Street Art and the Changing Urban Public Sphere

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 14 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Virag MOLNAR, The New School for Social Research, USA
The paper examines street art as a lens into the workings of the contemporary public sphere to capture changing uses of urban public spaces and shifting conceptions of social order in the city. It explores why we witness an explosion in the popularity of street art at the time when urban public space is shrinking and control over its use has tightened considerably through zero-tolerance policing, growing surveillance, privatization, and gentrification. It also maps the multiple ways in which street art is being turned into a commodity (e.g., its sale as artwork, its use in advertising, product design, and city branding schemes) to improve our understanding of the commercialization of counter-cultural practices. Finally, it shows how significant developments in digital media (e.g., spread of mobile telecommunications devices, photo sharing, blogging and social networking sites) have created a new ecology for the documentation, sharing, and global dissemination of “ephemeral” street art, which in turn has greatly complicated its commercialization, reception and social impact. The analysis compares the street art scene in New York, Berlin, and Budapest, building on interviews, fieldwork, art blogs, Internet discussion groups, and photo-sharing sites.