Project Name: Guerrilla Gallery
Grantee: Javier Otero Peña
Discipline: Environmental Psychology
Funding Cycle: 2017-2018
Project Status: Completed
White Paper: Otero Peña White Paper 2018
About the Project
This project aims to create a public-facing, interactive, and aesthetic visualization that accounts for the responses of locals to the “Guerilla Gallery” in East Harlem, a participatory mural established by the Harlem Art Collective. The Guerilla Gallery is located in the heart of a neighborhood where Puerto Rican political and cultural symbols are to be found in most murals, but there was a prevalence of Mexican symbols on this particular mural. This could possibly demonstrate an aesthetic conflict (Sharman, 2002) to “mark territory,” where a negotiation of group identities determined “who belongs” (Zukin, 1995). There are three different but related processes of politicization here: 1) the turning of a construction wall into a mural, engaging the conflicts inherent to the production of space (Mitchell, 2003); 2) the mural as a place for public address (Iveson, 2007); and 3) the art on the mural as placeholders for territoriality and conflict between groups in the neighborhood (Sharman, 2002).
These three instances of politicization were present in the 19 interviews conducted with people who passed by the Guerrilla Gallery or had some sort of interactions with it during observation sessions. While the findings from this research could be geared toward an academic article in a journal, the nature of that format would limit the number of images that would supplement the data, which means that much of the richness of the project would be diluted when translating the visual data into the article. The purpose of this project is also to share this research with a broader public audience outside of the academic community, especially with the neighborhood East Harlem.