Today and tomorrow, New York University's Skirball Center for Performing Arts hosts New York-based public art organization Creative Time's annual Creative Time Summit, titled "Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century City." Following last year's event, which featured speakers like Slavoj Žižek and Martha Rosler and focused on extreme wealth disparity in the global economy, this year's summit tackles the roles of arts and culture, both positive and negative, as an "active ingredient in the construction and shaping of the contemporary city."
This, the organization's chief curator Nato Thompson notes, is not merely some self-important belief held by artists, but instead a trending conception of contemporary urban life held by policymakers, real estate developers and city planners. This adheres to urban theorist and the Atlantic Cities editor-at-large Richard Florida's conception of the "creative class" as a force of economic revitalization. Such an embrace of the arts has led to great debate, with some holding that artists are the "shock troops of gentrification," to use art critic and historian Rosalyn Deutsche's coinage.
The summit will address both the successes and failings of art's place in the city, both conceived and actualized. Numerous panels are planned, addressing issues such as gentrification and the arts and grassroots urban development. Also scheduled are keynote lectures by San Francisco-based writer Rebecca Solnit and art critic (and A.i.A. contributing editor) Lucy Lippard; regional reports on urban issues in Colombia and Turkey (as well as a short film by Turkish activist group Occupy Gezi News on recent protests in Istanbul's Gezi Park); and conversations between Thompson and Rick Lowe, founder of Houston's Project Row Houses, as well as between Mexican artist Pedro Reyes and Antanas Mockus Šivickas, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
A kick-off party at Judson Memorial Church last night featured a "participatory urban-planning project" from artist Paul Ramirez Jonas (whose show, "Aggregate," is on view at New York gallery Koenig & Clinton through Dec. 7).