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Andrea Baldini: Street Art, Museums, and Institutional Conflict: A Philosophical Approach

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Seminari MELT 2024

Andrea Baldini (Nanjing University)
Street Art, Museums, and Institutional Conflict: A Philosophical Approach

Can there be street art in museums? Doubts about this possibility are well founded. In effect, the rebellious essence of street art as well as its site-specificity appear prima facie irreconcilable with the official nature of art institutions. The inclusion of street art in a museum, some suggest, seems to remove something vital from works of street art and change them into something else that has been commercialized and rendered inauthentic (Bengtsen, 2015; Riggle, 2010, p. 248). And yet, so-called graffiti and street art shows, even self-proclaimed “unauthorized: ones (Pierce, 2022) exhibiting works without authorial consent, are proliferating.

In this talk, I will approach the opening question from a philosophical standpoint. I defend a form of what I shall call moderate optimism about the institutionalisation of street art. Modest optimism is the claim that, given certain limitations, it is possible to show authentic street art in museums and gallery. In this sense, I argue that it is possible to have exhibitions of genuine street art. Such exhibitions, in particular, opt for curatorial strategies capable of preserving street art’s rebellious and subversive nature, as well as its salient connection with public space. Modest optimism differs from both what I call naïve optimism, according to which street art has evolved to naturally exist in institutional settings, and pessimism, which tout-court denies that a work of street art can exist in a museum.

The talk is part of the MELT seminar series for the Spring 2024 term. For organizational inquiries, please contact Prof. Andrea Borghini:

Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences and to students of the Doctoral School “The Human Mind and its Explanations: Language, Brain, and Reasoning”.

The talk is organized for the LEMMings LAB by Andrea Borghini.