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Exhibition at Pratt Compares Public Protests in Gezi Park to those in Zuccotti Park

United Kingdom Architecture News - Sep 28, 2013 - 10:31   3352 views

Exhibition at Pratt Compares Public Protests in Gezi Park to those in Zuccotti Park

Brooklyn — September 11, 2013, Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development announces its first exhibition of Fall 2013 — From Zuccotti to Taksim: Negotiating the Right to the City through Public Space. The exhibit juxtaposes the May 2013 protests at Taksim Gezi Park to the Fall 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park and is inspired by the book Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space (New Village Press, September 2012), a multidisciplinary compendium of over 40 essays mediating on the role of public space. The exhibition runs September 11th to 30th, 2013, at the Hazel and Robert Siegel Gallery, Higgins Hall, 61 St. James Place, Brooklyn.

The powerful imagery of the Istanbul protests taken by members of the NAR Photos Collective and photographer Brennan Cavanaugh’s images of Occupy Wall Street display the dramatic response of citizens cut out of public decision-making and how their demonstrations brought the dialogue on the “right to the city” to the forefront. The exhibit points to the importance of public space as a meeting point and catalyst for open discussion, as well as a pivotal node
for creative protest and civic exchange. The Turkish protesters, many of whom are architecture and urban planning at Istanbul Technical University, put at the forefront of their dissent the processes that shape our cities today, questioning, especially, top-down decision making.

This exhibit in Pratt Institute’s Department of Architecture also features sculptures by Not An Alternative and will be accompanied by lectures on “Post-Digital Agoras, The Renewal of Local Public Space Use and Demands to Redefine Community Ownership” on Wednesday, September 11 by Daniel Latorre (founder, The Wise City); a screening of three short films on the Turkish protests on Wednesday, September 18; and a workshop entitled “Collective
Imaginations: Why Participation is Not Enough” by Quilian Riano (founder, DSGN AGNC) on Monday, September 30th.

The protests in Istanbul began as a demonstration against the appropriation of historic Taksim Gezi Park for a shopping mall and hotel. As one of the last green spaces in the surrounding Beyoğlu District, this battle over a treasured public space became a launching point for criticism of Prime Minister Erdoğan and the ruling party’s top-down development strategies. Residents resisted the homogenization of the city and their exclusion from the decisionmaking process. This and the Prime Minister’s other policy intrusions into the daily lives of Turks—such as regulating the sale of alcohol and suggesting that women should have a certain number of children—struck a nerve among citizens. And, much the same way that Occupy Wall Street demonstrations sparked explosive public protests on dozens of volatile issues of the day, Turkish protesters soon took up a number of causes beyond stopping the taking of public parklands for private development. Also, as in Zuccotti Park, the Turkish protests united people of different motivations, ethnic backgrounds, political identities, and religious beliefs in passionate support of common issues. People at odds with each other in their daily lives came together even under the threat of heavy police attack. Notably, new forms of public communication and sharing emerged.

The exhibition is a project of the Democracy, Equity and the Public Realm Initiative, a joint project of the Pratt Institute Program for Sustainable Planning and Development, Architects Designers Planners for Social Responsibility and New Village Press. The initiative aims to raise awareness among professionals, academics, and the public on issues affecting free, equitable, and democratic use of public space. Its projects engage conversations to build understanding and improve the design, use, and access to public spaces for social inclusion and free creative and political expression.

Nar Photos is an independent, non-hierarchical collective established in 2003 by documentary photographers who aim to build understanding and provoke social change. The group shares its work through alternative methods such as street exhibitions and mobile public exhibitions. Not An Alternative is a hybrid arts collective and non-profit organization with a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, and history. The group curates and produces interventions on immaterial and material space, leveraging the tools of architecture, exhibit design, branding, and public relations.

From Zuccotti to Taksim has been curated by Ana Fisyak with assistance from Ron Shiffman, Shirin Barghi, Lynne Elizabeth, Evren Uzer, Ayse Yonder, David Frisco, Ted Seely, Eric Wong, John Shapiro, Mehmet Kacmaz, Brennan Cavenaugh, Jason Jones, Daniel Latorre, and Quilian Riano. The exhibit is open to the public daily 10AM to 8PM and is wheelchair accessible. For any questions contact Ana Fisyak at [email protected].

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