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Rites of Way

The Politics and Poetics of Public Space

Edited by Mark Kingwell & Patrick Turmel
Subjects Social Science, Urban Studies, Art, Cultural Studies
Series Canadian Commentaries Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554581535, 210 pages, September 2009
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587230, 210 pages, April 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554581672, 210 pages, September 2009

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Rites of Way: The Politics and Poetics of Public Space, edited by Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel
Introduction: Rites of Way, Paths of Desire | Mark Kingwell and Patrick Turmel
Masters of Chancery: The Gift of Public Space | Mark Kingwell
We Wuz Robbed | Joe Alterio
Public Space: Lost and Found | Ken Greenberg
Architecture and Public Space | Alberto Pérez-Gómez
The Enduring Presence of the Phenomenon of the “Public”: Thoughts from the Arena of Architecture and Urban Design | George Baird
Private Jokes, Public Places: An Excerpt | Oren Safdie
Holistic Democracy and Physical Public Space | John Parkinson
Public Spaces and Subversion | Frank Cunningham
Take to the Streets! Why We Need Street Festivals to Know Our Civic Selves | Shawn Micaleff
How Insensitive: An Excerpt | Russell Smith
Beauty Goes Public | Nick Mount
Protect the Net: The Looming Destruction of the Global Communications Environment | Ron Deibert
The City as Public Space | Patrick Turmel
... walks from the office for soft architecture | Lisa Robertson
About the Contributors
Joe Alteri is a San Francisco-based illustrator, comic artist, and animator. His work has appeared both nationally and internationally, in editorial as well as in advertising. Joe is best for, a project which trades custom comic art for donations to a good cause. Joe’s work has appeared both nationally and internationally, in editorial as well as in advertising. He is working on his first graphic novel, due out next year. More of his work can be seen at
George Baird is dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto and partner in the Toronto-based architecture and design firm Baird Sampson Neuert Architects Inc. Author of Alvar Aalto (1968) and The Space of Appearance (1995), he is also the co-editor, with Charles Jencks, of Meaning in Architecture (1969) and, with Mark Lewis, of Queues, Rendezvous, Riots: Questioning the Public in Art and Architecture (1995).
Robin Collyer has been exhibiting sculpture and photography since 1971. He is best known for his three-dimensional works that use industrial materials, found objects, and images from advertising and media. Photography has always played an equal role in his practice, sharing with his sculpture, an analysis of architectural forms, the urban landscape, and issues of representation. His photo work has included critical views of photographic content, urban and natural landscapes, and digital technology. Collyer has represented Canada in international exhibitions such as documenta 8 1987 and the Venice Biennale 1993. He has works in numerous public and private collections in Canada and internationally. He is represented by Gilles Peyroulet et Cie., Paris, and the Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto.
Frank Cunningham is a member of the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre and a professor of philosophy and political science at the university. He is the author of numerous articles and books on political theory, including Democratic Theory and Socialism (1987), The Real World of Democracy Revisited (1994), and Theories of Democracy: A Critical Introduction (2002).
Ron Deibert is an associate professor of political science and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto. He is a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative, the director of the psiphon censorship circumvention software project, and co-founder and director of the Information Warfare Monitor. Deibert has published numerous articles, chapters, and two books on issues related technology, media, and world politics.
Architect and urban designer Ken Greenberg has played a leading role on a broad range of assignments in highly diverse urban settings in North America and Europe. Much of his work focuses on the rejuvenation of downtowns, waterfronts, and neighbourhoods, as well as campus master planning. In each city, with each project, his strategic, consensus-building approach has led to coordinated planning and a renewed focus on urban design. Current efforts include work on plans for Toronto’s Lower Don Lands (involving reshaping the mouth of the Don River into an urban estuary where it enters Toronto Harbour), a strategic master plan for Boston University’s Charles River Campus, plans for the renewal of Grange Park in association with the Art Gallery of Ontario, and plans for the Calgary Riverwalk along the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
Mark Kingwell is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of eleven books of political and cultural theory, including most recently Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City (2008) and Opening Gambits: Essays on Art and Philosophy (2008). He is the recipient of the Spitz Prize in political theory and National Magazine Awards for both essays and columns, and in 2000 was awarded an honorary DFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design for contributions to theory and criticism. He is currently at work on a philosophical biography of the pianist Glenn Gould.
