Archive for ‘Gabes Adels’

November 28, 2011

Gabe Adels-Koolhaus the Skater

Virtually every article that deals with re-appropriation of urban space relates directly to the philosophical exploration of skateboarding. Street Skating is a means to invent a use for space generally designed for one purpose. Stairs lead to buildings, and handrails help to protect people from falling. By flying down a set of stairs on a skateboard, one is generally challenging the presumptions of the architect and maintainer of the space, who envision primarily function, and secondarily, aesthetics. You could do any number of combinations of flips and spins with the body or board, the possibilities have not been explored or invented yet. Skateboarding re-appropriates and invents spaces for athletic and creative expression amidst an urban landscape defined by singular utility and the conformity of economy.

Skateboarding covers the gamut of urban spaces, both public and private. It demonstrates that private spaces may be open to the public, and supposedly public spaces, like parks patrolled by security guards, are actually private is some ways, in that they are intended for specific use by specific people. It raises questions about property lines, which as Koolhaus states, are,”…originally a conceptual and abstract legal division design to divide, enclose, and exclude…” In addition, Koolhaus praises the informal city of Lagos, to which he attributes, “constant reassessment of urban property boundary conditions and of socially constructed space.” Both on 674.

November 14, 2011

Gabe Adels-The Future of Monuments

In his lecture, Michael Herzfeld identified the force of nationalism as a relatively recent phenomenon. Countries that have historically consisted of a collection of relatively autonomous localities, like Italy and Germany, have only come to identify as a single unit fairly recently. In the scheme of how people personally identify themselves, nationality has only been a dominant adjective for a brief period compared to religion, or occupation. Now, though, people relate to each other more in terms of nationality than religion: Americans of different cultural backgrounds have more in common than two Christians from other sides of the globe.

Even though nationalism is relatively new, Herzfeld associated monumentality, and its displacement of marginalized people, as a way to “reinforce the most exclusionary tendencies of nationalism.” Are monuments, like nationalism, a relatively recent construct, serving only to reinforce a national image? or instead, is nationalism a phase in the history of monuments, a recent phase that might already be on the decline?

Nationalism could be seen as a stage in the evolution of a globalized world. We identify as countries compared to other nationalities which we have some level of interaction with. However, as we interact more casually with other cultures via new information technology, the distinction could break down. Already, conglomerations like the European Union illustrate this politically. A European identity is replacing the national identities that arguably, never even fully developed (like Italy).

As we move towards a globalized identity, and a more global consciousness, the force of nationalism might lose its precedence. But what does this mean for the marginalized citizens that still exist all over the world? Will “Globalism” replace nationalism, or will these identities exist side by side? and will global monuments have an even more hegemonic effect on displaced people?

October 30, 2011

Gabe Adels-Camden Waterfront

This post could be read in conjunction with Kathy’s article, also about Camden…

Camden, NJ, is located across the Delaware River from my home city of Philadelphia. It is notoriously the epitome of an, ugly, post-industrial, dangerous city. The crime rate is one of the worst ten in the country, even though it’s a relatively small city. Growing up, I felt like the Camden Waterfront was the one thing that made the city worth visiting. Now I realize that the Waterfront just makes the city the epitome of  the privatization of “public space” leading, basically,  to segregation, and a lack of welfare to the actual residents of the city.

Growing up, I’d occasionally frequent Camden for a a very specific set of tasks. The aquarium, the Vans Warped Tour, a really good thrift store off the highway. It always seemed like a depressed place, but I never thought too much about it, too excited to see sharks or A New Found Glory. Last summer, as a cultural experiment, I went back to the waterfront to see an enormous sold-out Phish show. We took the subway one stop past the waterfront stop, and walked from there. We walked through neighborhoods of houses that looked totally abandoned except for vendors selling glow sticks. There was an eery silence, and cop cars flashing lights in every direction. Not only had the entire economy of the city seemingly been converted from Campbell’s Soup Factory jobs to street vendors serving the wealthy stoners of Philadelphia’s suburbs, but the police force had been as well. Dutifully protecting us and our money from the criminal threat of Camden, which was left to its own devices as the festival raged on.

The waterfront, still the hub of economic activity in the area, shifted from an industrial to a recreational space. The entertainment is not targeted towards Camden residents, who don’t have as much money as Philadelphians across the river. The waterfront, and economic activity, becomes defined by non-natives of the city, and the local residents have no means to find work. Drugs, Crime, emigration. The epitome of a shrinking city.

not an interesting link, just give you a taste of the bland flavor…

October 17, 2011

Gabe Adels-Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia

I wouldn’t necessarily have expected such a young and hip crowd, wearing nothing but colorful vests. I would expect more older and uglier nudist dudes who just wanna be free. But it was mostly hipsters.

