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IDSEMUG 2013 - Art and Politics in the City (1): Conceptual Landscapes

Graffiti and street art have been a crucial part of urban landscapes since the very origins of cities, reflecting and revealing powerful connections between a city's political and social lives. But these connections are not static, or universal. Or are they? This year-long, transnational, multi-modal course brings arts, humanities, social science, and digital technology to bear to explore street art and what it says about life in New York and Buenos Aires: How are art and politics understood and expressed differently and similarly in these two American metropolises and why? How do shared aesthetic features of public art in the city reflect the global circulation of urban creative modes? What do we learn about local politics from looking at the art and writing on a city’s public spaces? In the fall (Part 1), students will explore conceptual landscapes necessary to fully parse the dense interplay of street art and politics. Drawing on readings in the history, culture, and politics of each city, as well as on theoretical work in art criticism and urban studies, students will analyze how social and political processes like gentrification, inequality, and planning generate and reflect creative political expression. At the same time, teams of students in both cities will conduct field work in selected neighborhoods to help create a coded database of murals, graffiti, performances, and installations. Then in the spring (Part 2), students will explore the digital landscapes of both cities, learning to use and to interpret Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and data, and drawing on publicly available census, electoral, and planning records from each city, to generate digital maps finding links between art, politics, and demographics as drawn from the systematic analysis of our database of urban arts. The year will culminate with the online publication of transnational, collaborative projects that explore what the art and writing in city streets reveals about urban life in 21st century America. Class Notes: This course is the first part of a two-semester sequence that uses enhanced videoconferencing to bring students in New York and Buenos Aires together in one classroom. Students should plan to enroll in both semesters (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020) of the course, with at least one of the semesters spent in NYU Buenos Aires and the other in NYU Washington Square, in whichever order. Add Consent: Department Consent Required.
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