Communication and Knowledge Creation in the Urban Space: Strategies and Tactics of Artistic Communities in Three European Cities

Participants: Dr. Nikita Basov (CGES), Prof. Dr. Anisya Khokhlova (MA SES, Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University), Dr. Aleksandra Nenko (Higher School of Economics), Dr. Elena Tykanova (Sociological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences), Elza Abdulkhakova (Smolny College, St. Petersburg State University), Olga Volkova (Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University)

Using data collected in three European cities this project aimed to describe knowledge-transforming communication of three urban artistic communities that work in the field of visual arts: Parazit (St. Petersburg), La Escocesa (Barcelona) and Kunstrepublik (Berlin). Based on a set of qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews, participant observation and analysis of texts the project grasps specific communicative strategies and tactics that the artistic communities use to engage with other participants of the urban “art world” and broader publics into the reconceptualization of different places of the city spaces, reframing of everyday life practices, reinterpretation of political events and of art itself. Parazit pursues the strategy of creating an alternative urban reality. To do this, it uses such tactics as challenging conventional usage of spaces, ‘artistification’ and fictionalization of routinized functional spaces, and intimization of the city space. La Escocesa has a complex strategy of tacking between cohabitation and commercialization, which operates through symbolic communalization of local spaces, construction of homelike identity of the space, and the simultaneous usage of closed gallery exhibition spaces and open public spaces. Kunstrepublik engages in (re-)appropriation of the urban social space by re-interpreting empty space as a space filled with content. It seeks to trigger creative attitudes towards space, constructs unique identity of space, and expands the circle of symbolic claimers of space.

The project participants analyzed how the artistic communities strategically choose city spaces to exhibit their art objects. They sought to reveal the ways in which the artists consider the historical and sociocultural background of the places they work with, and to trace how the communities choose activities for the particular urban contexts where their works are located. The project assesses whether the artists engage local urban communities in the process of artistic co-creation and why they do this. The project shows how the choice of knowledge-transforming communicative strategies and tactics is related to the economic, political and cultural particularities of the urban contexts in which the artistic communities are embedded.

The project involved research stays in Barcelona and Berlin during February and March 2013.

The project resulted in the following papers by CGES staff and CGES affiliated researchers:

  • Basov N., Khokhlova A., Nenko A. Generating Knowledge in the City: Artistic Communication of St. Petersburg Creative Communities. 2014 (manuscript is being submitted to an international journal);
  • Basov N., Nenko A., Khokhlova A. Communication and Knowledge Creation in the Urban Space: Strategies and Tactics of Artistic Communities in Three European Cities. 2014 (manuscript being submitted as a book chapter);
  • Khokhlova A. Creative communities of St. Petersburg and Berlin: The effects of spatial embeddedness // CGES Working papers. St. Petersburg-Bielefeld, 2013;
  • Basov N., Nenko A. Artistic Community Knowledge Structure Revealed: A Semantic Network Analysis of ‘La Escocesa’, Barcelona // CGES Working papers. St. Petersburg-Bielefeld, 2013.

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