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The Ephemeral Stages in the City: Understanding Street Performance and Urban Governance in the Americas
Abstract: Street performance has been intertwined with urban life for centuries, especially since the mid-1800s. The history of performances in public spaces is usually found within the regulations prohibiting it, in newspapers’ op-eds on the nuisance of street musicians and police department archives. From Santiago to New York City, Montreal to Rio de Janeiro, the urge to govern street performance highlights power relations and the contested realms of public spaces. Artists have been using specific urban infrastructure, such as subways and sidewalks, for many years. The act of regulating, institutionalizing, zoning, and enforcing how street performance should take place end up having a significant impact on the right to the city and cultural policy. This presentation explores the relevance of street performance in our cities, highlighting the struggles and potentialities of cultural production done at the margins. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out over five years in two cities, Rio de Janeiro and Montreal. Drawing from local experiences, it offers an understanding of global dynamics and analyzes the challenges faced by contemporary buskers.
Biography: Jess Reia is currently appointed as Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University and BMO Fellow (2020-2021) at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal. They are one of the 12 members of the first Conseil de Nuit de MTL 24/24. Reia holds a Ph.D. and an MA in Communication Studies from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a BA in Public Policy from the University of Sao Paulo. Before coming to McGill, Reia was a Lecturer and Project Manager at the Center for Technology and Society at FGV Law School from 2011 to 2019.
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Supernatural Landscapes on the Early Modern Italian Stage
Abstract: From the late sixteenth century, Florentine scenographers began to stage what early modern viewers described as “impossible” or “supernatural” sets for courtly theatrical productions. With sophisticated machinery, artists and engineers collaborated to simulate dreamscapes, heavenly, hellish, and mythological places, natural phenomena such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanic explosions, as well as foreign lands and seas. Notably, the same artists responsible for transforming theatrical environments were often simultaneously entrusted with mapping, ordering, and restoring civic and natural infrastructure. This presentation connects the theatrical representation of supernatural landscapes to emergent policies and projects of environmental management in early modern Tuscany. By considering contested relations between nature, politics, and myth-making across building practices, it emphasizes the key role played by Italian scenography in reshaping a cultural imaginary of the environment as a domain that could be conquered by technological intervention.
Biography: Victoria Addona is a FRQSC postdoctoral fellow (2020-22) in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. A specialist of early modern art, architecture, and urbanism, she received her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University in 2020. Her current book project investigates the staging of supernatural environments in early modern Italian theatre alongside nascent ideas and practices regarding the technological conquest of local and global landscapes. This research has benefited from the support of SSHRC, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Italian Art Society, as well as fellowships at Villa I Tatti, the Medici Archive Project, and Sir John Soane’s Museum.