‘Bad’ Street Art

The Artistic Practice of Res Publica Temporanea and Collettivo FX in Catania, Sicily

  • Ilaria Hoppe Catholic Private University Linz
Keywords: Street art; gentrification; Res Publica Temporanea; Collettivo FX; community-based art; Catania; Sicily

Abstract

This article deals with the artistic practice of the Italian street art collectives Res Publica Temporanea and Collettivo FX in Catania, Sicily, which has so far been neglected by academic research. The results of this study are the outcome of a field trip in April 2023 by invitation of the artists. The article recaps their work in different places, each of which marks problematic developments in the city of Catania (San Berillo, Librino, Palestra Lupo), and how it has changed over the years. While the first campaigns with ‘beautiful’ street art led to the usual effects of gentrification, subsequent and other interventions show a different, less elaborate style that runs counter to the interventions of funded public art.

The case study is embedded in the discourse of current critical research that considers street art aesthetically and ideologically exhausted, and reflects on the use of its categories, often implicitly mixing ethical and aesthetic categories. Accordingly, in this article, I use the term ‘bad’ street art in two senses: firstly, as an ethical category, because of its implications in the processes of gentrification and commercialization, and secondly, as an aesthetic term, regarding a form of street art that is no longer beautiful decoration but appears formally and materially as a ‘poor’ style in combination with a simple iconography, developed in close consultation with local residents, thus returning to its roots in 1960s community-based art, in the context of which the term first appeared. The separation of categories helps to show that street art might be aesthetically repetitive but is still or again a useful tool within urban activism.

Published
2023-12-30
Section
Articles