Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Return of POSTOPOLIS!

[Image: POSTOPOLIS! LA. Logo, thanks to Joe Alterio, 2009.]

It’s been a year and a half since I made this announcement the first time around, and I’m just as excited if not more so to make it again right now. POSTOPOLIS! is back!!!

This time, the crazy weeklong arcade of conversation (around all things ‘spatial’) will weave its way through another hyper-caffeinated babble-scape of tangential architectural detour out here on the Left Coast.

Awwwww yeaaahhhhh….headed to that other bombastic city everyone loves to hate so much, or hates to love, or secretly loves but outspokenly hates! or, wherever you stand – pure love, pure hate, we’re headed there to help! – yup, POSTOPOLIS! will soon be sinking its chatty tentacles deep into the bowels of Los Angeles, a city of the past and the future; a city (which has surely become a city now) of perpetual destruction and simulation; more than just ‘a collection of suburbs in search of a city,’ it’s a giant sleeping ogre laid flat over the arid desert plain where Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
Ha. It’s LA! And it’s definitely ever-sprawling, it certainly attracts a strange bunch, it's hungry and so best to gather yourself now and get ready to roll!

Real quick: For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, POSTOPOLIS! was a event fellow bloggers [Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG), Dan Hill (City of Sound), Jill Fehrenbacher (Inhabitat)] and myself, alongside Joseph Grima, the director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture gallery in New York City where we organized and held it back in ‘07. The idea was to examine blogging’s impact on the greater architectural discussion at large that is had in academia and design studios, the media, through professionals, critics and books, etc., and to generally bring people from assorted ‘spatially curious’ perspectives to share their thoughts on space production and reflection to help make evident a wider spectrum of what can actually constitute architectural discourse – basically, architecture blogs as a means for de-limiting the scope traditional discourse. We carried on for 5 marathonic days and had an amazing time meeting people at the Storefront, catching up with everyone from Lebbeus Woods to Tom Vanderbilt, Lawrence Weschler and Robert Neuwirth, just name a few. You can read up on it all here, and here if really want to see what you missed – Dan did an unbelievably superior job of covering the entire thing at City of Sound.

However, the LA line up is a little different – we will miss Jill and her great effort pulling together a green perspective, but in addition to Geoff (SF), Dan (Sidney, Aus.) and myself (SF), David Basulto from the popular ArchDaily & Plataforma Arquitectura will join us from Chile, as will Jace Clayton, a New York City-based musical globetrotter and writer, who is also a dj ambassador of hybrid culture (he pens Mudd Up! and attended POSTOPOLIS! back in NYC); and, last but not least, the ever-inspiring omniscient voice of the blogosphere-meets-art world Régine Debatty from We-Make-Money-Not-Art, who claims to operate from Europe but is obviously more ‘everywhere’ than the rest of us. It’s gonna be good – real good.

While Joseph and The Storefront for Art and Architecture from NYC is still the main man behind the scenes, a lot of this is being made possible by the great efforts of the folks at ForYourArt who are helping immensely to put POSTOPOLIS! LA together as part of the upcoming LA Art Weekend held between April 2-5. ForYourArt was founded by Bettina Korek in ‘07, whose mission is to serve as “an interdisciplinary producer, meta-curator and publisher that creates fresh initiatives by inviting cultural patrons to participate in creative civic engagement.” They’re being great, so let me make a huge shout out of a Thank You to Bettina and her crew for all their generosity and help.

So, heading to LA, these classically referenced highway knots seem pretty appropriate here as a metaphor for all the chatter that’s going to go on come March 31st and through April 4th, with winding onramps and offramps of artists, musicians, and scientists leading us down completely different paths of inquiry, inadvertently towards little hidden rhythms and dimensions of conceptual overlap, making hectic turns into slide presentations between speakers, periodic traffic jams in scheduling (comes with the territory, right?), yet with unexpected appearances and sites of fascination popping up along the way, not to mention all those other anxiously interesting moments in between just listening and learning about different angles of the city, and trying to come up with something different to add to conversation – fueled by the overall thrill of movement! LA Movement. Of meeting people in the great feedback loop that is the culture of the city.

