Notes about urbanism

July 7, 2010 permalink


From an Op-Ed in Monday’s New York Times about a frustrated search for the existence of the “real” Nighthawks diner painted by Hopper:

Over the past years, I’ve watched bakeries, luncheonettes, cobbler shops and much more come tumbling down at an alarming rate, making space for condos and office towers. Now the discovery that the “Nighthawks” diner never existed, except as a collage inside Hopper’s imagination, feels like yet another terrible demolition, though no bricks have fallen.

It seems the longer you live in New York, the more you love a city that has vanished. For those of us well versed in the art of loving what is lost, it’s an easy leap to missing something that was never really there.

To me, it’s quite the opposite: Hopper was delivering to us an entire city’s electric nightlife collapsed into one tidy, incredibly lonely painting, and that is far more interesting than any image of a specific, real diner. Why mourn the non-existence of a restaurant when the sadness and predation that Hopper reflects in us still exists in every large city, at no risk of demolition?

January 10, 2009 permalink

In a Sense New York New York Was Legally No

In a sense, New York / New York was “legally” no longer a condensed Manhattan. Nor was it a movie set (that would have been a different suit altogether). It was essentially a souvenir of the kind that you dropped in your beach bag; but now ballooned out into a monument the size of a casino/hotel. It stood in memoriam to tourists not quite remembering which building went where. It was a monument to condensed memorabilia.

Norman M. Klein, in The Electronic Baroque: 1955-2050. From The Vatican to Vegas, 2004 p346.

January 10, 2009 permalink

Back in Boom Sic of 1999 There Were Rumors That

Back in boom [sic] of 1999, there were rumors that a Vegas/Vegas hotel was to be built. The entire Strip would be condensed to 5/8 scale, like Disneyland’s Main Street at 7/8 scale; or to copy the very popular Universal Citywalk, that five years earlier had launched the next stage of the Electronic Baroque in L.A.

Norman M. Klein, in The Electronic Baroque: 1955-2050. From The Vatican to Vegas, 2004 p342.

January 10, 2009 permalink

Museums Would Map the Transition Toward This New

Museums would map the transition toward this new Baroque, like the new Guggenheims in Las Vegas, as part of a franchise that has stopped growing in the U.S. Museums were also under the gun. Very likely, shows will look more like Baroque wunderkammers than they used to. They will overlap and sprawl more, like browsers and search engines. The pressures to make shows monumentalize the new power relations will be intense, an often under shrinking curatorial budges, with signature buildings outside, like the Electronic Baroque: gaudy outside, conservative at its core.

Norman M. Klein, in The Electronic Baroque: 1955-2050. From The Vatican to Vegas, 2004 p338.

July 6, 2008 permalink

Every Urban Population Believes in Having It Owns

Every urban population believes in having it owns collective psychology. One can ridicule this belief, but it has produced a lot of poetry, music and cinema that we are accustomed to valuing. The volume of poems about Parisian air or St. Petersburg’s weather is a sufficient justification for their architecture. However, if we don’t speak about art that is stimulated by a city but about art in the public space, then one should be very careful. The chance that any really good artwork can go through all possible channels that evaluate it is minimal. And, in general, art that is exhibited outside of arts institutions has to additionally identify itself as art. That makes art shown in the public space even more conservative than art shown within the framework of institutions.

Boris Groys, quoted in “6 Questions for Boris Groys”, Art Lies no. 58, p. 19