Daily Archives: March 16, 2010

Stop Nike from Destroying Miyashita Park!

Call for a Global Day of Action to Protest the Conversion of Miyashita Park into ‘Nike Park’
–To be held on March 31st, 2010–

Prevent NIKE’s commercial exploitation of public land! Together, we can stop the construction before it starts!

On March 10, the Shibuya Park Division announced that the Shibuya Ward Assembly’s Urban Environment Commission has given the green light to construction which will lead to the all-out conversion of Miyashita Park by sporting goods giant NIKE.

According to the official report, the project plan is expected to proceed as follows:

– March 24: NIKE will explain plans to local residents in a briefing session
– Mid-March: Total closure of the Harajuku section of the park
– April 1: Commencement of construction to convert the park
– Late April to late July: Construction to install a new skateboarding facility
– August to September: Construction to install a new rock climbing wall
– End of October: Construction ends
– Early November: Opening of the new park

Under a contract signed between the Mayor of Shibuya and the chairman of NIKE, the company will be responsible for paying all construction costs (estimated at approx. 4 to 5 hundred million yen, or 4.5-5.5 million US dollars) as well as an annual 17 million yen (approx. 187,000 US dollars) fee payable to Shibuya Ward for a 10 year lease to the naming rights for Miyashita Park, allowing NIKE to rename the (formerly) public space ‘Nike Park’. By this arrangement NIKE is being availed of, at a very low cost, an expansive swath of land located in one of the most valuable commercial districts in the world.

Since the signing of the contract in August of last year, growing numbers of local residents, park users, and concerned citizens have expressed their opposition to the plan. Organized protest has thus far successfully resulted in the stalling of park construction, which was originally planned for September 2009. (For coverage of the situation in late-2008, see http://bit.ly/4jYOvZ)

However, both Shibuya Ward and NIKE are adamant about pushing ahead with the plan. Not only has the commencement of construction been scheduled, but the Shibuya Ward Assembly is also currently reviewing a new “Ordinance for the Administration of Sports Facilities in Miyashita Park” along with amendments to the “Shibuya Ward Public Parks Ordinance” in order to give full legitimacy to the creation of ‘Nike Park’.

From the time that the plan to turn Miyashita Park into Nike Park came to light in May 2008, The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park has been tirelessly working in pursuit of a singular goal: Shibuya Ward’s abandonment of this project. Our next step towards the achievement of this aim will take place in the form of a Global Day of Action on March 31st…Please join us!

We invite you, individuals and organizations from around the world, to schedule simultaneous actions in support of our protest on March 31st.

Raise your voice and let NIKE know that you don’t believe public land should be exploited by corporate entities—especially when that land was obtained through undemocratic processes, without any public hearings or input.

Action in Tokyo will be held as follows.

Wednesday, March 24
12-1pm – Protest in front of NIKE Japan Headquarters
6:30-8:30pm – Information distribution prior to the NIKE briefing session

Wednesday, March 31 (Global Day of Action)
1:00pm – Observe deliberations at the Shibuya Ward Assembly
6:00pm – Rally to protest commencement of construction (Shibuya Rodo Fukushi Kaikan)
6:30-7:30 – Demonstration

Please contact Toshiro Ogaki to add your name/organization to the list of participants in our Global Day of Action, and also briefly let us know of your action plan. Thank you for your support and we look forward to making a success of this campaign!!

Related links:

Founding Statement by the Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park

Call for the 2008 International Day of Action

The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park
http://minnanokouenn.blogspot.com/ (Japanese)

Nike Politics


The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park
Contact: Toshiro Ogaki, nojiren (at) jca.apc.org


We gratefully acknowledge receipt of this news from the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list.

