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Ornament and Order

For my parents

Ornament and Order
Graffiti, Street Art and the Parergon

Rafael Schacter
University College London, UK

© Rafael Schacter 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
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Rafael Schacter has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act,
1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Schacter, Rafael.
Ornament and order : graffiti, street art and the parergon / by Rafael Schacter.
pages cm. -- (Architecture)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4724-0998-0 (hardback) -- ISBN 978-1-4724-0999-7 (ebook) -- ISBN 9781-4724-1000-9 (epub) 1. Decoration and ornament--Social aspects. 2. Graffiti--Social
aspects. 3. Street art--Social aspects. I. Title.
NK1520.S33 2014
ISBN 9781472409980 (hbk)
ISBN 9781472409997 (ebk – PDF)
ISBN 9781472410009 (ebk – ePUB)


Grooves repeated in succession – man’s first aesthetic expression – betray a
sense of order, symmetrical grooves show even a certain incipient sense of
balance, cogitation and repose … which to this day is the ethical basis of art.
Alphonse Marie Mucha, 1966

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Risk and the Picaresque   189 Conclusion   221 .Contents List of Figures   Foreword   Preface   Introduction   ix xv xix 1 Part I: Ornament 1 Ornament   15 2 Consensual Ornamentation   53 3 Agonistic Ornamentation   91 PART II: Order 4 Order   133 5 Inversion. Subversion. Perversion   161 6 Play.

viii Ornament and Order Postscript   Acknowledgements   235 247 Bibliography   Index   249 267 .

4 San (Daniel Muñoz). Untitled. Spain. Hear (Alone). 2013   2 2 6 9 11 1. Madrid. 2010   I. Til. Untitled [Acid Etching in process – etchings also visible in surround]. Image includes tags by Buni. 2011. Dier. Untitled (Choquito). Parse. Ukraine.6 Noviciado Nueve. Ring. Madrid. Spain.7 Katsu. Spain. Madrid. San. Spok.10 The agency of the image. 2012   P.3 3TTMan and Remed. Untitled (Carteles) [detail].1 Cripta Djan at work.5 Noviciado Nueve (and friends). Spain. Untitled. Spain.List of Figures Black and White P.3 3TTMan. Los del rodillo. Shit. 2012   P. 2013   P.9 Image destruction or ‘buffing’ in Madrid. Madrid ‘window’ of fame. 2009   1. Untitled. London. 2010   P.4 3TTMan. France. Spain. Madrid. and others unknown.1 The Leake Street Classicist. 2009   P. Beijing. Untitled (Carteles). Madrid. Spain. 2012   xx xxi xxii xxiii xxiv xxvii I. Madrid. functions both as an image of a skull whilst also containing the word ‘tag’ hidden within it   1. 2010   1.6 Momo. England. 2010   1. Untitled. Madrid. Untitled. Spain. New York. Catania. Untitled. China.3 Eltono. Buenos Aires.5 Akim One. England. produced in one pure movement.2 Nano.2 Chu. 2008   1. Odessa. Nano4184. 2007   1. Untitled. Tonk. Untitled. 2011   I. Belvés. Garr (Garrulo – Koas). 2008   1. 2007   1. 2010. England. São Paulo. Spain. 2011   I. Suee. Madrid. London. 2012   I.5 Neko. Neko. Italy.4 Nano4814. Katsu’s figurative icon. London. Vigo.1 Nano at work. Brazil. 2010   1.8 Spok. USA. Argentina. and unknown others   16 17 18 20 22 23 24 25 29 33 . Remed.2 The Leake Street Classicist. Untitled.

England.10 Filippo Minelli. Spain. Kiev. Spain. Spain. Untitled [detail].1 Remed. Spain.3 Eltono. Mi Vida Es Como La Tuya. 1999    2.16 Eltono. Besançon. Spain. Poland. Ceci est mon cuerpo. Madrid.13 Remed. 2012   2.12 Graffiti as parerga. Madrid. 2010   2. 2011   35 2. Ukraine. Spain. England. the signboards which Eltono and Nuria installed in London. England. There Is Something Else. Spain. Spray as Index 1. Germany.18 Eltono. 2011   1. Palma. Revok. Untitled. 2010) after a half-hearted (or perhaps 2/3-hearted) erasure by local authorities. Besançon. Untitled. Could you please suggest to me any revolutionary act?. Not only acting as a performative signature.17 Eltono. 2011   1. Madrid and Stockholm. an explicitly anti-commercial tactic once more linking them to Habermas’s common concern   2.12 3TTMan. 2012   2. Leon. Viva la Calle Libre. Remed. Madrid. London. Untitled. USA. Post-Buffing. 2011   2. Italy.7 3TTMan. blocked-out markings. Untitled. Spain. were later gifted to whomever found them. Vova Vorotniov. France.11 The image as mind trap. 2008. Untitled. London.x Ornament and Order 1.13 Embellishing the painted-out remnants of his old works after they had been ‘erased’ by local authorities.4 Unknown Artist. Amor Al Arte. Madrid. 2011   1.15 3TTMan’s Viva la Calle Libre (Madrid. 2012   2. Tudela de Navarra.14 Remed. Havana.15 Remed. an attempted erasure only serving to give the original work more prominence   2. Los Angeles. El Corazón de un Sueño.5 An example of the propositional rather than perlocutionary intentions of Consensual Ornamentation. Art Vs Capitalism. 2013   2. Homer added what he terms ‘subcultural nuances’ to these ghostly. Madrid.17 San. Madrid. decorating the scars that remained from his earlier efforts. 1998   54 54 55 58 37 38 41 43 45 46 49 62 62 65 66 68 71 72 74 78 79 81 83 84 85 . 2010   2. Utrecht. Rendering by Visualdata. Netherlands. Spain. Untitled [Signboard project].6 An example of the propositional rather than perlocutionary intentions of Consensual Ornamentation. 2012   2. 2011   2. Amor Al Arte.9 El Mac. 2009   1. London. Untitled. 2009   2. 2010   2. Cuba.   1. Remed. Untitled.16 San. Utrecht. 2011   1. Grottaglie.14 Zedz and Maurer United Architects (MUA). Madrid. Spain.18 The logical corollary of showing graffiti within the gallery space.8  Eltono and Nuria. Akim. Blanco Ante Gris [Gracias por tus mensages]. Homer. as frame and content in the same moment. 2010   1. Warsaw. Leistungsschau Part 3. Spain. 2013   2.2 3TTMan.11 Escif. France. 2007   2. There Is Something Else. 2011   2. Madrid. Spain. Netherlands. Untitled [Fill in the Blanks].

2009   3. Untitled. Pixo Gratis. 2010. Vigo. TBC. 2009   3.1 Nano4814. Spain. France. Spain. TBC. Spain. New York. experience. Rennes. Barcelona. 2010. Fuck You.7 Katsu.17 Nano4814 at work. Brazil. TBC. Pixo Gratis. Madrid.10 GPO.8 Nov York. USA. São Paulo. 2010   3. Untitled. Untitled. technique.20 Spok. Tremblin’s highly astute work is unable to account for a vast amount of information a seasoned agonistic practitioner would also perceive – information pertaining to issues such as style.19 Nano4814 at work. Untitled. São Paulo. São Paulo. Untitled.15 Read More Books. Ukraine. Tag Clouds – Colombier Optique.List of Figures 2. Spain. 2008   3. 2010   2. Spain.12 Turbo. the piece seamlessly moving from wall to glass to the wall again. Untitled. Spain.4 Neko. Vigo. 2008   3. France. 2007   3. their capacity to so clearly decipher this ostensible pollution. 1997   3. Vigo. Vigo. Untitled. Pinto Gratis.21 Spok at work. Illegal Inscription. Spain. 2011   3. Madrid. Brooklyn. mind state etc. New York. Doing Graffiti 4 The Crime. Spain. France. Netherlands.22 Eltono. mind state etc. 2008   3. 2004   xi 88 89 93 94 94 97 98 101 103 104 105 105 107 107 110 110 111 114 114 115 115 118 119 121 121 122 123 . 2008   3. France. 2009   3.20 Erosie. 2009   3. Paris. Untitled. Eindhoven. Untitled.23 Eltono. Spain.11 Turbo. Whilst the ‘translation’ Tremblin here undertakes can provide an amazing insight into the scopic abilities of the agonistic artist. 2010   3.   3. rather than with the surface.25 Eltono. their capacity to so clearly decipher this ostensible pollution. 2009   3. then moving beyond even the edge of the building itself   3. Brazil. Whilst the ‘translation’ Tremblin here undertakes can provide an amazing insight into the scopic abilities of the agonistic artist. 2009   3.13 Mathieu Tremblin. Untitled. São Paulo. Spain.24 The Belas Artes Invasion.16 Nano4814 at work. Paris.5 La Mano and Zosen.   3. Spain. 2009   3. I Hereby Apologise for the Damage Done.19 Homer [Sasha Kurmaz].2 Spok. Rennes. Brazil. São Paulo. Tremblin’s highly astute work is unable to account for a vast amount of information a seasoned agonistic practitioner would also perceive – information pertaining to issues such as style. Brazil. Greece. USA.6 Remio. Nov York Needs Release. Nov’s work here is a classic example of this movement over. Brazil. 2007   3. Madrid. Tag Clouds – Colombier Optique. experience. Vigo. 2010. 2012   3. technique. Kiev. USA. 2008   3.14 Mathieu Tremblin. 2009   3. Madrid. 2009   3.9 Nov York. Untitled. New York.18 Nano4814 at work. 2008   3. New York. Athens.3 Belas Artes Invasion. Untitled. Madrid.

Untitled collage by Momo.4 4. 2009   140 Invariant. Untitled [detail].8 Lush. 2008   135 Spok at work.10 Neko. USA. Untitled 2.5 4. 2012   162 165 165 167 167 171 171 173 176 179 182 185 185 . Mexico City. Fighting Peacefully. 2010   145 Nano4814.7 4. 2009   5. Spain.2 4. 2009  141 Remio at work.10 4. pointing quite overtly to something beyond itself   149 Invariant yet idiosyncratic 1. 2008   136 Spok at work. Melbourne. Nano4814. Madrid. 2007   5. and Fefe Tavelera at work. 2008   155 3TTMan. Spain. Spain. Spain. Eltono. Untitled [Los Veo y Subo – I See It and I Get Up].14 4.7 Nano4814. Vigo. 2009   5.xii Ornament and Order 3. Serpiente escalera. China. 2012.6 4. yet distinct. yet unique. rule governed. Los Angeles. 2008   5. 2009   148 Slave Cave Collective. Three untitled posters by OX from Genevilliers. Madrid. The Slave Cave Collective piece depicted here not only has links to the traditions and history of the graffiti discourse (paying homage to a work which any true adherent to the discourse will instantly recognize) but also linking to the theme of sacrality. Madrid. Paris and Arcueil (France). 2012   5. Spain. New York. Spain.9 Pelucas. Three untitled posters by OX from Genevilliers. Pelucas and Brk at work   5.15 127 Spok on the tracks. 2007   5. USA.4 Collecting the carteles. Nouadhibou. Spain. Untitled. Spain. 2012   5. Madrid. Paris and Arcueil (France). Madrid. Madrid. 2010   144 Remio at work. Spain. 2012   152 John Fekner. Mexico. Spain. Beijing. Madrid.11 On the way to paint (plastic bags full of paint not groceries). Untitled. Madrid. not destroy/To function in a different register.13 To unsettle. 2012   151 Invariant yet idiosyncratic 2. Liqen.3 A litro to celebrate. Spain. Mauritania. Self Portrait.13 4. Nazca Lines. New York. 2012   155 Filippo Minelli.5 The Pied Piper of Malasaña. 2008   137 Formal. Madrid. Remed. Madrid. Spain.8 4. 2012   5. Spain. Los Angeles. Democracy. 2009   157 5. Pelucas and Brk. Untitled 1. not destroy/To function in a different register.12 To unsettle. Alone.6 Society in the subjunctive. Madrid. 2011   5.12 4. USA.26 Neko and Jaime. USA. USA.3 4. 2009   4. and Brk at work. 2007   5. Madrid. Tenerife.9 4.11 4. Liqen. Untitled.1 4.2 Carrying the cartons. Madrid.1 3TTMan. Spain. 2007   5. traditional. Spain. Katsu. New York. 2009   157 The arrival of the poli. Untitled collage by Momo.

2010   6. 2010   6. Untitled. Athens. Spain. Brazil. 2008   C. 2008   C. Vigo. London. Spain. USA.3 Getting in 1 and 2. Madrid. 2010   223 225 225 227 227 230 230 232 233 233 PS. 2008   C.1 Gone but not forgotten. Madrid.3 Remed. 2012   185 6. Spain. England. England. Columbia. Untitled. 2008   6. 3TTMan in Action. Spain. Stockholm. Spain. Madrid.7 Sixe. Spain.15 Monsters and Mayhem. Untitled. Spain. 2011   C.6 3TTMan. Untitled. England. La Palma. 2009   6. Spain. Untitled [Coriandoli Graffiti]. Newcastle.4 Alone [Hear]. Spain. 2008   C. Nashville. Eternal Present (An Endless Void). Spain. 2008   C. Three untitled posters by OX from Genevilliers. Untitled. 2009   6. Spain. Madrid. Untitled.5 Under the tarpaulin. 2007   PS. 2007   6. England. San Francisco. Tarifa.9 Text as a struggle over inscription. Vigo. 2009   6. Bogotá.11 3TTMan and Remed at Play. London. 2009   6.2 Nano4814. 2012   PS. Sweden.5 Goldpeg. Spain. Spain. Film Stills. 3TTMan in Action. Spain. Resurreccioname … Por Favor. Italy.8 3TTMan. 2009 . 2009   6. Spain. La Palma. Vigo.14 To unsettle.18 Remio. Madrid. 2010   C. not destroy/To function in a different register. 2009   6. 2008   C. Untitled. 2012   238 239 242 244 Colour Plates 1 Eltono and Momo. Territorial Pissings. Read-Up.1 Sam3. 2012   C.10 GPO.4 Goldpeg. 2009   6. Madrid.16 Monsters and Mayhem. Untitled.2 Jurne. Untitled. Tennessee.13 The Montaña Monster.3 Eltono. Untitled. California.4 Getting in 1 and 2. Untitled. Spain. Untitled. Image courtesy of artist   6. 2009   6. Paris and Arcueil (France). La Palma.List of Figures xiii 5. Spain.2 Portrait of 3TTMan.9 The Leake Street Classicist.12 Petro. 2010   6. Madrid. Untitled. 2011   PS. Madrid. 3TTMan in Action. Turin.7 3TTMan. Vigo. Spain. 2012   6. Vigo. 2009   6.17 (Con)-Artist Zone. London. Spain. Madrid. Spain. Greece. La Palma. Spain. Vigo. Resurreccioname … Por Favor.14 The Montaña Monster.1 Nug. 2009   6. Untitled. La Palma. Rio de Janeiro. 2008.6 Sixe. Destruction and reappearance. 2012   191 192 195 195 196 197 197 199 201 205 207 209 211 212 213 213 215 218 C. USA.8 Read More Books. Spain. Madrid. 2011 2 Eltono. Untitled.10 Nano4814.

Marakkesh. 2012 . 2012 7 Spok. Untitled. 2010 5 Remed. Untitled.xiv Ornament and Order 3 Nano4814. Untitled. Madrid. Spain. Spain. Spain. Aranjuez. 2008 8 Spok [background by Yesk]. Morocco. Italy. 2011 4 3TTMan. 2012 6 Remed. Elijo Irme [I choose to go]. Spain. Leon. Untitled. Madrid. Turin. Untitled [Cement Graffiti].

as they connect those corrupt forces as our only hope to be saved from the artificial threat of terrorism. Those special interests have a lot to gain by quashing graffiti and yet counter intuitively a lot to lose by suppressing it. Ever since 9/11 total police control and the fascist-like imposition to respect the authority of the police and state has been on the rise.Foreword Dr Schacter asked me to write this foreword because he knows that for over 20 years I have been OCD with graffiti. all hope for the future depends on graffiti). The tactics used by multi-national conglomerates and corrupt or inept politicians that have profit rather than the people as their bottom-line have marginalized and militarized many in the urban tribe. has done just that with this book. I started young like many practitioners and I performed the rituals that are expected of the young. wealthy interests and corrupt politicians have stolen the city from the inhabitants and made it almost impossible for the majority of folk to get ahead. I saw the connection of this rise of global fascism masked by a neo-liberal ideal of hyper-capitalism with . I never could explain to people outside of the culture the genius that I knew graffiti was. have increased war-like behaviors from the people precipitating stronger responses from the government. where imprisonment is seen as a necessity for anyone dissenting against the regime. graffiti may be one of the last options of public criticism and dissent left (yea I said it. multi-national corporations. he has united what has always been maligned as a violent and destructive act against society with intense theories and thoughts that help to reveal this spray-painted rose from the dark leaved brambles that lobbyists against graffiti have covered it in since its inception. The deep journey that this book is brings us to a place that uncovers that binary and allows the readers to decide for themselves what they think about graffiti in their cities. effectively downgrading the people who built and toiled for their lifetimes there. When revered journalists are easily manipulated by government lies and an imposed classist culture forces all relationships to be based on commerce. Neo-martial law and policestate behavior. the rebellion and the structure that formed and informed it. They have raised the prices and changed the rules. Dr S. In New York City.

choose a side’. This book has parts that stand out to me as a clear call to action. delves deeply into what he terms the Consensual forms of graffiti. the egotistical sell-out work that you mask in benevolence toward mankind and justify by claiming outcomes of quasi-social justice yet the only tangible product being a clean quality of life corner so the next corporate pig can plant their business’s flag. Everybody else in the world is fair game and encouraged to destabilize their notions of religion. Who am I to be such a smug judge of others’ hard work? Dr S. The Consensual Ornamenters make real pretty work and even better by the accepted premise of the day. the pretty stuff. Graffiti can be seen as a temporary anonymous break from the strictly defined roles that are set for all members of society and a way to stray from the script we were all given at birth. Now consider those physical barriers in position to the philosophical barriers that the capitalist–cultural world-elite has instated via idolizing Mr Ai Weiwei who vandalized Han dynasty vases and thereby questioned current policies in slave-labor Asia versus the strict dyslogistic narrative set up against any vandalizing dissenters questioning the Global North Empire. the happy agreeable work that the masters allow for now and will buff once you turn your back. He alludes to the fact that media and television are owned by a few wealthy special interests and they have framed all debates into this bi-polarity of ‘you are either with us or against us. governance and financial structures in order to keep them unbalanced. they make that money. The so-called art that actually serves the capitalist captains by prettying up the hood and raises rents and dislocates the inhabitants. placing me neatly in a row and column. would group me in his copyrighted academic term ‘Agonistic Ornamenter’. leaving no room for meaningful dialogue of any type. setting me aside for further study. projecting all that I want graffiti to be. ‘Stop Racism!’. as if I were judging the Consensual and its recent strangle hold on the conversation of graffiti and it seems like I’m saying that this consensual emperor is wearing no clothes. Based on my coup d’état understanding of what graffiti is. The pretty stencils and the posters and the re-appropriating of pop culture icons to make a message. blind to other ideas. Dr S.xvi Ornament and Order the duty of the graffiti writer to dissent loud and clear when Dr S. Perhaps. the closed off spaces that are only welcome to paying customers and the many private spaces taking over our cities that are intrinsically divided by race and class. With the Agonistic sided for the moment. the ironic pieces that make the disillusioned masses giggle. Dr S. only seeing my own reflection where ever I look. wrote about Habermas’s description of the ‘refeudalization’ of public space at the end of the 19th century. Or that’s just the innate selfish radical in me. that’s harsh. but in fact say nothing because of the inherent consensuality. the ones that many can agree on. which leads me to believe that all forms of graffiti can function as the proverbial Lithium for the masses when notions of right and wrong are so strictly defined. Ouch. In this book we learn of the Ancient Greek spaces that were architecturally open and by design meant to foster free argument and debate and they are juxtaposed with the walled off city of today that no one is allowed to touch unless they pay the fee to advertise their wares. yet once we the people attempt to destabilize the Global . talks about this too when he writes on the increasing manufactured polarization of our world views. Maybe.

Just because New York City and Subway Art made that type of graffiti look cool does not mean New York City owns it or can even set rules for how it is to be expressed. When a vocal few assign a label to a group. with varying reasons behind their motivation. He and many practitioners have accepted other people’s definitions at face value for lack of understanding that they could come up with their own explanations of their actions. Maybe.’s thesis. Graffiti is for all. it is made by soccer hooligans and hipsters. competing to express the truth as they know it. not .Foreword xvii North then we are cast out to the dark corners of the culture and no longer able to partake in the freedom. Competitors who join the game of their own volition. it is used as propaganda for and against the regime all over the world. To hell with rules when you seek the freedom. and if they try to then those rules must be broken. it is performed by thugs and antifa political activists. This tag too shall pass. graffiti is not meant to last long but instead its function is wrapped up in ritual and deep understanding that all is temporary and life is but a dream. this painting on walls thing belongs to the people. And yet there is something problematic in Dr S. the propaganda machine is working well. letters and colors. that is graffiti writers make the frame of the painting that is our urban existence. parts of that label start to become the group’s identity. Dr S. no one subculture can claim it. it’s a way of writing racially charged misogynistic scribblings in toilet stalls and for bringing a community together around a simple message. A meditation on graffiti writers: graffiti writers do. After realizing one’s identity has been fixed by outside forces rather than one’s own truth. This book remains faithful to a particular narrative about graffiti. Agonistic and Consensual. When double standards ain’t seen as double standards. no one truth and no definition. make up the Parergon of the city as canvas. does hint at this openness when he brings up Mouffe and her idea that agonism is not the struggle between enemies but rather competitors. as Dr S. What seems like agonistic aggression is in fact the acceptance of difficult truths and the physical reality and actions that go along with that acceptance. competitors interested in dialogue. He seems to have in some part fallen for the macho braggadocio that so many insecure practitioners of the Agonistic act out in public which disguise our truth as much as the seeming unintelligibility of our tags. Dr S. yet it is a philosophical frame in as much as a Tibetan Buddhist Mandala is a philosophical work of art. Its rather freeing to think tagging the walls of your city is a path towards enlightenment.’s book says to me graffiti can be a way around the propaganda industrial complex. He divvies up graffiti into those two modalities. even when false. the same one that I was raised with but it is certainly not the only narrative out there. competitors participating in the game of words. those identities can be rethunk. and claims that the Agonistic mode of graffiti is exclusive (amongst other issues) by virtue of the letters being so hard to read and the practitioners saying that they only do it for those in the know. not domination. The more you look around the world at the graffiti on the walls the more you realize graffiti has no owner. When looked at like this graffiti is quite simply a public debate. claims. Just as with the Tibetan Buddhist Mandala. spray cans in people’s hands is a being of its own.

