Redefining The Public Space Through Art and Culture Events—The Case Of Bat Yam City In Israel
Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
I propose to examine the ways in which contested images are inscribed in the public space behind and beyond art events. The city of Bat Yam in Israel was chosen as the location of this study because, in recent years, it has been the municipal policy in Bat Yam to promote diverse cultural enterprises such as the Biennale of Landscape Urbanism, and the street theatre festival that has taken place since 1996 along other art projects. According to the extensive research about the linkage of art and gentrification (Freeman and Braconi, 2004) and in keeping with the social profile of Bat- Yam—a medium–lower class city on the Mediterranean coast south of the Tel Aviv-Yafo metropolis—this policy evidently constitutes an explicit attempt to improve the town’s prestige and attract potential new residents and investors. The groups of artists that participate in the municipal projects have a different aim: to empower residents and their identities in the public space and rehabilitate the local multicultural communities The paper will focus on the strategies used by different actors during the three intensive days of the International Festival of Street Theatre to influence on the public space under the umbrella of top-down art events for the purpose of reinforcing their social aims.
From this perspective, the process at the festival may be viewed as a microcosm or a lab that allows us to examine whether and how the public space and more specifically the linguistic landscape reflects or conceals the conflict between social forces, especially between the municipality, which strives to promote the economic and social regeneration of the area, and the groups of artists, who propose to empower residents and their identities in the public space and attain the rehabilitation of the actual community.