Guinard, P., & Margier, A.
Guinard, P., & Margier, A. (2018). Art as a new urban norm: Between normalization of the city through art and normalization of art through the city in Montreal and Johannesburg. Cities, 77, 13–20.
In a context of increased urban competition, art and culture are often used by cities world-wide as tools to improve their image and make urban spaces attractive. In that process, art is—as we will argue—becoming a new urban norm, which is normalizing not only urban space and experience, but also art itself. By contributing to the pacification or securization of public spaces, art could encourage some behaviors or, on the contrary, discourage others. Reversely, this normative dimension of urban art could impact art itself, especially by redefining the limit between artistic forms that are either inclusive or exclusive, dominant or subversive. Through examples found during PhD fieldwork in Montreal and Johannesburg, we will demonstrate that this normalization of the city through art and of art through the city takes place in various urban contexts, that it questions the distinction between Northern and Southern cities, and the definition of a (global) city itself.
The authors use the term “artialized” to describe public spaces, spanning the global north and south, which incorporate forms of art that help promote business- and investor -friendly environments in cities undergoing urban planning and neoliberal restructuring efforts. Criticized as part of the sanitization and securitization of public space, the art found in these public spaces is often an appropriation of subversive forms of art, such as graffiti, that has been commodified and, per the authors, “normalized” as it seeks to normalize certain behaviors and promote certain values. This takes place in a political and physical context that excludes many, including the homeless, from their rightful belong in the public realm.
Description of method used in the article
The authors took a comparative approach between the two cities based research conducted for their respective doctoral dissertation.
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