As Seen On [ ]

In September of 2015, the League’s Urban Omnibus announced its fourth annual writing competition, As Seen On [  ]. The call for essays asked entrants to respond — through narrative, theory, history, or humor — to the changing relationship between performance, audience, and the physical city. The theme was prompted by both recent developments in how art practice is embedded within the city — an ongoing movement out from under the proscenium arch into public spaces — and what it means to exist in the public realm today — on display, for fellow residents and surveillers alike.

The winner was selected by a jury that included Abraham Burickson, co-author of the forthcoming Six Proposals for a More Beautiful World and Artistic Director of Odyssey Works; Annie Coggan, Contributing Editor for A Public Space and Principal of Coggan + Crawford Architecture and Design; and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, author of the forthcoming Island People and co-editor of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas and geographer and Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.

One winner, two runners-up, and an honorable mention were selected by the jury. In the winning essay, “The Wandering Women,” Maya Sorabjee takes us to Bombay, where the intersection of loitering and gender potently demonstrates why occupation of physical and digital space is still a radical act. In one of two runners-up, “Beleaguered Backstage,” Andrew Renninger asks what becomes of our cities when there are so few places to be alone in an era of co-everything and economies supposedly based on sharing. In another runner-up, “A Wanderer in the Unwired City,” Nick Tobier’s Uzbek flâneur narrates the theater of urban space to consider the effects of ubiquitous digital connection on people, buildings, and, of course, rodents. And our honorable mention essay, Rishe Groner’s “On the 6 Train to Heaven,” captures the diversity of forms secular and religious worship can take and the transformation of place it can produce.

In addition to being published on Urban Omnibus, these selections are also, for the second time, collected in a printed book designed by Jena Sher. This year, Martina Paukova provided the delightful illustrations you’ll find here. Secure your copy of As Seen On [  ] today with a donation to Urban Omnibus! And for the full sensory experience, be sure to listen to readings of the winning pieces by five talented young actors.

Many thanks to our competition partners: Greenlight Bookstore, A Public Space, and New York Writers Coalition.

Published: January 27, 2016