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Global Africa Lab

Through design methods and research aided by new technologies and media, Global Africa Lab (GAL) at Columbia GSAPP explores the spatial topologies of the African continent and its diaspora. GAL’s innovative research and pedagogical agenda examines how the unique political histories and the contemporary forces of globalization shape the architecture, urbanism, culture and ecologies of these places.

GAL’s research project “Im/mobility and the Afro-Imaginary” was included in the exhibition African Mobilities 2018. A two-channel video installation examined the future of black neighbourhoods under the specter of gentrification and redevelopment in New York City. Contemporary transportation routes in New York City, like the Cross Bronx Expressway stand as monuments to the vicious policies of slum clearance in the 1950s through the 1970s, that are steeped in the reinforcement of racial segregation and urban community displacement. The videos simultaneously explore the many ways that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, marches, and movements re-territorialized the urban infrastructure of highways, streets, bridges, and plazas, that had served as an urban apparatus of black and brown dispossession. While in protest of the violent and deadly confrontations with police officers and white supremacists, today’s BLM protests, are not only stopping traffic but to the chants of “Shut the whole system down,” they are strategically disrupting the flow of people and goods that feed the metro area’s multi-billion-dollar global economy. Through the use of found image, video, animation and collage the video presentations examine the dual historical narratives of dispossession through urban renewal and tactical appropriation through urban protest. By appropriating images of urban detritus, architectural elements, and consumer culture, the Afro-Imaginary collages reinvented contested sites of redevelopment and gentrification in New York City.

The exhibition was a collaboration between Architekturmuseum der TU München and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and was curated by Dr. Mpho Matsipa (GSAPP and Witwatersrand University).

Working on Water
A Lecture by Mario Gooden

October 21, 2019

View the event listing here.