August 19, 2014
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The article Drifting Eastwards is an attempt to suggest an alternative map of the city of London, based on a personal exploration of the urban space, which follows the artistic interventions on the urban texture. Referring to the psychogeographical theories and practice, adopted by the Situationist International to both explore and interact with the city, the article especially uses the dérive (drift), “a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances”, as a research tool.
Drifting Eastwards focuses specifically on the so-called ‘Shoreditch Triangle’ – an area in the East End transformed since the Eighties from a ‘post-industrial ruin’ with abandoned warehouses into a creative district, where bars and clubs, art galleries and artists’ and designers’ studios continuously spring up. Here, “street art” has become a peculiar feature. A contemporary artistic phenomenon, unfolding on the urban fabric with its various techniques and purposes, street art interacts with the urban space, re-appropriating and therefore modifying it and, at the same time, influencing the perception of it.
The purpose of this article is to narrate a journey through the Shoreditch area that combines the technique of the dérive with the discovery of the local street art interventions, in order to map well-known places in a new and different way. Street art interventions are considered here as ways to find the ‘elsewhere’ in the urban and the everyday – an ‘elsewhere’ which is hidden in the interstices of the city and has the potential to narrate the city otherwise, providing alternative visions to the official maps. In this journey, street art proves indeed crucial to offer novel critical openings both on the built environment and on relevant topical subjects such as consumption and branding, environmental issues, work exploitation and war.
Methodologically, the article is also a critical and creative attempt to translate the experience of the drift in a written form. Therefore, it unfolds as a combination of theoretical argumentations and personal notes and comments – which are signalled alternatively by the use of different fonts (regular and italics, respectively). Also, the article includes a gallery of photographs, which strengthen the relation between ‘official’ space and its ‘elsewhere’ showing the ways in which street art interventions originally interact with the built environment of the Shoreditch area.
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