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The monetization of the street art world and the fossilization of urban public space

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This article considers how the monetization of the street art world is affecting the ecosystem of expressions found in the street. It takes as a point of departure that a central quality of street art is its potential to turn public space into a site of exploration. What is meant by this, briefly, is that the presence of ephemeral street art can motivate people to explore their surroundings and perhaps question how public space is being used and how they want it to be used. This article argues that the ongoing monetization of the street art world may lead to the fossilization of urban public space – a situation where the otherwise constant flux of visual expressions in the street may come to a halt as the growing presence of sanctioned work, along with potential financial interests in placating facilitators of such work, means that fewer spaces are available for unsanctioned interventions. This fossilization of urban public space can negatively impact street-based art’s potential to influence how we think about our environs, as well as the possibilities for emerging artists to hone their skills in the street without curatorial restrictions.
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Keywords: fossilization; gentrification; graffiti; muralism; public space; street art

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • The scope of the journal is broad and is aimed at facilitating a wide spectrum of perspectives. It is essentially a medium for engaging the rich and multifaceted process of learning and teaching art that takes place in the classroom, studio, and beyond. However, the seriousness of journal is not out weighed by making critical topics accessible and readable to a large constituency of readers. It is a forum to be reflective on the process of creating and teaching art, embrace teaching art in a variety of contexts, engage art appreciation experiences, share scholarship in teaching artistry, and celebrate the rich traditions of art making and teaching.
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