[re]public spaces

15 04 2010

Merriam Webster defines a republic as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them”. The caveat here, of course, is that the citizen bears little power, if any at all. The supposed power held by the citizen is legally bequeathed to the government in the process of voting, meaning that the opportunity to assume and assert power is fleeting and contingent at best.

Still, there is something unique about this definition. Contrary to thoughts regarding the innate hierarchy of systems of power that suggest it to run top-down, the definition challenges this fundamental assumption by presupposing the power of the citizen over and above the power of the institution. But there is another form of power that precedes the body of citizens and one that is nearly impenetrable to the influence of institutional forms of power only if and when it is understood as so. This power is consciousness.

The inspiration for [re]public spaces draws upon the struggle between one’s individual consciousness and the institution, such as the state or the corporate body, in an effort to define and take ownership of everyday public spaces and our activities within—this can also be described as the quotidian. The body of work seeks to look at the seemingly banal ways in which the individual citizen of a public environment engages with and responds to power. …Keep reading after the jump





Critical Reflection 3: the notion of discourse

5 03 2010

Elton John recently caused a stir amongst the Catholic Church and other Christian followers when he proclaimed that Jesus Christ was gay. He said, “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems” (AFP, 2010).

The Catholic Church responded by saying, “Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say he was ‘super-intelligent’ is to compare the son of God to a successful game-show contestant […]More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant.” (AFP, 2010).

How do we know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what gives the Church the power to respond to John’s statement with such assertion? Perhaps the better question might be: how have we come to know Jesus Christ was not a homosexual? And what processes shape(d) this understanding? …Keep reading after the jump





The Machine, hard at work.

4 03 2010

While under a different government, our home and native land decriminalized homosexuality and made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. But the current Conservative regime, with a failed attempt to ‘re-visit’ said issues in December of 2006 and little currency to undo the past, have opted to take a more coercively-passive approach to maintain their political ideologies and overarching dominant discourse on the matter.

In a new guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, has had any reference to Canada’s progressive strides made on gay rights quashed. The Globe and Mail reported: “Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005”. Despite having sided with same-sex marriage proponents in the 2005 parliamentary debates, Kenney is said to have “ordered those key sections removed”.

Kenny is but a pawn in much larger game – a game premised on dichotamizing ideologies that invariably forge a rift between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. In lieu of the preach on the abandonment of issues of equality for which our country has made many significant movements on its short history, I’d like to note that the politics of exclusion here pose both a hindrance and an instrument of empowerment. 

On the one hand, these ideologies attempt to suppress if not wholly erase history, imposing increased resistance upon the already marginalized; on the other,  the values of a suite of marginalized communities and their thoughts towards the way history is managed on the part of their government are verified, creating a parallel history that can and will be resurrected.





Critical Reflection 2: The Institution

14 02 2010

In an interview in 1980, Michel Foucault said: “the source of human freedom—is never to accept anything as definitive, untouchable, obvious, or immobile” (Bess, 1988:1), a remark that I feel resonates within Paulo Freire’s banking concept of education; one that asks us to consider how inactive our supposed active minds can be and brings into question the methods by which we are discouraged from thinking critically within an institutionalised setting… Keep reading after the jump