Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference
Christopher M. Ketcham, and Deepa Ramaswamy,
Zoning is an administrative apparatus that controls the use of urban space. Since its enactment in early 20th century New York and subsequent global spread, zoning law has served as a potent bureaucratic structure through which public and private space is delimited, the social and economic identity of the city is codified, and the body politics of race and gender are managed. Zoning has had an instrumental impact on modern architecture and, since the 1960s, has increasingly served as a framework for artists who engage urban space and its underlying networks of control. Yet zoning barely registers in histories of modern architecture and art.
The space of zoning is a negotiated space of art, architecture, and municipal power. Zoning laws have been adopted, revised, and manipulated to consolidate urban authority and harden the boundaries of social and racial stratification. Architectural and aesthetic programming promotes new meanings, uses, and publics, and, in turn, defines and excludes those that do not conform to the authorized image of the city. This programming ranges from percent-for-art policies to counter-hegemonic practices that resist official mechanisms of control. How do communities marginalized by zoning oppose its bureaucratic authority? In what ways has postwar zoning promoted an abstraction of labor from urban space and reconfigured the city as a site of global economy? We seek papers that assess zoning’s global impact on the social, material, and economic life of the city, with particular attention to ways that art and architecture have both solidified and contested spatial authority.