A sold-out evening at the Graduate Center, CUNY, hosted by the Center for the Humanities, the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and the Gotham Center, exploring how public art and public history can come together to create places for dialogue in support of activism in the contested city.
A diverse panel of community activists, arts practitioners, and scholars—Kemi Ilesanmi (Executive Director of The Laundromat Project), Prithi Kanakamedala (Bronx Community College), and Gregory Jost(Director of Organizing at Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association)—responded to Contested City: Art & Public History as Mediation at New York's Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, the new book by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani.
Contested City simultaneously reveals untold stories of fifty years of community activism in Manhattan's Lower East Side around the highly contested Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA)—and sheds light on the importance of collaborative creative public projects in this complex place. The narrative of Contested City has bearing on the new mega-development of Essex Crossing now rising on the SPURA site, as well as the many places around our city in which housing is precarious and neighborhoods are threatened. This discussion was for everyone who seeks tools to make their neighborhood more just.