People’s behavior generally isn’t sexualized in the magazine advertisement sense of the word. It seems more of an openness, as opposed to flaunting one’s stuff. With the camera panning around, there was only minor noticeable insecurity and one girl whose look seemed to say “check me out”.

Still, one would almost expect a more sexual atmosphere from an event like this. These people are breaking such a cultural boundary, but they’re still just generally standing around in the groups of people that they probably came with. Those alone are mostly talking on cell phones. No one’s hooking up.

Is it a more powerful statement if sexual or non-sexual? Non-sexual says that nakedness doesn’t necessarily mean sex, which is sort of more revolutionary that the sexual, which says that sex is ok in public space. Both are a criticism of engrained cultural premises of cloths and sex, but the former seems somehow more taught in the nurture stages of development, whereas the latter feels like a law that people have to follow. Both are really cultural rules though.

October 12, 2011

Gabe Adels-CCS Lobby

What an underutilized space! There’s one bench when you walk in, and I’ve never seen someone sitting on it. The walls are bright white. 3 of the walls are large glass windows, with glass doors. The other wall is a service/welcome desk that provides no purpose other than a friendly “hello” as you walk in, or a reminder  that “the museum is not open today”.

The most hilarious thing about the room is an electrical socket, located just beside the service window. There are no tables or chairs around it. It has no apparent use. Did the architect put it there as a joke? To challenge the sterility of creative presentation? It’s assumed an electrical socket has no aesthetics-its sole function is use. The way we try separate art and “real life” by creating a portal into a world commentated by a female woman with a British accent who seems to whisper into your ear “Please do not move or be moved by the art” Well, I decided I would use that socket, and got myself into some trouble.

I sat down with my friend Cy, and she plugged her computer into the socket and we composed a couple of business type emails together. I was sitting on my skateboard, rolling gently to and fro. The was no activity other than us in the room for 10 minutes. I did a, slow extended glide across the room on my butt,  leaning ever so slightly to turn in full control. Suddenly, from behind one of the glass doors burst the security guard, screaming “Out! Get out! Get that out of here! The skateboard stays out! You get out of here with that skateboard!”

I flip the skateboard upside down, to show that I will not be rolling on it again. I resume my business with Cy. 5 minutes later, another security guard comes in, silently followed by the first. “I don’t mean to seem like I’m picking on you guys, but you can’t lean your backs against the wall. You’ll scuff them up, and the walls are part of the presentation of the art.”

What ideals are behind this separation between usable space and a space for art? Why, with art, is space so rigidly defined in terms of its functions? The museum space is not to be used for anything other than an extremely specific way of interacting with fine art. You can sit on that bench for 5 minutes, but if you fall asleep on it, you’ll be woken up. If a work of art moves you to sobbing tears, you will probably be seen as a threat and asked to leave. If something makes you want to sing or laugh you will be shushed.

These behavioral guidelines are inherently elitist. They maintain a separation between art, and the real world, as if normal people cannot make or appreciate art. They create a context that excludes those unwilling or unable to participate in a stuffy culture of specific behaviors, thoughts, and dress. These conventions should be challenged on every level. The institution of the museum and gallery may not be effected by city planning, etc.. Rebellion on however small a level raises awareness to the hypocrisy and ridiculousness until it catches on and people start to create and market art in other ways, to complement the portal into snobbery.

October 3, 2011

Gabe Adels-Skateboarding and Sao Paulo

For my research project, I’m going to study the philosophy and politics of skateboarding, focusing my attention on the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Skateboarding creates a lens through which we can view many of the more “unbounded” questions we’ve pondered in class with more focus. Skateboarding necessarily involves the re-appropriation of urban space. Skaters view the city through a unique lens, seeing opportunity for creative and athletic expression in abandoned industrial spaces, inhabited corporate plazas, as well as the nooks and crannies of public spaces like parks.

Naturally, the activity of skateboarding becomes contentious in places where ownership of space is debatable. The skaters, frequently labeled as degenerate youth, struggle to maintain a voice and the freedom to skate in public places through confrontations with police and local government. What emerges is a
“skate lobby”, defending skater’s rights in parks, and demanding adequate space designated for skateboarders. I aim to explore the context of this relationship in Sao Paulo, as well as address the larger question: Is skateboarding defined by the space it inhabits, or is it pliable to exists in a variety of contexts? If skateboarding is removed from the urban arena, does it somehow lose its soul? The thing that makes it so attractive, and the thing that provides a vital tool for renegotiating urban space?

September 26, 2011

Gabe Adels-Abandoned Garages

Growing up half in Philadelphia, and half in a suburb outside of the city, I sometimes didn’t know what to do with myself when I came downtown to visit my dad. I didn’t really have friends in the city. I might go for a long walk with my dogs, or to a sort of shopping district to mosey about the bookstores. But eventually this repetitive routine started to feel stale, and I became interested in a more “genuine” experience of the city.

