Jena Osman


I'll follow you

Sophie Calle
Sophie Calle, Suite Venitienne

In my last post I discussed Vito Acconci’s concept of the “activist flaneur” and I mentioned how the figure of the flaneur is said to have originated with Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Man of the Crowd.” Poe’s narrator, while engaged in categorizing the faces that pass his cafe window (using a particularly 19th century set of assumptions about character traits), is suddenly taken aback by a face that defies classification. He quickly grabs his coat and spends the night following the man through various crowd scenes, trying to determine what kind of man this could be.

The activist flâneur

Acconci Studio, "Personal Island"
Vito Acconci, "Personal Island"

Last weekend (October 25 & 26) was the occasion of the fifth annual Creative Time Summit in New York City. Creative Time is an organization known for producing public art projects, but recently it has become an important producer of conversations about the intersections of art and social justice. This year’s Summit was titled, “Art, Place & Dislocation in the 21st Century City.” Speakers included Rebecca Solnit, Lucy Lippard, John Fetterman (mayor of Braddock, PA), Rick Lowe (of Project Row Houses), Lucy Orta, Laurie Jo Reyolds, and many others.

Continuous drift

Quoting from Ivan Chtcheglov

city through fence
photo by amze emmons

Ivan Chtcheglov wrote “The Formulary for a New Urbanism” in 1953 when he was nineteen years old, under the pseudonym Gilles Ivain. An abridged version of the essay was published in 1958 in the first issue of Internationale Situationniste. The rest of this post consists of lines drawn from that essay, with lines drifting outward via various links. 

For example:

We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun.

The poetry of the billboards lasted twenty years.

We move within a closed landscape whose landmarks constantly draw us toward the past.