Recent global events, including the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings, Occupy movements and anti-austerity protests across Europe have renewed scholarly and public interest in collective action, protest strategies and activist subcultures. We know that social movements do not just contest and politicise culture, they create it too. However, scholars working within international politics and social movement studies have been relatively inattentive to the manifold political mediations of graffiti, muralism, street performance and other street art forms.
Against this backdrop, this book explores the evolving political role of street art in Latin America during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It examines the use, appropriation and reconfiguration of public spaces and political opportunities through street art forms, drawing on empirical work undertaken in Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. Bringing together a range of insights from social movement studies, aesthetics and anthropology, the book highlights some of the difficulties in theorising and understanding the complex interplay between art and political practice. It seeks to explore 'what art can do' in protest, and in so doing, aims to provide a useful point of reference for students and scholars interested in political communication, culture and resistance.
It will be of interest to students and scholars working in politics, international relations, political and cultural geography, Latin American studies, art, sociology and anthropology.
"Political street art, the locus of Ryan’s inquiry, remains a deliberately open conceptual term, ‘a loose category for interventions whose creative and material use of the street is in some way tied to their political meaning’, (p. 5) allowing her to draw together examples ranging from campaign posters and political murals to slogan writing and street performances. Relying on original interviews and archival research, the book follows a geographical structure, working through three sets of case studies located within the national contexts of Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, each chapter interrogating the capacity of political street art to performatively ‘mediate within, challenge and even alter the political status quo’ (p. 141). Political Street Art is an exceptionally rich resource that will benefit new generations of researchers in street art and graffiti studies while also offering critical incursions into social movement theory and regional studies. Likewise, Ryan’s considerations of the aesthetic object in public space as an agent of political change will be of interest to scholars of visual culture: ‘Art is not for the illuminated, art is to illuminate. Signed: The street’." - Julia Tulke, University of Rochester, USA
2 From ‘excommunication’ to political expression: conceptualising political street art in Latin America
3 ‘Tupinaquim o Tupinãodá?’: rethinking street art in Brazil
4 Pintadas and performances: street art, identity and resistance in Bolivia
5 Argentine street art: expression, crisis and change