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Care of the City

Ruination, Abandon, and Hospitality in Contemporary Practice

Michael Stone-Richards


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Innovative readings in critical theory at the intersection of spatial and social practices.

Care of the City offers a set of innovative readings in critical theory at the intersection of spatial and social practices. How might we start thinking of the city if we include care as part of its nature? The roots of the word "care" reveal anxiety, sorrow, attention, lament. Care is both affect and capacity, and one consonant with the political global condition. Right now the political condition is everywhere marked by retreat, collapse, withdrawal--treaties, systems, values, social compacts--and no country or region is spared, not even the most privileged of countries or regions, which can often be the most hysterical. And just as the globalizing condition, the condition of expansion ironically at one with symbolic contraction, leaves retreat and social collapse in its wake, strangely there is an emerging response of a kind of weak "power" (in the way that gravity is said to be a weak force): the refusal of dominion in favor of Care. In the most fundamental sense, the radical anxiety produced by retreat and collapse of social compacts and values has produced an equally radical awareness of mutual interconnectedness with environments, nature, and peoples. Care is the name for this exposure, and the subject across a set of approaches in social / spatial practices / and the poetics of the city. Care of the City is a sustained reflection on this condition of radical exposure through the work of practitioners and poets--Paul Chan with Beckett, Rilke and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, John Akomfrah with Homer's Odyssey, Theaster Gates with Auden on the need to "rebuild our cities not dream of islands," Jim Gustafson and Paul Valéry in Detroit with Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project and Scott Hocking's ephemeral structures marking sites of erasure, and Alfredo Jaar and Chantal Akerman with Guy Debord in the re-thinking of boundaries / immigration / emergencies.

Care of the City was supported by a major grant from the Warhol Foundation.

Sternberg Press, 9783956795602, 256pp.

Publication Date: February 6, 2024

About the Author

Michael Stone-Richards is Professor of Critical Theory and Visual Studies at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He is the author of Logics of Separation and numerous studies in English and French on the critical theory of the avant-garde. He has been a Fellow at the Centre canadien d'architecture in Montréal, and at the Alice Berlin Kaplan Center for the Humanities, Northwestern University. He received a Warhol Foundation Grant for his work on Care of the City.