Editor's Note #1
(Photo of facilitator Tsitsi Ella Jaji's notes from the meeting.)
Editor's Note #1
A Steering Committee Meeting
by Lauren Bakst
Editor's Notes frame and weave together the narratives and practices emerging from Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia, drawing connections among the projects of the three Artists/Thinkers, Communities-in-Residence, and field notes contributed by invited artists and community members.
Interlocutor Lauren Bakst reflects on "emplacement" in light of a recent steering committee meeting for Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia.
On May 12th, 2015, a group of artists, thinkers, and organizers gathered at the Painted Bride Art Center to discuss and think through the frames and actions of the Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia project. What follows are some extended notes and musings from that meeting. Rather than a recap of what was discussed, I hope these notes offer some points of departure for future conversations and gatherings.
the process or state of setting something in place or being set in place.
Is emplacement—the-being-set-in-place—a way of belonging? As the dominant narratives of capital H, history, and the dominant structuring forces of place—of cities like Philly, persistently uproot and dis-place bodies, families, and communities on the edge, how can we emplace ourselves? It is a question of action, but also of imagination.
The city, real and imagined, was a phrase that we kept returning to during the steering committee meeting—a reminder that the bonds that tie us to the places we love and remember are made up of feelings—smells, colors, touches; the stuff of memory.
How can we emplace ourselves? (A note that the “we” here is uncertain and not yet determined—Perhaps the “we” is the Painted Bride Art Center and its community, the artists and individuals the project has begun to involve and has yet to reach…)
Can the project Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia serve as a platform for the setting, writing, weaving of these invisible bonds of memory into place, into Philly?
The re- in Re-PLACE-ing implies a re-petition.
To re-imagine, re-write, re-place.
As Reggie Wilson said in a recent conversation, it’s “both, and” (as opposed to either, or.)
BOTH real AND imagined
BOTH outsider AND insider
The re-petition in Re-PLACE-ing does not cover up or obscure, rather it adds to the layers—layers of stories, bodies, histories that make a place, that sediment a topography. As a member of the Re-PLACE-ing team, I take on the responsibility of creating frames and spaces that allow these layers to to multiply and accumulate, to be written and spoken in relation to one another.
In her dissertation, “Theatre of the Arts: Caribbean Intertextuality and the Muse of Place,” Lara B. Cahill Booth writes: “The emplacement in a living artistic tradition and in a living landscape nourishes a creative consciousness that discovers and activates new relationships in time and space.”
Let's use Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia as a project to emplace and activate those forgotten, or not yet felt, feelings of belonging. To emplace ourselves BOTH in Philly AND with one another.
Lauren Bakst is the Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia Interlocutor.