The Urban Atlas Project by Sabrina Dorsainvil / Luisa Munera
Identify a public space
The public space we have identified is Harlem, a neighborhood that breathes diverse cultures, histories and social relations. Although it seems like a large site we believe the benefits would be great. In order to focus the project we have identified three main economic corridors; 116th street, 125th street and 145th street. The neighborhood is in constant flux because of development forces pushing Harlem residents out of the place they call home. They are being displaced whether it be emotionally, culturally, physically or historically. We believe there is an urgent need to provide a space for free speech where community residents can come together to question the changing landscape of their locality. Development in Harlem is being heard loud and clear but we have encountered many residents who feel like their voice or claim to space is not being heard or acknowledged.
The city is constantly growing, shifting, changing and in flux; residents are being displaced whether it be physically, emotionally, economically or culturally. The Urban Atlas Project acts as a mediation platform for residents and artists to come together and have their stories heard. It allows for individuals to connect on a collective level. The design of the Urban Atlas Project as a whole provides residents a forum to recognize neighbors with similar interests, voice concerns about how things are changing, develop ideas around how to make things better and start a movement of awareness that can lead toward a movement of action.
It is a one of a kind platform that promotes a culture of difference. We have identified economic corridors to begin with, 116th, 125th and 145th streets. These streets will act as entry points to investigate the past, present, and future stories of displacement. Participants are asked to explore this growing force through different methods like oral histories, narrative mapping, attending community meetings and recording what they encounter through photography, video or drawing. After conducting urban investigations, participants will develop a site specific happening that would take place in the site of investigation. These happenings or public interventions take on any medium and will require the audience and passerby to have a direct engagement with the intervention. The space provided by the site specific happenings extends itself beyond a single moment in time; it allows residents to identify like minded individuals they can begin forming networks with.
The Urban Atlas Contributors are local residents that have an invested interest in their neighborhood, are curious, eager to question and are willing to utilize creative methods for exploring. Their engagement would can vary depending on the amount of time a contributor has;
these participants can make time to do several exercises or just want to share a story about the way they see their neighborhood. There is no heavy cost on the acquisition of materials. The intervention is meant to be done with accessible resources. These investigations and actions form part of a greater archive around stories of development and displacement as seen through the five lenses of stories, boundaries, power dynamics, networks and imaginaries. These ways of seeing allow for residents to see complexities in a more accessible way.
The Urban Atlas Project currently has two facilitators that assist in the process of investigation, collective synthesis and analysis, as well as support participants in the acquisition of materials and installation for their site specific happening.
Sabrina Dorsainvil is interested in relationships between people, their environments and objects. She has been involved in student groups, service work, art initiatives and projects like the designing of the CACP SPARC Artmobile. Her interests lie in positive ways art and design serve as tools for change in youth and community development.
Luisa Munera has experience working with arts organizations and liaising with artists. She believes that art is a socially engaged practice that can act as a tool for dialogue and awareness around issues that are impacting our everyday lives in an urban context. Agency, empowerment and alternative creative approaches are important factors that drive her practice.