Dick Hebdige’s Subculture introduced me to a few subcultures I never thought about. This book is well thought out and genuine to Dr S.xviii Ornament and Order the hate crime it is made out to be. that would go against the ritual. no philosophical talk just performance and wonder. always-the-same-outcome political games to begin with). it is solely to be performed. Graffiti is a free democratic tool for bringing freedom to the world so that the world can be free. Dumaar Freemaninov. I can’t talk about the rituals. More doors are opened more revelations appear. And just as Punks and Mods would not want to read theory about their reality because they live it daily. It feels wrong to me because I perform the rituals. and an opportunity to begin deconstructing more conventional dogma. Maybe. I can politic on it but I’d rather just shut up and do it. It is not to be spoken of or asked questions about. This book does not legitimize graffiti or even set out to capture its pure essence. Talking about graffiti in an intelligible manner is counter-intuitive to the unspoken religion of graffiti. And so by writing this text is Dr S. . I prefer grunts in a circle of fellow practitioners. I get furious styles when I think about graffiti. Graffiti is open to all and not an inaccessible subculture that outsiders would box it in to serve their agenda. No need to remain fixed in a single identity becoming the joke that cedes power to the capitalizers by playing into their hands. or the reverse. a door for academics who want to understand what those writings on the wall are and seek to put in rows and columns that which is outside of their intelligibility. As an outsider to many other subcultures I too enjoy reading theory on those subcultures and to ponder on the hidden-in-plainsight worlds all around me. Punks and Teddy Boys. It’s been a tough task for me to write this foreword. and that truth shines bright when one performs the rituals correctly. No need to hold on to the past as a zealot and yearn for the good-old days when things were pure Cornbread-Dondi style. author of Nov York. I can’t stand to read any ideas on my subculture. mainly the Mods. This book is an opening.’s experiences yet I as one so immersed in this repetitive doodling on walls feels the less we say about it the better. of it being just about money or just about crime. as much as you write about it as much as you chase it. Though mostly this book is a tool for slowing down and looking closely at what has been taken for granted. It can be political or far removed from politics (which is more revolutionary than joining in their onesided. that is. you just can’t capture it. by outsiders and the practitioners as well. less concrete anything is left because graffiti has this intangible spiritual connection to it that just can’t be contained. Is this book then the definitive approach to graffiti? Impossible. just about masculinity or just about risk. legitimizing graffiti? Has he just gone and ruined graffiti for the practitioners? Well I suppose everything must change. Graffiti is more of a phantom after reading this book. maybe a door for graffiti writers who are struggling with their own 20-year long fixed identities and are attempting to break into academia. The ritual is the truth of graffiti. this book instead gives philosophical weight so open-minded well-read academics like yourself can see beyond the repetitive refrains of graffiti being immoral.

eliciting innumerable committed adherents to its cause (of every possible class and culture). Although less than 50 years old in its modern incarnation (and widely argued to have emerged on the East Coast of the US in the late 1960s).Preface The tale of graffiti and street-art – or what I will here term Independent Public Art1 – is a sea unspeakably vast. their status when examined from an explicitly material–cultural position. a term first brought to my attention by the theorist Javier Abarca. this vernacular art-form has been transported to nearly every corner of the globe. is an umbrella label which incorporates all forms of autonomously produced aesthetic production in the public sphere. What is crucial. Independent Public Art as a distinct aesthetic genre has only very rarely been subject to any vigorous form of academic examination. 1 Independent Public Art.2). in fact with the exception of Jean Baudrillard and Roland Barthes – whose brief remarks on the practices of graffiti are in my opinion the most insightful and profound on the genre as whole has so far garnered2 – its scholarly analysis has failed to produce a study investigating the dense materiality of the images created. spawning hundreds of distinct styles (from the traditional technique of spraycan art to various highly conceptual modes of urban installation). It thus naturally encompasses practices which have been called graffiti or street-art yet also includes actions which may exceed these traditional designations. and quite clear by the term itself however. building an assemblage out of variance through its intentionally broad nature. is that it does not include works produced in the interior domain. . Whilst its status as the world’s most practiced form of outsider art is I believe unparalleled. works outside of what could be considered as public space.1 – to the Salvajismo of Buenos Aires – see Figure P. 2 See both Baudrillard’s essay ‘Kool Killer’ (1993 [1976]) and Barthes’ text entitled ‘Cy Twombly’ (1991 [1979]). generating thousands of local approaches (from the pixação of São Paulo – see Figure P.

1  Cripta Djan at work.P. 2012 . São Paulo. Brazil.

Masculinity and Identity in London and New York (2001) by Nancy Macdonald. Teasing out the aesthetic and material relationships which emerge from the realm of Independent Public Art.5 and the culture and history of New York spraycan art6 (as well as a myriad of illustrated coffee books which are almost totally devoid of rigour).4 criminality. Phillips. and practice-based aspects of these contemporary epigraphs. Argentina. the relic and ritual. 2013 .3 youth subculture.Preface xxi Though there have been texts focussing on issues such as gang graffiti. Ornament and Order will thus focus on this global aesthetic movement as it stands today. See The Graffiti Subculture: Youth. Based on a multi-sited. Buenos Aires.2 Chu.A. what I argue has been missing is an approach examining the formal. (1999) by Susan A. 5 See Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality (1996) by Jeff Ferrell. the ornament and order. the product and the performance. exploring the plethora of acts which emerge from its field of practice. 4 P. one which ethnographically explores both the images and their modes of construction. Untitled. intentional. the data collected incorporates the entire range of possible actions within the Independent Public Art movement: my closest group of informants – the collective Noviciado Nueve with whom I undertook my in-depth period of fieldwork – perfectly encapsulate this wide scope. 6 See Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York (1984) by Craig Castleman and Taking the Train: How Graffiti became an Urban Crisis in New York City (2001) by Joe Austin. 3 See Wallbangin’: Graffiti and Gangs in L. two year period of fieldwork embedded with an artistic collective in Madrid (a dialogical project which is in fact still ongoing). a wider research project conducted with over 100 artists worldwide7 as well as a number of high profile curatorial projects. 7 An illustrated biographical reference text entitled The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti (Schacter 2013).

Moreover. Nano 4814. Untitled. the individuals within the group produced work which extends from the most apparently ‘artistic’ (such as a form of contemporary muralism – see Figure P. Daniel ‘San’ Muñoz. Spain. the collectives Doma and Fase in Buenos Aires. and Gold Peg and Petro in London). These dense webs of relations not only helped me to gather numerous other informants within Madrid (such as the artists Nuria Mora.xxii P. and Suso33). Sixe Paredes from Barcelona and Dems33 from Elche). 8 Bombing is a technique in which an area is rapidly suffused with simple. these same five actors were embedded within a global network of Independent Public Artists which I argue functions akin to the ‘associated fraternities’ formed by medieval guilds (Sennett 2008: 60). as all the various informants whose stories and practices have been incorporated into this text.3 3TTMan and Remed. in Spain as a whole (such as the twins Pelucas and Liqen from Vigo. Quantity here is quality.4). Eltono. Los Contratistas in Nuevo Leon. . as well as all around the globe (such as MOMO and the legendary Cap in New York. and Spok. What unites all these various individuals however. 2009 Ornament and Order Containing five key members. was their equivalent and unconditional commitment to the practice of Independent Public Art. Remed. quick images rather than more complex pieces. working in what I will come to term the most consensual to the most agonistic styles of public ornamentation. Madrid.3) to the most seemingly ‘vandalistic’ (such as the ‘bombing’8 technique of traditional graffiti – see Figure P. They thus provide an almost perfect distillation of the Independent Public Art movement today and are used to move outward from concrete specificities to broader theoretical discussions. 3TTMan.

P. Vigo. and others unknown. Spain. San.4  Nano4814. 2010 . Untitled.

by enthusiasts and devotees who may find other methods of sustaining themselves outside of the wider art world. And they can thus reach out from the tangibility of local action to address more global concerns surrounding Independent Public Art. France. the majority of the arguments made within this book still function for the vast majority of Independent Public Art seen on our city streets as a whole. Belvés. the search for pleasure rather than gain that the enthusiast evinces. they follow the formal. Yet. travelling with my highly itinerant informants as they conducted . 2012 These were not part-time painters or hobbyists. intentional. The group of individuals with whom I conducted my fieldwork were thus part of a tightly linked worldwide network of comparable practitioners.xxiv Ornament and Order P. for the multitude of acts which have been produced by part-time practitioners. and ritual aspects of the discipline that are in many ways immutable.5 Noviciado Nueve (and friends). not neophytes or novices. even as this is the case. fulltime members of the global Independent Public Art world who engaged within it as an all-embracing way of life. my fieldwork did also take place further afield. they follow the aesthetic and ethical characteristics of the practice which abide irrelevant of the level of expertise that the practitioner in question may possess. They may have embraced the passion of an amateur. who established a communal bond through their embedment within this visual regime. but these were actors whose commitment to autonomous aesthetic production in the public sphere came to supersede (as this book will here argue) the often quite divergent formal aesthetics they constructed. Located in Madrid for the majority of my research. speaking not just for the group with whom I undertook my study but for the discourse as a whole.

The street was the place where the overwhelming majority of my fieldwork took place. it was my informants’ reaction to space that became key to my study. It was a community of practice rather than a physically bound community that I was hence immersed within during my fieldwork (without suggesting that any community can be truly delimited by a circumscribed field). the boundaries of the community examined within this text were delineated by practice rather than place. from New York to London and back again (as well as meeting artists from all over the world in Madrid itself – the studio my informants occupied providing a basecamp for countless visitors to the city). this suspension will enable a clearer focus on the way . Journeying from Mallorca in Spain to Monterrey in Mexico. what remained congruent was the obsession and fervour for the public sphere that all my informants displayed. this monograph will thus take our understanding of Independent Public Art away from many of the established and singular locations in which it is often examined and instead push into the more global. Whilst my informants had numerous skills and worked in a multitude of visual arenas then (from design work and illustration to commercial muralism and contemporary art). one which can only exist amidst the dirt and noise of the street itself. having highly variant artistic modus operandi due to the overabundance of CCTV in the former site. Focussing on the work my informants produced in the public sphere itself. connected networks that this aesthetic discourse truly resides. And thus even whilst this focus on the street means I lose out on a huge amount of site-specific data which I collected throughout my fieldwork – losing out on discussing the intricacies of place which anthropology is a discipline so famed for – what I believe I gain is a more comprehensive understanding of Independent Public Art as a whole. The principal fieldsite relevant to this work – if any that is – could thus be argued to be ‘the street’ in the contemporary global city (or in the ‘alpha city’ as they have been called). where I would both watch and partake in my informants very public way of life. bounded by an understanding of space rather than space itself. to exclude many of its more ‘mundane’ aspects. Whilst there are of course crucial material divergences within the various cities they occupied (London and Madrid. in their daily enacting of what they would term ‘street-life’ (I can only think Randy Crawford was to blame for this). subsidiary practices will be set to one side within this book: although this could seem to in some way suspend my informants’ lives. a multi-sited project in which I was rooted with specific people rather than within a specific place. cosmopolitan experiences as much as on rooted. which remained consistent wherever in the world they were. native ones’ (ibid. an aesthetic working through an equally adjunctive and decorative essence. a commitment to concrete action in the street. a practice produced by highly cosmopolitan. their understanding of the various urban environments they inhabited that became indispensable to my understanding of their practices. the highly permeable boundary between façade and street that is so common in the latter). Rather than any specific location in itself then. highly itinerant social actors. to take a brief example. to physical performance in public space. these other.Preface xxv projects across the world.: 24). this text will thus concentrate on what I define as a practice of urban ornamentation. Following James Clifford’s (1997) imperative to ‘focus on hybrid.

a desire.theguardian. giving us the depth to examine them as both material deposit and ephemeral trace. issues such as the (now waning) interest in ‘street-art’ from the conventional art-market. it seems that in many cases. In fact. or the (still growing) popularity of ‘street-art’ guided tours will be purposefully disregarded within this text: both of these markets (the artistic as much as the touristic) are governed by forces which flow beyond the agency of my informants themselves. Rather than flowing directly toward the relationship between capital and culture (a relationship which I would suggest the inalienable products of Independent Public Art are inherently disconnected from). any works removed from the street are never officially authenticated).10 it is the continued need to produce this form of work irrelevant of base financial gain (and often at considerable cost and danger to the actor themselves) that I am more interested in here exploring. in two recent cases in London and Athens (see http://www. Yet whilst these street removals are in themselves often illegal. which cannot be explained by the force of the market alone. muralism often being utilized by local government or other such organizations to boost the perceived allure of an the clearly instrumental agenda of the organizations involved has become all too visible and thus backfired upon them. as objects within a latent capacity to attract and hold our attention.: 17–18).com/artanddesign/2013/aug/06/olympic-legacy-streetart-graffiti-fury and http://blog. for an explanation of everything remains unable to explain anything in particular […] Art was made before the emergence of capitalism and the art market. yet their Independent Public Art in itself must always be considered an inalienable product. forces which may in fact often run contrary to the wishes of the individuals in question. the value of such an interpretation is null. 9 Gentrification is an issue which is becoming more present within the Independent Public Art world. many works produced on the street by artists such as Banksy and Faile have been physically removed from their sites to be latterly sold in auction houses around the world. and quite famously. and critiqued. 11 As Boris Groys (2010) has convincingly argued: ‘There is no doubt that in the context of a contemporary civilization more or less completely dominated by the market. more significantly the artist or artists in question gain no direct financial reward for the entrance of these objects into the wider art market (and as such. this overt push toward utilizing Independent Public Art for gentrification is being widely noted. their insurgent production in the public sphere which will be at the nucleus of all that follows. an addiction. it is the factor that demarcated them as a coherent social group – their practices of urban ornamentation – which will be the main focus of this text. As such.9 the subject of whether or not they can be labelled as the archetypal post-Fordist workers due to their fluid working status (Gielen 2009). everything can be interpreted as an effect of market forces in one way or another. .xxvi Ornament and Order the images they produced in the public sphere themselves function. 10 Of course. However.vandalog. Independent Public Artists may often choose to enter the market then (and quite often under different names). For this reason.11 Whilst the various ethical paths my informants were often forced to navigate will be at points examined then. And thus question of whether or not artists can be ‘blamed’ for gentrifying low-income or industrial areas of the city then (Zukin 1993). are issues which I have no desire to directly address within this book. and will be made after they disappear’ (ibid.

engraved onto the skin of the city. the practices will be split into two further subdivisions (termed Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation).: 176): As artefacts which are both adjunctive and decorative – the technical prerequisites of all ornamentation – Independent Public Art will be judged to be archetypically ornamental. In the second section of the book – entitled Order – it will be the immaterial residue of my informants’ spatial acts (rather than the material remnants). ritual acts in which commitment to the group envelope is physically instantiated. a factor which not only bestows upon it an equivalent power and precarity. Madrid. gangs and pollution. It is hence Independent Public . Spain. which focus on the discursive potentialities of these figural artefacts. performativity. and play. 2012 Rather than the traditional focus on themes of vandalism and art. traditionality. practice-based elements of their aesthetic production which will be examined. The section will thus move away from notions of ‘meaning’ examined in the preceding chapters and attempt to track how my informants’ cultural production comes to both reflect and actively structure their moral and social worlds. Examining the meanings my informants ascribe to their images as well as the communicative schemata emerging out of their very form. but which places it within the wider debate (and wider anxiety) over ornament in the architectural canon as a whole. the explicitly performative.6 Noviciado Nueve. the social and moral chaos they apparently present will be interpreted as a set of highly framed. As practices which are embedded within such issues as formality. orthopraxic gestures.Preface xxvii P. subsets which will come to reflect two quite distinct politico-aesthetic responses to the city itself. this study will present two central (and eponymous) arguments: In the first section of the book – entitled Ornament – I aim to take very seriously the suggestion by the architectural theorist Jonathan Hill (2006) that ‘[g]raffiti and sgraffito ornament a building’. that graffiti is in fact ‘additive rather than reductive’ (ibid.

employing artefactual case studies and fieldwork vignettes. an aesthetic which is both ornament and order at the same time. . Utilising both ethnographic and critical tools.xxviii Ornament and Order Art as a system of communication and a system of action. it is an aesthetic which both encodes symbolic propositions about the world as well as intends to change the world itself that we will explore. its meaning and its practice I intend on examining within this text.

youtube. Ben Moore (founder of the organization Art Below who had commissioned the work). here order is tricked by an art. Alongside the BBC News crew who appeared to ‘capture the work in progress’. declared the scene to be ‘wonderfully ironic – Classicists are usually seen as being quaint and conservative. the cosmos into a cosmetic.Introduction It transforms order into ornament. Please see http://www. attempting ‘to bring harmony and order to the chaos and confusion’ that pervaded the space (ibid. the architect Francis Terry (son of Prince Charles’s neo-classicist of choice and chief architect for the renovation of 10 Downing Street. . entered the ‘unfamiliar territory of “Banksy’s Tunnel” in London’s Leake Street’ to perform what could quite conceivably appear to have been an April Fool’s hoax (Art Below 2011). 1 What is termed ‘Banksy’s Tunnel’ is the original site of the ‘Can’s Festival’ of 2008. ‘his knowledge of Renaissance ornament and proportion’.1 ‘Using’.com/watch?v=btm6Zq2E9OI for a video of Terry’s installation. Quinlan Terry). Jacques Derrida The actual order of things is precisely what “popular” tactics turn to their own ends […] Though elsewhere it is exploited by a dominant power or simply denied by an ideological discourse.).). Michel de Certeau The Leake Street Classicist On the morning of 1 April 2011. and the graffiti world is the polar opposite but somehow by Francis Terry doing a piece in the tunnel [it] ends up being the most revolutionary act of all’ (ibid. Terry spent the ‘whole day treating the graffitied walls as a classical façade’. as the press release continued.

I.2  The Leake Street Classicist. London. 2011 . England.1 and I.

the ‘revolutionary act’ that Terry provides us with will not only serve as a prime example of the Latourian iconoclash which surrounds the aesthetic we will here be examining – the fact that images are continually involved in the destruction of other images. it will be seen to allude to the inherently ornamental status of all Independent Public Art itself (as equivalently ornamental as Terry’s neo-classical representation). despite their logical distinction. a work produced with the explicit desire (as noted in the BBC interview) to rehabilitate the minds and hearts of the graffiti artists who would encounter it – the painting completed by the Leake Street Classicist will in fact here be seen to be inadvertently illuminating. reinstated what was a manifestly moral3 order within the tunnel. is remarkable’ (Coomaraswamy 1939: 381).2 Terry’s renegade mural (or perhaps his traditionalist trompe l’oeil). women. and.Introduction 3 In its charming hue of (concrete) grey. men. as the philosopher and metaphysician Ananda Coomaraswamy has argued (1939). implicitly fearing) the scopic order that it expunged.: 380). lawless visuality. whether of horses. that ‘a qualified chartered architect has done “a piece” in the Leake Street Tunnel’ (Art Below 2011). It presented a neo-classical critique of what was deemed a pollutive. It will be seen to allude toward the irrevocably intertwined relationship between ornament and order. the words themselves. from Sullivan to Venturi and Scott Brown). as such. an ornamental construction implicitly deriding (and yet. the original basis of Greek architectural terminology. between our material and social worlds. as the press release clarified. acting as the base for ‘wall decorations and monumental polychromy’ (ibid. Not only deeply condescending of course – the first time. toward the phobia and unease that these insurgent ornaments bring forth (and thus the common necessity for their destruction). An Architectonic Public Ornament and order are inextricably linked. secondarily. or speech’ (ibid. an ornament attempting to counter the debauched mayhem that surrounded it. ‘ancient stucco’. This intertwined derivation can be understood to lead to a number of other logical corollaries. “orders” […] the connection between an original “order” and a later 2 As opposed to the polychromatic order which Gottfried Semper (2004 [1863]) suggested that classical architecture was subject to. the binary pairing held within what Jacques Derrida would call a parergonic embrace. the ‘designation of the Doric etc. between ethics and aesthetics. yet that this very destruction only gives rise to yet more of them – but can act as the perfect starting point for our examination of the convolved relationship between ornament and order. as he says. . the binary pairing which will come to frame this work as a whole. being ‘inconceivable apart from painting’. Not only counterparts for thousands of years within the annals of architectural history (from Vitruvius to Alberti. 3 ‘The concurrence here of the laws of art with those of morals. as we will see.: 384). And. are in fact etymologically coupled through the Greek word kosmos: primarily meaning ‘“order” […] with reference to the due order or arrangement of things’. denoting ‘“ornament”.

suitability. rather than to its adornment (ibid. the ‘rich and precise Hellenic language’ connecting adornment to the ‘highest law of nature and world order’. ‘essence’.: 4). intelligibility. prior to the 18th century. additional. through completion. added to their utilities but not essential to their efficacy’. with a view to proper operation. terms that are most often (and most often mistakenly) understood as something ‘adventitious or luxurious. and above all.: 378). was understood to have expressed ‘the fundamental regularity of the universe. naturally giving pleasure to the user (ibid. to beautify it – a ‘matter’.: 380). fitness’).: 298). as Gottfried Semper explained (1856). aram (denoting ‘preparedness. the metaphor of ‘putting one’s hair in order’ – to adorn. I remain more comfortable with the generality of the former statement than the specificity of the latter one. but also on clothing and many other locations’ (ibid. a deep connection between ornament and the creation of a larger. James Trilling (2003) suggests that ornament is ‘decoration in which the visual pleasure of form significantly outweighs the communicative value of content’ (ibid.: 23).: 381–2). of supplementarity. not something produced ‘from an intention to please’. the significance of the term the ‘conferring of an order’ – such as a knighthood. especially of the three-dimensional kind such as we find in architecture. Whilst David Brett (2005) argues that ornament can be understood as ‘applied decoration. must therefore be seen to have originally implied a completion or fulfillment of the artifact or other object in question […] to “decorate” an object or person originally meant to endow the object or person with its or his “necessary accidents”. – or a ‘decoration’ by another name (ibid. communication. and thus proper to it. there is also. As Antoine Picon (2003) has gone on to suggest. […] the aesthetic senses of the words are secondary to their practical connotation. ornament was understood as a ‘reflective emblem. to separate the confusion between the ‘(objective) beauty of order and the (subjectively) pleasant’ (ibid. . ornament. it ‘sprang from necessity’. not something disconnected. working in a parallel modality to both ‘order’ and ‘proportion’. divine harmony. of an innate ‘decorum’ (ibid. but from an intention towards ‘utility’. as he continues. having no ‘connotation of gratuity’. decoration4. Ornamentation. Decoration was thus here conceived as having classically denoted an order of the most literal kind.: 380).: 376). or purely ‘aesthetic’ (in the anaesthetizing sense. What we thus have is a whole host of associations that Coomarawamy teases out in an attempt to disparage the ‘aesthetic’ view of art. an OBE etc. connecting it to the creation of a sacred order (Semper in Mahall and Serbest 2009: 39). orderliness (ibid. whatever was originally necessary for the completion of anything. following Susan Buck-Morss). the link between the Sanskrit term for ornament. its fecundity’ (ibid. his ornamental morality. and its usage in reference ‘to the due ordering of the sacrifice. giving evidence of both the ‘creativity and the beauty of the cosmic order’ (ibid. representing a divinely ordered natural world and the fundamental tenets of 4 The difference between ornamentation and decoration is a slightly thorny issue.: 377). Not only do we have the established etymological links between ornament and order however.: 298). Much like John Ruskin’s ornamental ideal. ability.4 Ornament and Order “ornament”’ (ibid.: 381–2).

