“Spatial Politics and the City”

“Spatial Politics and the City”

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at University of British Columbia

Tom Burrows, Skwat Doc (detail, Copenhagen), 1981–82. Photocopy on board. Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC. Gift of the artist, 1999.
March 12, 2015
“Spatial Politics and the City”

Friday 27 March 2015

Liu Institute for Global Issues
University of British Columbia (UBC)
6476 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC


Seating for the symposium is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis, please arrive early; registration is not required.

Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Tom Burrows.

This symposium is occasioned by the Tom Burrows exhibition at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Since the 1960s, Burrows’s work has reflected on the connections between the spaces of political and artistic/material practice. His home and sculptural works on the Maplewood Mudflats, his documentation of squatting communities in Africa, Asia and Europe, and his ongoing production of abstract works in resin and porcelain share an attention to the ways in which socially meaningful forms emerge out of engagement with, and intervention in, spatial and material processes.

Symposium conceived and curated by Shelly Rosenblum.


1 pm: Introductory remarks
Shelly Rosenblum, Curator of Academic Programs, Belkin Art Gallery, UBC


1:10–3:10pm: Panel 1, “Spatial Transformations”
Moderator: Chris Gaudet (Public and Academic Programs Assistant, Belkin Art Gallery, UBC)

Alison B. Hirsch (assistant professor, School of Architecture, University of Southern California), “The Participatory City: Activist Landscape Architecture in the ’60s, ’70s and Today”

Lorna Fox O’Mahony (Professor of Law and Executive Dean of Humanities, University of Essex), “Squatting in the Shadows of a Strong Property Rights Regime: Outlaws and Outsiders in the Neo-Liberal State”

In her article “Looking for the Utopian,” Andrea Anderson claims that the aesthetic of Burrows’s interventions in the Maplewood Mudflats was “dependent on the movements of the community as well as of nature.” How might (legal, architectural, artistic) interventions into landscapes enable their emergence or persistence as socially meaningful spaces: homes, communities, sites for performance and belonging? How might such spaces be both brought into being and threatened by movement, in the form of migration, of choreography, of historical change?


3:30–5:30pm: Panel 2, “Art and Contested Space in Vancouver”
Moderator: Mari Fujita (Chair, Environmental Design; and Associate Professor, Architecture, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, UBC)

Elke Krasny (professor, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna), “Curatorial Lecture: Hands-On Urbanism”

Alexander Vasudevan (assistant professor, School of Geography, University of Nottingham), “The Makeshift City: Towards a Spatial History of Squatting in Vancouver”

How might Vancouver’s (often highly conflictual) spatial histories be activated by artistic interventions? How have communities—especially communities that have defined themselves, or been defined, as marginal—shaped the city’s public spaces? What possibilities do practices of contestation, such as Vancouver’s long history of squatting, open for thinking and representing a city for which sovereignty and land title are constantly at issue?


“Spatial Politics and the City” is made possible with assistance from the UBC Curatorial Lecture Series supported by the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.

For more information on the symposium, click here.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list to receive updates about the symposium, email [email protected].



"Spatial Politics and the City": a symposium at Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia

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Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at University of British Columbia
March 12, 2015

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