Forgive my effusiveness, but POSTOPOLIS! (for those unable to attend last time) is kind of a run-on sequence of discussions moving one after the other in every direction for five days, sort of like a crazy cerebral roadtrip, a cable car chain of talks, quickfire presentations – you show up, you hang out, you listen, leave, come back, dredge your ears in something new, kind of like an arcade for architectural discussion – though not entirely architectural. It blew my mind last time simply with all the interesting people who showed up to make it what it was. So I hope I have thoroughly convinced all you LAish based readers out there to come check it out at the end of March.

It’s all about hanging out and discovering new work, taking the city apart, finding some new facet, or – just as good – someone else’s own take on the city, just constantly moving on through aboard this Baudrillardian-like tramway of holographic thought and reflection on space, place. It’s like a being a tourist of other people’s passions here in the city, but getting to engage the attractions as opposed to just gazing at them. LA should make it deliciously surreal.

But, that’s just me in my own head during a weeklong deluge of intimidatingly provocative conversation, interview, public dialogue, screen shows, films, readings, panels, poetry, urban guiding – there’s always some surprise, too. Needless to say, it’s going to be ridiculously fun again and you shouldn’t plan on missing it.

Certainly, several cities are ripe for this, but LA is just such a colossus of urban weirdness, odd vanguard, strange overindulgences, pockets of intrigue, plastic fused with concrete, the smell of oranges and gasoline, palms and taillights. It’s a neon oasis siphoning ungodly amounts of water to survive while fires rage along the sides of highways. There’s Hollywood – the capital of global entertainment; Skid Row – the capital of the nation’s homeless population; you’ve got some of the largest segregations of poverty and class war in any city in the world, blanketed by inescapable smog that blows off the coast where wax museum-like narcissism basks on the beaches; there’s the constant tremor of earthquakes and astounding earthquake simulations at work there; the Mexican border’s only 135 miles south, those seismic and political faultlines teased by bizarre porn manufacturing districts, old historic transit tunnels, buried speakeasies and mofioso vaults, the dreamlanes of future superstars and their great grandmothers; there’s psychotherapeutic sheisters and reflexology masseuses for everyone! It’s a car’s world and an urban fortress, a “carceral city” as Mike Davis has put it, a city of insidious barricades, micro prisons, domestic militarization, not to mention the birthplace of inimitable LA pseudo mystics and the country’s biggest SWAT team! What a cocktail. You’ve got Beverly Hills and, essentially, everything else, dog wshiperers, surveillance choppers, 18 year-old self-made millionaire real estate agents, land use wars on taco trucks, reality TV wannabes and the Laker girls! What’s not to like?

Yeah yeah yeah, and there’s plenty of quality architecture, and tons of art – and despite what many may think they know about LA (and I don’t profess to know LA inside out myself at all), it’s got loads of real culture, too.
And we’re hoping to dive in deep. And for all you Socal heads out there to get your scuba gear ready.

Actually, there are a bunch of amazing projects I hope to touch upon there. I can’t wait! However, if reading this, you know of some incredible LA based project, or person, or group, org, something that you think Subtopia simply could not bare to miss, or should speak to, please – add it to the comments, or shoot me an email (subtopia dot blog at google mail). Would love to hear of anything in LA relevant to our little blog here. Please!

But, that’s the initial announcement! More to follow, obviously, as it all comes together. For now, mark this in your calendars:


A live 5-day blogathon of back-to-back discussions, interviews, panel talks,
slideshows, films and parties with scheduled and unscheduled guests, themed
around landscape and the built environment.

Tuesday, 31 March—Saturday, 4 April, 2009 (LA Art Weekend) 5pm—11pm daily
Brought to you by Storefront for Art and Architecture and ForYourArt.

Hosting Blogs:

Geoff Manaugh / BLDGBLOG (San Francisco, USA)
Dan Hill / City of Sound (Sidney, Aus.)
Bryan Finoki / Subtopia (San Francisco, USA)
Régine Debatty / We-Make-Money-Not-Art (Paris, France)
Jace Clayton / Mudd Up! (New York, USA)
David Basulto ArchDaily & Plataforma Arquitectura (Santiago, Chile)


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