beyond its relation to the spiritual or mystical. Going beyond the etymological link between ornament and order . a structured balance amidst the chaos in which it existed. he claims that policia (a term generally related to urban aesthetics but often ‘directly evocative of the political mechanisms by which a state of good government can be attained’ [Escobar 2004: 367]). humankind’s innate need to create harmony fashioned both a material. were the critical concepts emerging within 16th-century Spanish political literature on public space. a particular type of societal structure. Even more significantly perhaps.: 33). through which the ‘close interaction between social and aesthetic hierarchies’ could become visibly manifest (ibid. It generated a state through which visual forms could serve as both signs of. In the context of Madrid. organisms thus ‘developed a sense of order not because their environment was generally orderly but rather because perception requires a framework against which to plot deviations from regularity’ (ibid. make us concentrate. It was considered to be a deeply ethical. social one. [to] set up moments of meditation – and so help us to think and remember’. For Gombrich. concentration’ (ibid. Jesus Escobar’s investigation into the most celebrated and principal public square in the capital.: 122). as a manifestation of ‘divine laws’ – the laws of the ‘Ten Commandments’ rather than those of the ‘five orders’ (Ruskin 1868: 259). in its use within Roman rhetoric. architectonic order. ‘used consistently in the era to give shape to an urban vision of Madrid’ (Escobar 2003: 202). The terms were.: 131–2).: xii). Within his architectonic and historical account of the very fabrication of the city. therefore. an urge to order one’s surroundings. and as Ernst Gombrich famously argued in his seminal work The Sense of Order (1984 [1979]). a compulsion which he believed to be ‘deeply rooted in man’s biological heritage’ (Gombrich 1979: 60): within the struggle for existence. further binds together our key themes of ornament and order. as he reveals. as well as an immaterial. the mind necessitating the formation of an equilibrium between intricacy and simplicity. The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid (2003). ornament thus acted not merely as a ‘frill’ but played the ‘essential role of catching the attention of a reader and orienting his/her cogitative procedures […] acting as a marker on the text’s “surface” of matters that might especially require attention. ornament.: 368]). an ‘emotionally affective’ form of practice which functioned through the ordering of our cognitive procedures (ibid. and ornatto (a term translated ‘as embellishment […] of visual objects as well as speech’ [ibid. and actually engender.Introduction 5 Christian doctrine’ (Schafter 2003: 4). was used to ‘slow us down. what has also been commonly argued is the strength of relationship between ornamentation and our very cognitive ways of being: as Mary Carruthers has suggested (2000). a vision within which their coupling was sustained through an insistence on built form as a mode of bodily regulation. ornament as a literal ‘expression of man’s delight in God’s work’. the key ideologies that imbued the burgeoning planning policies of the emergent capital. By ‘putting the mind in play’. deeply spiritual issue. . on built form as a practice shaping a wider social body. ornament could be seen as a manifestation of a deeply embedded psychological urge to classify and regulate.

3 Eltono. Untitled. 2012 . China. Beijing.I.

5 Often explored through the central presence of the agora (a term literally translated as to gather together or place of assembly) – a site which contained ‘few visual barriers between events occurring at the same time’. however. providing a physical and metaphorical representation of the ‘beneficence of the king’ (ibid. is more correctly equated with a notion of social order that is achieved by a well-organized polity (ibid. the topography of Madrid became permeated with what Escobar (2004) terms the principles of ‘good government’.: 203). It was thus the ‘surfaces and the volume of the agora’ 5 As Josef Chytry has argued however (2004). ‘in 1544.: 102). or chief magistrate of Madrid] writes that demolishing a block of buildings will serve the “ornatto and policia” of the Plaza Mayor. and the ‘cosmic-states’ of ‘classical Hindu–Buddhist kingdoms in south and southeast Asia’ (ibid. as detailed above. a site in which one ‘did not experience physical compartmentalization’ (Sennett 1998: 20) and could thus experience synoikismos (an incorporation of social groups into a cohesive civic union) – this locale is believed to have refined and shaped the potential for free argument and debate within ancient Greek society as a whole. . the Eurocentric obsession with Ancient Greece (that I myself can be seen to be beholden to) eschews many other locations where civic space and civic justice are intertwined. the entangled relationship between ornament and order can be traced back much further in the historical record than the Spanish Renaissance. ‘the use of the term ornatto by sixteenthcentury Spaniards’ – a word. its architectonic ornamentation (such as seen within the ‘uniformity of the architectural elevations in the Plaza Mayor’). as Escobar continues. policia. The very structure of the city. policia and ornatto coming to establish an immaterial social order through a materially formal one. as when Sotomayor [the corregidor.: 204). Through their material enaction. was likewise used to express ‘the pursuit of grandeur. typically denoting decoration and beautification – was in fact equally understood through a ‘sense of creating order as well as embellishing the city’ (ibid. as principles which could both reflect and uphold one another. policia and ornatto functioned quite clearly as two parts of a whole. being an attachment most prominently celebrated during the era of the Greek city-states.: 204). was hence able to advance ‘the Hapsburg ideological message of political order in spatial terms’ (Escobar 2003: 205). Prince Philip argued the importance of opening a new street from the Alcazar to the center of Madrid claiming that “it [serves the] ornatto of this town and [is] a public work”’ (ibid. or authority. a use of the term stressing structural cohesion rather than aggrandizing enhancement. For instance. policia. the Ancient Mexican city-states. Of course. a space which did not simply reflect the democratic ideal. In a similar way.: 369).Introduction 7 As Escobar goes on to explain. Yet when he claims an enlarged bread market will serve the “good governance and policia” of Madrid. able to both substitute and reinforce its accomplice. namely sites such as Islamic Andalusia (al-Andalus). Entirely intermeshed with one other then. but in fact physically enabled its formation. in urban form’: In some instances. understood in more robust terms as civility. the term seems to be equated with a sense of formal order.

thought through.: 126). much more than stanchions for mere reinforcement and stability.6 6 Indeed. rhythmical. a ‘tolerance of difference’ which stimulated citizens ‘to move beyond their personal concerns and acknowledge the presence and needs of others’ (Sennett 1999: 68). further . As Joan B. a centre for mercantile. political. rather than depicting a festal procession as often thought.8 Ornament and Order themselves that fostered the notion of ‘participatory democracy’ (Sennett 1994: 55). This was a location habitually situated on high ground (compared to the flat of the agora). concrete. the very name ‘Parthenon’ can be seen to have emerged not from Athena’s epithet Parthenos.: 45). Contrary to the emphasis placed on rhetoric within the theatres of Ancient Greece. its complementary (or perhaps contrary) zone was that of the acropolis. could be ‘confronted full in the face. architectonic forms standing as ‘trophies of the battle against civil disorder’ (ibid. Following the Renaissance scholar and architect Francesco di Giorgio’s contention that the Greek columns and colonnades contained the remains of enemy prisoners. and contested’ (ibid. it has even been argued that the famous Parthenon frieze. and functional expressions of balance within society as a whole. Whilst the agora provided an open forum for debate. Hersey goes on to discuss the likelihood that living people themselves may have been fastened to the colonnades of the temple as sacrificial donations (ibid.: 125). or the ‘place of the maidens’ (in reference to the sacrificed virgins). decorative forms signifying ‘reconstitutions or reformations of the remains into images of victims’ (ibid. but from the term ‘the maidens’ quarters’. George Hersey. democratic and aristocratic zones. promoting a notion of simultaneity. in the public light of day’. the agora’s open. and judicial affairs in Ancient Greece.: 126). something done for reasons of ‘pure’ beauty. a site that served mainly a militarily defensive and spiritual purpose. in his study The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture (1988). Yet what would seem from a formal sense as something more ostentatious. a more overtly flamboyant model of embellishment. as visually condensed caryatids or telamons. captured warriors being ‘forced into service as architectural supports’ (ibid. The numerous temples which would be positioned amidst the acropolis also used a quite divergent form of ornamental design to that used within the agora. Erechtheus (the key foundation myth of Athena). ornamental devices replicating and reinforcing the strength of the demos. as Andy Merrifield continues (1996).: 107). can in fact be argued to be nothing so (literally) superficial. a geographic division separating human and divine spaces. Connelly has explained (1996). it meant that they could be ‘argued about from different perspectives. The ornamental colonnades within the agora were hence much more than simple load bearing structures.: 58). they were symbolic. orthogonal design and exposed columns meant that society’s troubles. suggests that the ornamentation of Greek temples ‘represented the remains of trophies of sacrifice’. One can then come to understand the freestanding columns prevalent throughout the Ancient Greek and Roman landscape (built to commemorate military victories as well as ancestral justice against treachery) as acting as ‘“hidden” or metaphorical colossal statues wrapped in bindings’ (ibid. in fact portrays the sacrifice of the daughters of the Athenian king. where spectators would passively imbibe the words of a solitary orator.

Italy.4  San (Daniel Muñoz). Catania. Untitled.I. 2010 .

: 76). but as something that effects the very way we think in itself. a site of conflict and debate in which intimations of other worlds can be detected. Ancient Greek society was thus able to develop not simply as ‘a religious culture’. the global uprisings that we have over the last few years in Tahir Square in Cairo and Wall Street in New York. the basic starting point from which I hope to continue this study is now. I hope. at bottom. to both ‘enable and constrain’ it. as she continues. a public formed and informed by its physical milieu (Murphy in Chytry 2004: 85). Both within the agora and the acropolis. the status of ornament not only as something good to think with. the power of the built environment to produce social as much as structural formations.10 Ornament and Order The association between oblation and ornament can hence be grasped to have been implicit within the Ancient Greek era. 7 Even as our contemporary cities megalopolises have come increasingly to be formed and shaped through the power of finance and privatization then (the ‘re-conquest of the city by commodity and capital’ as Erik Swyngedouw and Maria Kaïka term it [2003: 12]) a top down. but to have both ‘agentive and transformative’ abilities (Pinney 2002: 134–5).7 demonstrating. of producing citizens (both spatially and materially) through the physical body of the city. literally ‘teaching or demonstrating via columns’ (ibid. slightly clearer. And the ornamentation of our urban realms will be understood to both evidence and engender a particular order. grasped as a fundamental rudiment of architectural construction. about argument’. To Fix and Unsettle Borders The ground I am trying to set in place. on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis and Puerto del Sol in Madrid. What I want to re-affirm at the very beginning of this work is the power of ornament to not simply reflect but to create order. within Yona Friedman’s Ville Spatiale or Ebenezer Howard’s garden-city in the latter). hegemonic imposition which seeks compliance over defiance. to mould both ‘the production and reception of social discourse’ (Fleming 1998: 147–8). amidst both civil and religious realms. passive rather than active citizens. what Hersey (1988) terms as ‘stylography’. a public connected through an architectural formation of kosmos. can only reinstate the potential of the city to act as a site of resistance. to not simply contain a ‘second-order significance as a mere reflection of some other more important determinant’. it is the power of the material body of the city to effect the material body of the person that I mean to maintain here. as perhaps the key means of creating order. but to reconstruct our understanding of the world itself. Our built environment will therefore be understood ‘not simply to involve argument but to be. the ‘relationship between mythical tombs and historical temples’ (ibid. but as an ‘architectonic public’.: 126). . ornamentation was hence understood as an influential mode of social practice. an ability not only to remodel our physical environment. Whether taking on repressive or emancipative configurations (such as the Haussmannization of Paris or within Jeremy Bentham’s infamous panoptican in the former case.

focusing on a form of architectural appropriation ‘assumed by civil or “informal” actors’. And it is thus an 8 Or what the artist Akay would call the ‘mud-level’. the evolutions which come to embody a ‘different notion of “urbanity” from that which is evident in planned developments’ (Groth and Corijn 2005: 506). a civic practice that functions through the ‘public domain of the street rather than the private realm of a familiar building site’ (ibid. in which pleasure is ‘derived from the mis-use of form’ (Hill 1998a: 48) we will then find a modern practice of epigraphy which is inseparable from the modern polis. they will come to be seen to flow from the same civic essence as many of their more institutional relatives. codes and “laws” of architecture’ (Hill 1998a: 36) that I now aim to follow.: 11). Odessa. both physically ingrained onto its body and enmeshed within its very idea.5  Akim One. I. 2013 . Examining a popular aesthetic practice which comes to insert itself into ‘contested territorialized spaces’ (Spyer 2008: 525). Ukraine.Introduction 11 Through focusing upon the ornamentation and ordering of the city from a grassroots8 rather than institutional standpoint however.: 546). it is the ‘organic evolutions’ that these groups produce that will now be followed. Untitled. a border aesthetic that inhabits a place ‘at authority’s edge’ (ibid. a mode of ‘illegal architecture’. Whilst these practices may be of what at first seems a transgressive nature. Rather than examining the hegemonic impositions of order as undertaken by individuals such as the Terry’s (both father and son). it is a practice which comes to question and subvert ‘the conventions. to contain a set of ethico-aesthetic principles which link to wider notions of the ‘good’ city as well as to the specific complexities of the group dynamic itself. social actors ‘coming from outside the official institutionalised domain of urban planning and urban politics’.

think and dream of difference’ (Harvey 2000: 237). . all their producers will be seen as insurgent architects. who ‘desire.12 Ornament and Order ethnography of a group of ‘insurgent architects’ that will now be undertaken. I will be bypassing this style of practice in order to concentrate on the more habitual material forms which emerge from this aesthetic milieu. an insurgent architecture9 which can come to ‘fix and unsettle borders’ (Spyer 1998: 3).Itso amongst others). and as I will go on to argue in the next chapter. It is an exploration of a literally marginal aesthetic. as all the works discussed here are considered to be architectural ornamentation. a group who attempt to generate ‘alternative visions as to what might be possible’. 9 Whilst there are a number of artists within the Independent Public Art sphere whose work commonly involves the construction of built architecture (such as Akay and Adams & E.B. Nevertheless. a modern form of parietal writing ever present within our contemporary cities and streets.

Part I Ornament .

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Human society would have died out long ago if it were not for the fact that there have always been inspired individuals who were prepared to break the rules. but it is also divine. are all over Madrid. never feeling able to fully explicate why. sepia ink. Manifest traces of his personhood materially covering the world. ‘I just need to do it.1 Ornament The man of our times who daubs the walls with erotic symbols to satisfy an inner urge is a criminal or degenerate […] With children it is a natural phenomenon: their first artistic expression is to scrawl on the walls erotic symbols. These plump.’ he’d say. I just feel this constant need to get back to the street and to bombing … It’s the same feeling I give everything. It is part of our very nature […] If we act in defiance of custom or reinterpret custom to suit our private convenience we commit a crime. surreptitiously inscribing his mark on to the wall. On that account creativity is mad. Adolf Loos [W]e are all of us criminals by instinct. ‘even when I work with bigger institutions. When I think of Nano they’re one of the first things to come to mind. innocent looking cephalopods. or ‘little squids’. spraying the city with their dense. in galleries or inside. . floating around the metropolis. it is criminal. yet all creativity. Not just Madrid in fact. Remnants of himself on the walls of the city. But what is natural to the Papuan and the child is a symptom of degeneration in the modern man. Edmund Leach Los Choquitos y los Carteles Nano’s choquitos. they’re plastered over every place he visits. whether it is the work of the artist or the scholar or even of the politician. contains within it a deep-rooted hostility to the system as it is. An image of him leaning on his bike. a smooth flowing movement of his arm and like magic they appear.

with the shapes and the form of the city. the ink they both use.16 1. On seeing the image I remember feeling a visceral relief. and absolutely everything else. they must be understood as just one aspect of what is an extensive aesthetic arsenal. small scale tags. 2009 Ornament and Order a tag. that at the very least he had been there previously … Nano was always crafting these choquitos. it just seemed like the perfect symbol’. see Schacter 2008.3 1 A stylized written signature generally produced in one colour with a marker or spray paint. complex installations. Always on something. So there they sit.2 It meant simply that he couldn’t be too far off. the dirt. handmade fanzines. Madrid. perhaps the most common element in his public. the battery on my phone had died. Spain. whatever. spatial production. Never for self-promotion. In underground tunnels and on 12th-storey window ledges.1  Nano at work. In doorways and on shop-grills. traditional paintings. his choquitos. ‘I was thinking about the way they both moved around quietly at night. There was a huge choquito I remember seeing the day I arrived to meet Nano in Berlin. ‘like a metaphor for the writer in the street’ he once said. 3 As much as Nano’s choquitos were a key part of his creative oeuvre.1 an installation. In phone boxes and on lampposts. warped sculptures. almost as if I’d seen Nano himself. Always working with the physical medium at hand. the signs. one including large scale murals. I was without a map and only had the address of the warehouse where they were working and some pretty appalling German. painting them everywhere he went. the contours of the surface. a massive bright orange squid spurting black ink all over the walls and the surrounding imagery. 2 For more on these notions of artefactual agency and animacy. Working around the tags. . I was searching for him and Eltono. but for self-expression’. amongst the grime and coarseness of the stone.

2 Nano. Madrid. Untitled (Choquito).1. Spain. 2007 .

only to then spot him lagging behind in a doorway marking up the final arrow or filling in the last bit of ink.3 3TTMan. 2008 .18 Ornament and Order You’d turn around and he would have disappeared. and then an immediate departure from the scene. Spain. a key). A final flourish with the implement at hand (whether a marker. Madrid. Untitled (Carteles) [detail]. a can. 1.

Ornament 19 With 3TTMan4 it’s the carteles that first spring to mind. to turn the carteles into something you can interact with. destabilizing and challenging them. please see the carteles as just one element of 3TTMan’s all-embracing oeuvre. his previous works thus for the most part having been produced on what is termed street-furniture. recycling containers. ‘it doesn’t make sense for me to work there’). uncompromising. an already present canvas to be re-worked in situ. polychromatic collages which he would produce in the very centre of the city. it was considered to be his first ‘successful’ venture in the street. simply for him it did not feel like the right surface for his work. Meant to suggest the manifold possibilities of every situation (or as he describes it. and. Unlike Nano – whose City-Lights project (see Plate 4) had in fact been a huge inspiration for 3TTMan in his search for a new way method of production in the city – 3TTMan disliked working directly on the surface of the city’s walls (‘the stone is good’ he’d say. 3TTMan managed to find a site he felt fully liberated to work upon. but the first project he thought really connected.7 however. it was about working with. ‘I just want to make the people who pass by laugh. it wasn’t a direct form of ‘adbusting’ or ‘culture-jamming’ however. on traffic signs. 4 This pseudonym. and turning it into something you could ‘connect to’. working within deserted building sites. by no means his earliest artistic foray into this arena. 6 And not that this meant he never worked on this particular plane. it works against the dichotomy of good-bad and instead suggests a more equivocal state. On Gran Via. He would thus play with both the words and the imagery. to put some life back into the space’. huge 20-foot-long productions lining the key arteries of the city.6 In coming to use the bill-posters as a site of production.5 these unmissable. trying to make people enjoy rather than just disdain or ignore the posters. working by adding cement to a wall (again always of an abandoned building. the work on the carteles was about taking a form of communication ‘imposed to your eyes’. recently finding ways to work around that specific prohibition. something that you could ‘think about in a more interesting way’. détourning the very materiality of the city. It was thus all ‘about the medium and the location’ for 3TTMan. something outside the field of relationality. It was not simply a project aimed at questioning notions of consumption and consumerism that 3TTMan aimed to produce here. also acts as an almost omnipresent image within 3TTMan’s public work. or one in a state of deep disrepair) and then carving away an image from that newly lain surface (see the image on the front cover as an example). all about playing with what was at hand. concrete bollards and the like. 7 Or ‘postproduction’ as Nicolas Bourriaud (2002) would perhaps term it. of late. on San Bernado. painting upon the temporary breezeblock barriers that were used to prevent access to abandoned buildings. works formed on top of the densely packed palimpsests that were the (semi-legal) bill-posters which consumed nearly every single vacant or neglected edifice in the city. meaning three-headed man (Trois-Tête-Man). For 3TTMan. 5 As previously said with Nano’s choquitos. that he was fully content with. an already present addition to the city. As he once told me. for example. on sheet-metal. It was not that he disliked other forms of illicit visual production that worked directly onto the street. . ‘three ways of thinking in the same body’).

