1st Edition

Counter Revanchist Art in the Global City Walls, Blockades, and Barricades as Repertoires of Creative Action

By Leah Modigliani Copyright 2024
    202 Pages 46 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Through analyses of public artworks that have taken the form of blockades and barricades since the 1990s, this book theorises artists’ responses to global inequities as cultural manifestations of counter-revanchism in diverse urban centres.

    This book is the first to analyse artworks as forms of counter-revanchism in the context of the rise of the global city. How do artists channel the global spatial conflicts of the 21st century through their behaviours, actions, and constructions in and on the actually existing conditions of the street? What does it mean for artists—the very symbol of freedom of personal expression—to shut down space? To refuse entry? To block others’ passage? The late critical geographer Neil Smith’s influential writing on the revanchist city is used as a theoretical frame for understanding how contemporary artists engender the public sphere through their work in public urban spaces. Each chapter is a case study that analyses artworks that have taken the form of walls and barricades in China, USA, UK, Ukraine, and Mexico. In doing so, the author draws upon diverse fields including art history, geography, philosophy, political science, theatre studies, and urban studies to situate the art in a broader context of the humanities with the aim of modelling interdisciplinary research grounded in an ethics of solidarity with global social justice work. Collectively these case studies reveal how artists’ local responses to urban revanchism since the end of the Cold War are productive reorientations of social relations and harbingers of worlds to come.

    By using plain language and avoiding excessive academic jargon, the book is accessible to a wide variety of readers. It will appeal to scholars and graduate students in the fields of studio art, modern and contemporary art history, performance studies, visual culture, and visual studies; especially in relation to those interested in conceptual practices, performance art, site-specificity, public art, political activism, and socially engaged art. Cultural geographers and urban theorists interested in the social and political ramifications of temporary and everyday urbanism will also find the analysis of artworks relevant to their own studies.

    Introduction: Walls, Blockades, and Barricades

    1. Acting Politically: Counter-revanchist Art in the Public Sphere

    2: River Crossing: Lin Yilin’s Safely Maneuvering Across Lin He Road (1995)

    3. The View from the Cell: Santiago Sierra’s Obstruction of a Freeway with a Truck’s Trailer (1998) in the Long Sixties

    4. 24 Hour Placemaking: Heather Peak and Ivan Morison's I lost her near Fantasy Island. Life has not been the same (2006) and Journée des Barricades (2008)

    5. Reflecting the Commons at the Border of Enclosure: The Mirrored Repertoires of Euromaidan, Greenham Common and #NODAPL

    Conclusion: Counter-revanchist Art and the Inauguration of Change



    Leah Modigliani is Associate Professor of Visual Studies at Tyler School of Art and Architecture. She is an artist and scholar with transdisciplinary engagements informed by fine arts, art history, critical geography, urban studies, and politics. Modigliani’s projects arise from a network of concerns including the history of the avant-garde and its relationship to political critique, feminist art and writing, social dissent since 1968, the history of photography, performance and re-enactment as political strategy, and the destructive effects of neoliberal capitalism. At the node of these interrelated subjects is a focus on how individual freedom of expression is destroyed, curtailed, or displaced through socio-economic factors beyond one’s control. Her critical writing can be found in academic journals and contemporary art magazines such as Mapping Meaning the Journal, Anarchist Studies, Prefix Photo, Art Criticism and C Magazine. Her first book, Engendering an Avant-garde: The Unsettled Landscapes of Vancouver Photo-conceptualism, was published by Manchester University Press in 2018.