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City Talks - In/Behind

Audio from the panel discussion In/Behind, held at City Gallery Wellington on 20 March 2023. Matt Ritani (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) leads the panel discussion that explores the unique qualities of queer space-making and how space can be an expression of identity, aroha and innovative domesticity. A special thanks to NZIA Wellington (New Zealand Institute of Architects Wellington Branch) and participants for allowing this to be recorded and shared.

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  • 00:01 - Matt Ritani
  • 01:44 - William Creighton
  • 02:45 - Vivian Lyngdoh
  • 03:26 - Jan Smitheram
  • 03:51 - Discussion


The abstract summarizes an engaging panel discussion titled "In/Behind," which took place at City Gallery Wellington. The panel, led by Matt Ritani, featured Andrew Caldwell, Jan Smitheram, Vivian Lyngdoh, and William Creighton. The event, organized by the NZIA Wellington and supported by the Wellington City Council Event Fund, delved into the complexities of creating queer spaces and examined their impact on identity, aroha, and domestic innovation.

William Creighton, a recent graduate and architecture professional, broached the subject of queer space in terms of anti-urbanism and the exploration of subtle, oft-hidden queer moments in urban design. Creighton’s aspiration for these designs includes fostering acceptance and harnessing collaborative approaches to encapsulate the diversity of the queer experience.

Vivian Lyngdoh, co-chair of London Pride Festival and government advisor, highlighted the importance of creating inclusive and accessible spaces for all segments of the rainbow community, emphasizing the necessity for such spaces to be safe and welcoming.

Dr. Jan Smitheram, an academic from Victoria University, brought an academic lens to the understanding of queer space. Echoing the works of celebrated thinkers like bell hooks, Smitheram emphasized the importance of a safe academic space that facilitates the freedom of questioning and promoting intersectionality within the discourse on queer spaces.

An important aspect of the discussion underscored the profound intersection of queer spaces with issues such as transphobia and racism. The panelists explored the attributes of queer spaces that they have inhabited, reflecting on the materiality, visibility, and temporal nature of such spaces. They pondered how these spaces serve as an embodiment of queer identity yet also confront challenges presented by societal norms.

The conversation touched on the significance of safe spaces, both in terms of personal comfort and identity, as well as physical safety. The speakers illustrated that spatial security stems from more than just architecture—it's also about creating a sense of belonging and a home for individuals who often face disproportionate levels of homelessness and marginalization.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists emphasized the role of collaborative efforts in queer space-making. The panel highlighted the ongoing challenges and opportunities for queer architecture, reflecting on examples of successful urban interventions and expressing hope for permanent, unabashedly queer spaces that assert visibility and longevity.

In closing, the speakers called for spaces that honor Te Tiriti o Waitangi, acknowledging the importance of celebrating the intersections of queerness with other identities and advocating for spaces that encapsulate diverse queer experiences while reinforcing community and resilience.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Tags (computer generated)

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Record date:20th March 2023
Location:Wellington City Gallery, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004711).