As ‘sgraffito’ (etymologically originating from the Italian graffio. a scraped or scratched wall. Madrid. a ‘little scratch’). or fixed to a secondary surface. being ‘steered by the how in which it transmits . the cacophony. being produced upon.4 3TTMan. alongside the artist MOMO]. insular. these unequivocally spatial works existed within the medium of the street. Eltono’s geometric designs [see Plate 1. private zone) nor within a detached white cube (within the ‘disinterested’. scraped onto previously constructed forms. Remed’s mystical murals [see Plate 5]. the very concreteness of the city’s walls. not presented on a discrete tabula rasa (formed from scratch. They thus exist as a literal mura rasa. these works thus comply quite succinctly with the first part of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ornament.20 1. They were not created within a separated studio space (within a disconnected. functioning as an ‘accessory or adjunct’ – a secondary element on a primary surface. by their innate status. these objects can only be truly apprehended in connection to what they were scratched upon. within. for that matter. These material acts were engraved onto the very surface of the city. always. Untitled (Carteles). an auxiliary element on a customarily architectural plane. amidst the dirt. And. or Spok’s multilayered street tags [see Plate 8]). the ‘what’ of the image (in this case either Nano’s choquitos or 3TTMan’s collages). in this way. Spain. They were not produced on a neutral surface (on a pristine canvas or from moulded clay). passive milieu of the gallery). 2010 Ornament and Order Adjunctive and Decorative Be it Nano’s choquitos or 3TTMan’s work on the carteles (or. or ex nihilo).

an abstract poster (see Figure 1. a material sensuousness and playfulness which may act as a marker of ‘social recognition. however. the enchantment that both the production and consumption of images provide. or a calligraphic message on a wall – all of these forms of cultural production were created within a complex tradition of visual dexterity and physical skill. subsidiary nature. scale. activated though the ‘how’ of the city itself. 8 Not in the scopophilic sense meant by Laura Mulvey (1975). Nano’s City-Lights project [see Plate 4]. These ‘sgraffitos’ (whether the most elementary tag or the most complex mural. Even if they were constituents that these practitioners sought to establish only so as to later defile. Consequently. be it again Nano’s choquitos or 3TTMan’s carteles (or for that matter 3TTMan’s further work on concrete [see front cover]. these artefacts embraced the captivation and gratification that the figural admits. they are works which only exist through the body of a secondary medium and are hence steered. Oc and Tiesdell 1999: 3) – elements understood as the key principles of decorative production – were fundamental to these particular designs. perceptual satisfaction. Throw-ups are two colour tags (a fill-in and outline) in which the artists’ name is commonly contracted to two letters – Neko becoming KO.9 an acid etching (see Figure 1. if they were used to form a contrast to. proportion.: 22) – can thus here be seen to be exactly borne out. these now unambiguously adjunctive artefacts all functioned within the sphere of the decorative. contrast. 10 A tag or design produced onto glass with the use of an acid solution or paint stripper.8 Working thorough both a ‘public’ and yet simultaneously ‘intimate’ form of visual pleasure. Whether in their most overtly aggressive or ‘vandalistic’ form – such as a throw-up. Eltono’s confetti graffiti [see Plate 2]. within the realm of what Brett (2005) has termed ‘visual pleasure’. containing a quite defined notion of aesthetic value and beauty at their core (even if a naturally subjective notion of beauty of course). balance and rhythm’ (Moughtin. or a coherence with their architectural surround. the ‘act of putting something on something else’ – rather than a term attempting to describe the specific ‘nature of what is put’ (ibid. the basic structure of all the public works my informants produced could only become visible through working with and through these underlying decorative principles.10 or a ‘keyed’ insignia – or in their most apparently amicable or ‘decorative’ state – such as an elaborate mural. Jaime JA for example. as Oleg Grabar has suggested (1992). comedic murals [see Plate 7]).6). Remed’s polychromatic calligraphy [see Plate 6]. Qualities such as ‘order or unity. Furthermore. principles which formed distinct styles irrelevant of their perceived aesthetic acceptability. of the beautiful. psychological reward [or] erotic delight’ (Brett 2005: 4). through their being scored onto an architectural body (in the former case) or a palimpsestic commercial residue (in the latter). 9 . or Spok’s futuristic. To ornament. are all material forms placed upon supplementary surfaces.Ornament 21 its message’ (Belting 2005: 304). what I will first be arguing within this chapter is that all my informant’s public aesthetic production must be understood to be fundamentally ornamental in this adjunctive sense. basic tenets which determined their latter formation. whether a kinetic installation or a wheat-paste poster). and must therefore be primarily understood through their additional.5).

. one can find an almost perfect coherence between this notional pollution and what is deemed as more classical calligraphy.22 Ornament and Order 1. contrast. through both practices attempt to supplement and embellish standardised typography – these two forms of “beautiful writing” (in their Greek etymology) can be seen to be fundamentally indistinguishable. qualities meant to enliven the objects on which they appeared. we can see how this oft described scribbled mess. this being the commonplace practice of tagging. is in fact a doubly ornamental practice. proportion. through the linguistic discourse and legendary masters that both groupings contain. And what I will thus secondly argue within this chapter is that the material practices described above were all produced specifically to ‘decorate. the fact that the work of the neophyte and the expert is equivalently available to public view. 78–86. Madrid. this supposed territorial pissing. balance and rhythm that are paramount in the production of every example (as we will see specifically in our case studies on pp. meaningful. affective and complete’ (Brett 2005: 64). and thus all comply quite faithfully with the second half of the OED’s definition of ornament. scale. Whilst its negative appreciation may be due to the innate lack of curatorial delimitation within Independent Public Art. Emerging through both their formal as well as conceptual nature – through the crucial elements of unity. adorn.5 Neko. embellish [and/or] beautify’ their surfaces. Spain. 115–26). 2010 These were decorative criteria meant to make the object ‘selectable. Untitled [Acid Etching in process – etchings also visible in surround]. If we very briefly explore one of the most prominent examples of Independent Public Art then (and one often thought of as the most artless or ‘lowest’ by those outside of the discourse itself ).

England. London.6 Momo.1. Untitled. 2008 .

1.7 Katsu. USA. functions both as an image of a skull whilst also containing the word ‘tag’ hidden within it . Katsu’s figurative icon. New York. produced in one pure movement. Untitled. 2011.

8 Spok. the ‘what’ of the image – the written name – guided through both the ‘how’ of the letter as well as the ‘how’ of the city itself. 2007 Yet as earlier suggested. supplementing the word and the wall. It is thus doubly ornamental.Ornament 25 1. Madrid. an . as Grabar (1992) suggests almost all calligraphy is. And even though often deemed ‘incomprehensible’. Spain. Untitled. it can so too be seen to be acting adjunctively upon its architectural surround as much as the word. these written texts can thus come to ‘elicit a very special response from viewers’. embellishing typography and architecture. tagging can not only be seen to be ornamental through its status as an adjunct and adornment of the letter form.

the renowned British artist Tom Phillips has claimed (in his ‘treatise’ on the subject). The most recent of these is the work.12 This ornamental condition will not only 11 Grabar’s description of calligraphy (1992) can in fact be seen as a perfect description of tagging: ‘Letters can be modified. as an accessory and an embellishment to a secondary structure. And this.: 58–9) culminating either in pleasure or disdain. at the very least. as an adjunctive and decorative aesthetic. even probably representations are transmitted. extended.: 4). the perfect examples of the ‘applied decoration’ that Brett argues is the essence of ornament (ibid. these illicit artefacts are both decorative and adjunctive. dots and diacritical marks float around letters rather than help fix their specificity […] while “correct” orthography is frequently violated for the sake of the composition’ (ibid. signs. let’s say. forms of embellishment upon an ancillary plane. people like that. I hope. the linkage between decoration. 12 This connection between ornament and graffiti is also supported by a number of other theorists. and on the walls inside we have what we call “ornamental graffiti”. There’s a tradition of classical buildings having words on their façades’. I would strongly argue. fully born out within this chapter. and hence objects with a fundamental ornamental status. they are accessories to a primary surface. tonality.11 Not only tagging but all the illicit artefacts that are to be discussed within this text are thus. Phillips judicious and provocative hypothesis (perhaps unsurprising from an artist who has often worked within the public sphere) will be. shortened. the pleasure of the aficionado or the disdain of the authorities (yet either response being a successful one of course). [and] colour’ (Phillips 2003). markings which act to transmit both ethical and aesthetic values. so too tagging must be seen in the same way. that ‘Ornament cannot die. Woodrow Wilson. xxvii. line. That’s a form of graffiti that’s valid. disposition. There cannot be a more consummate elucidation of the richness of tagging than this. .26 Ornament and Order ‘emotional or psychological reaction’ (ibid. Just as calligraphy is understood as one of the archetypal forms of ornament. a proposition which will simultaneously order and enrich the rest of this work itself: whether constructive or destructive. the Frist Campus Center. In more overtly supportive terms. They are ornaments which function as intermediaries through which ‘messages. ornamentation and graffiti is made quite clear. looped. These are sayings by famous Princeton graduates – John Adams. thickened. It invents new projects and can spring up in unexpected areas. the architect Robert Venturi (2004) has also suggested that ‘graffiti on ordinary – or. Whilst I have noted Jonathan Hill’s argument on p. is perhaps the key proposition that I aim to make within this work as a whole. Whilst Venturi does not explain exactly why this ‘ornamental graffiti’ is more ‘valid’ than traditional graffiti (and I suspect he would backtrack from these plainly reactionary comments if pressed). often ephemeral. in fact. They are decorative markings working through what Tom Phillips sees as the elementary foundations of all ornament: ‘form. symbols. “generic” buildings – can be richly decorative […] We finished a campus center at Princeton. in order to be most effectively communicated’ (Grabar 1992: 227).: 106). Without reward (and often at the risk of the opposite) these prove the imperative of ornament for ornament’s sake […] The use of calligraphy in ornament is as old as writing itself and the graffiti artists of the late 20th century especially in New York brought calligraphic expression to a new height comparable with the best of Islamic letter-based art or mediaeval illumination’. material. or. consciously or not. of graffiti artists.

and a fondness for sweets’ (Brett 2005: 6). it will also come to expose many of the reasons behind the anxiety and fear these artefacts so often invoke. The Principle Part of Architecture? The basic drive. More akin to performance art. binary distinctions. and now hackneyed themes so oft brought up in their discussion. for example. his material making of the world. was thus believed to be a physical illustration of otherwise concealed social arrangements. the human need to decorate (as amply demonstrated by my informants. both remedy and poison. rather than the product of graffiti that is the main focus of the work.Ornament 27 be argued to function for almost every single manifestation of Independent Public Art however. Riegl claimed that man’s relationship to his sensible surroundings. can be seen as an imperative common to man throughout history.14 Termed Kunstwollen by Alois Riegl. this compulsion was understood as the ‘cognitive and psychological drive to give form to sensible material’. Decorative production (such as architectonic ornamentation). making metaphors. the intractable imbroglio between ‘ornamentia’ and ‘ornaphobia’ as Frank Lloyd Wright put it (2005 [1932]: 348). did not simply develop as a consequence of brute mechanical might or utilitarian technical solutions but instead indicated the presence of a greater ‘cultural force’. 14 In fact Donald Brown includes the decoration of artefacts as one of his six ‘human universals’ alongside ‘gossip. the term ‘addiction’ being the most commonly used expression). one could argue that this form of bodily performance itself is ornamental: as a performance produced within and upon the body of the city (as Wermke and Leinkauf’s urban explorations can be seen to be). produce projects in which it is the feeling.13 to serve to remove these practices from many of the traditional. usually translated from the German as artistic will or will to form. there is often no artefactual residue and no ornament as such. they could be seen as highly ephemeral ornamental acts in which the body itself acts to ornament the city. its ornamental condition being both a cure and a curse. lying. the ‘overall characteristics which make-up a given work’s identity’ being both as much a ‘product of a specific cultural or historical trend’ as a ‘portrayal of the cumulative self-consciousness of that society’ (Ostrow 2001: 8). Though critics such as Erwin Panofsky claimed that Riegl’s methodology was in fact ‘untenable in the face of 13 Only in very rare cases is Independent Public Art not ornamental: the German duo Wermke and Leinkauf. What we must now briefly examine is thus the tortuous history and complex status of architectural ornamentation itself. However. a drive through which ‘three dimensional items or states of affairs are projected in a two-dimensional plane on the basis of inscriptions or marks that resemble those kinds of items or states of affairs’ (Crowther 2002: 140). Rejecting formal aesthetic hierarchies and focusing on traditionally low forms of art such as folk-art and craftwork. performances which would mean nothing without the city. . a still existent battle whose exploration will give us a clearer understanding of both the entrenched potential and perception of Independent Public Art today.

‘regressive’. that decoration was ‘primitive’. They may regard the reality of the person as on the surface where it can be seen and kept “honest” because it is where the person is revealed. but as to whether or not this compulsion could be deemed culturally or aesthetically acceptable within the modern age.: 30). he insisted (in what we could in fact say was more ornate terms than others had used). quoting Gombrich. not because of any questioning of the drive itself. cultural. our depth ontology is viewed as false. whether to ornament was moral or criminal. purity or danger. then. and structural characteristics of any given object (not only high art but any form of craft) from any time with the broader cultural aesthetics of its time’ (ibid. yet this has not stopped its re-emergence and the attendant renewal of its vilification within contemporary architectural practice. the very conception of superficiality showing only insincere or inconsequential realities is not a clear-cut one: ‘as Strathern (1979) argued for Mount Hagen […] and I have argued for Trinidad (1995) other people simply don’t see the world this way.15 Riegl’s great accomplishment (as equally acknowledged by Gombrich) was to give significance back to ‘superficial’16 ornament and decoration. the ‘aesthetic 15 As Jaś Elsner notes (2006). and still is. Regardless of these critiques. in which the Kunstwollen becomes a ghost in the machine. since for them it is obvious that deep inside is the place of deception’ (ibid. Riegl’s famous claim that ‘the urge to decorate […] is one of the most elementary of human drives’ (1992 [1893]: 31) was. and determinism that Gombrich saw lurking in the “mythmaking” and “mythological explanations”.: 762).: 25]).: 763). to enable a ‘bridging’ of the ‘aesthetic.: 750). Whilst John Ruskin famously claimed that ornamentation was ‘the principal part of architecture’ (1899 [1853]): 89). in his infamous essay Ornament and Crime (2002 [1908]).28 Ornament and Order any kind of reductive analytic logic’ (Elsner 2006: 760). Adolf Loos. ornament was seen to be a pivotal tool for reflecting the ‘spirit of a culture’ (Sloboda 2008: 230). Yet this acceptance did not stop it from also being a highly contentious pronouncement within the modernist era. ‘excrement’. claiming that with the return to prominence of ‘design’ (a quality that is ‘all image and no interiority’ [ibid. argued conflictingly (or perhaps. yet for the adherents of the International Style. For the followers of the South Kensington School. The eventual victors in this modernist struggle over ornament are (ostensibly) clear to see. By contrast. as Loos basely put it. that ‘the evolution of culture’ was in fact ‘synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from objects of everyday use’ (ibid. the inclination toward decoration was. Ernst Gombrich going as far as to warn of ‘the ideological potential for determinism and collectivism implicit in Kunstwollen’ (ibid. collectivism. ‘in many ways the whole of Art and Illusion is a sustained Popperian attack on all the implications of evolutionism. correspondingly). a widely accepted contention. forming a new style of sgraffito embellishment in ‘direct critique of Loos’ unadorned modernism’ (Hill 2006: 177). Thus while architects such as Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have attempted a contemporary ornamental renewal. a manifestation of what he termed ‘divine laws’ (Ruskin 1868: 259). more correctly. that ‘breaking oneself of this habit was as necessary as toilet training’ (Buck-Morss 1995: 14). . 16 As Daniel Miller has illustrated (2005). the art critic and historian Hal Foster has reengaged with the Loosian perspective (2002). historicism.: 32). driving the wheels of artistic developments according to “inexorable laws”’ (ibid.

no matter how strongly one wants to get rid of them’ (ibid. being both crime and custom. come to achieve this entirely befuddled status? What truly is it about ornament that has made it such a divisive concept? A Mania.Ornament 29 and the utilitarian’ has become ‘not only conflated’ (as within Art Nouveau).: 16). something that can be. a particular era. one is troubled by an action for which there is no way to know. atonement’ that images have so often come to provoke. the ‘semi-autonomy of architecture and art’ sacrificed to its manipulations (ibid. Ornament can thus quite clearly be seen to present us with the archetypal example of what Bruno Latour (2002) has termed an iconoclash. A Tedious Repetition Whilst we have seen in our introduction how ornamentation was used in Madrid to create a specific form of social order. the state in which despite their common removal.: 15). practically anything (as long as it is both adjunctive and decorative). or a particular style. without further enquiry. the endless cycle of ‘fascination. deviance and divine. a specific type of Spanish citizen.: 17–18). destruction. whether it is destructive or constructive’ (ibid. It can be seen to stand directly at the point where one ‘does not know. repulsion.9 Image destruction or ‘buffing’ in Madrid. in effect. this entity that cannot even be defined by a particular object. Yet how did this seemingly innocuous appendage. how it was used in ancient Greece to emphasize and communicate both cosmological 1. one hesitates. but ‘subsumed in the commercial’. 2010 . ‘they always return again.

Humanity was thus made to ‘groan under the slavery of ornament’ (ibid. trappings tending to ‘divorce the system of ornament from the system of construction’ (Goodyear 1894: 68). He argued that even Alberti and Filarete paid scant attention to the original terms used in Vitruvius’s18 analysis of the origins of the orders and the meanings of ornament within the Ancient Greek system.: 67). and what emerged was thus a ‘colder and more mechanical execution of decorative details’ (ibid. the ‘simulated entablature and pediment’ used within the ‘decadence’ of Renaissance architecture.: 2). a tedious repetition. that ‘the results were nonsense’ (Hersey 1988: 77).30 Ornament and Order and sociological meaning. was steeped in Greek culture: ‘For though he is so often called Roman and linked to Augustus. being for ‘people and nations who have not reached [our] level’ (ibid. without claiming or showing the higher refinement of the Greeks’ (ibid. Taking this argument even further. its latter-day usages were understood by many late 19th-century critics (William Goodyear17 here serving as a paradigmatic example) as mere ‘empty’ decorative effects. representing ‘backwardness or even a degenerative tendency’ (Loos 2002 [1908]: 32).: 30). architects and artists continued to exploit the ‘ritual complexities of classicism even after all consciousness of sacrificial meaning has ebbed away’ (ibid. Hersey in fact suggested that in many of the translations of architectural treatises undertaken in the early part of the quattrocento ‘Greek words were manhandled or else omitted entirely’. even though living during the Roman era. ‘more anxious’.: 75). Whereas the Romans were understood to have ‘built sensibly and artistically. there was believed to have been ‘no bound to the license of arbitrary forms and lines’. obliterated the ‘general correspondence between form and use’. the outcome of which.: 35). ornamental ‘orderliness’ without true order.: 68). made to groan under a form which did ‘immense 17 Goodyear was entitled ‘America’s first art historian’ in his 1926 entry in the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. the master of structure in constant threat from its subaltern adjunct.: 69). 18 Hersey argues that Vitruvius. The Renaissance reconstruction of classical Greek architecture and ornament in particular was hence understood to have created a ‘more formal and rigid application of the “Orders” to wall surfaces’. then. . Nor does he cease to remind us that his culture is Greek’ (Hersey 1988: 3). Goodyear conclusively declared. as he remarks.: 79). Vitruvius was trained in a Hellenistic tradition carried on in the name of Hermogenes. Yet it was not only neo-classical ornament which necessitated expulsion during the modernist era however. In Hersey’s denunciatory summation. the ‘“engaged” columns’. despite the fact. For Loos and his many followers decorative form in its entirety was ripe for extinction. creating a ‘more fretful’. the Greek revival aesthetic becoming superficial ornamentation in the worst sense of the term: it was simply form without function. the meaning of which gave ornament its ability to mediate and resolve both ancestral and contemporaneous societal discord (ibid. both of them further omitting his (for Hersey vital) accounts of ‘the legends of the Caryaen women and the Persian captives’ (ibid.: 69). a mechanical and life-less formula’ (ibid. was considered to have been ‘a mania. Once the separation of structural and ornamental systems had ensued. ‘less suggestive’ form of architecture (ibid.

superior eye of course). whilst he seemed to espouse a form of architectural social Darwinism which led onwards and upwards to the pure and unadorned. Decorative form was thus. from the ‘spontaneous’ patterns of stone (ibid.: 136). surface pattern and motifs emerging from the expensive and rarified materials themselves. a creation of a (seemingly oxymoronic) ‘modernist ornament’ (ibid. innately feminine. which gave it ‘a completely new character and direction for the twentieth century’ (ibid. Famously differentiating between what they termed ‘decorated sheds’ (in which ‘systems of space and structure are directly at the service of program. an ornament which ‘we could pretend was no ornament at all’ (ibid. an ornament ‘without images. he can in fact be understood to have been more concerned to discipline. ‘the creation of another. Loos yearned for a return to an exclusive conservatism which upheld difference ‘through the display of fine distinctions’. a ‘surface’. rather than truly rid himself of ornament. staid fashion of the ‘English gentleman’ then. ‘wasted material’. as opposed to the transient and colourful fashion of women or dandies.: 33). It was.: 136). a construction of a surrogate ornament. an ornament cloaked ‘in a diatribe against ornament itself’. what Loos required was a restrained ornament.: 114). However whilst Loos presents us with an ostensibly functionalist argument. as Trilling continues. a ‘fetish’. a reinvention. Brown and Izenour make a similar point (1972). a contravention of the desired order. It was a fetish that ‘one must be free of in order to be enlightened’ (Foster 2004: 79). ornamentation being both ‘wasted manpower’. Surfacing directly from the natural materials themselves.: 212). It was not that ornament was inherently depraved. .: 211). as James Trilling has noted (2003).: 134). if not constructing.: 1014). identity’ (Wigley 1993: 35). matter out of place. as Boris Groys has termed it (2010). a symbolic appearance of dirt (Douglas 1966). and ‘wasted capital’ (ibid. the abstract ‘veining of marble’ (ibid. working as an ‘elaborate method for concealing and preserving.: 129). irrefutably. motifs. patterns.: 211). as Mark Wigley (1992) continues (in a perceptive critique of David Harvey’s condemnation of ornament in The Condition of Postmodernity). Loos’s ornament was hence a decorated austerity. that ‘convolutes the distinction between structure and ornament’ (ibid.: 26). revelatory layer of ornament … [which] guarantees the unity of the ethical and the aesthetic that Loos sought’ (ibid.: 222). It was. Embracing the subtle. a ‘cultural hokum of the very highest order’ (ibid. one that would be led by an aristocratic. an ornament. but simply that it moved too fast. rather than bourgeois force (Stewart 2000). hurried fashions of the time (Wigley 1993). the decorative ‘grain of wood’. Venturi. one which would free architecture from the ‘ephemeral’. He desired an ornament so refined that it could almost be seen to have disappeared entirely. or history’. It was a recoding of ornament.: 31). an architecture of ornament. noting that the censure and denunciation of ornament by Modernist practitioners was simply a denial ‘in theory’ of what ‘they were doing in practice’ (ibid. The vehement condemnation of ornament by modernist practitioners can hence be seen to have been a disguise for its almost inconspicuous application (to all but the most discerning.Ornament 31 damage and devastation’ to our ‘aesthetic development’ (ibid. ‘a feat of self-deception that shapes our visual culture to this day’ (ibid. ‘wasted health’. through a display of ‘nonconspicuous “conspicuous consumption”’ (ibid.

conditional. were thus understood to act as indexes of their producer’s agency. then. as now seems the case. Tactile Adhesiveness If. 19 As Brett has argued (2005). it can be understood to have survived and prospered. . emphasis added).: 21). As a ‘social technology’. in order to ‘mediate social agency back and forth within the social field’ (ibid.: 81). what is it that creates the anxiety that so palpably surrounds the ornamental discourse? What is it that makes ornament so irrepressible.: 82. as a method of binding persons through the transference of agentic objects (a continually imbalanced transference which can never be completed). a disavowal of its implicit ornamentality. to be ‘fragments of “primary” intentional agents in their “secondary” artefactual form’ (ibid.: 81–2). a hopeless plea. And Loos’s very own structures could therefore be appreciated as the very ‘decoration it thought it had thrown out’ (Brett 2005: 12).: 87]) and ‘ornamental ducks’ (a ‘kind of building-becoming-structure’. the models thus fitting to the modern (the former) and postmodern (the latter) stereotype of design. IT WILL BREAK OUT. Whilst the ‘most committed aesthetes are far from keen on riotous decoration’ then. The Long Island Duckling’ [ibid.: 87]).: 208). and likewise ornamental artefacts. ‘even in the face of aesthetic condemnation from on high. Art objects. an attachment bound through the social complexity of these artefacts. Venturi et al. because it is socially efficacious’ (ibid.: 89). claimed that the duck ‘is the special building that is a symbol’. centres on the notion of artefactual agency. decorative technologies were thought to act in an entirely analogous way. in the shed. They were seen by Gell to behave in many quite logical ways as the person who formed them (as he explains through examples as diverse as anti-personnel mines and the oeuvre of Marcel Duchamp). so tenacious even in the face of its abhorrence?19 The answer. for Alfred Gell (1998) at least.32 Ornament and Order and ornament is applied independently of them’ [ibid. they were the ducks in which the entire structure was ornament. Just as Maussian gifts can be understood as physical traces of persons then. their decorated shed ‘the conventional shelter that applies symbols’ (ibid.: 74). The denial of ornament in the modernist era – whether through its perceived falsity or degeneracy – could hence be seen as a denial of the true status of the architecture that it inspired. in which the architectural system is ‘submerged and distorted by an overall symbolic form’ – a form named ‘in honor of the duck-shaped drive-in. surface decoration was believed to encourage and sustain the ‘motivations necessitated by social life’ through producing a vigorous ‘attachment between persons and things’ (ibid. COME WHAT MAY’ (ibid. Within the duck. ‘the impulse to decorate and to find sensuous pleasure in materials cannot be denied. actors compelled to ‘load surfaces with decoration’ in order to ‘draw persons into worldly projects’. structure and ornament were fused. ‘vehicles’ of their ‘personhood’ (ibid. the rejection of ornament solely leads to the production of a new style of applied decoration (the iconoclash par excellence).



