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City/art: The Urban Scene in Latin America [Paperback]

Rebecca Biron

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Book Description

13 Aug 2009
In "City/Art" anthropologists, literary and cultural critics, a philosopher, and an architect explore how creative practices continually reconstruct the urban scene in Latin America. The contributors, all Latin Americanists, describe how creativity - broadly conceived to encompass urban design, museums, graffiti, film, music, literature, architecture, performance art, and more - combines with nationalist rhetoric and historical discourse to define Latin American cities. Taken together, the essays model different ways of approaching Latin America's urban centres not only as places that inspire and house creative practices but also as ongoing collective creative endeavours themselves. The essays range from an examination of how differences of scale and point of view affect people's experience of everyday life in Mexico City to a reflection on the transformation of a prison into a shopping mall in Uruguay, and from an analysis of Buenos Aires' preoccupation with its own status and cultural identity to a consideration of what Miami means to Cubans in the United States. Contributors delve into the aspirations embodied in the modernist urbanism of Brasilia and the work of Lotty Rosenfeld, a Santiago performance artist who addresses the intersections of art, urban landscapes, and daily life. One assesses the political possibilities of public art through an analysis of subway-station mosaics and Julio Cortazar's short story "Graffiti," while others look at the representation of Buenos Aires as a 'Jewish elsewhere' in twentieth-century fiction and at two different responses to urban crisis in Rio de Janeiro. The collection closes with an essay by a member of the Sao Paulo urban intervention group Arte/Cidade, which invades office buildings, de-industrialized sites, and other vacant areas to install collectively produced works of art. Like that group, "City/Art" provides original, alternative perspectives on specific urban sites so that they can be seen anew. Contributors include: Hugo Achugar, Rebecca E. Biron, Nelson Brissac Peixoto, Nestor Garcia Canclini, Adrian Gorelik, James Holston, Amy Kaminsky, Samuel Neal Lockhart, Jose Quiroga, Nelly Richard, Marcy Schwartz, and George Yudice.

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"Urban planning in the world's most chaotic megacities? Flamboyant creativity in the planet's slums? The breathless pace of change in Latin America has left us both fascinated and confused. City/Art creates an exciting space for real interdisciplinary dialogue between cultural studies and urban planning scholars on the new challenges to urban life in some of the world's largest cities, and helps us in the urgent task of rethinking the cultural with respect to the social and political spaces in which it is embedded."--Debra A. Castillo, author of Redreaming America: Toward a Bilingual American Culture "This is an insightful and suggestive collection of approaches to creative practices that produce and are produced by Latin American cities. City/Art offers a multidisciplinary collage of ways of studying and interrogating meaningful imaginaries of some of the most vibrant, amicable, violent, passionate, unequal, sensual, and intriguing cities in the contemporary world."--Daniel Mato, Universidad Central de Venezuela "This edited collection gathers an eclectic, multidisciplinary range of scholars and practitioners (cultural and literary critics, anthropologists, an architect, a philosopher) to contemplate dimensions of contemporary urban life in Latin America... This is a fascinating, if rather fragmented, book. This fragmentedness is intentional, and is due in part to the multidisciplinary, open- ended orientation of the collection. Essays are written in the typical 'post-' language of current aesthetic/cultural criticism. This may make the book hard going for readers unfamiliar with such modes of analysis or interpretation. Yet for these and other readers, the book challenges us to approach and understand the complexity of 'Latin American' cities in new, productive, and inspiring ways." - Kristin Norget, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2012

About the Author

Rebecca E. Biron is Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. She is the author of "Murder and Masculinity: Violent Fictions of Twentieth-Century Latin America."

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