Flavia Marcello, Architectural Historian - Melbourne, Australia

fmarcello@swin.edu.au                

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Leaving Traces - Living Politics in the City

Public space and life in the polis were from the beginning public space tightly connected, both in terms of city governance and shared actions of its inhabitants. Whether carefully designed or loosely articulated, public space shapes behavior, providing a frame for the norms and rules of society. At the same time, it implicitly invites transgression. From the agora of Athens to the central squares in the former Communist Bloc, from the streets of San Francisco to the paths in the favelas or other informal communities, public spaces are arenas of political expression, where official discourse and unofficial voices meet/ overlap/ come into conflict with each other.

 

By questioning a certain normativity (but not only), we seek to stress the connections and the tensions between officially shaped (and designed) public spaces and unofficially used, occupied or appropriated places and/ or itineraries. By viewing political expressions – be they official or unofficial – in this way, we also want to question the very meaning of ‘what is political’.

 

We explored  this theme with a Symposium in Rennes in November 2018 called "Leaving Traces - Living Politics in the City" - Click here for details and follow the event on Twitter: #LPIC18 and the instagram account livingpoliticsin thecity

Living Politics in the City 2 will be held in Melbourne in July 2019. Watch this space for more details

Epigraphy and 'Epi-graffiti'

From dedicatory inscriptions on Greek architectural monuments to the three-dimensional lettering affixed to the façade of the Bauhaus, the neon signs of Las Vegas, and the unofficial marks left by  cans of spray paint, words on buildings can both overcome and augment the limits of architecture’s ability to communicate to a broad public. Scholars working in a variety of contexts have begun to explore the ways in which text informs historical interpretations and understanding of buildings and urban spaces but typically position their analysis within the confines of relatively narrow historical and disciplinary boundaries.

 

Lucy Maulsby from Northeastern University and I chaired a session on the topic called ‘Reading the Walls: From Tombstones to Public Screens’ at the Society of Architectural Historians conference in Glasgow in 2017. We were interested in exploring the relationship between architecture and its inscriptions in a variety of political, geographical, and historical contexts.

 

Thanks to Fabrizio Nevola, Craig Lee, Daniela Sandler and David Gobel for your great papers.

 

Click on the images to see my work on this topic