Akin to Semper’s suggestion that by ‘adorning anything, be it alive or inanimate,
I bestow upon it the right of individual life’ (Semper in Collins 1998: 124), the
agency of the ornament is grasped by Gell to be innately held, figured through
its web like patterns, its webs of relationality.
Not only materializing through its indexical status however, decorative efficacy
was further understood to emerge through the ‘pleasurable frustration’ of our being
trapped within a rhythmic surface (Gell 1998: 80), the ‘mazy dance in which our
eyes become readily lost’ (ibid.: 76). The complex animation of a decorative design
functioned as what he termed a ‘mind trap’, a technology of enchantment which
blocks our process of pattern reconstruction, leading us to be ‘drawn into the pattern
and held inside it, impaled, as it were, on its bristling hooks and spines’ (ibid.: 76).
Pattern thus works to make objects ‘come alive in a non-representational way’
(ibid.: 76), our captivation and fascination forming through our inability to ‘mentally
rehearse’ their productive origins, our inability to ‘follow the sequence of steps in the
artist’s “performance”’ (ibid.: 81) and the difficulty we have in grasping the geometrical
or performative genesis of a complex pattern through mere ‘visual inspection’. Our
inability to untangle them thus forms what Gell terms ‘unfinished business’, a ‘delay,
or lag, between transactions’ meaning the object is ‘never fully possessed’ but always
‘in the process of becoming possessed’ (ibid.: 80–81 my emphasis). It forms an uneven
exchange in which the viewer is forever entangled in its materiality, ‘hooked, or stuck’

1.10  The agency
of the image.
Madrid ‘window’
of fame, 2010.
Image includes
tags by Buni, Hear
(Alone), Ring,
Spok, Nano4184,
Neko, Dier, Remed,
Shit, Garr (Garrulo
– Koas), Parse,
Suee, Til, Tonk, Los
del rodillo, and
unknown others


Ornament and Order

within its body (ibid.: 81–2), a quality not only meaning that it remains out of our
grasp, but that it forms an inexhaustible bond between index and recipient, object
and beholder. Just to ‘look at decoration’, as Wigley continues (2011), is thus ‘to be
absorbed by it. Vision itself is swallowed by the sensuous surface’ (ibid.: 132). Merely
resting our eyes on the ornament is a profound danger (as Gell discusses at length in
terms of apotropaic art), us being caught within the material residue of performance,
in the literal animation of the image, captivated by its magical power.
This Gellian way of comprehending patterned form can, I believe, start to explain
the deeply phobic, deeply iconoclastic attitude so often displayed toward ornament,
the iconoclastic attitude revealed not only towards Art Nouveau and the decorative,
rather than fine arts, but that displayed toward the illegal ornaments here described.
It is their deeply agentic quality, this attachment in which ‘persons or “social agents”
come to be “substituted for by art objects”’ (Gell 1998: 5), which comes to exacerbate
their fear, this individuation, the ‘biographical relation’ created between ‘decorated
index’ and ‘recipient’ (ibid.: 80), which becomes the very cause of the contamination
they generate. The phalérophobie of the Modernists (as well as the anti-graffiti
authorities) is thus directly correlated to the stigma of personhood each sign elicits,
their status as in some way alive. As discussed at length in Schacter (2008), the way
both producers and consumers understand these images, the metaphors used as
well as the reactions prompted, consistently return to notions of agency, to the
living quality of these supposedly inanimate objects. And that the word ‘tacky’, as
Gell continues, was chosen by ‘severe modernism to condemn the popular taste
for riotous ornament and other lapses of taste’, can hence be seen to be rather
interesting in itself, ‘tactile adhesiveness’ (as he narrates following Mary Douglas),
being something which attacks the ‘body/world boundary’ (ibid.: 82–3), which
contains a viscosity, an adhesion, literally attaching the material world to ourselves.
Ornamentation, as Grabar has similarly argued (1992), cannot therefore simply be
understood as a ‘category of forms or of techniques applied to some media’ but is
rather an ‘unenunciated but almost necessary manner of compelling a relationship
between objects or works of art and viewers and users’ (ibid.: 230), a relationship
established through what he has elsewhere termed their ‘demonic’ power. And it
is this agency which thus necessitates the fear that surrounds it, that necessitates
its removal; it is the ‘wanton subjectivism’ (Foster 2002: 17) of these artefacts which
lays at the centre of this ornaphobia. Loos’s utopia (and, concomitantly, the utopia of
the anti-graffiti authorities) would have streets which would ‘glisten like white walls’
(ibid.: 77), streets devoid of all smearing, all tattooing, all sgraffito, all selfhood; theirs
would be a city devoid of the embedded social relations that ornament contains, a
state of total ‘white-out’ (Wigley 1993).
The unease and angst that emerges at the sighting of Independent Public Art,
of commonly found examples of graffiti and street-art, can hence be understood to
emerge not simply through their contravention of legal codes; it can be understood
to emerge through their providing evidence of an embedded form of sociality,
expressing the evident ‘personhood’ of their producers, eliciting an evidentially
animative quality. Through ‘tattooing walls’, as Jean Baudrillard remarked (1993
[1976]), graffiti ‘free[s] them from architecture and turn[s] them once again into living,
social matter’ (ibid.: 36); it turns each tag, each poster, each mural, each marking in the
city into a material substantiation of an individual, a personhood revivifying a physical



space, an animative relationship set in an indefinite process of consummation.
The decorative nature of ornament, the ‘what’ of the image, can thus be seen to be
as powerful as it is pollutive, to have an ability to attack and repel in quite equal
measure. It can be seen to trap and captivate its recipients, to draw them into their
world irrespective of their desires.

The No-Place of Abjection
Not only due to its ‘falsity’ however, its defilement of the pure or its ‘sticky’ personhood,
ornament’s anxiety-producing status can be understood to emerge through its
confusing status in physical terms (explicitly confusingly, from its Latin root confundere
to ‘mingle together’), its placement both attached and detached from the integrity of
its ‘primary’ structure. As an archetypal example of a parergon – a Greek term whose
literal meaning is ‘beside, or additional’ to the ‘work’ (famously illustrated by Kant by
the frame of a painting, but also by clothing or architectural columns), yet a word
which Jacques Derrida (1987) has explained must always be understood through its
integral relation rather than separation to its ergon – ornament can be seen to be
‘neither inside or outside, neither above nor below’ (ibid.: 9), to have a ‘thickness’
separating it from the constitutive and the peripheral in the same moment:
The natural site chosen for the erection of a temple is obviously not a parergon.
Nor is an artificial site: neither the square, nor the church, nor the museum, nor
the other surrounding works. But drapery or the column, yes. Why? Not because
they are easily detached; on the contrary, they are very difficult to detach.
Without them, without their quasidetachment, the lack within the work would

1.11  The image
as mind trap.
Revok, Untitled, Los
Angeles, USA, 2010


Ornament and Order

appear or, what amounts to the same, would not appear. It is not simply their
exteriority that constitutes them as parerga, but the internal structural link by
which they are inseparable from a lack within the ergon. And this lack makes
for the very unity of the ergon. Without it, the ergon would have no need of a
parergon. The lack of the ergon is the lack of a parergon, of drapery or columns
which nevertheless remain exterior to it (Derrida 1979: 24).

It is this quasidetachment as Derrida terms it, the inherent impossibility of
disengagement that makes the parergon so fascinating, so elusive, its positionality
meaning that it acts not only as the supplement, but also as the surplus that exposes
the lack within the interior, the innate fissure within its adjunctive partner. Ornament,
in accordance with the general principle of supplementarity (as explained by Derrida
in Of Grammatology [1998 (1967)]), thus comes to reveal its inbuilt, irreconcilable
double-bind, its status as both replacement and addition, exposing both the
shortcomings of the whole as well as the natural deficiencies of its own form. This,
then, is its inherent paradox, ornaments status, as Mark Wigley (1992) has suggested,
as something that ‘destabilizes the very structure that it at once supplements and
makes possible’ (ibid.: 1014), its ability to disrupt what previously seemed to be the
clear distinction between ergon and parergon, structure and ornament. Much like a
tattoo then (an artefact ‘explicitly presented as the ur-ornament’ by Riegl [Canales
and Herscher 2005: 246], as well as one directly related to graffiti by Baudrillard
[1993 (1976)] and Fleming [1998] amongst others), we can see ornament as both on
the body (metaphorically and physically) and at the same time external to it, integral
to the structure whilst simultaneously extraneous. Yet, if it is separated or detached,
it no longer remains what we understand it to be; the structure, the body, must be
destroyed. ‘Lodged on the border between inside and outside, the tattoo’, as Juliet
Fleming notes (2001), ‘occupies the no-place of abjection’ (ibid.: 84); like ornament
(and like, as she contends, medieval graffiti), it is a ‘creature of’, as it is a ‘disturbance
to’, its very surface (ibid.: 85), a substance that is both in and out of place, included
and excluded, within and without, a substance that can in fact be defined not by its
materiality, but by the inherent difficulty of identifying its boundaries.20
Ornament can hence only ever be understood through the relationship to its
‘other’, it can only ever be seen as the ‘outsider that “always already” inhabits the
inside as an intrinsic constituent’, the ‘subversive alien’, the ‘foreign body that already
inhabits the interior and cannot be expelled without destroying its host’ (Wigley 1987:
160). Like the fetish then, it is ‘first and foremost a question of place’, only existing ‘as
such when it both occupies and veils a space not properly its own’ (Wigley 1992: 103).
Ornament thus ‘territorializes, unsettles, displaces, and reaffirms’, it comes to both ‘fix
and unsettle borders’, confounding ‘clear-cut boundaries among things and between
persons and objects’ (Spyer 1998: 2–3). And the parerga can thus also be connected to
Derrida’s analysis of the pharmakon, the perplexing word used by Plato in the Phaedrus
which simultaneously denotes a remedy, a poison, a drug and a philter, substances
that could seemingly not be more distinct yet are still somehow intrinsically coupled.

And I believe it is no coincidence that an extremely high proportion of graffiti
artists have gone on to become professional tattooists.

1.12  Graffiti as parerga, as frame and content in the same moment.
Vova Vorotniov, Spray as Index 1, Warsaw, Poland, 2011


1.13 Embellishing
the painted-out
remnants of his
old works after
they had been
‘erased’ by local
authorities, Homer
added what he
terms ‘subcultural
nuances’ to these
ghostly, blockedout markings,
decorating the
scars that remained
from his earlier
efforts. Homer,
Post-Buffing, Kiev,
Ukraine, 2009

Ornament and Order

Like the parergon, the pharmakon contains within it the ‘complicity of contrary
values’ (Derrida 1981 [1972]: 126), it elicits no pure, fixed identity; it is not merely
an ‘ambiguous’ term, a term from which we could further ‘appreciate the richness,
subtlety or scope’of Plato’s text (Norris 1987: 37), but a word that denotes ambivalence,
that defeats all attempts of placement and can be understood as an external threat
to its own internal purity. This is what gives ornament its friction, its danger. As with
frames and fetishes, tattoos and sgraffitos, ornament acts both as a part of the whole
and apart from it, blurring the boundary between interior and exterior, licit and illicit,
primary and secondary, inside and out. And whilst these objects are nominally seen
to merely delimit, they must in fact be grasped as highly porous surfaces, they are
borders rather than boundaries – areas not acting as ‘a limit’ but an edge, a site which
is a highly ‘active zone of exchange’ (Sennett 2008).
The deep-seated iconoclash we find present within the discourse of ornament,
within the discourse of Independent Public Art, can thus be seen to emerge
through the curious status of ornament itself, through its ability to destabilize
the distinction between primary and secondary, ergon and parergon, through
its ability to unveil the deep ‘lack’ of the concrete surface – its lack of protection,
lack of colour, lack of personhood. The bare, incomplete wall can thus be seen to
call out for its ornamentation, the sparse structure begging to be etched upon,
revealing a cenophobia, a fear of the empty that only decoration will alleviate.
The essential addition, the ornament, the ‘how’ of the image, thus not only
implies a constitutional deficiency within the ergon but at the same time in some
way satisfies that lack, re-establishing a harmony within the whole. Every ‘act of
aesthetization’, as Boris Groys has noted (2010), is thus ‘always already a critique of

. to its status as an art form which contravenes the laws of public space. yet they do not cause the palpable dread that the sighting of graffiti so often generates (if they cause any disquiet at all). which is. as an object which has already lived. a vast number of the advertising hoardings (and other forms of street furniture) which exist in our cities are illegally erected. graffiti images on canvas cause no panic. the background. the removal of this insurgent ornament hence necessitating a form of destruction. the recurrent erasure of legal graffiti (Independent Public Art produced with explicit permission). that such writing always comes to it as an enigmatic surplus: what is in excess. not parergonic. they are objects manufactured by corporations not persons and thus do not contain the residual smudge of the individual. ornament and order. they may be parerga. supplement and structure. Paint not only lies on the surface of the wall.: 42). like graffiti and street-art. Made Servile to Structure The uproar Independent Public Art so often arouses is not simply due to its illegality. but they are objects not containing any individual agency. What can be understood to ‘constitute’ graffiti then. ‘is in fact neither the inscription nor its message but the wall. It is Independent Public Art’s decorative and thus agentic nature. it is because the background exists fully. the marking of a body. are. they are not decorative. If we examine two other aspects of our contemporary visual culture. similarly illegal. They may be decorative. it is their tactile adhesiveness and lack of fixity that provokes the unease. In an equal and opposite way. out of place’ (ibid. we can in fact see how this twofold ornamental anxiety is born out.Ornament 39 the object of aesthetization simply because this act calls attention to the object’s need for a supplement in order to look better than it actually is’ (ibid. they may be agentic. and thus parergonic status. as Roland Barthes outlined (1991 [1979]). The money spent on tackling these illicit visual artefacts. but destabilizes the very notion of primary and secondary. but they are objects contained within a physical frame (rather than existing as a frame). significantly less than those meted out to individual contraveners of laws over public space. moving from the centre to its newfound edge. Even more suggestively. they cause no innate alarm. similarly part of our contemporary visual culture. the erasure of the addition always entailing the scarring of the surface. it embeds itself within it. the anxiety thus dissipating from the piece. as well as the habitual unease even generated by officially authorized graffiti sites (such as legal ‘hall of 21 In the same way. is however. it infuses into its surface. for example. and thus not feared. in fact at the root of the iconoclash in which it exists. which acts as the causal factor provoking the fear of these urban ornaments.: 167). the surface (the desktop). supernumerary. they are not adjunctive. they may be formed from the individual markings of a hand (and formally identical to images found on the street). It not only points toward the originary want that the supplement fills. as well as the penalties given to their constructers. I would argue.21 They may be adjunctive. Bill posters. It is its fundamentally ornamental nature that causes much of the anxiety which surrounds it. not agentic. and thus cause no concern. its adjunctive.

most likely. the ornaphobia. Herzog and de Meuron. if one can produce a form that changes the condition of ornament. the core structure in itself has for the most part. as mentioned above.22 For all these reasons then. take us away from the natural presence of harmony and order’ (ibid. Yet as Wigley continues. change the status of the object. potentially chaotic’. this does not explain why other illicit aspects of our environment do not generate the same level of fear and loathing. it is this particular modality of ornament. changes the status of theory. to enable the whole of our culture to maintain its traditional ways of operating. but something which is integral to form. to articulate structure’. kept sacrosanct. as Wigley has argued (1988). ornament. a space. And whilst of course I would not contest the fact that some amount of fear is generated by the basic illegality of many of these ornaments (due. As I hope now to advance.40 Ornament and Order fames’). I am not particularly interested in either structure or ornament or space as such. you no longer need to explain or apologise for this or that decorative detail: it is a structure. ‘been protected from interrogation’ (ibid.: 52). that acts as the archetype for the practices of Independent Public Art I seek to explore here. a form in critique of its very own structure. and if you can experience it. its decorative. anyone who launches the interrogation of structure. 23 Of course. has always been ‘conceived of as potentially dangerous.: 52) – the same ‘harmony and order’ as we saw earlier with Francis Terry of course. to maintain its security. which I argue is at the centre of the iconoclash they are surrounded by. it is also tampering with the way we construct ideas. It is simply these ornaments bicameral dimension. then the status of your theoretical position changes as well. their adjunctive and decorative fundamentality. a form that aims to question that which it is positioned within. . Theory is constructed on the basis of a certain view of the object (ibid. by definition. It is the tension between the ornament and the architecture which bestows Independent Public Art its vitality and its vilification. In actual fact. As architects have habitually attempted to ‘tame ornament’ then. Things start to get interesting when you bring all these elements together in a single thing. sticky agency which grants it the power to both bind and repulse. if ornament is articulated as a critique of structure. strangely enough the result is a new feeling of freedom. As Herzog has suggested (2006). Suddenly.: 52). If it is the case that the whole discipline is set up to protect this view of the object.23 22 On the occasions that Independent Public Art does become venerated on a more popular level. the phalérophobie. this often has much to do with perceptions of wider market value. many architects have attempted to disrupt the structure/ornament dynamic. the anxiety they bring forth. to make it ‘represent structure. have attempted to produce a style of ornament which is not simply something additional. only comes to further instantiate this argument. then any architectural theory that tampers with that view is not just tampering with descriptions of architecture. something which must be made ‘servile to structure precisely because [it] lies in the dangerous realm of representation and can mislead us. Distinguishing between decoration and ornament. to their recurrent linkage to more violent or invasive crimes by the now widely discredited Broken Windows theory of Wilson and Kelling [1982]). however. So there is a kind of circular argument here: if we could successfully change the way we conceive of the object. then we will have changed the status of theory. ‘When ornament and structure become a single thing. inviolable.

15). re-framing the very meaning of the space they inhabit. graffiti and tattooing. neither order nor ornament. coming to dominate the other (see Figure 1. attempted to confront the structure/ornament dynamic directly through transforming their graffiti images into graffiti architecture. physically scoring an idea. As Luis Fernández-Galiano explains in the official bid document (2004).: 207). as an influential form of bodily practice.14  Zedz and Maurer United Architects (MUA). In their design for the ‘Ciudad de Flamenco’ in Jerez de la Frontera. sensually scarified by the formwork and the passage of time likewise amalgamates the rhythmic roughness of flamenco with the tactile violence of tattooing’. as a mode of ‘honourable degradation’ (ibid. these ornaments construct a new sense of order within the city. Rendering by Visualdata. wall or graffiti. by using it’. the world renowned graffiti artists Delta and Zedz. a means of re-forming the Not only coming to create a form of voluptuousness in the midst of cultural aridity.Ornament 41 1. Linking ornamentation. And just as tattooing can work. . their designs of the buildings themselves emerged through their typography. fashioning a form of embellishment which can counterpoint a dominant set of signs. Zedz and Delta’s designs forming large-scale environments in themselves. a concept of civility onto its material surface. re-negotiating the symbolic and formal expressions of built form. and this skin of cement. this description tallies perfectly with the argument I seek to make here. the design ‘provides a guiltless decoration whose necessary and aleatory geometry reconciles Arabic-Andalusian imagery with urban graffiti. Herzog and de Meuron in fact utilized a design composed of abstract tags used to create a highly decorative pattern. working in collaboration with the architect Marc Maurer as part of the design team delta-maurer-zedz. Their supplementarity can thus expose the immanent tensions within by moving through the building. as Alfred Gell has again show (1993). ornament and structure being entirely fused. so too these ornaments which tattoo the skin of the city work as an influential form of social practice. The traditionally tense relationship between architecture and ornament was thus transformed in this project from a negative to a positive. In an even more overt connection with graffiti. Rather than simply tagging upon a building then.

a contrast denoting the ‘triumph of unity over chaos’ (ibid. the originary tempo and flow of Remed’s performance visible in its material remains. quickened by the overt markings. the different letters forming a cohesive. multi-coloured tag bearing the five alphabetical characters which make up his name as well as an incorporated heart shape in its very centre. Its ornamental. it would seem apt to now present some instances of work that function within the agentic and parergonic state that this ornamental status bestows upon them. parergonic logic demonstrating the shortcomings of structure. in some way completing it. ‘a pattern imposed by the mind’ onto an outward surface (ibid. expose the various conflicts around notions of public and private space.: 9).: 4).: 10). reveal the double-bind encased within the concrete walls of the city. to present some examples of Independent Public Art that exhibit these specifically Gellian and Derridean characteristics. as mere ornament however. is not produced to be merely attractive. proportion. to entice us within its web.: 4). The decorative status of this marking. Agentic and Parergonic Whilst at the beginning of this chapter I argued that all my informant’s public aesthetic practices were of an ornamental nature. neither too large nor too small for the space in which is lies. quite clearly working within the previously alluded to elements of ‘order or unity. and thus a quintessentially supplementary form. a rhythm. We can quite clearly see from the image that it is a) adjunctive. a painted figure on concrete ground. is to attract. Moreover. neither overly obfuscatory nor idle in its design. slowed. a balance ‘between complexity and repose’ (ibid. fitting almost perfectly within the remaining tiled surface on the wall. a work that can only function through the medium it is attached to (the ‘what’ of the image – the tag itself – steered by its ‘how’ – the wall through which this message is transmitted). balance and rhythm’ (Moughtin. let’s take this eponymous (and untitled) work by Remed (see Figure 1. its technology of enchantment. a proportion ‘giving due weight to the compositional elements’ (ibid. perhaps more aptly. being both decorative and adjunctive (and using Nano’s choquitos and 3TTMan’s carteles as archetypal examples).: 5). a pace directed.15): an abstract. of use-value and commercial rights. of a perceived ‘chaos’ over an acknowledged ‘order’. or. integrated whole. and. It is a work which is fused on to a surface (the paint binding itself to the wall). . contrast. First then.: 10). a scale ‘relative to the entire building’ (ibid. each element being both commensurate to its neighbour and to the entire piece as a whole. It is. a secondary addition (coloured pigmentation) to a primary surface (built form). a material production formed on to the already-present architectural body of the city. the image is also b) decorative. at the same time. scale. Its function (that which is present in all decorative markings). in its role as a chirographic artefact. Oc and Tiesdell 1999: 3). It can hence be seen to create a particular unity ‘out of a diversity of elements’ (ibid.42 Ornament and Order our metropolitan environments. finally. whilst.

