Today I’m flying to Berlin, where Joanna Walsh and I will give a talk about the figure of the flâneuse in the modern city on Thursday. Please join us if you’re in town! Full details:
17 May, 2012
Kreuzberg, Berlin, 10967 Germany
I write, I inhabit a sheet of paper – I invest in it, I travel across it. I incite blanks, spaces… This is how space begins: with words only, signs traced on the blank page. (Georges Perec, Species of Spaces)
Join Dialogue Books as we explore the hidden boundaries and outer limits of urban exploration and the role of the flâneuse in the modern city with artist/writer Joanna Walsh and novelist/critic Lauren Elkin.
Joanna Walsh and Lauren Elkin have been exchanging ideas for a number of years. Working in different practices, they are both concerned with the city as a grid for explorations of politics and identity.
Joanna Walsh is visiting Berlin at the end of a period mapping European cities, researching her next book, which deals with love in space and cyberspace.
“I began to record my journey in photographs at theskyovereuropa.tumblr.com. What started as a side-project has now become an important part of my work. Inspired by the practices Georges Perec used in his attempts to wrestle place onto the page, I imposed the Oulipo-style constraint of showing no less than 75% sky in any photo. Drawn, like Perec, to undefined, overlooked, and in-between spaces, I explore a passenger’s aesthetic of travel in which the city, not the observer, appears to move, as from a train, a bus or a taxi. Chasing the borderlands of places and relationships, subjectivity and objectivity, I ask, does the sky over Europe have frontiers?”
Lauren Elkin is at work on a book about women and cities called Flâneuse, which challenges the widely-held idea that the flâneuse has never existed because women have not had the same access to the city as men. Part critical meander, part memoir, Flâneuse charts a path through literature and art revealing women’s sometimes liberating, sometimes fraught relationship to the metropolis.
“Cities have invisible boundaries, invisible customs gates that demarcate who goes where: certain neighborhoods, certain bars and restaurants, certain parks, are reserved for different kinds of people; a place that’s native and comfortable to one person may seem exclusionary to another. We become so accustomed to this that we hardly notice the values underlying the structure of the city. This is what Perec’s Oulipo and Debord’s Situationism attempt to disrupt: ordered, reified, normative, and oppressive city structures. But for a woman, who does not inhabit public space the way a man does, what does this disruption entail? How can women take possession of the literature and the city on their own terms? What links can we find between women’s radical movements through the city and feminism’s response to literary tradition?“
Joanna Walsh (Badaude) writes and draws graphic fiction and non-fiction. She is published by Tate, and has drawn and written for The Guardian, The Times, The Idler, FiveDials and The White Review amongst others. She has created large-scale artworks for the Tate Modern and The Wellcome Institute. Her website was a Webby Honoree in 2008. She is an associate member of the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics. This year she will be talking at the Port Eliot Festival, The Wellcome Institute and the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.
Lauren Elkin is the author of the novel Une Année à Venise (Editions Héloïse d’Ormesson) and co-author of The End of Oulipo? An Attempt to Exhaust a Literary Movement (forthcoming from TQC Long Essays and Zero Books). Her essays on books and culture have appeared in The Guardian, Bookforum, The Daily Beast, The White Review, and Five Dials, and are forthcoming in n+1 and the TLS. She lives in Paris and London.
RSVP via email@example.com
Entry €5 including wine