Site-Writing
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  • Site-Writing/Site-Reading

    Site-Writing/Site-Reading was an exhibit curated by — Anna Ulrikke Andersen, Polly Gould, Adriana Keramida, Povilas Marozas, Azzurra Muzzonigro, Mrinal Rammohan and Ishita Shah — (students from the Theorising Practices/Practising Theory: Architecture, Art and Urbanism course run by Jane Rendell as part of the MA in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture) for The UCL Urban Lab’s annual Cities Methodologies exhibition in April 2013. In this module, master’s and PhD students explore the intersections of transdisciplinary research, focusing on critical analysis of architectural and artistic practices through the process of site-writing.7 For the final project of the course, students were asked to select a location and to develop a site-specific methodology by which to interrogate, analyse and interpret their subject, using the theories and criticisms presented over the course of the term. Within the class of 2013 alone, these chosen sites were spread over three continents and ranged in size from the cityscape as a whole, to the layout space in AutoCAD software. As opposed to the normative way of writing about the site, the students were instead asked to write sites as a critique of, reaction to, insertion in or interpretation of the site. Due to the variety of sites and methods employed, these resulted in a variety of forms, from a collage to a book to an in-situ performance piece.

    A text based on the exhibition was published as Jane Rendell with Adriana Keramida, Povilas Marozas and Mrinal Rammohan, ‘Site-Writing/Site-Reading’, Ben Campkin and Ger Duijzings (eds) Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methodologies (London: IB Tauris, 2016), pp. 35-44.

    As Ben Campkin and Ger Duijzings write in the introduction to Engaged Urbanism: ‘Jane Rendell’s ‘Site-writing’ (Chapter 3) is a mode of performative intervention, an approach to urbanistic and architectural criticism where the positionality of the writer and researcher, the specifics of particular places or artworks, and the spatiality of text are all emphasised and seen to be in dynamic relation. As critical spatial practice, this method seeks to bridge the gap between critical and creative work and to ‘write sites’, rather than ‘write about sites’. The project ‘Site-Writing/Site-Reading’ presented here by Rendell’s postgraduate students shows how the method has been adopted in a range of different contexts. Site-writing gives a powerful capacity to criticism as a mode of intervention rather than as detached commentary’.


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