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Performing Economies Colloquium

We may survive global warming and globalization yet. Probably not, but maybe. Especially here in Buffalo, with its ever-burgeoning numbers of artists and art collectives and related innovative ideas and survival and sustainability strategies, from local farmers markets and community gardens to various more fantastical and futuristic artists’ projects.

Like, for example, a floating bubble self-contained, self-sustaining habitable environment. Perfect for the Buffalo River, once the current cleanup is complete.

To celebrate and promote further recourse to such ideas and strategies, the UB Techné Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies is hosting a four-day Performing Economics Colloquium, starting today (April 3) and continuing through Sunday (April 6) at the UB Amherst campus and various locations around the city. There will be numerous talks and follow-up discussions with a diverse assortment of local and visiting artists and activists, on topics ranging from sustainable mobile architecture to alternative economies to environmental justice to the connection to the arts; bus tours of ongoing grassroots projects on the East Side and West Side; an andience-interactive theatrical performance called Disorientalism, about the disorienting effects of technologized labor, junk culture, and consumerism; an “economusic” performance at Hardware Café; and a Sunday soup brunch and more talk at the Foundry. All activities are free, but prospective participants are asked to register—go to—to allow coordination of activities, particularly the bus tours and the Sunday soup brunch.

The moniker “performing economies” refers to “art practices and ecologies that produce innovative systems of exchange, dialogue, and development in times of political and economic crisis,” according to Stephanie Rothenberg, UB professor of visual studies and one of the organizers of the colloquium. The aim and objective of the event, she said, is “to highlight a range of projects and practices that reevaluate conventional strategies for urban development,” with a particular emphasis on “policies and action plans that represent progressive approaches, support communities, and promote financial viability, cultural activity, and environmental sustainability.”

Featured participant artists and activists will include UB alumna and Marxist-feminist scholar Silvia Federici; Amsterdam-based artist and writer Renée Ridgeway; and New York City-based environmental artist Mary Mattingly, the creator of the bubble habitat, which she calls a Waterpod. A prototype Waterpod was constructed on a barge and transported around New York City waterways for several weeks in summer of 2009. Mattingly will be getting around Buffalo for the colloquium activities not via Waterpod, however, but in the Techné Institute’s new Techné Rover eco-empathic art venue vehicle.

Some of the other speakers include Andrew Herscher, University of Michigan architecture professor and author of The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit; Samina Raja, UB professor of urban and regional planning and director of the UB “Food Lab”; and Miriam Paeslack, UB professor and author of Ineffably Urban: Imaging Buffalo.

The basic schedule is as follows:

Thursday, April 3, outside the UB Center for the Arts building: Techné Rover vehicle launch and sustainability discussion with Mary Mattingly, 11am-3pm.

Friday, April 4

UB Equal Opportunity Center (465 Washington Street): Opening remarks, 10-11am; West Side bus tour 11am-1pm (if you want to bike instead of bus the tour, with Bike Dates artist Laura Curry, email her at

Lunch at the West Side Bazaar (25 Grant Street), 1-3pm. Back to UB Equal Opportunity Center for a Performing Political Economy roundtable, 3-5:30pm; reception and Disorientalism performance, 6-8pm.

Saturday, April 5

UB Equal Opportunity Center: Performing Alternative Economies roundtable, 10-11:45am; lunch lecture by Mary Mattingly, noon-1:30pm, followed by breakout discussion sessions on environmental justice, arts production, food security, and labor and industry. Exchanging Analyses roundtable, 4:30-5:30pm. Party in conjunction with L. M. Bogad “economusic” performance, Hardware Café (245 Allen Street), 8-11pm.

Sunday, April 6

The Foundry (298 Northampton Street): East Side bus tour (again, you can bike the tour with Laura Curry, but email her as above), 10am-noon. Back to The Foundry for soup brunch and discussion and demos, noon-2pm. Closing remarks, 2-3pm.

And if you want more, there’s a note about post-colloquium beers at Gene McCarthy’s Pub (73 Hamburg Street, in the First Ward).

Additional participating area organizations and projects include Breadhive Worker Cooperative Bakery, Buffalo Barn Raisers, Buffalo Green Code, Coalition for Economic Justice, Farmer Pirates, Food Not Bombs, Go Bike Buffalo, Grassroots Gardens, International Institute, Massachusetts Avenue Project, the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State, Sugar City, and the WASH Project.

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