On the train ride to the city, I had always been fascinated by the empty warehouses that lined the tracks in North Philadelphia. I had dreams to fill those buildings with skateboard ramps and host concerts in them. A friend of mine got into urban exploration, and ventured into a lot of these buildings just off of Broad Street. She showed me a picture once of a huge tree that had rooted in the floorboards of the 3rd story of an old brewery. She almost died a few times toying around in places like that, and decided that the people she was doing it with were too seedy.

The closest I ever came to this was an infatuation with an empty parking garage about 4 blocks away from my dads house. It was owned by the Toll Brothers, a big fat real estate conglomeration that had bought up the old Navy Yard to turn it into condos. Now, the building is carefully sealed up, because of people like us. My brothers and friends and I used to sneak under the boarded up bars in the windows, especially at night. We’d bring skateboards and roll down the ramps without any fear of getting hit by a car. The ramps led up 5 stories to an open roof. It was higher than the town houses that surrounded it so we had an amazing view of the skyline,, all lit up. We’d scream, and throw rocks at the windows, and do illegal stuff. Sometimes I also came by myself to sit quietly.

My brother went there with his friends one time on a saturday night, maybe on the 4th of July or something. A bunch of other groups of kids were up there as well getting drunk, and I think they had a little run-in with a violent crack head or something. Anyway, they closed off the space a lot more securely, and we haven’t been back for a while.

I wonder if the space fulfilled a basic need I had as a teenager, and whether that had to do with the fact that it was off limits, or the fact that it was suspended high up in open air. For me it wasn’t a place to be destructive, but a place to feel like I could do absolutely whatever I wanted without being particularly noticed.

September 19, 2011

Gabe Adels-Hipster?

Last week, we discussed Flaneurs as a sort of predecessor to the cultural/countercultural movement known as “hipster”.

The flaneurs roamed the streets walking pet turtles, their slow pace representative of a kind of increased vision over the laity, whose experience is prescribed by economic forces. The Flaneur is supposed to be outside of that grind, appreciating the Arcade for its aesthetic. The snobbery comes from the fact that most people in that time could not appreciate the city as a work of art. They couldn’t escape their circumstance.

The hipster seems obsessed with aesthetic value, in a similar way. Dressed in vintage cloths, their get-up references the aesthetic of various decades at once. They “invert the imagery of the commonfolk”, to represent themselves as from a social class that they were not actually from. “The American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning.” (Adbusters)

There could be said to be an escapist mentality underlying both the flaneur and hipster. But who’s to say that people should be governed by the social class they come from? That seems to be classist, and to impinge on the personal liberty of a person to make their own economic and social choices, despite those that their parents made. To me, the difference between flaneurs and hipsters is where the obsession with aesthetics is directed. To flaneurs, it was directly outwardly, towards the environment, in characterization and description. For hipsters, it is directed inwardly, towards dressing well, getting drunk, and a general sense of “me, me, me”. Thus, hipster is not actually a countercultural movement, because it doesn’t in any way question the normative powers of capitalism that our culture is defined by, as the flaneurs did. All of the insight and appreciation for cultural artifacts is just focused  into an obsession with materialistic self fulfillment


September 12, 2011

Gabe Adels-Maccab City Blog

Today, in Maccab, it’s been 100 years since the event known by different names to the various ethno-geographical atelle. Those that came from the North River, waddling from their warehouses with malt brews in hand and glass beads dangling, celebrate the Reckoning. They tote visual idols, trading fervently with one another. They trickle into the memorial Pit, mixing with the exodus of those from the West Gap. They’ve dressed their toddlers in the finest woolen hats and spun-grass suites to bring in the Great Turn. From atop the Hill, people paraded across the city with their instruments of harvest, between heaps of rubble, boulders, and watering holes.

The calendar has completed its first rotation, and today they will start the counting anew. The Cross-Day has come, the day that broke linear time and so stopped history, if just for a few minutes at a time. The day changed the way Maccabians mark time and progress.

The Memorial trench descends below the roots of the oldest trees alive in Maccab. Thousands of people sit on the clay ledges that spiral down the perimeter, like a staircase. People perch on rock spires, their cheers dropping into the bottom of the pit, where speakers’ voices resonate through glass amplifiers. Delegates from each district tell the story of the blast that shattered Maccab. Some say a bomb turned the streets into rubble, and the Trees capitalized on the cracks. It is also popular opinion that the shifting outward of tectonic plates shook the city, demolishing the Old Grid and forming the gaping trench.

All cheer for the disaster, for the suffering of their ancestors. Amid the poverty and plague, Maccab relearned the art of temperance. Now they traverse the city with the grace of slow plants, sowing their culture into the soil, to be shared with Glitterbugs and turmeric.