Lisa Klapstock is a Toronto-based artist who has exhibited her work extensively in Canada and Europe as well as doing residencies in Rotterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Banff. Her work is in the institutional collections of the Musée de la Photographie, Belgium; the Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark; the National Portrait Gallery of Canada; the Kamloops Art Gallery; the Winnipeg Art Gallery; the Art Gallery of Windsor; and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. She is represented in Canada by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects and Diane Farris Gallery. More information can be found at
Shawn Micallef is the associate editor at Spacing magazine and co-founder of [murmur], the location-based mobile-phone documentary project. He writes about cities, culture, buildings, art, and whatever is interesting in various books, magazines, and newspapers. Stroll, his monograph of Toronto from a flaniêur’s perspective, will be published by Coach House Press in 2010.
Nick Mount teaches Canadian literature at the University of Toronto. He is the author of When Canadian Literature Moved to New York, which won the 2005 Gabrielle Roy Prize.
John Parkinson is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of York, U.K., specializing in democratic theory and practice and theories of the policy process. His book, Deliberating in the Real World, was published by Oxford University Press in 2006, while his Democracy and Public Space project will result in another book with OUP in 2010. He has also published articles on the House of Lords, restorative justice, and referendums in New Zealand and Switzerland.
Alberto Pérez-Gómez is the Bronfman Professor of Architectural History at McGill University. He has lectured extensively around the world and is the author of numerous articles published in major periodicals and books. He is also co-editor of a well-known series of books entitled Chora: Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture. His book Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (1983) won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award in 1984. Later books include the erotic narrative theory Polyphilo, or The Dark Forest Revisited (1992), Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge (co-authored with Louise Pelletier, 1997), and most recently, Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics (2006).
Lisa Robertson is a poet and critic, previously based in Vancouver and now living in Oakland, California. Her books of poetry include Debbie: An Epic, nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 1997; The Weather, winner of the Relit Award in 2001; and Rousseau’s Boat, winner of the bpNichol Chapbook Award in 2005. Her collection of essays relating to architecture, urban design, and contemporary art practice, Occasional Works and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, was published in 2003. Robertson has held residencies at the University of Cambridge; the University of California, San Diego; Capilano College; The American University of Paris; and the University of California, Berkeley, and she is now artist in residence at California College of the Arts. Her current work is centring on urban ambient sound recording and composing; she is constructing a prosody of noise.
Oren Safdie is a playwright-in-residence at La MaMa E.T.C. in New York and the interim artistic director of the Malibu Stage Company in Los Angeles, where Private Jokes, Public Places first debuted. Other plays include West Bank, UK, The Last Word, Jews & Jesus, Fiddler Sub-terrain, Smother, Broken Places, and La Compagnie, which he developed into a half-hour pilot for CBS. As a screenwriter, he scripted the films You Can Thank Me Later and Bittersweet. He has also written for Dwell and Metropolis magazines. His new play, The Bilbao Effect, will debut in 2009/2010.
Russell Smith’s most recent novel, Muriella Pent, was nominated for the Rogers Fiction Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award. He writes a weekly column on culture for The Globe and Mail and speaks frequently on CBC Radio in English and French. His new novel, Girl Crazy, will be published by HarperCollins Canada in 2010. He lives in Toronto.
Patrick Turmel is an assistant professor of philosophy at Université Laval in Quebec City. His main research interests are moral and political philosophy. He has published articles and book chapters on ethics and political philosophy and on issues pertaining to cities and justice. He is also co-editor of Penser les institutions (Presses de l’Université Laval), due out in 2010.


There are many ways to approach the subject of public space: the threats posed to it by surveillance and visual pollution; the joys it offers of stimulation and excitement, of anonymity and transformation; its importance to urban variety or democratic politics. But public space remains an evanescent and multidimensional concept that too often escapes scrutiny.
The essays in Rites of Way: The Politics and Poetics of Public Space open up multiple dimensions of the concept from architectural, political, philosophical, and technological points of view. There is some historical analysis here, but the contributors are more focused on the future of public space under conditions of growing urbanization and democratic confusion. The added interest offered by non-academic work—visual art, fiction, poetry, and drama—is in part an admission that this is a topic too important to be left only to theorists. It also makes an implicit argument for the crucial role that art, not just public art, plays in a thriving public realm.
Throughout this work contributors are guided by the conviction, not pious but steely, that healthy public space is one of the best, living parts of a just society. The paths of desire we follow in public trace and speak our convictions and needs, our interests and foibles. They are the vectors and walkways of the social, the public dimension of life lying at the heart of all politics.


To most familiar issues of public space and its fate, this collection brings insights that should be fatal to naive assumptions.

- Jon Spayde, Public Art Review, Spring/Summer 2010, 2010 July