Leon. Untitled.15 Remed. Spain.1. 2011 .

it is not merely its agency which stands out but the inability for us to reconstruct its performance. being blotted out entirely by anti-graffiti advocates and thus creating what has often been called accidental or abstract graffiti (the erased markings of Independent Public Art which often occur in a different colour to the wall itself – see Homer. the relationship which Remed seeks to instantiate with the recipients of his work). also known as the ‘Grey Ghost’. its double-bind as both perfectly in.24 as well as often returning to haunt their sites through the failure of the overpainting to entirely hide the original mark (in what are commonly termed graffiti ‘ghosts’. much like a tattoo – the paint can only be removed through damaging the primary surface itself. It also embeds a form of sociality within the wall it touches. its thoroughly indeterminate status (the tension inherent within all ornamental form). . immediately emerges when we realize the bond made between wall and paint. One such famous iconoclast (or perhaps outsider artist) is Fred Radtke. to mentally rehearse its performance (the twists and turns. its urge to form a relationship with both the city and its inhabitants. it acts as a mind trap. Remed’s marking not only makes the innate porousness of the wall clear then. opening a network between objects and persons (the attachment engendered between writer and reader. With San’s untitled work produced in Besançon. It displays its primary lack. 24 Whilst often produced by council graffiti removers (as we can see on 3TTMan’s image on p. 81). the ‘mazy dance’ this pattern presents). can bedevil our attempts to imagine its genesis. and perfectly out of place. its decorative functionality revivifying the city in quite literal terms. the near impossibility of ever separating the two. Once applied to its surface – again. the astonishing intricacy of San’s work.13. France (see Figure 1. its evident animation forcing us to follow its meandering lines. we can grasp its evidentially ornamental status (in its technical terms). a fragment of his agency – his very name in fact. its ability to entirely transform the nature of the ergon. as an example). it engages to enthral.44 Ornament and Order Remed’s work not only provides evidence of an individual then. one emerging both through its agency and its animation. a mural scratched (in a literal enaction of the Italian word graffiare) directly onto the surface of the door which it embellishes. to intertwine his self with their skin. And it thus attracts to trap. With this image in particular however. leaving a distributed aspect of his self. Remed’s work thus contains a twofold social efficacy. may index its dance like bodily performance. agentically linked to his self. instances when the original marking bleeds through the paint which attempted to remove it).16). whose grey graffiti removals have come to exist almost like an abstract tag. its keenly decorative pattern functioning through all the basic principles as outlined with Remed’s work above. his personhood – on the body of the city. these removals are also often produced by outraged members of the public. whilst the weaving pattern of Remed’s tag may confound our eyes. At the same time however. and thus to gain mastery over the work. directly. Like the prow-boards and other famous indexes Gell discusses (1998). its knot-like complexity. its standing as an auxiliary support to a primary body. Figure 1. to allude toward another order existing within the city.

Untitled. 2011 .1. Besançon.16 San. France.

in San’s scratching we can also detect the major/minor. furthermore. can thus be understood to call out for its ornamentation. it again exposes the incompleteness of the intact state.46 Ornament and Order 1. master/ slave positionality so inherent to ornamental form – its state within the very structure while being innately disconnected from it. And as the archetypal example of a ‘foreign body that already inhabits the interior and cannot be expelled without destroying its host’ (Wigley 1987: 160). as Gombrich perspicuously notes (1984). This insurgent form of ornamentation. or. like Independent Public Art as a whole. its engrained status thus functioning – contrarily to the colonnades that Kant saw as insuring the integrity and purity of the parerga – to succeed only in disrupting this dynamic. can thus be seen as the archetypal example of a parergon in critique of its ergon. Untitled [detail]. a horror vacui. Our artefact here can hence unveil the deep ‘lack’ of the its surface (its lack of protection. supplement and surplus – clearly functioning here to disturb the probity. the very cohesive state of the supposedly primary body. lack of personhood). San’s work is thus both on the door and yet it is not the door. wedded yet divorced. a Loosian crime of style. its concurrent attachment and detachment from the whole. a decorative pollution. 2011 Yet. The bare surface. France. Besançon.17 San. that only ornamentation will relieve. an amor infiniti (ibid. it is on the surface yet cannot be separated from the surface itself. the untouched door. the parergon working alongside its ergon ‘without being a part of it and yet without being absolutely extrinsic to it’ (Derrida 1987: 55). It can perfectly illustrate the force of .: 80). lack of pattern.

argues that many attempted conceptualizations of action in the public sphere are habitually bedevilled by a withdrawal into overly reductive oppositions (such as I have used here perhaps). Whilst I hope. oppositions eluding the real complexity of the practices themselves: ‘To read publics. ‘so why do you paint?’ It seemed to be a flawless example of Riegl’s Kunstwollen. gestures separated through a binary opposition. not in the mix. these actions will all be linked by a desire for inclusion within the public sphere as a whole. ornamental forms with agentic and parergonic qualities. On the other side however. which. Thomas Goodnight for example (1997). 26 G. and dissent (in the latter).: 220). These. and performances’ (ibid.28 muralism. ‘I can’t live without it!’ These were some of the most common responses to the habitual question. and freehand drawing – will thus predominantly be located within the term Consensual Ornamentation. 27 As is examined on pp.Ornament 47 Riegl’s Kunstwollen. discussions. what I term Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation – practices which will be explored in depth over the next two chapters – are actions broadly divorced through gestures of consent (in the former case).27 What are more usually (and often incorrectly) defined as ‘street-art’ practices – aesthetic practices occurring illegally in the street and subsuming techniques such as wheat-pasting. a perfect example of elementary ‘urge to decorate’ (Riegl 1992: 31). broadly elucidates the intentional schemata and receptive outcomes of these most public of aesthetic practices. I will still be persisting – simply due to the ethnographic reality encountered – with this broadly dichotomous thesis. artistic gestures which seek either to reject or to embrace an engaged modality. by a certain conceptual openness that seeks a harmonious relation with its recipient. although cam seen be seen as an overly simplifying dichotomy (especially in reference to many urban practices26). 126–8. As we will come to see. ‘I have to do it’. 28 A technique of postering which uses a liquid adhesive made from flour and water. match. and a visual decipherability (rather than visual fixity) which often (but of course not always) works through a figural rather than textual modality. Uses and Abuses While all my informants public practices – like the two shown above – will be understood as ornamental ones then. .25 the Latourian iconoclash. but as a form of votive offering. alongside the various and diverse images and forms that these actions inevitably engender. there are two quite contrasting modalities that can be detected within these practices as a whole. both Hersey and Coomaraswamy’s notion of ornament not simply as a facile (or perhaps fascial) ‘beautification’. but through the framefrozen binaries of con(dis)sensus is likely to diminish learning from rhetorical models by overdetermining presumption and by masking risks encountered in enactments of public discourses. and multiplicity of symbolic activities. what are 25 ‘I need to do it’. this division between harmony and dissonance can be seen to relate to various institutional aesthetic discourses which follow similar conceptual lines. to stress the palpable complexity of both discourses being discussed. of course.

it must be governed by an entirely different set of aesthetic. a la Loos. throw-ups. is . of course. or a key or knife to cut the same into other surfaces. but will be seen to preclude the production of ornament. theories which come to clarify these aesthetic discourses through their somewhat surprizing congruence with my informants’ quotidian cultural production. or enveloping as anything produced within its original setting (within the medium of the public sphere).30 What must be made clear. he argued. a conceptual and formal obfuscation which if not simply dissensual. without decoration). and a style which often (but again not always) works through textual rather than figural form. Far from it in fact. often incorrectly) defined as ‘graffiti’ practices – aesthetic practices likewise occurring illegally in the street but here subsuming techniques such as tagging. but will be a different form of cultural production in toto. Of course this does not mean that the practitioners of these ornamental forms cannot produce ‘legitimate’ work (as seen by their peers that is) within a gallery or institutional setting. It simply means that when produced within a different surround. from their carrier. I had no previous schooling in the theories of democracy which they are here linked to.31 The ‘white cube’ may hence be understood as ornament (a decoration. is that neither of the modalities being delineated is able to be disassociated from its original sites of application. normally onto glass. 29 The use of either acid solutions to indelibly imprint one’s tag. 31 Although. political principles. however. ethical. which you put over your sideboard to-day. the attendant images that these practices necessarily generate: here we will find a desire for a very partial rather than wholesale inclusion in the public sphere. through the meanings that my informants themselves attached to their works. a different medium. Whilst in Part I I will be examining what are broadly visual forms of cultural production through theories which emerge from the realm of language then. their evocation of themes related to consensual and agonistic perspectives. Whilst I understood that there were two broadly different forms of cultural production occurring. Ruskin (1859) would probably disagree: ‘[P]ortable art’. illustrates a combative modality of communication. and between the windows to-morrow. its prime mediumistic locale from the public space of the city where it appears. the terms of discourse themselves must be similarly reworked. and must be assessed through a new set of criteria (a set of criteria unrelated to the narrative of this story). art ‘independent of all place’ was ‘for the most part ignoble art. Your little Dutch landscape. 30 I must state here that the relationship between these political and aesthetic discourses was not one I went to the field with. this is supported through my informants concentration on notions of transmission. these two ornamental approaches will be conceptually illuminated through the political theories of Deliberative Democracy and Agonistic Pluralism (in particular through the work of their theoretical forefathers Jürgen Habermas and Jean-François Lyotard). The connection to these Habermasian and Lyotardian theories became apparent only after the continual evocation of both democratic and communicative ideals by my informants.48 Ornament and Order more usually (and again. The final production can hence be considered as exciting. As forms of ornamentation. as will. 115–26). these artefacts naturally go through a radical transformation. Formally elucidated through specific examples (see pp. once removed from their surround. interesting. and etching29 – will by and large reside within the assemblage of Agonistic Ornamentation. 78–86.

so many different and variant practitioners. their usage could perhaps seem extravagant. 2011 Of course.18  The logical corollary of showing graffiti within the gallery space. I would suggest that the terms build up a division between these visual discourses based on a wholly unwarranted either/or position – either ‘innovative’ (street-art) or ‘traditional’ (graffiti). clean (street-art) or dirty (graffiti) – pigeonholing these practices into zones that are in fact more complex and messy than these polarities suggest. Akim. I would suggest that the primary terms (‘graffiti’ and ‘streetart’) have been used to signify so many different and variant practices. either ‘positive’ (street-art) or ‘negative’ (graffiti). Leistungsschau Part 3. to make clear why the terms I have chosen are of benefit. I need. they denote almost naught. that they have come now to signify little or nothing at all. therefore. in their most habitually understood senses. why they are more appropriate than their more commonly used designations. they connote so much. . one could easily introduce purported examples of ‘graffiti’ that sit more comfortably within the Consensual category.Ornament 49 1. Furthermore. I realize that by initially relating these neologisms to two previously recognized disciplines (street-art and graffiti). either ‘inauthentic’ (street-art) or ‘authentic’ (graffiti). and my continuing use of them would merely add an additional shade to their already elusive. just as one could discover ostensible a far more contemptible piece of work than the extents of field and forest with which Benozzo [in producing his famous frescoes] has made green and beautiful the once melancholy arcade of the Campo Santo at Pisa’ (ibid. Whilst I have signified the initial binaries relating to these idioms then (the relation between Consensual Ornamentation and what is often termed street-art.: 80). Primarily. Berlin. between Agonistic Ornamentation and what is termed graffiti). already muddied meanings. Germany.

this could be a purported instance of the Agonistic working within the realms of the Consensual. the institutions or 32 Stephen Powers. legible.33 The term Consensual Ornamentation thus aims to describe many of the actions of (what might often be termed) street-art. to all of us. without reducing it to the frequent presumptions that it typically adduces. Moreover. perhaps more commonly known as ESPO for example. and thus necessitate removal. La Mano. I’ve done it and lived it and I do share many of the points of view that . of gentrification and institutionality that it commonly signifies. that simply turned them into one-dimensional artistic caricatures rather than embodied. labels that they saw as depreciating the divergent and often very contradictory forms of cultural production that they generated. without diminishing it to the themes of vandalism. Likewise. masculinity and gangs that it habitually connotes – suppositions that. 98 for an example of his work). in a similar vein. As a defiant. told me ‘of course. graffiti is massively important to me. the original expressions are both ‘overdetermined (burdened by contradictory theories) and radically underdetermined (worn too thin to have much purchase on individual artworks)’. community-embracing visual designs. its birth. currently produces works that function within the realm of what I term Consensual Ornamentation – outward looking. an artist from Barcelona. I know its history.32 It is hence both the overburdening and underwhelming form of signification prevalent within the initiatory taxonomies that I want to dispose of. and as has so far been elided. as Louis said to me before I finally returned to London. his work could be seen to move effortlessly between these two visual spheres of the Consensual and Agonistic (see p. one locating itself within all the traditional spaces of graffiti production (including the all-important trains). Likewise. 33 As James Elkins has argued in terms of the concept of the gaze (2007). Thus. Although he may or may not define this work purely as ‘graffiti’ (he has been known to call it ‘emotional advertising’). who is without doubt a classic ‘New York’ style graffiti writer (see his book The Art of Getting Over. 34 Thus. [Powers 1999]). overtly seditious image.34 What’s more. It’s about everything that we do’. an often deeply-misplaced meaning that precludes any multi-layered understanding of these particular discourses that leaves the original terms inadequately placed to delineate their true distinctions. all the above mentioned issues fail to mention the very basic fact that my informants themselves shunned their branding as either graffiti-writers or street-artists (even the term artist being for many of them difficult to accept). Powers is a fierce and notable critic of street-art and would see graffiti as a directly hereditary movement to his current practice. could be quite easily understood to work within the realm of the Agonistic. whose eponymous ideogram of a raised fist could put him firmly in the realms of street-art (many seeing the original disjuncture between graffiti and street-art emerging from the movement from letterbased to image-based ‘tags’). they felt that when the terms were used. ‘just don’t talk about street-art! Please! It’s not about that. Nano. complex actors. more often. artists (or. they were often abused by many of their ‘contemporaries’. simply lessen our ability to interrogate them more astutely. without reducing it to the common inferences that it now typically elicits. and most probably fleetingly) acceptable ‘art’. the term Agonistic Ornamentation aims to depict many of practices of (what might often be called) graffiti. the themes of (purportedly. for both of the categories.50 Ornament and Order cases of ‘street-art’ that reside more easily within their Agonistic counterpart.

This was understood as part of an artistic ‘career’. But there were other aspects to his creative output that he likewise embraced. their medium of production and intrinsic technique – adjunctive/decorative and thus ornamental – as well as the politico-aesthetic foundations that maintain their inherent distinctions – as I will now go on to delineate.Ornament 51 galleries that spoke for them) inventing a famed history of graffiti by the practitioner when in reality they had only ever painted a single tag. for example. two modalities of public. the spatial practices my informants undertook will be described through their method. describe himself as a graffiti-writer. now called himself a ‘public-artist’ to disassociate himself with the hoards of ‘non-street street-artists’ who had emerged into the public eye. ‘Maybe I should start calling myself a “bakerartist”’ he once joked. 36 Spok might disagree with me here. and it was one working in almost direct opposition to its popular understanding. Yes. at once too broad and too narrow. for instrumental. then. ‘I worked in a bakery for like two weeks when I was 16. It’s part of me. Graffiti was a core part of his life. quite antithetically) a street-artist. that must make me a baker-artist!’. and he readily saw the contradictions both in his own practice as well as those exposed by friends trying to ‘keep it real’. come to define a very particular way of understanding the contemporary city. But I’m not going to play the part of a “real” writer because that’s not the only thing I’ve lived. they felt trapped within the idioms.35 None of them felt that their actions could comfortably subsist within these extant terminologies. but it’s not possible for it to be everything’. He would. It is these forms tangible. First following the native exegesis – the interpretations and significance my informants themselves attribute to the artworks they produce – it is hence the communicative intent of these aesthetic paradigms that will now be explored. This was considered to be a ‘fraudulent’ but all-too-common process of induction that my informants wanted no part of. first and foremost. rather than inspirational purposes. there was a simple frustration over the utilization of the street under false pretence. . Tono. go with it.36 By using the terms Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation. insurgent ornamentation which. too spacious yet specious. material and ornamental values (their working as decorative ‘supports’ to a primary structure) as well as their intangible. so yeah. immaterial and conceptual values (their working as theoretical ‘supports’ to an ontological structure) that I want to establish. a practice of agonism versus a practice of consensuality. but only he understood the term itself. the complex interweaving of meaning and performance. inventing a fertile narrative of cultural production on the street when in fact they simply craved a route into the gallery or contemporary art world as (and again. It was simply the bogus history used to convey some sort of ‘renegade’ artistic past that was disparaged and dismissed. 35 It was not that commercial success was looked down upon by my informants. intention. it could be argued that there was a degree of competitiveness over the notions of authenticity that emerged here. just something to be managed correctly if one wanted to keep on steady ethical grounds. and practice’ (Holston 2006: 35). the interaction between ‘form. as we will now come to see. nor was gallery or institutional work in itself. But more than this.

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if. and again following the OED. where this term itself emerged from. and. democratic social-welfare state. in what way am I trying to describe certain types of my informant’s public aesthetic production as something consensual. communal desires. To put it more precisely: Man is an animal. to ‘act or be affected in sympathy’? Whilst I have explained the basic conceptual outline of these artefacts – what I argue to be their open. in other words an animal that exists in a polity. Jürgen Habermas Now that both the adjunctive and decorative constituents of Consensual Ornamentation have been clarified (along with all the various issues that this ornamental status raises). or with another’.2 Consensual Ornamentation [U]nder conditions of the large. that by virtue of being from the very outset embedded in a public network of social relationships. we understand consent to mean ‘to agree together. Jürgen Habermas Man is a political animal. the completely short-circuited circulation of quasi-public opinion must be linked to the informal domain of the hitherto nonpublic opinions. the communicative interconnectedness of a public can be brought about only in this way: through a critical publicity brought to life within intraorganizational public spheres. . moreover. ones which are both formally decipherable and outward looking – I need to make clearer why the term consensual is so relevant. And that is only possible in the public space of a culturally stimulating milieu. a public space. their desire for harmony and accord – while I have indicated the physical forms that they often manifest – being artefacts which for the most part work through a figural medium. first develops the competences that make a person of him […] We humans learn from one another.

Madrid. Madrid. Amor Al Arte. 2012 2.1 Remed.2. Spain. Viva la Calle Libre.2 3TTMan. Spain. 2010 .

communicative rationality. representative instances which will come to support the relation I now seek to make both with Habermas’s theory of the public sphere. As for now. Reason and the Rationalization of Society (1987a [1981]) and Lifeworld and System [1987b (1981)]) – it is a distinctly Habermassian notion of consensus that I seek to link with what I term Consensual Ornamentation. Netherlands. 2013 Focussing on Jürgen Habermas’s hugely influential work on the public sphere and rational communication – in particular two of his most renowned projects. three examples which I will leave suspended as the theoretical argument builds. communion. however.3 Eltono.Consensual Ornamentation 55 2. Before we delve into Habermas’s work in more detail however. . a practice in which open civic dialogue and rational consensus are key. “discourse” and “reason”’ (Habermas 2004: 2). will thus be seen to exactly mirror the desires of the practitioners of Consensual Ornamentation. it is the specifics of these arguments that must be determined. Habermas’s lifelong commitment to what he termed the ‘conceptual triad of “public space”. to mirror their desire for harmony. Utrecht. 3TTMan’s Viva la Calle Libre and Eltono’s Untitled – will later be used as distinct case studies to analyse the argument being made. for an intersubjective relation with the wider public sphere. his early (and perhaps most famous) work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1991 [1962]) and his later opus The Theory of Communicative Action (produced in two parts. and it is to Habermas’s magnum opus that we now proceed. Untitled. These three – Remed’s Amor al Arte. archetypal images of what I argue Consensual Ornamentation to be. I want briefly to present three. as well as his thesis concerning consensual.

transformation and disintegration of the bourgeois public sphere’ (McCarthy 1991: xi). an account of the initial formation and later ruin of a political space (one existing in both physical and metaphysical sites). a newly built spatial habitat – a physical milieu comprising of freshly constructed ‘lecture halls. a newly built infrastructural backdrop – a material environment in which social communication could develop. determining these matters through logical argument and critical choice. thus ‘presupposed freedoms of speech and assembly. opera houses [and] coffee shops’ (Boyte 1992: 342) – and on the other. thick description of the rise and fall of the ‘coffeehouse’ culture of 18th-century liberal-democratic Europe (specifically Britain. a sphere in which individuals could come together to shape communal opinion within a growing market-based.56 Ornament and Order In Clear Contrast to the State The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere presents us with Habermas’s account of the ‘emergence.: 263).: 342). and thus emergent from ‘publishing houses.: 52). it was able to stand ‘in clear contrast to the state’ (Habermas 1974 [1964]: 52). France and Germany). public parks. Habermas’s public sphere was a location within which reasoned discourse could be rationally debated. the ‘newspapers’ and ‘moralistic and critical journals’ that came to be discussed in the coffee houses (Habermas 1974 [1964]: 52) – an environment was created in which private citizens could come to together to discuss issues of importance to society at large. a free press. It mediated ‘between the private concerns of individuals in their familial. libraries [and] clubs’ (ibid. . It allowed the emergent bourgeois movement to overcome ‘private interests and opinions to discover common interests and to reach societal consensus’ (ibid. one resisting the previously overpowering hegemony of ‘public authority’ (Habermas 1991: 2) – the inequitable manifestation of state power – could be physically enacted and endorsed. theatres. The emergence of this new public sphere not only ‘undercut the principle on which existing rule was based’ (Habermas 1991: 28). uninhibited forum. It is a dense. It was a setting where difference and disagreement could be discussed within an amicable. metropolitan environment. museums. and quite crucial constructions: on the one hand. and social life’ and the ‘demands and concerns of social and public life’ (ibid. Habermas argued that this emergent public sphere was formed through two simultaneous. unrestricted environment.: 263). enabling this growing social stratum to come together as a significant political entity. shaped by a group of disparate and heterogeneous social actors. in Douglas Kellner’s terms. giving these autonomous actors a space within which they could meet under a notion of shared common values. challenging one another as equals rather than adversaries. economic. meeting houses. Habermas’s public sphere. Through this twofold arrangement – through not only the formation of new political spaces but also the provision of a new form of material culture. argued through and contested in an open. a location from which a new form of political practice. and the right to freely participate in political debate and decision-making’ (Kellner 2000: 264). to place itself as a political body working ‘against the public authority itself’ (ibid.

