Aesthetic Experience in the Public Space: The Case of Mexico City




Houston, Katherine

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This project explores the aesthetics of urban space in contemporary Mexico City. I am interested in Mexico City because it embodies the highs and lows of the aesthetic experience in the public space: on the one hand, it is a modern city with a rich cultural history and an extraordinary creative energy that has survived political crises, economic upheavals and natural disasters. On the other hand, it shows the pitfalls of uneven development, social and economic inequality, and urban chaos. This dichotomy applies to the visual arts: Mexican muralism, the most iconic cultural product stemming from the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century, can be read as a foil to the anarchic, subversive, and dramatic sprawl of street art. One of the questions I ask is how graffiti has reshaped the conception of aesthetics of public space in Mexico. I also address how do these forms –officially sanctioned Muralism and popular graffiti art— set up a dialogue. What shape does the project of urban life acquire, given, on the one hand, the rich history of Muralism, and on the other, the inescapable urban realities of sensorial overstimulation and spatial disorganization, of which graffiti can be seen as both cause and effect? I will resort to literary, artistic and historical sources to answer these questions.



Mexico City, street art, graffiti, muralism