UB Hosts “Ineffably Urban” Symposium

On Saturday, April 30, representatives from the areas of art, architecture, activism and education will gather at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center for the “Ineffably Urban” symposium.

The University at Buffalo is hosting this all-day interdisciplinary seminar to bring people together to share how their contributions help define the diverse story of the City of Buffalo, both in times of strength and weakness.  The symposium was organized by UB’s own Miriam Paeslack, who is an art historian and adjunct professor in the arts management program.

“It’s not a conference about whether we like or hate Buffalo, but it’s really about how we can talk about Buffalo as a place beyond the clichés, beyond the city that used to be great but is not anymore, or the city that is now decaying,” Paeslack said. “It’s about how artists, poets, photographers and filmmakers have presented Buffalo or cities in similar positions.”

The seminar will be broken down into three panels, starting at 9 a.m. and running until 4:30 p.m. with breaks for coffee and lunch.  A screening of a local film project and an exhibition of work by UB’s architecture students will follow the panel portion of the seminar. The event is being sponsored by the Cultures and Texts strategic strength aspect of the UB 2020 plan.

The schedule of panelists and subsequent events is as follows:

Introduction by Miriam Paeslack: 9 a.m.

Panel 1: 9:30-11:30 a.m. (Moderated by Miriam Paeslack)

  • Jean-Michel Reed: Local photographer and artist who will show his work that portrays the issue of fires that take place in a struggling city
  • Jeff Byles: Author of “Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition”
  • Dennis Maher: Architect and clinical assistant professor in the UB School of Architecture and Planning who will present on his work creating massive sculptures from materials found at demolition sites

Panel 2: 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. (Moderated by Kenny Cupers)

  • Mary Woods: Architectural historian and the Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory at Cornell University who will discuss urban disaster photography from 1960s to present
  • Eddy Dobosiewicz and Marty Biniasz of Forgotten Buffalo: Activists discussing their work in recognizing and preserving Buffalo’s unique landmarks and urban neighborhoods
  • Julian Meyrick: Theater director and historian who will discuss “Subjectivity, Buffalo and the fate of Studio Arena Theatre”

Panel 3: 2:30-4:30 p.m. (Moderated by Jordan Geiger)

  • Alex Bitterman: Designer and urban branding specialist who will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of place branding
  • David Gracon, Marc Moscato, Julie Perini: Discussing Tough Stuff from the Buff film and video tour
  • Aaron Bartley: Co-director of PUSH Buffalo who will talk about Buffalo and the romantic ideal

5 p.m. – Screening of Tough Stuff from the Buff: Experimental & Activist Video from the fringes of the city

6-8 p.m. – Opening of Think Bank exhibition, which will feature speculative works in Buffalo’s Polonia District by UB architecture students

Organizers and participants intend for this event to raise awareness of the diversity of the city’s image and the forces that shape it. “I think what we can assume when we go into this is that there is no one picture of Buffalo that we can reduce ourselves to, and I think this conference tries to broaden our horizon when talking about Buffalo,” Paeslack said.

The event will be free to attend. For more information about the Ineffably Urban symposium, visit the program website.

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