VG6s)
Ananya Roy is Professor of City and Regional Planning and Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. As Education Director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies she works on the Global Poverty Project and has produced a series of short videos. In "Are The Slums the Global Future" she talks about the "Right to the City". (you might have to refresh the page to get the video to load).

2. Text: From Critical Urban Theory to the Right to the City, by Peter Marcuse

This 12 page text gives a comprehensive overview of the idea of Right to the City and its various applications. We recommend reading the last 6 pages starting at "Section III Right to the CIty" to get to the major parts of the idea. The first half of the article (before section III) presents an introduction and context to the idea that is informative, but not essential to our discussion.
Marcuse,from-critical-urban-theory-to-.pdf

3. Video:"Place, Capitalism, and the Right to the City" Neil Brenner at the Creative Time Summit


Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at Harvard Graduate School of Design and asks: Can place be a productive basis for a politics of social justice in the world today? This presentation was the keynote address for the Creative Time Summit on Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century City. In October of 2013 the Office for Public Culture presented the Summit live at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in an event called OPC + CTS.

4. THE RIGHT TO THE CITY AND THE STRUGGLES OVER PUBLIC CITIZENSHIP

THE RIGHT TO THE CITY AND THE STRUGGLES OVER PUBLIC CITIZENSHIP: exploring the links by Anna Plyushteva as part of the Urban Reinventors project and journal. This includes a really great overview of the idea and various applications and issues that arise in application.

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Additional Resources

Here are other relevant resources related to "Right to the City":

Poverty Map in America, NYT

Wikipedia - Right to the City

Right to the City, by David HarveyThis essay introduces the idea of Right to the City, and outlines the political/economic frameworks that impact urban development. This essay was included in Harvey's recent book, Rebel Cities, From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution.

World Charter for Right to the City

Right to the City MovementThis is the link to the Movement, which has numerous local chapters.

Platform for NY-based Right to the City

Fortress LA by Mike Davis

Additional short videos from Ananya Roy and the Global Poverty Project:
Who is Dependent on Poverty

Who Profits from Poverty

Can We Shop to End Poverty?

Who Sees Poverty?






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428 Bridge Street

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Office for Public Culture is in operation (together with Civic Studio) in the building at 428 Bridge Street NW for the next few months. Open Office hours on Fridays from 3pm to 5:30pm. We are also open 10am-noon on Wednesday mornings for organizational work meetings. Stay tuned for announcements about upcoming events.
428 Bridge was formerly the German Auto shop and showroom. Some of you might remember it as one of the locations for Arco Iris. Most recently it was a physical therapy clinic.







Upcoming Events

Open Discussion on The Common


Recent Events

Public Gender with Anna Campbell and Jill H. Casid

Public Discussion: Right to the City

Domains of Public Culture: Workshops

ACCELERATIONISM: Shaviro

OPC + CTS

Code GR:Public to Private








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