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There Is No Alternative (Stockholm)

Rumänska kulturinstitutet and Konsthall C

Ciprian Muresan
Pioneers, 2005-2008

There Is No Alternative
10 March – 16 May 2010

Romanian Cultural Institute of Stockholm
Skeppsbron 20
Stockholm Sweden

Konsthall C
Cigarrvägen 14
Hökarängen Sweden

Artists: Petra Bauer, Pablo Bronstein, Melanie Gilligan, Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Ciprian Muresan, Olivia Plender, Katya Sander, Michael Stevenson, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor och Unnar Örn

Curator: Olivia Plender in collaboration with Kim Einarsson

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher made the notorious statement ‘There is no alternative’ (TINA), which is often paired with another famous declaration by the former British Prime Minister ‘There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families’. Following the collapse of communism TINA has become something of a slogan, embodying the viewpoint that the only viable economic and political system is global free market capitalism, coupled with the renewal of the creed of individualism. The aim of the project is to challenge the clearly hegemonic intent of Thatcher’s statement ‘TINA’ and examine the contradictory relationship between capitalism and the idea of liberty from a historical perspective.

The expansion of the role of finance capital in the global economy in the last decade, alongside the deregulation of the financial markets, has led to a renewed importance of the financial services industry. Working in a wide range of media, from performance and film to text and drawing, the artists in the exhibition also address questions of how the recent financialisation of the global economy and the narratives produced through this process change our world; from the everyday questions of what kind of social relations we are able to imagine to the realm of cultural production and our understanding of history.

Based in the Germany, Iceland, Romania, Sweden and UK the artists in the exhibition will explore these effects from their differing vantage points. There is no alternative (TINA) is a project initiated by Olivia Plender that adopts the idea of exhibition making as a form of research. The project first opened at the Drawing Room, London and it also involves seminars and performances, the outcomes of which will eventually find their way into a publication.


Saturday 10 April at Konsthall C, Performance by Petra Bauer

Thursday 15 April at the Romanian Cultural Institute of Stockholm, Artist talk by Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor

Sunday 16 May at Konsthall C, Performance by Katya Sander

Romanian Cultural Institute of Stockholm, Skeppsbron 20, Stockholm, Sweden
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, and 15-16 May 12-4pm
Admission to the institute is always free.

Konsthall C, Cigarrvägen 14, 123 57 Farsta (Stockholm), Sweden
Open: Wed-Thur & Sat-Sun 12-5pm, and by appointment

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Where the West Ends? (Warsaw)

Where the West Ends?
A two-day seminar with Claire Bishop at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
within the framework of the FORMER WEST project
18 – 19 March 2010

The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
ul. Pańska 3
00-124 Warsaw, Poland
+48 22 596 40 10

In the frame of the Former West project, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw will hold a two-day seminar focusing on art in the former Soviet Union and its immediate zone of influence after the transition of 1991.

The motivations for turning to the East (rather than to the ‘Former West’) are twofold, and tied to the specifically Polish context, where the Museum of Modern Art is based. The first concerns art critical frames of reference. Despite the West’s growing interest in art practices from this region, it is difficult adequately to map and describe these practices using Western artistic vocabularies, which seem insufficient and badly adapted to the post-socialist context. The second concerns points of identification. Since 1989, Eastern European artists have tended to adopt one of two polarised positions towards the West: on the one hand, expressing a strong affiliation or ‘natural’ adhesion to the West, and on the other hand, a complete detachment from or even denial of Western models.

Russian art in the post-transition period seems to be very relevant in this regard. Despite the dominant (and frequently colonial) character of Western culture, Russian art has rarely adopted Western models. As a significant but completely separate sphere of development, post-transition art of the former Soviet Union remains a somewhat unknown quantity: obscure, unclassifiable and somehow inaccesible. What are the main developments (artistically, theoretically, institutionally) in Russia since 1991? What parallels can be drawn to the Eastern European scene? Can the new critical terminologies recently developed there also speak to the situation in Eastern Europe?

The seminar therefore aims to map the liminal zones of the West and foreground key aspects of contemporary visual art and a discourse that the ‘West’ cannot adequately describe and account for using its existing terminologies. As such, it will provide an important counterpoint to research in the ‘former’ aspects of both East and West.

Speakers at the symposium include : Boris Groys, Ekaterina Degot, Viktor Misiano, Keti Chukhrov, David Riff, Alexei Penzin, Ilya Budraitskis, Edit Andras, Inke Arns, Sarah Wilson, Tomas Pospiszyl, Olga Bryulikvetska, Nadim Samman, Maciej Gdula

For the updated programme and reservations, please go to http://www.artmuseum.pl

Realized within the framework of FORMER WEST, a contemporary art research, education, publishing, and exhibition project (2008–2013), initiated and organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands, and generously supported by the Mondriaan Foundation, EU Culture Programme, European Cultural Foundation, and the City of Utrecht.

