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Bodies and sculptures: Moving mountains

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This short-form article examines the relationships between people and place through a case-study of the practice of parkour. In 2009, the sculpture Cader Idris (1999), by William Pye, was removed from its prominent position outside Cardiff Central Railway Station in Wales’s capital city. During the ten years it had occupied this location, the sculpture had become popular amongst practitioners of parkour (known as traceurs). Traceurs aim to move freely along a freely determined trajectory, without inhibition or recourse to prescribed routes, approaching objects as aides to movement rather than obstacles. The incorporation of Cader Idris into such routines was cut short by the sculpture’s relocation away from the central area to become part of an art trail – a move some felt related to concerns over the use of the work. Ongoing cycles of urban redevelopment and regeneration challenge the ability to take for granted the longevity of familiar sites, and traceurs’ focus on mobility offers a novel way of approaching the changing urban landscape. By tracing the movement of a sculpture from its original location to a new site, the short-form article considers how human and non-human bodies in motion might facilitate new ways of defining and engaging with the built environment through notions of materiality and the sensing body.
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Keywords: materiality; moving bodies; parkour; sculpture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Swansea University

Publication date: 01 September 2014

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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