: 54). discussing the potential for its contemporary reformation. The communal opinions generated by the public sphere thus ‘decomposed’ into the ‘informal opinions of private citizens without a public’. as well as. active participants in an independent. where they had become subject to political dominance and influence. Habermas’s analysis is set out (as the title would have it) on the attendant transformation of the state of the public sphere. a state through which the titans of industry and other domineering corporations came to ‘control and manipulate the media and state’ (Kellner 2000: 264).: 265). Only through a complete reconfiguration could its affirmative values be renewed. only through what Habermas describes as . consumption and commercialization. Communal opinion. The original emancipatory conception of the public sphere that Habermas described thus mutated into its almost direct antithesis. where it became a site for mere commerce. open. mass communication. and media elites’.: 265). increasingly negative) role within civil society in general. Habermas thus goes on to describe the so-called ‘refeudalization’ of the public sphere by the end of the 19th century (ibid. with the collapse of the public sphere. The very thing that initially enabled the development of a cohesive public sphere. rather than being rationally debated and argued then. economic. latterly. a state within which mass media distorted the previously liberating media forces. and the decrees and regulations that previously came about through rational public discussion.Consensual Ornamentation 57 However. ‘dedicating themselves more to passive consumption and private concerns than to issues of the common good and democratic participation’ (ibid. ‘scarcely still be understood as arising from the consensus of private individuals engaged in public discussion’ (ibid. rather than a channel for rational and reasoned discussion of matters of true import. competitions which assume the form of violent conflict’ (Habermas 1974 [1964]: 54). The previously venerated public sphere thus became a ‘field for the competition of interests. came to be in peril of complete disintegration due to the ‘structural transformation of the public sphere itself’ (ibid. the weakening of this previously described harmonious (and perhaps utopian) state of affairs. a concept ‘which calls for a rationalization of power through the medium of public discussion among private individuals’. It meant that the bourgeois public came to act as consumers rather than citizens.: 55). impartial public arena. hegemonic forces who directed opinion ‘as part of systems management and social control’ (ibid. involved nature of participatory citizenship. The very concept of the public sphere. inert spectators of a partisan media discourse. ended up being managed and controlled by ‘political.: 54). being now solely generated through ‘formal opinions of publicistically effective institutions’ (Habermas 1991: 247). the bourgeois public became compliant and docile consumers of messages. The overbearing role of state and corporate action thus diminished the shared. rather than recalcitrant. came to be that which in fact brought about its ensuing disablement. and the state itself (through the burgeoning welfare system and the massive increase of bureaucratization) began to play an increasingly important (and for Habermas. could now. the expansion of free. as Habermas decisively concludes (1974 [1964]).

2007 Ornament and Order ‘a rational reorganization of social and political power under the mutual control of rival organizations committed to the public sphere in their internal structure as well as in their relations with the state and each other’ (ibid. 1987b). could the public sphere return to a state of serving its populace. sought to develop a model – moving away from his previous focus on negative dialectics1 in a linguistic turn2 towards language and communication – that attempted both to critique the destructive hegemonic structures he saw intensifying through the public sphere’s continuing entropy and to encourage a new form of social action that 1 Critiquing the ideology of society in terms of the actual social reality.4 Unknown Artist. Madrid. The Theory of Communicative Action (1987a. Forced to Participate Habermas’s later work.58 2.: xxii). Spain. Mi Vida Es Como La Tuya. Barbara Fultner (2002) argues that this turn was ‘initially motivated by the conviction that a critical social theory required a sound methodological and epistemological foundation: hence the project of providing a linguistic grounding for sociology’ (ibid.: 55). from the prevailing situation of its populace simply serving it. 2 .

As he suggested (2000): ‘Someone who makes a bet. perlocutionary force.: 291) – and instead insisted on the sole pursuit of ‘illocutionary aims’ (ibid. ‘Abortion is morally wrong’. or perlocutionary communication – where effects were produced ‘external to the meaning of what is said’ (ibid. informed opinion. 4 While Habermas agrees with Searle (1974) that perlocutionary acts may function through illocutionary ones. that ‘by arguing I may persuade or convince someone. returning to the words of Douglas Kellner (2000). whether or not something in fact corresponded to reality)3 – were seen to be implicit characteristics of any speech-act ‘carried out in an attitude oriented to understanding’ (ibid.: 25).L. that they implicitly renounced any ‘strategic’. sustaining and renewing consensus’. Yet what was key for Habermas was that these validity claims were orientated towards understanding. admonishes or . considered the assumed existential presuppositions of any assertion within the sphere of the external. objective world (that is.: 290). a consensus that rested upon ‘the intersubjective recognition of criticizable validity claims’ (Habermas 1987a: 137). which could then be embodied in both linguistic and non-linguistic ‘symbolic expressions’ (Habermas 1987a: 75). The theory. and. and subjective truthfulness)’.: 271). and the objective. These three ‘validity aspects’ – normative rightness. What Habermas thus suggested was that only genuine communicative action contained the intrinsic rationality that could.: 11). parasitically using 3 Maeve Cooke (1997) translates these three realms into three statements: the social. Illocutionary force was thus understood to involve the ‘establishment of a relationship between speaker and listener through rational speech’. examined a form of interaction that was ‘oriented to achieving. the subjective. the normative suitability of any claim within the shared social world (adjudged through what was considered to be morally correct behaviour). a claim to normative rightness. subjective world (thus perceived valid if honest). rhetorical forms of speech’4 (Drexler and Hames-Garcia 2004: 56). appoints an officer as supreme commander. Strategic action. on the other hand. Austin’s work on speechacts. a claim to propositional truth ‘It is raining outside’ (ibid. a claim to truthfulness.Consensual Ornamentation 59 enabled a recuperation from this collapse. whereby effects are produced ‘from the very meaning of what is said’ in the ‘manifest content of the speech act’ (ibid. that gained authority by impeding authentic public participation. gives a command. and propositional truth. ‘I have a headache’. based upon the key notion of ‘communicative rationality’. Through the use of language oriented towards two key concerns – understanding and consensus – participants would be able to produce ‘validity claims (propositional truth. assessed its sincerity within the internal. emotional. he disagrees on the level of intentionality linked to this. in this way. subjective truthfulness. It meant to establish clear grounds from which to critique hegemonic practices (both state and mercantile) that gained authority solely by inhibiting any educated.: 306). normative rightness. by warning him I may scare or alarm him’ (ibid. ‘generate norms to criticize distortions of communication in processes of societal domination and manipulation’. could then ‘cultivate a process of rational discursive will-formation’ (ibid.: 295). sought simply ‘to bring about a desired end’ through which speakers might ‘strategically manipulate listeners into agreement through the use of variegated. and much in debt to J.

the search for understanding simply entailed a ‘foreswearing of the mechanisms of coercion and influence – a foreswearing of perlocution […] and a corresponding commitment to provide reasons for one’s claims if they are challenged’ (ibid.: 391). the key. to communicative action itself. nor must the action or speech be likely to produce agreement’ (ibid. a site from where social actors are free to contest and challenge any truth claims. whether agreeing or not. The very possibility of consensus hence presupposed ‘that those acting communicatively are capable of mutual criticism’ (Habermas 1987a: 119). a final agreement from the practices initiated was not the requisite climax of the communicative process.5 warns. then. Searle (1969). one which has the procedural potentiality to achieve this ultimate understanding. but simply that that ‘the hearer’ understand ‘the utterance of the speaker’ (ibid. suffice it to say that for now we will put Bloch’s claims out of mind.: 391). Following John R. at the same level of interaction. This issue. while aiming for understanding and agreement. and. Illocutionary practices were a vital element of Habermas’s theoretical reasoning. Consequently. reveals something. that every communicative act. saying one thing but indirectly (or duplicitously) meaning something else. but also ‘wholly external to the validity claims raised by an utterance’. however. Within this reading. the latter finds it necessary to offer explanations and denials. makes a prediction. to be oriented toward agreement ‘an actor need not have agreement as the goal of his or her action or speech. and so on. therefore. emphasis added). or when he tells a story late in the evening in order to delay a guest’s departure. illocutionary acts were thus understood as acts completed when ‘we succeed in doing what we are trying to do by getting our audience to recognize what we are trying to do’ (ibid. The latter ‘effect’ on the hearer was not meant to be a ‘belief or a response’. that through the act we find ourselves. . became a discursive offer that could lead to resultant consent or dissent. however. apologies. and if need be. ‘forced to participate’ (ibid. he gives the command to attack in order to get his troops to rush into a trap. or when he proposes a bet of $3. the notion of consensus is based solely upon an affirmative attitude anticipating a final accord. but does not automatically necessitate the reaching of this conclusionary state. will be dealt with further below (on p. ‘not subject to contest and challenge in discourse’ (Markell 1997: 390).: 128). and so forth is acting communicatively and cannot. It is certainly true that in communicative action unintended consequences may occur at any time but as soon as there is a danger that these will be attributed to the speaker as intended effects.000 in order to embarrass someone. in fact. makes a confession.60 Ornament and Order illocutionary force to proceed. What was thus vital for Habermas was that the orientation to agreement must arise from a specifically independent. 5 I do of course realize that the term illocutionary as used here may seem to have the almost exactly contrary meaning to that ascribed by Maurice Bloch (1975). was hence recognized to be not only ‘coercive’.: 47). produce perlocutionary effects at all. in order to dispel the false impression that these side effects are perlocutionary effects’ (ibid. tells a story. as Markell argues (1997). perhaps Austin’s most famous devotee. 203).: 119).: 47. uninhibited state. A speaker can pursue perlocutionary aims only when he deceives his counterpart concerning the fact that he is acting strategically – when for example.

: 249).: 249). through the heightened specialization of political culture in general. non-participative public arena. success orientated choices formed hence transform the previously powerful public sphere into a mere ‘space for solving public relations problems. I would like to explore Consensual Ornamentation as an enormously elongated Habermasian 18thcentury coffeehouse. but. and the role of the public sphere and the public citizen lost further to the power of strategic action. Habermas is not one to eulogize about the past without critiquing the present. producing public opinion without the indeterminate reflexivity of public discourse.: 356) by what he terms ‘steering media’ (a matrix shaped through the financial clout of private sphere industry and the administrative power of the state). but a construction that can in fact be seen to closely replicate the mechanics of the classic archetype. school. Through what Habermas (1987a) saw as the eventual degeneration from the former to the latter form of interaction. and authentic speech-acts. come to foster what G. steering media. authentic communication. however. It is therefore not the use of public space as an alternative or replacement to the Habermasian model that I aim to explore here. come to be increasingly difficult to obtain.: 249). as David Ingram continues (1991). albeit with a slightly different conversation taking place and a somewhat altered location of practice. Thomas Goodnight (1992) terms a ‘“technicizing” of the lifeworld as these “delinguistified” media promulgate an ever greater variety of “subsystems” to take over functions formerly located in the activities of communicative action in private and public life’ (ibid. Sustaining and Renewing Consensus What I now want to propose is a twofold thesis.Consensual Ornamentation 61 As we have already seen through the examination of Structural Transformation. encourages a more passive. I would thus like to suggest that the practices being undertaken by a core constituent of my informants can be understood within the mode of embodied rationality which Habermas claims was lost with the transformation of the public sphere. however. The public citizen is simply ‘reduced to a client of state programs’. And. culture and so on – that are not inherently disposed toward profit maximization’ (ibid. and the concomitant ‘expansion’. not a ‘counterpublic’ as understood by Michael Warner (2002) for example (a notion we will see more closely within Agonistic Ornamentation below). we are led inexorably towards the ‘colonization of the lifeworld’ (ibid. The strategic. Firstly. This colonization not only hinders the capability of citizens to enter the spheres of debate themselves. and the complication emerging within this particular text is encapsulated through the abovementioned distinction between ‘communicative’ and ‘strategic’ action. the private person merely ‘to a consumer’ (ibid. by evading the consensusoriented communication central to what Habermas called the lifeworld (our socio-cultural environment). a variable in assuring mass loyalty and governmental legitimacy’ (ibid. instrumental.: 77). a mode that can. Achieving. however. be seen to be living on in this somewhat unexpected way. ‘of economy and state into areas of everyday life – family. .

Remed. England.5 and 2. There Is Something Else.6  An example of the propositional rather than perlocutionary intentions of Consensual Ornamentation.2. London. 2010 .

This approach aligned toward ‘achieving. And the harmony desired by Consensual Ornamentation is . utterances that form a state of consensuality that does not confine plurality. It is an act signifying the presence of a community of discussants. a proposition intent on receipt. at its very core. judgements and outlooks of hegemonic institutions by proposing an alternative. an illicitness transgressing commercial law and private property but not societal wellbeing. a warranty that can ‘provide reasons in support of the validity of the claims’. synergically. sustaining and renewing consensus’ (Habermas 1987a: 17) can be demonstrated not only through Consensual Ornamentation’s desire for decipherable. shaping communal opinion within an open. an illicitness that aims to serve the public. it is thus the simple offer of a proposition rather than mendacious persuasion which is desired by my informants. as we will discuss further below. does not limit any conception of difference. then. an authentic form of understanding can be seen to be formed through the simple enunciation of a statement of intent. but attempts to pull people together rather than draw them apart. Working in direct contrast to the current media discourse. And. as Maeve Cooke explains (2000: 8). public argumentation and debate. It is thus a practice oriented toward the construction of a direct social relationship. at reaching a form of understanding with the entire city at large. instrumental effects of the existent visual culture in the city. And I will hence be arguing that the ornamental productions of my informants can be conceived as fully Habermasian illocutionary utterances. They are utterances free from any form of strategic manipulation. discursive acts. which. the producers of Consensual Ornamentation can thus be seen to be re-working the original conception of the public sphere in what is now an illicit manner. attempting to counter the beliefs. to be understood by as wide a sphere as possible – but also through its medium in the most open of museums. Like the practice of reasoned discourse that founded it. Secondarily. public environment. following Mieke Bal (who we will hear more from below). working through either simplicity or legibility. a community of actors sharing and conversing within the public sphere of the city. at reaching a dynamic plane of understanding with its public audience. I will suggest is the archetypal space of expository. a rationality aimed. I want to propose Consensual Ornamentation as a discourse working towards the realization of consensus through ‘communicative rationality’.Consensual Ornamentation 63 Crafting an open arena for rational. cogent. as acts not only where the speaker ‘in saying something also does something’. by displaying a diversity. visually articulate images – the aesthetic forms. on recognition over submission. then. constructed with an overt desire to create a purposeful rapport with its requisite viewer that I believe is taking place here. coming together as a stylistic family. not despoil it. being shaped directly so as to be part of a wider social discourse. working as an ensemble. Due to this desire for connection. this mode of public ornamentation will be grasped as a practice based upon the intentions of private individuals to rally together. this desire for an effusive union with their public counterpart. all of these public accomplishments are aimed at addressing communal opinion collectively. in the city itself. intent on attention not acceptance. but where they act as a ‘warranty’ of ‘commitment’. by setting out a statement of intent in direct contrast to the manipulative.

Listeners. Being consciously produced for a diverse and disparate group of people then – for the affluent public who would normally only encounter art within gallery shows in the exclusive parts of the city. egality was not simply presupposed. Spectators Critically. the foundation of what was termed a common humanity. but concepts of rank altogether disregarded. It was a discourse taking place within conditions of free determination. The first injunction. it being in a backstage location habitually used by drug-users and sellers. but both the ‘laws of the market’ and ‘laws of the state’ suspended (ibid. for the drug-addicts who wandered the streets in a dazed stupor6 – these works can thus be understood to have aimed. In the same way. entailed a total disregard of entrenched social status. 6 When I once questioned the placement of one of Eltono’s street installations. for Consensual Ornamentation to successfully operate within these two overarching propositions it must be seen to meet both the three institutional requirements for the fully functioning. but a form resting upon ‘the intersubjective recognition of criticizable validity claims’ (Habermas 1987a: 137). a deadening middle-ground where there is nothing but a ‘notional’ consensus. then. as well as the three validity aspects detailed in Communicative Action. nothing being of more importance than debate. it simply being another example of the adherence to ‘art for all’. and equitable social intercourse. for the art-educated public who craved a new model of aesthetic experience. discussion. social hierarchy trumped by the ‘authority of the better argument’ (Habermas 1991: 36). and must therefore be equally applicable to these ornamental forms themselves. and an inclusive public (Habermas 1991: 36–7). he looked at me indignantly and told me ‘art is for addicts too you know!’ There was no irony or cynicism in his statement. Not only were ‘economic dependencies’ totally without influence. rational public sphere that Habermas set out in Structural Transformation – those of a common humanity.64 Ornament and Order thus not attempting to compel or force agreement. In the salons and coffee houses where the public sphere emerged. subjective truthfulness and propositional truth. first and foremost. not to a predefined section of the community (to those who had received an education in the arts. to be transmitted to the entire public at large. autonomy from any internal or external limitations. determining factors in the success of their respective discourses. the discourse produced within Consensual Ornamentation can be seen to have been designed. however. for the low-income inhabitants who would normally never set foot inside one. . These requirements were pivotal to each of Habermas’s theses. a collective ethos in which each citizen could communicate in equal terms with any other person in society. the contestable facets of any ‘speech act carried out in an attitude orientated to understanding’ (Habermas 1987a: 306) – namely normative rightness. but to everyone who participated in the life of the city. whether an education in the fine-arts at art school or in the low-arts in the street). it is not consensus in its liberaldemocratic conception.: 36). a common concern. Readers.

Consensual Ornamentation 65 as Habermas pronounced. a visual sparseness acting as a performative signature (such as in Eltono and Nuria’s Untitled signboard adjacent) – all these works explicitly attempted to open up a discourse with the public at large. Spain. at ‘transcending the barriers of social hierarchy’ (ibid. to initiate a conversation irrespective of the status of their recipients. Palma. common concern. a visuality of commonality which often used popular. so too the laws of the market were upturned – the artefacts being produced for experiential rather than instrumental values. ‘low’ imagery rather than ‘highbrow’ aesthetic (as we can see below 3TTMan’s Ceci Est Mon Cuerpo). an aesthetic discourse with an unending desire to speak with the entire city as a whole. 2009 .: 34–5). an aesthetic of simplicity. It was an aesthetic discourse which had common humanity embedded within its designs. Ceci est mon cuerpo. The value of an open. within Consensual Ornamentation economic dependency was irrelevant – one did not have to pay to encounter these work and thus their recipients could come from any background. demanded the ‘problematization of areas that until then had not been questioned’ (ibid. the transformation of issues which had previously been in the sole possession of ‘public authority’ into a more universal domain. And just as in Habermas’s definition of common humanity. egalitarian and consensual form of visual communication was always and already paramount in the producers’ minds. they aimed for a coequal discourse which as we will see in the case studies below. These ornaments hence aimed for a parity which held elitism in contempt. Through the rational 2.: 36). Working through what was an attempt at a legible form of visuality – a visuality produced in either a lucid calligraphic form (such as we can see above in Remed’s Remed ama la calle). would often obtain this literal response.7 3TTMan. at being open and accessible to all members of the social world. likewise the laws of the state were rejected – the conversation continuing in total contempt of legal regulations. Habermas’s second key requirement.

