Painting the City

Performative Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Space and Art

Abstract

Understanding everyday urban practices as performative, political, and potentially transformative, this dissertation aims to explore how graffiti- and street art use, subvert, and, via media, extend urban space in Stockholm. Drawing upon a performative ethnographic approach, the study focuses on both the practice of and the various forms of social commentary and critique generated by graffiti and street art in Stockholm. The findings illustrate the diversity of positionalities that abide in this cultural cluster, noting, in particular, the ambiguities, juxtapositions and tensions therein. Furthermore, the dissertation explores the cosmopolitan potentials of graffiti and street art, which create connections through shared imaginaries and senses of belonging.

Theoretically, the study draws on the concept of aesthetic cosmopolitanism in order to explore practices of “world-making” through aesthetic performances. By linking aesthetic cosmopolitanism with ancient Cynic philosophy, the concept performative cosmopolitanism is introduced to capture the varieties of spaces that open up through critical, sensorial, and sometimes transformative interventions in the city and their mediated extensions. Given the entanglement of different media with graffiti and street art performances, the study introduces the concept of hyper-mediatization to articulate an interdependent relationship between the actual and virtual forms of these performances which fundamentally affect and extend each other.

The dissertation paints an image of a contested and subversive urban culture and its contemporary mediatized extensions. It shows how graffiti and street art can be understood, both culturally and politically, as a critical, alternative and anti-capitalist aesthetization of the urban. By introducing the concept of "regimes of cosmopolitanism", the dual dynamics of hospitality and encapsulation, is highlighted. Particular emphasis is placed upon the tensions related to gender and the ways in which such tensions factor into the social relations within these artistic communities and the aesthetics they produce.

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Details

  • Type:
    Doctoral Thesis (peer reviewed)
  • Published:
    2018
  • Publisher:
  • Language:
    English
  • ISBN:
    978-91-7797-314-0

About the Author

Tindra Thor

Born in 1981 with a Master of Science in Political Sciences (specialising in Politics and Gender) and a BA in History (Stockholm University). Read more

Reference

Thor, T. (2018). Painting the City: Performative Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Space and Art. Diss. Stockholm University. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press.