‘I am Tower of Hamlets’: enchanted encounters and the limit to art’s connectivity

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    Abstract

    ‘I am Tower of Hamlets, as I am in Tower of Hamlets, just like a lot of other people are’ (2011–2012) was an artwork by Argentinian artist Amalia Pica, and involved a pink-granite sculpture touring around different homes in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for one year. This paper offers a geographical investigation into the type of encounters and relations created by this artwork. Rather than assume the progressive role of such art encounters, the paper casts a critical eye on to the actual forms of association that they foster and the normative social logics they may perpetuate. In doing so, it suggests that while enchanted, ‘meaningful’ encounters did occur between participants and the sculpture, these occurred within a pre-existing art community, something which compounded problematic class boundaries. Thus, the paper utilises this artwork to identify how encounters can be meaningful whilst maintaining embedded social and cultural divisions. It concludes with a discussion on the relationship between art and the geographies of encounter.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)198-221
    JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017

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