Politics of Street Art

What matters about my ecology matters?

Often times we neglect that every action ever made is one small infinite fraction of history, and all such actions can be compiled, organized, and analyzed in any which way that makes sense. Yet, it is a subconscious thought to many individuals that the cultures, patterns, trends and behaviors of all societies today can and will be looked back upon, as much as we have looked back at the fall of the Roman empire, or the roaring ‘20s.

Cultures in context are all inherently different, but share a very important common characteristic: that they are all bits and pieces of a history of humanity and (wo)[and]mankind. Each small detail discovered from any particular time is a sort of time machine, transporting us to an era where society could have been much different than what it is now. Hence, the importance of relishing the facts of modernity, in order for them to be just as relished upon when they are facts of antiquity.


Street Art
To many individuals whom find themselves in city-scaped surroundings or urban spaces, Street Art is often an overlooked act of delinquency or rebellion. On the surface, the pieces spread across the streets and walls of the city are just tuned out puzzle pieces of the city environment, like scurrying rats or urine scented atmospheres. But when looking past the surface level, one will come to understand that it is more than just an act of vandalism, but rather, an act of relaying a story, and then, a part of history.

Street art once worked to commemorate communities and individuals. Works of graffiti served to relay the history of the community and the people within them. But as city infrastructures continue to change, as do the stories of these communities. Often times, marginalized communities are pushed out of their long lived homes and business through acts of gentrification, losing ties to areas where once their roots and heritage ran deep. The Street Art in these communities relays that, and by taking a moment to admire the details, one can understand that history lies deep within the paintings on the walls.

Now, veteran street artists exist alongside artists who try to relay a new story: a fetishized version of a historical art process. Street Art in trendier and hipper areas such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Chelsea, have become commissioned works of art that more often than not serve only an aesthetic purpose. As a result, it is important to deconstruct all such art, and analyze them individually and as a collection, to really gage what New York society has been, and what New York society will be like in the future.


Much like Kim Stringfellow’s study on the Salton Sea, which provided historical analysis on a once thriving area, my ecology study on the Politics of Street art will provide a similar story on how something has evolved into what it is today. The success to failure story of the Salton Sea is in no way similar to the history of the evolution of Street Art, but both are crucial documentations that allow for a deeper understanding of cultures in context, patterns, social behaviors, and so on. They allow us to tap into an empathy relayed from the affective presentations of the projects that in turn provide legitimate evidence on fractions of history that will be looked back upon in many, many years to come.


Works Cited

Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004.

Stringfellow, Kim. Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005



~ by amuravyeva on March 28, 2017.

One Response to “Politics of Street Art”

  1. I think this is the best post because it concisely and comprehensively unpacks street art, an aspect of the built environment we often take for granted. This project is illuminating because it contextualizes street art within a neighborhood’s social and demographic patterns. Additionally, it draws on Stringfellow’s work on the Salton sea as a model for environmentally based media which documents “snapshots” of a neighborhood’s history that linger after its inhabitants have moved on.


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