Contested space: uncertainty in the city

Snaebjornsdottir, Bryndis and Wilson, Mark ORCID logo ORCID: (2010) Contested space: uncertainty in the city. In: Animal Movements: Moving Animals: a symposium on direction, velocity and agency in humanimal encounters, 27-28 May 2010, Uppsala University, Sweden. Full text not available from this repository.

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In our wishful ordering of the world we attempt to consign animals to places beyond the city boundaries (unless exempted through their designation as pets). Yet looking out of the window of most urban dwellings one is aware of the fallacy of this territorial claim. Uncertainty in the City is an art project by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson that explores the overlap of nature and culture within the fabric of the city and the conflicting attitudes that exist amongst humans in their response to this meeting. The city is a fortress, albeit one built to accommodate interior mobility but with stasis and stability at its heart. A hidden constituency of residents, in the park, in the garden, beneath our floorboards and in the cavities of our walls has been opportunistic in foiling a human demarcation of space, despite our attempts to exert total control. At a certain point, because to other species our borders are soft and porous, actual control must always fall short and its semblance be manifest only in the denial of such challenges. An alternative to this may lie in organizing the city around an acceptance of cohabitation as opposed to displacement or eradication. Examples of this approach already exist where planning has been conducted to allow for instance the migration of toads by means of specially built tunnels beneath busy roads, thereby saving them from mass slaughter. Humans within a city context who test or transgress accepted territorial boundaries by an active and exaggerated encouragement of non-human animals, are often seen to be profoundly different, even dysfunctional in relation to a societal norm and as a consequence often become marginalized within their immediate communities. In the light of this, Uncertainty in the City aims to question our reflex attitudes regarding what it means to be socially human, how such paradigms are challenged by the encroachment or proximity of non-human beings and in turn to challenge conventional readings of what constitutes ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
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Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Fine Arts
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2012 15:01
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 09:16
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