With the financial support by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland

For more information please visit: http://www.formerwest.org.

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The Sale of Saint Petersburg (Lopukhinsky Gardens)

Hundreds Protest Against Hotel Construction
The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1556 (17), Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By Sergey Chernov

Hundreds of concerned St. Petersburg residents and preservationists gathered in the historic Lopukhinsky Gardens on Saturday to protest plans to build a multistory hotel on the site.

Last April, an area within the small scenic park located on the Petrograd Side was stripped of its state heritage status and sold for an extremely small sum to the private developer RBI, which opened the way for the garden’s destruction, preservationists say. They claim a number of laws were broken in the privatization process.

City Hall is now set to exclude the plot from the city’s register of public green areas, which could make construction work imminent.

The developer argues that the 4,586-square-meter plot, which covers the territory surrounding the abandoned Stalin-era boathouse, is not part of the Lopukhinsky Gardens and is located “nearby,” RBI’s press officer said Monday.

Following a series of protests last year, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko said that there would be no construction in the Lopukhinsky Gardens. “The city will not allow any construction work here, even if this territory is owned by a private proprietor,” she was quoted as saying on City Hall’s official web site in October.

In December, however, City Hall’s town-planning and architecture committee issued RBI with a permit for the construction of a hotel up to 33 meters in height on the land.

“The owner owns a piece of land, and it’s natural that they want to build something on it,” Matviyenko was quoted by Novaya Gazeta as saying in January.

“But this private piece of land has nothing to do with the territory of the Lopukhinsky Gardens; it is beyond their border,” she added.

On Saturday, from 250 to 300 protesters gathered to call for construction to be called off and for Matviyenko’s dismissal.

The price for which the site was sold has provoked questions. According to the web site of City Hall’s land resources and land management committee, the 4,586-square-meter site was sold for 274,265.72 rubles ($9,356) — or 59.8 rubles ($2) per square meter.

According to Alexander Karpov, director of the ECOM Center of Expertise, the deal was illegal.

“The law on public-access green areas, which clearly designated the gardens as a public territory, had already been in force for two years by the time the deal was done,” he said by phone Monday.

“The privatization of public territories is forbidden by federal law. Basically, the privatization of a plot that partly encroaches on public territory is against the law — that’s the essence of the outrage that is happening now.”

"Stop! Private Property"

Karpov said he could not see any way in which the hotel could be built and operate on the site without affecting the rest of the park.

“All this is one big con game, undertaken in the hopes of getting permission to destroy the Lopukhinsky Gardens further,” he said Monday.

Legislative Assembly deputy Sergei Malkov has written a letter to the city’s prosecutor asking him to look into the legality of the plot’s privatization and annul it if it is found to be illegal.

Dating back to the early 19th century, the Lopukhinsky Gardens are a tranquil green zone in a prestigious area of the Petrograd Side near the Kamennoostrovsky Bridge on the bank of the Malaya Nevka River. The land was part of the estate of Count Pyotr Lopukhin (1753–1827), after whom it is named.

“It’s important to obey the law,” artist and human rights activist Yuly Rybakov said by phone Monday.

“By law, the Lopukhinsky Gardens are a cultural heritage project and were also part of the green zone, when all of a sudden, at the whim of the investors, a section of the park was cut off and then a statement was made saying that this land has nothing to do with the park. That’s not supported by anything.

“There’s no reason to cut off this section — it can only be accessed through the territory of the park, it’s all surrounded by trees and is a single complex. It’s a very pleasant area that is loved by locals. It’s an arbitrary decision obviously taken on behalf of business.”

Rybakov, who described the hotel design as an “ugly iron-and-glass box,” expressed concern about the fate of the Lopukhinsky Gardens as a whole.

“If a hotel appears there, then a parking lot will appear, then a restaurant, then a VIP zone — and the garden will cease to exist as a garden altogether.”

You can view Sergey Chernov’s full photo reportage of the Saturday protest here.

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