SAAP 2016

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Urban Art as Urban Ethics

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Urban social movements from Ferguson to Mexico City move hand in hand with contemporary art movements, reflecting elements of affect theory and relational aesthetics. Contesting the value of the museum artifact together with the disconnected individual, these movements produce art as collaborative processes with social goals. Critics argue that these new urban movements reduce art to politics, producing little more than ideological weapons.In fact, urban art is reinventing ethics and politics as creative social practice. On a parallel path relational ethics, in a challenge to modern moral theory and its bureaucratic politics, attends to social bonds less through formalizable moral codes than through the dynamic quality of social encounters and communal engagement. Here I focus on how urban art in Mexico City and Ferguson transform the negative, territorial politics of urban space into positive social encounters. Mexican artist Pedro Reyes's conversion of weapons to musical instruments plays a central role.


Cynthia Willett    
United States


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