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Ornament & order: an ethnography of art, civic ritual and illegality in Madrid

Schacter, R.; (2011) Ornament & order: an ethnography of art, civic ritual and illegality in Madrid. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis examines a studio of five visual artists based in Madrid, Spain, a group who (illegally) utilize the public space of the city as both their medium and canvas. It explores an aesthetic practice often (and, more often, incorrectly) termed either ‘graffiti’ or ‘street-art’, a practice of both ornamentation and order which bound together my informants as a unified collective of social actors. Based on data collected over 20 months of fieldwork, the work attempts to renegotiate this material practice, to place it within a broader historical/political/aesthetic purview, one escaping the traditional themes of vandalism and art, gangs and pollution that these discourses so often educe. The study is hence divided into two main sections, Ornamentation and Order. Part One, Ornamentation, explores the physical artefacts themselves, the meanings my informants ascribe to their images as well as the tensions and communicative schemata emerging out of their very form. It will attempt to place these artefacts within the wider theoretical debate over the public sphere that they materially re-present. Part Two, Order, is focused more closely on the immaterial residue of my informants’ spatial acts, the explicitly performative, practice-based elements of their aesthetic production. It will thus move away from notions of ‘meaning’ and attempt to track how this cultural production comes to not only reflect but also actively structure and shape the moral and social guidelines of my informants’ lifeworlds. The study thus aims to set these particular aesthetic processes within a larger historical timeline of architectonic practice in the city as well as placing them within a framework of ritual performativity. It will explore both what these images mean and what they do, how they function within the classical desire for the ‘good’ city; it will examine how these practices operate within a modality of contemporary civic ritual.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Ornament & order: an ethnography of art, civic ritual and illegality in Madrid
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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