Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield offer the following commentary as a supplement to their guest edited theme section in Society and Space 32(1), “A New Apparatus: Technology, Government and the Resilient City,” which includes an article by Bruce titled “A New Urban Dispositif? Governing Life in an Age of Climate Change.” Contents of this theme section are open access until 11 March 2014.
One of the less examined aspects of the turn to resilient urbanism in New York City has been the leading role taken by its major cultural institutions, from art institutions and large museums to major magazines and newspapers. MoMA’s 2010 ‘Rising Currents’ exhibition (Figure 1) may have been the first to present NYC as a real-time experiment in resilient design (see the article by Bruce Braun, to which this post is attached), but it was certainly not alone; its vision of the city as an integrated but vulnerable socio-ecological system was quickly reprised elsewhere. At the BMW-Guggenheim ‘Urban Lab’ (Figure 2) – a mobile exhibit/venue based in NYC, Berlin and Mumbai – participants were taken on “ecosystem tours” of wastewater treatment facilities, waterways and landfills and invited to interactive workshops on ‘resilience’ in communities like the Lower East Side. Not to be outdone, participants in the Whitney Independent Study Program ran an “ecosystems” exhibition at sites that included the experimental gallery The Kitchen, the post-industrial eco-renewal site known as the High Line, and other urban metabolic sites like the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant (Figure 3). At each of these sites artists and viewers were invited to experience the urban environment as an “entangled” network in which nature and society could no longer be seen as separate systems. MoMA itself returned to the theme with its 2013 EXPO 1: New York (Figure 4) which imagined a contemporary art museum dedicated to ecological concerns, presenting a series of modules, interventions, solo projects, and group exhibitions including a school, a colony, a cinema, a geodesic dome, a Rain Room, and more.
Continue reading here.