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Spatial City: An Architecture of Idealism
First Exhibition of the Frac Collections in the United States – 2010
Institute of Visual Arts (Inova), Milwaukee, February 5 – April 18; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, May 23 – August 8; Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, September 10 – December 26
http://www.frac-platform.com
Spatial City is an art exhibition inspired by the theoretical architecture of Yona Friedman. Friedman’s ideas, disseminated in the aftermath of World War II, have influenced subsequent generations. French thinkers and conceptual artists have responded to his designs as philosophical constructs worthy of exploration, explication and confrontation. While Yona Friedman’s “utopia réalisable” informed the framework of the show, the selection of artwork reflects the cycling and recycling of optimism and cynicism in postwar culture. Artists in the exhibition are responding to society’s complex problems: the failed utopian social experiments that resulted in the dehumanizing conditions of Brutalist architecture, the rise and fall of totalitarian states, the tensions resulting from post-colonial immigration, and the destruction of the environment in the name of progress.
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rathowen-co-westmeath

Image: Rathowen, Co. Westmeath, from Ghost Estates of the Irish Property Bubble
The title of this post comes from a chapter in Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, from 1963. Though speaking about housing and planning policies in the sixties and earlier in the US, the text has a sudden renewed sharpness in relation to recent events. (It doesn’t speak of diasaster capitalism a la Naoimi Klein, although there are similarities in the language of upheaval, violence and shock). Arguing for the necessity of ‘gradual, constant close grained changes’, Jacobs says:
this money shapes cataclysmic changes in cities. Relatively little of it shapes gradual change. Cataclysmic money pours into an area in concentrated form, producing drastic changes. As an obverse of this behaviour, cataclysmic money sends relatively few trickles of money into localities not treated to cataclysm. Putting it figuratively, insofar as their effects on most city streets and districts are concerned, these three kinds of money [state, private and ‘shadow world’] behave not like irrigation systems, bringing life-giving streams to feed steady, continual growth. Instead, they behave like manifestations of malevolent climates beyond the control of man – affording either searing droughts or torrential, eroding floods…
City people finance the building of suburbs. To be sure, one of the historic missions of cities, those marvelously productive and efficient places, is to finance colonisation…
This city building money operates as it does not because of its own internal necessities and forces. It operates cataclymically because we, as a society, have asked for just this. We thought it would be good for us, and we got it. Now we accept it as if it were ordained by God or the system.
The pervasive responses to the recession here  have been variations along the spectrum of  I’m fucked to I’m alright, Jack. (And maybe now is time to get a good deal on a used car?) Apparently we will have to weather this recession until times get good again. The sense of resignation to capitalism’s sometimes cruel weather systems is disheartening. There are very many diverse microclimates to be found in the shade of mountains and in gardens and small parks elsewhere, both by chance and by design.

panning-gold-during-the-klondike-gold-rush-1890s-by-george-g-murdoch.jpg 

A previous post dealt with the Sligo Silver Rush – now the propsecting focus has shifted to Co. Mayo.

A company’s plan for a “small scale” gold mine in Co Mayo is running into determined opposition from groups who fear the project would damage the landscape and environment. The controversy echoes the row which embroiled mining companies Glencar and Andaman Resources when they tried to exploit gold resources at Creggaunbaun, near Louisburgh, and Croagh Patrick in the early 1990s.

“Mayo’s Gold Limited”, a subsidiary of Aurum Explorations, is seeking the go-ahead for what the company describes as a “tourist gold mine” at Creggaunbaun which would primarily be involved in the manufacture of jewellery. Mining would be carried out in an environmentally sensitive process similar to “keyhole surgery” the company promises, and Croagh Patrick would be out of bounds for the venture.

However, concern was expressed at the weekend that Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan had declared his intention to grant prospecting licences to the company in respect of 135 designated townlands. Mayo County Councillor Margaret Adams says there are a lot of unanswered questions about the company’s plans. Representatives should be invited to a meeting to explain their exact proposals, she said. Westport Tourism has also discussed the company’s proposals and says all its members are strongly opposed to them.

Paddy Hopkins, chairman of the Mayo Environmental Group, says the proposal will meet the same level of determined opposition as the plans by Glencar and Andaman to mine gold at Cregganbaun and Croagh Patrick did on the last occasion. “We are trying to get as many groups and individuals as possible to write to Minister Ryan opposing the granting of the prospecting licences.”

In a document sent to local landowners in the Creggaunbaun area, Mayo’s Gold Limited says it is offering “a completely new approach” to any potential extraction of local gold resources.

Company spokesman Tom O’Gorman said it is thought sufficient gold resources can be established to provide a sustainable development which would provide long-term employment and a unique tourism attraction in the area for 20 or more years.

From Tom Shiel at The Irish Times & Friends of the Irish Environment

April 2019
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