Rewriting the City

Submitted by: Ryan Schnurr

Program: Communication, MA

My research studies the street art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood by exploring the ways in which street art functions as a tool for tactical resistance to gentrification in the struggle over community identity, contesting both physically (in its alteration of space and the city) and discursively (its internal message). Much anti-gentrification street art in Pilsen has either been removed or faded away. The photo here illustrates this phenomenon, showing the remnants of one of the most notable murals on the corner of the now-blank wall where it once was displayed. The wall sits just south of the Jumping Bean cafe in the heart of Pilsen. Though photos of the complete mural continue to exist online, the deterioration of this piece has nonetheless lessened its power. It was originally intended as a statement on gentrification in the neighborhood around it--a statement that was bolstered by, and in some ways dependent upon, its context and geographic location. Decontextualized, this inherently contextual resistance piece has been neutered.