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By Malcolm Miles

This e-book examines public paintings outdoors the conventional confines of artwork feedback and locations it inside of broader contexts of public house and gender by way of exploring either the cultured and political facets of the medium.

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Extra resources for Art, space and the city : public art and urban futures

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Henri Lefebvre, in The Production of Space, argues that, whilst history is bound up with the time in which forces clash, space is constructed, in modern western thought, as an illusory transparency. Space is also, according to geographer Doreen Massey, categorised as one side of a duality with gendered associations: There is a whole set of dualisms whose terms are commonly aligned with time and space. With time are aligned History, Progress, Civilisation, Science, Politics and Reason, portentous things with gravitas and capital letters.

To claim that the city is defined as a network of circulation and communication, as a centre of information and decision-making, is an absolute ideology; this ideology proceeding from 26 ART, SPACE AND THE CITY FIGURE 15 A corporate atrium in Manhattan is called ‘public space’, but remains corporate space a particularly arbitrary and dangerous reduction-extrapolation and using terrorist means, sees itself as total truth and dogma. 5 The conventional city plan adopts a viewpoint as if in the sky above the city, looking down from god’s eye, the position of power from which alone such an all-knowing representation can be conceived—de Certeau’s voyeurism,6 a matter of repression and desire—‘this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more’ (de Certeau, [1984] 1988:92), and perhaps it is a form of representation which makes the city (as if) unreal to those who see it this way professionally, whether modern planners of freeways or Haussmann’s urban geometers looking down from their towers on a closely knit (but to them worthless or SPACE, REPRESENTATION AND GENDER 27 subversive) pattern of alleys; it is also a language which leads to the perplexity of those unfamiliar with it when confronted with architectural plans and asked for their ‘views’.

Alberti, Della Famiglia III, 206, cited in Wigley, 1992:339)21 Alberti’s model establishes the idealised representation of space as a precondition for a further series of intellectual developments, so that, to state simply, the blank ground for perspective drawing is also the white paint of the walls of the gallery for contemporary art, the blank ground of the city plan or designer’s computer screen. Lefebvre gives a cameo of the architect at the later stage of this development: the architect ensconces himself in his own space.

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