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Spaces of democracy: art, politics, and artivism in the post-socialist city

[journal article]

Poposki, Zoran

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Abstract In the countries of former Eastern Europe, the collapse of socialism and the subsequent onset of neoliberal capitalism have resulted in a massive transfiguration of urban public space at the hands of commercial interests. Examples include the proliferation of outdoor advertising that destroys the character of natural and historic urban landscapes, commercial events that restrict access to parks and squares, the design of retail kiosks and storefronts in and around public spaces that does not respect the local context sending a signal that it no longer represents the local community. Instead of public space where people interact freely, without the coercion of state institutions -the productive, constantly remade, democratic public space- there is space for recreation and entertainment where access is limited only to suitable members of the public: "A controlled and orderly retreat where a properly behaved public might experience the spectacle of the city" (Mitchell). Drawing on insights from major theorists of public space, this paper explores the transformation of urban space in the post-socialist cities of Central and Southeast Europe (Skopje), focusing on examples of creative reuse, artistic conversion and social re-writing of the urban landscape in the face of massive economic, political and social changes.
Keywords public space; art; Macedonia; democracy; post-socialist country; advertising; commercialization; Southeastern Europe
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature; Area Development Planning, Regional Research
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 713-723
Journal Studia Politica : Romanian Political Science Review, 11 (2011) 4
ISSN 1582-4551
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works