Introduction The term ‘flâneuse’ can be attributed to females who engage in flânerie: the act of observing the city whilst walking. They know themselves to be one of the public, yet they are the binary opposite to the engaged pedestrian – they are a passive spectator. Until the latter half of the nineteenth century, flânerie […]
Seeing the city as a work of art is a curious way to view a city, I found it an interesting exercise. This book represents quite a masterful look at London, Paris and Vienna, with a splendid raft of photographs, illustrations and quotations. To the greater or lesser extent that I know them, they are…
A review of Frances Richard’s new book, “Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics.”
New York was an inexhaustible space, a labyrinth of endless steps, and no mater how far he walked, no matter how well he came to know its neighborhood and streets, it always left him with the feeling of being lost. Lost, not only in the city, but within himself as well. Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him to a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within… Motion was of the essence, the act of putting one foot in front of the other and allowing himself to follow the drift of his own body. By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal, and it no longer mattered where he was. On his best walks, he was able to feel that he was nowhere. And this, finally, was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere. New York was the nowhere he had built around himself, and he realized that he had no intention of ever leaving it again.
Paul Auster in City of Glass as quoted in Paul Auster’s New York, Henry Hold and Company, New York)
The feeling that emerges from these glimpses of city life is roughly equivalent to what one feels when looking at a photograph. Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” is perhaps the crucial idea to remember in this context. The important thing is readiness: you cannot walk out into the street with the expectation of writing a poem or taking a picture, and yet you must be prepared to do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. Because the “work” can come into being only when it has been given to you by the world, you must be constantly looking at the world.
From: The Art of Hunger, as quoted in Paul Auster’s New York, Henry Hold and Company, New York)
In an endlessly fascinating essay – Non-places: an introduction to super modernity – Marc Augé contrasts anthropological place (any space bearing the inscriptions of the social bond or collective history, such as churches, market places and town halls) with non-places. Described as spaces of circulation, consumption and communication, they are the places we inhabit when […]
J.B. Jackson’s 1976 essay on the evolution of the American garage displays his rare ability to combine deep erudition with eloquent and plainspoken analysis.
Citation: “The Domestication of the Garage,”: Introduction by Jeffrey Kastner. Archival text by J.B. Jackson, “The Domestication of the Garage,” Places Journal, February 2019. Accessed 07 Feb 2019. https://placesjournal.org/article/j-b-jackson-the-domestication-of-the-garage/
From Wikipedia: “Flâneur (pronounced [flɑnœʁ]), from the French noun flâneur, means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer”. Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations. A near-synonym is boulevardier.” A holdover from the class divides of 19th and early 20th century in Europe when the gentry could spend their time engaged in […]
We rarely see them. Or rather, we see but fail to acknowledge. They inhabit a shadowland of the banal, the unremarkable, the unnoticed. Concealed in their own mundanity, they gently erase themselves from view. Yet in Christopher Herwig’s remarkable Soviet Bus Stops, these drab artefacts of lane and street are re-invented, as Jonathan Meades observes […]
In airport, we looked at how Augé’s non-places are maybe not so ‘non’. They are places not merely of circulation, communication and consumption but creativity too. This suggests perhaps a further liminal characteristic of non-places – their identity is not merely singular but multiple; and these identities blur. It is a view proposed by Peter Merriman in […]