The Politics of the 'Meanwhile' Space with Ella Harris
MoMS spoke to Ella Harris about the politics of using what has come to be known as ‘meanwhile’ spaces. Ella talks about her recent book Rebranding Precarity: Pop-up Culture as the Seductive New Normal, which interrogates the politics of pop-up urbanism and the issues of insecurity and uncertainty that frame it.
With Covid having served to increase the number of empty retail units on high streets and in shopping centres, how might we think about the future of these spaces? What lies behind governmental calls to ‘activate’ empty - 'wasted' - spaces? How might artists use empty space without contributing to cynical placemaking schemes that increase property values and eventually displace long term residents from an area? What, ideally, might these spaces be used for?
These are some of the questions we will address as we consider the future of the empty spaces of retail, and the politics and practices of pop-up urbanism.
Dr Ella Harris is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Geography Department at Birkbeck, University of London. Her work explores the cultural geographies of crisis conditions including meanings of freedom in the COVID-19 ‘new normal’, pop-up culture and the rebranding of precarity in the post-2008 crash era and compensatory responses to the housing crisis including micro-living, pop-up housing and tiny homes. She works with interactive documentary as an experimental methodology.