Artists’ Claim for Street Democracy (1)

Artists in this category promoting street democracy, the collective stance, encourage a twofold contestation. On the one hand, they resist individualistic deployment of public space by both other artists and passersby. Consequently, they oppose the capitalistic sale of streets resulting in the commercialization of street art, the egocentric display of the self carried out by artists performing on their own behalf, the overwhelming domination of advertising, and the emphasis on private property marked by the individualistic dwellers and gatekeepers.

The wall of a house is a space that belongs to the eyes of the person looking at it [...] in this sense it’s a public space. When we stick up that particular poem on that particular house we’re not thinking of who’s living there, who probably will never read that poem, because he lives behind it. We’re interested in those who will see it with their eyes [...]. I’m not trying to have a relationship with the people, but with the city. The city is not only made up of people, of buildings, but of relationships between people and buildings, between people and walls, between the eyes of the people and our poetry. (Group h5n1, North Italy).

As Baudrillard said, the architectural phenotypes of the streets, house facades, are public property, so why are they private property? Perhaps we can begin to reason on this matter by saying that I occupy someone’s private property, but someone takes possession of the private property on my street. The street is public and I don’t see why the facades are private. (Mauro, street artist, Eveline, Milan)

I mean every artist that does stuff publicly does it for a different reason. None of us do it for the same reason. A lot of people go against the galleries, like, why should art only be in the gallery? For some stuffy [...] for $900. Why can’t I put a piece up there that’s free? (Disposable Hero, street artist, Phoenix)

On the other hand, artists contest the abandonment and disuse of cityscapes due to the anonymity, grayness, and ugliness of urban space. They note how dwellers lack attachment and a sense of belonging, traversing their towns without meaningful consumption.

(1) Visconti LM et al., Street Art, Sweet Art? Reclaiming the “Public” in Public Place, Journal of Customer Research, 37:511-529, 2010.