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Occupying Porteño Public Space Through Art and Protest: Identifying Narratives of Gender in Buenos Aires’ Street Art and Feminist Movement

Authors: Mackenzie Allan*, George Washington University
Topics: Gender, Cultural Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Public Space, Street Art, Political Movement, Feminist Geography, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Latin America
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Street art -- and graffiti in particular -- has been largely understood as political in nature, masculine in action, and opportunistic in placement. While many cities have pursued eradication, multiple Latin American city governments have promoted the presence of street art, as in the case of Buenos Aires. Intimately tied with economic volatility and political protest, Buenos Aires’ street art developed largely with the 2001 economic crisis. The explosive growth of street art over the past two decades has expanded the diversity and quantity of artists and artwork citywide, yet representation and sponsorship of artists remains highly male dominated. Pushes for equal representation in street art have coincided with new wave feminist political action, seen in Buenos Aires with the creation of Ni Una Menos and related organizations catalyzing the gender equality/violence movement. While ample research of public space, protest, and street art in Buenos Aires exists, incorporation of the new equality movement has yet to be explored. This study analyzes how the new feminist wave has influenced street artists, and identifies how, where, and why female and LGBTQ+ individuals are occupying public space through art and protest. Research conducted involved artists, collectives, and political organizers. Semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and landscape analysis were used to identify narratives of gendered public space and public space occupation. Findings suggest that many female and queer artists’ participation in collectives changes the manner in which artists collaborate and access public space, despite few connections between feminist political organizations and artists or collectives.

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