Urban creativity between metropolitan and museum space

  • Erica Mone


For some people if it is not illegal then it is not Street Art, but is that really the case or are other factors at play? Today there is a lot of discussion about Street Art, however is it talked about properly and in the correct way? How much does myth condition and influence our interpretations of this language? We talk about an art form seen as a voice of protest, of the people, of the marginalized, of those whom society relegates to the slums. An expression apt to convey messages as immediate as they are strong in order to reach everyone, without social or hierarchical differentiation. It is not an elitist art; on the contrary, it is the art of the people. For the first time, we are talking about an artistic language that truly enacts a process of “cultural democratization”. Often placed in open contrast to every inherent form of the social, cultural, artistic, and political system. Simplicity and immediacy have gone on to form solid foundations on which this movement still stands today. Like any self-respecting artistic innovation and avant-garde, this phenomenon is also in danger of being sucked, voluntarily or involuntarily, into the system that was initially so criticized. After all, even the well-known gallerist Steve Lazarides said, “Nothing in the history of art has remained underground forever. Evolving is part of a normal process of growth”. In this way, street art is commodified within a vicious circle made up of economies of unreachable value, implicated in the well-known gallery-exhibition-market mechanism, a context of which it was initially proposed not to be a part. Currently we are witnessing an increasing number of initiatives promoted by institutions and local authorities that feature precisely street art as a means of redeveloping dangerous or degraded areas. It frequently happens to see new “street art” exhibitions inaugurated at museums and galleries. A sort of recognition of its intrinsic value manifested through the misuse of words like “institutionalization” and “legitimization”. For many it would seem a paradox: an art born against institutions now operates alongside them. However, how much can this phenomenon of institutionalization be considered negative for urban creativity and actually paradoxical? Artists are well aware of their own work while art-experts in the field admit how much the so-called “Institutionalization of Street Art” is nothing more than a natural development that came about spontaneously and that the real problems are actually quite different.