I would argue that quite implicitly. reclaimed through the ability of this public to determine.8 Eltono and Nuria. literature. which previously had been filtered through the lens of either Church or State.66 2. bringing to the surface issues which otherwise remain unspoken and undeclared by working in the very centre of the public arena. Consensual Ornamentation is able to question and interrogate notions which otherwise remain imperceptible. England. Madrid and Stockholm. Their public work was often in fact a financial burden rather than gain. was reshaped into something created by the public itself. Untitled [Signboard project]. it could be argued that the short-term losses of working without financial compensation were due to the long-term (perceived) gains of latter institutional success. London. By working in this space without authorization. went against the experiential need to work in public space that my informants both enunciated and enacted. the previous ‘monopoly of interpretation’ (emerging not only from the ‘pulpit but in philosophy. by going against instrumental reason and working there freely7 and spontaneously. were later gifted to whomever found them. and express opinion on their own. meaning. the very nature of public and private liberties. 2008. In the same way. not only does the work bring 7 Of course. and art’). By using the street as a site for uninhibited creative production. critical attention naturally becomes centred upon the very nature of public and private rights within the city. the signboards which Eltono and Nuria installed in London. However that mode of thought (although posisbly the case for a number of now successful ‘street’ artists). harsh fines – let alone the losses in terms of opportunity cost – becoming an . interpret. the urge to communicate with as wide a sphere as possible meant a natural movement to what they often termed the ‘largest gallery in the world’. Not only acting as a performative signature. an explicitly anti-commercial tactic once more linking them to Habermas’s common concern Ornament and Order communication engendered by this new public sphere.

not a strategic investment in futurity. voicing concern regarding the implicit regulations of the city as a whole (of where one can and cannot write. it also rescues these issues from institutional containment. listeners. ever present concern. and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions’. the wrong meaning).: 36–7) that led to the flowering of common concern – this occurring in part through the commodification of artworks. a communicative realm unencumbered by ‘price barriers’ and ‘permission barriers’. their literally touchable. to form a lay judgement which encounters no greater authority to meaning than their own. is displaced by the discursive openness of these ornaments. civic concern.Consensual Ornamentation 67 to light issues of the contrived meanings of vandalism and defacement.: 37).: 40–42). all this shit just trying to make you unconsciously do something. is understood as a public that ‘could never close itself off entirely and become consolidated as a clique’. the inclusive public. through its inherently legible existence within these sites. explicitly commenting on the implicitness of the billposters (‘all this information. the physical and metaphorical framing) of capital A art. can and cannot play). this institutional requirement functioned through social access and through Consensual Ornamentation’s expository placement in the centre of our urban conurbations. as conceived of by the leading scholar of open access Peter Suber (2005). Working in the street was simply a necessity for their moral way of life. I would argue that it can be conceived of as an aesthetic modality adhering to these basic premises. This model. their rejection of the trappings (the protection. is one which is ‘free of charge. The aura and sacramental nature of contemporary art then.: 37). its commonly obfuscatory nature (and the common fear of voicing the wrong opinion. to buy something’). each able. public status. Whilst common humanity functioned through social parity then. of the valid place for a ‘public-art’ in the city. returning them to matters of common. but in its physical placement. Like 3TTMan’s carteles project earlier discussed. a communicative realm ensconced in the ‘public domain’ (ibid. And just as Habermas argues that the rise of the salons enabled the creation of art critics (for good or for bad). the self-importance. a practice open not merely in its meaning. the extraction of these artefacts from sacramental and auratic realms and into the specifically cultural milieu of the aesthetic that enabled this – within Consensual Ornamentation it is the non-commodification of art works which leads to this common concern. so too Consensual Ornamentation turns the public at large into potential critics. like the Kunstrichters Habermas describes (ibid. the ‘loss of their aura’. a truly egalitarian community which can be seen to be similar to the contemporary concept of open access. The notion of inclusivity here is thus concerned with the ability of the public to participate as ‘readers.: 231). The last of the tripartite principles that make up the Habermasian public sphere. and spectators’ within matters of public debate (ibid. . it was about stating ‘explicitly what precisely in its implicitness for so long could assert its authority’ (ibid. which wrestles art from the institutions which have taken control of its meaning. Yet while in the classical public sphere it was the ‘Church’s and courts’ publicity of representation’. a community that ‘always understood and found itself immersed within a more inclusive public’ and thus ‘established itself institutionally as a stable group of discussants’ (Habermas 1991: 37). the ‘profaning of their once sacramental character’ (ibid.

: 4). to provoke a relationship between viewer and image. a state in which only in the light of the public sphere ‘did that which existed become revealed’. merely to note its failure to comply with Habermas’s standards for an open public sphere. . common humanity is disregarded in favour of an intentionally constrained social discourse. This was a search for communion. physical accessibility. 2012 The issues these practitioners interrogate thus become ‘“general” not merely in their significance. but also in their accessibility’. It is therefore fully 8 If we place Agonistic Ornamentation within these three institutional requirements. in favour of the clique itself. Havana. Cuba. the divergences to Consensual Ornamentation become very clear. common concern (whilst met in questioning previously disregarded issues) is not addressed in terms of the wider public as a whole. because the simple witnessing of these images turns their public into the readers. becoming general because ‘everyone’ is ‘able to participate’ (Habermas 1991: 37). as mentioned. where only in the light of the public sphere ‘did everything become visible to all’ (ibid.8 Through following these three institutional requirements. Consensual Ornamentation can hence be seen to be reintegrating the classical desires of the public sphere within the contemporary city. the work produced within its Consensual counterpart was formed with lucidity. This is not to in any way disparage the contribution of Agonistic Ornamentation.68 Ornament and Order 2. listeners. El Corazón de un Sueño. and inclusivity at its heart. and spectators the inclusive public needs. its profound (and intentional) isolation into a clique. Within the Agonistic partner then. artistic discourse within which the work may be set within. and an inclusive public revoked. opposed to the profound (and intentional) indecipherability of the soon to be discussed Agonistic Ornamentation. an aspiration for comprehensibility from people who may have no previous knowledge of any formal. for consensus.9 El Mac. My informants’ explicit desire was simply to create a discourse with their recipients. for understanding and.

Just as aesthetic judgements – due to their supposed subjectivity – could be understood in Habermassian terms as invalid forms of argumentation owing to what was believed to be their non-contestability (their lack of a specific claim). through its inclusive public (its refusal of the clique). Consensual Ornamentation embraces the commons. Through its common humanity (its total disregard for social status). the very walls of the city acting like the clubs or coffee houses where people openly exchanged thoughts and ideas. but an arena in which one can freely present their ideas and opinions. resisting the rising passivity engendered through the latter transformation of the public sphere. coffee and chocolate). illegal medium to promote issues contrary to the prevalent systemic values. through its common concern (its problematization of unquestioned issues). constructing. this is a ‘demonstrative violence’ (one that brings ‘attention to arguments’) rather than a base ‘violence and vandalism in the traditional sense of the terms’ (ibid. It will hence be understood as a domain battling against the ‘shaping. public interaction.Consensual Ornamentation 69 coherent with the key technical prerequisites of a rational civic arena. embracing not only self-expression. a domain advancing an alternative mode of discourse not based on strategic factionalism or base economic gain. a space where meaningful democratic practice is enacted through the medium of open discursive. And whilst it may be illegal. and limiting [of] public discourse to those themes validated and approved by media corporations’ (Kellner 2000: 265). And acting as a ‘rival organization’ (Habermas 1974 [1964]: 55) – as an organization committed ‘unhampered communication and public rational–critical debate’ (Habermas 1991: 209) – we thus find the practitioners of Consensual Ornamentation to be invested totally in the survival of the public sphere. Like the newly surfacing spatial constructions and infrastructural habitat that enabled the evolution of the bourgeois public sphere then.: 56) – utilizing an unconventional. it can still be understood to function as an ‘immanent critique’.: 55). The Apostrophe in Poetry Before going onto discuss the technical requirements of Communicative Action. the universal. Whilst it may work through a material violence. one which avoids ‘fetishizing existing rules’ and at the same time does not ‘dismiss the essence of these rules’ (Thomassen 2010: 55). Consensual Ornamentation is thus here seen to both ‘undercut the principle on which existing rule [is] based’ (Habermas 1991: 28) – using an adapted spatial medium with which to promote ideals contrary to the instrumental rationality of the city and the state – and to use the very ‘principle of publicity against the established authorities’ (ibid. I need to make a brief aside. totally dedicated toward the practice of ‘public discussion amongst private individuals’ (Habermas 1974 [1964]: 55). an action in which each person must be accountable for their own beliefs. We find them totally dedicated toward rational public discussion within the modern polis. the mass availability of the spraycan can be understood to have functioned like the incipient printing presses of the 18th century (or the developing availability of tea. facilitating a body of practices intent on resisting ‘public authority’. the quotidian. a practice shaped towards the establishment of a shared public bond. so too within the three validity claims of Communicative .

. who himself combined Adorno’s aesthetic theory with Habermas’s communicative one. that subjects could ever come to a truly mutual understanding. non-linguistic forms having an orientation towards understanding only if the interactions produced could be fully mediated via linguistic channels. ‘uprooting’ them from their normative use (Ingram 1991: 80). ‘poetic. translating the term as ‘publicly demonstrating’. ‘expands the communicative potentials of recipients’. not merely supplementing speechacts but. and other aesthetic “languages”’ were still understood to be on the whole ‘parasitic’ on communicative action. It was thus understood to be only through formal language. Whilst theoretical discourses were thought to engage propositional truth. I will continue to insist (mainly through Mieke Bal’s work above) that aesthetic acts can still deliver all three of Habermas’s original validity claims. practical discourses normative rightness. following the work of Mieke Bal (1999). Through this transference aesthetic products can then be understood. sincerity as realized within the internal. to articulate an argument with all ‘the communicative possibilities that language offers’ (ibid. the ‘work of art’. on a city wall.: 234). Bal.: 4): [T]here. Yet even as this approach could make my argument much easier. only one was thought to be strictly relevant to aesthetic critique. fictive. 9 Habermas’s later work does seem to come to an understanding of aesthetics that has a more ambivalent view towards the rigidity of these discourses and their relation to each validity claim however. a form which is at the same time an ‘exposition. its presence. to read the handwriting on the wall. communicatively rational extent.: 4). to articulate an argument to its fullest. through literal speech-acts.70 Ornament and Order Action. through acting as forms of public exposure. Tracing back the origin of the Greek verb apo-deik-numai. exposé and exposure’ (ibid. multicultural society to see. And in its capacity as visible exhibit. subjective world. It is an exhibit.: 23). as Donald Burke explains (2007). functioning as speech acts in themselves.: 7). shows its hand. and it shows itself. Whilst Habermas did suggest that aesthetic productions could at some points be seen to ‘supplement’ speech-acts. aesthetic criticisms were argued to be the sole arena for subjective truthfulness (ibid. I will argue that we can in fact find a way out of this ostensible bind by analysing these particular ornamental works not as indirect adaptations of speech-acts but directly analogous to them. an approach that sees the three claims being ‘metaphorically interlaced’ (Warnke 1998: 95). The aesthetic was understood to be solely concerned with the authenticity of feeling produced through an engagement with an object. it is on show. for all members of our present. to see and hence to read. it exposes itself and what it has to say (ibid. it ‘participates in communicatively shared meaning’ (ibid. with or without this Wellmerian approach.9 However. uses the (providential) example of a ‘graffito’ to explore a form of visuality which acts as its archetypal form. and thus unsympathetic to its effect upon either normative rightness or existential truth (its moral correctness or faithfulness to reality). Following Albrecht Wellmer.

Tudela de Navarra.2. 2011 .10  Filippo Minelli. Spain. Could you please suggest to me any revolutionary act?.

an act that in fact produced a stronger illocution through its refusal of language (ibid. Grottaglie. a refusal of the mendacious potential that language brings forth. working in an illocutionary vein to bring an event into being through a performative ‘enunciation’. a museum. thus explicitly communicated to all present a promise to fight when necessary.: 116). for Rappaport. .: 57). 2011 Ornament and Order Bal argues that expository discourse was ‘apo-deictic: affirmative. bestowing upon it a quite clearly propositional quality whether in the form of a 10 Rappaport’s work will be examined in more depth in Chapter 5. its status as public exhibit.: 7). an action functioning through its ‘formality. its illocutionary nature (as discussed below). whether in the form of a dance. as a visual work that has something to say’ (ibid. an action infusing ‘whatever performatives the ritual incorporates with a gravity that they otherwise might not possess’.11 Escif.: 21). demonstrative’.72 2. A Maring dance ritual (a procedure utilized in times of war). its expository nature. Similar to Roy Rappaport’s (1999) examination of the ‘indexical relationship between dancing and pledging’ (ibid. making it clear to all the ‘participants just what it is they are doing’ (ibid. these ‘gestures of showing’ deemed performances ‘best considered as (or analogous to) speech acts’ (ibid. Art Vs Capitalism. carrying along the tradition of apostrophe in poetry’ (ibid. as Bal continues (1999). a communicative. Italy. was thus quite clearly ‘to pledge’ (ibid. solemnity and decorum’. To ‘dance’.: 81). these forms of public exposure. And what I will hence argue here is that Consensual Ornamentation can function within all of Habermas’s validity claims. aesthetic acts – like conventional speech-acts – could here be considered as profoundly performative. or novel. performative act working through a strictly a non-linguistic modality. to you and me in the present but loaded with “pastness”.: 7–8).10 ritual.: 30). what must hence be grasped is the interpretation of ‘painting as a proposition. a graffito. Whilst clearly not always purely linguistic in medium then. As with her discussion (1996) of Foucault’s reading of Las Meninas. can accordingly exist as a speech-act ‘in its purest form: direct address.

It is precisely because the concerns of the participants in a conversation are usually ill-defined or nonspecific that a contribution to a conversation can rarely be dismissed as “irrelevant”’ (ibid. to produce artefacts (such as 3TTMan’s project Fill in the Blanks – see Figure 2. it’s working with the architecture around it.12 – a project in which he repaired the broken Madrileño pavements with his cement designs) that enhanced rather than disfigured their surrounds. rather than contrast against their architectonic surround. By disregarding their official status in the eyes of the law then (the fetishization of rules as Thomassen terms it above). . it being considered valid simply if the recipient can acknowledge the right of the agent to offer this statement rather than its relevance per se (Cooke 1997: 87). however. come to analyse Consensual Ornamentation through Habermas’s previously stated validity aspects.11. the validity aspects through which all communicatively intended speech-acts may then be accepted or rejected. not against it’. whether it is an acceptable form of communication in its particular context. The first of the claims then. it’s not disturbing its space. even it’s a new order […] I think actually sometimes my work stays up because it’s in place. like an author having a ‘right’ to inscribe it. the explicit desire of its producers to work within. in a quote which could in fact be representative of Consensual Ornamentation as a whole. allied to their settings. ‘my work. I think it’s really about order. Like a speaker having a ‘right’ to perform an act in a given context. Not Interwoven. if they can argue that their messages – even if one may not agree with them – are appropriate.: 88).: 88).: 60). as Eltono once told me. ‘Were participants in conversation always concerned with the effective exchange of information. its validity questioned through the speaker’s ‘entitlement to raise that particular claim to that particular hearer in that particular context’ (ibid. But Extramundane Now that this argument has been put forth. acceptable. This validity claim is hence about the appropriateness of the specific statement. gauges whether or not the declaration prepared conforms to wider societal norms. conversation is in fact usually not concerned with this – conversations seldom have any well-defined goals. normative rightness.10) – or in a more figural state – as in Escif’s quite clearly propositional image (in its interrogation of the relationship between art and capitalism) which we can see in Figure 2. 11 As Cooke argues (1997). rather than the perceived truth or sincerity of the statement (as examined within the next validity claims). the need to be relevant would certainly be more important. we must still. it’s following the lines.11 What is thus crucial for normative rightness is that this appropriateness is simply understood ‘in terms of the speaker’s attempt to establish an interpersonal relationship with the hearer(s)’ (ibid. how can we argue that the agents who produce these artefacts have the‘right’to offer them to us? Primarily. this claim made towards normative rightness by the producers of the illicit ornaments examined here is hence passed if they can be understood to have an equivalent ‘right’ to incise their messages within their medium of the city.Consensual Ornamentation 73 direct textual proposition – as in Filippo Minelli’s image (Figure 2. contextual suitability. it’s order. However. we can suggest that the acceptability of Consensual Ornamentation emerges through its formal.

Spain. 2012 . Untitled [Fill in the Blanks]. Madrid.12 3TTMan.2.

but simply intends to initiate a ‘conversation’ within what can be deemed as an aesthetically. The practitioners of Consensual Ornamentation thus emphatically wanted their work to be deemed ‘acceptable’. to ameliorate the environment. to provide an ‘intersubjective commonality’ through a ‘mutual trust in subjective sincerity’ (ibid. 192–203. does not mean to violently assail its viewer. His work. of seeking no 12 This notion of risk and commitment will be discussed in depth through Leo Howe’s work. where ‘one hesitates’ (Latour 2002: 16). than the vast majority of visual culture that lay within the street: their work was meant to be there. And that is exactly why 3TTMan was so happy to argue with the police when they tried to prevent him working (as they often did. Sincerity is thus proven through this commitment. conversationally acceptable modality. to be in place. the production of a contextually acceptable act. They wanted to reach out to the public with their images. defending it in reference to their ‘beliefs. each act. then. Moreover. this state where the iconoclasts ‘cannot be sure’. the exact point of his practice was to create a relationship with his viewers. the common hesitancy for the removal of these ornamental artefacts from the city – especially when placed in a comparative temporal framework to Agonistic Ornamentation – can thus be seen to allude to its hazily ‘accepted’ state. its contextual ‘rightness’. more social. each ornament can be seen to attempt to initiate a direct interpersonal relationship with their viewer. The second claim. subjective truthfulness.12 Moreover.Consensual Ornamentation 75 The frequently prolonged existence of this form of work. to prove the authenticity of the expression pronounced by the claimant. to work openly during the day exactly because he believed what he did was right. to create an alliance with those whom they lived amongst. has its specific aesthetic validity confirmed in Habermas’s original thesis – referring to the authenticity of feeling or desire. to create a connection to people who they may otherwise never encounter. for the most part. to the inner experience one often encounters in art – a conception of ‘sincerity’ covering ‘expressive self-presentations’ in which acceptability depends on the unspoken assurance that the speaker can sustain any validity claim (Habermas 1987a: 17). This was the main reason for working in the public sphere.: 308). It aims. feelings [and] desires’ (ibid. a commitment which cannot be ironic or feigned.: 307). . they believed their work was more appropriate. was thus the very definition of normative rightness. it points towards the fact that much of the work does not seek to aggressively confront its medium. pp. a commitment which underscores the seriousness and earnestness of the producer. as with the other producers of Consensual Ornamentation. a simple belief that what is said is honest. that is why he was so eager to refute their (fetishistic) laws. the production of an act deemed appropriate within our shared social world. I would argue that this validity claim is straightforwardly obtained through the basic and inherent danger contained within its productive process – the danger of both incarceration and pecuniary penalty through police action. its decorative status attempting to snare its associate viewer. open and candid. the further fact of working ‘free-of-charge’. the danger of physical harm emerging through its often hazardous means of construction – risks directly alluding to the commitment needed just to embark on the communicative process. being explicitly produced to elicit a response. licit or not). In terms of Consensual Ornamentation. therefore. intentions. 3TTMan choosing.

one continuously open to renegotiation through the medium of action. the base need to be productive in public space that my informants displayed on a daily basis. that ‘it must be discursively redeemable. could potentially be possible to discern only through an examination of each unique performance. a common street-art technique that was explicitly critiqued by my informants). that is. 13 Thus. of all others with whom I could ever enter into discourse’ (ibid. which (in a circular argument) was working within the street! As discussed earlier. less expensive) manner. traditionally only one claim is thematic. propositional truth. The reasons for painting were communicative. the argument toward strategic aims falls flat when one realizes the innumerable ways these actors could increase their economic or cultural capital in a more effective (less time-consuming. while all communicative acts raise all three validity claims. or to use their public engagement as a simple marketing tool (inscribing their work with a website address. but a present moral obligation. To ‘distinguish true propositions from false ones’ then. It thus examines the existential content of any statement depending on two particular conditions: first. one must ‘take recourse to the judgment of others – that is. rejecting any suggestion of instrumental motivation. one could therefore argue that this appears to be the hardest claim (in ‘truth’) to fulfil. years) spent working in the city. considers the factuality of any assertion within the objective world (as opposed to the subjective world encountered through truthfulness and the social world confronted by rightness). the statement must be able to hold up against all counterarguments and command the assent of all potential participants in a discourse’ (Habermas 2002: 89). The failure of these actors to rigorously document their work (hence my original ‘use-value’ as a photographic participant observer). experimental rather than strategic. experiential. What is important for us to note here however is that Habermas’s notion of truth is implicitly fallibilist. its veracity or mendacity. whether its claim is ‘justified or unjustified’ (Habermas 2000: 91).14 Yet equally. that ‘it must be grounded in experience. simply does not corroborate with the base need to paint in the streets. therefore. implicitly attests to this fact. can be seen to reiterate this basic sincerity: why would one go to so much effort if not being ‘truthful’? Why would one bother if disingenuous? The long-term strategic goals suggested by some as the ‘cost-benefit’ for the loss of any immediate reimbursement (whether of a strictly economic or else cultural capital). This was a compulsion not born of future desires. less dangerous. this success meant solely the ability to continue with what they loved doing. requiring a more precise look at the particular claim made by the exact work in its extent setting. 14 As Hugh Baxter has explained however (2011). a consensually motivated truth coming to be fruition through what he considered to be the ideal speech act.76 Ornament and Order financial benefit for the hours (weeks. that is. the statement may not conflict with dissonant experience’. whilst all of my informants did desire some measure of success. for example.13 The last of the remaining validity aspects. and second. And thus whether ‘true’ or not (as we will see in the following and final validity claim) there could thus be no ‘suspicion regarding the subjective truthfulness of the speaker’ (Cooke 1997: 60).: 89). as Habermas has suggested. When examining Consensual Ornamentation. truth claims can thus often be seen to work in an indirect or subordinate manner: ‘We would not .

Consensual Ornamentation


we could assess Consensual Ornamentation’s claim to truth as functioning explicitly
through the mediation of what Habermas (2003) terms ‘performative certainty and
warranted assertibility’ (ibid.: 253), the mediation of action and discourse, theory
and practice. Whilst all my informants’ practices are grounded in experience then
– their daily experiences of life in the city, the years of producing work within the
street – their discursive validity, their redeemability, is likewise assessed through the
habitual confrontations emerging in its production, the customary confrontations
with police, passers-by, with fellow practitioners, confrontations leading to a
process of argumentation in which their claims can be rationally debated, where
one must justify one’s truth against the objections of others. This conception of
truth is thus not only fallibilist, changing as their aesthetic productions changed
(perhaps, as is common, from Agonistic to Consensual Ornamentation, or simply
through processes of production attempting to relate more directly to a concept of
‘community’), not only open to the judgement of others (working innately through
a modality of exposition), but comes to emerge directly through communicative
action, through ‘public debate and complete inclusion of all those affected’,
through ‘equal distribution of the right to communicate’, through both the ‘force of
the better argument’ and the ‘sincerity of how all those affected express themselves’
(ibid.: 37). Propositional truth can thus be seen to be validated through my informants’
experiential and discursive acts, yet agreement by the respondent, by the hearer
or viewer is still not a required conclusion to the proposition that was formulated.
‘In its simplest terms’, as Maeve Cooke explains (2000), ‘communicative action is
action whose success depends on the hearer’s responding to the validity claim
raised by the speaker with a “yes” or a “no”’ (ibid.: 3), not necessarily agreement with
the claim proposed, but merely a ‘critical stance’, an ‘intersubjective recognition’
(Habermas 2003: 76). It is a ‘practice of argumentation’ where one is as much
‘willing to convince one another of their views’ as they are willing ‘to learn from one
another’ (ibid.: 77), a practice of mutually constitutive discursive rationality which
Consensual Ornamentation can be seen to evoke.
After all this dense textual analysis, it now seems an appropriate time to
return to the images which I suspended at the very beginning of this chapter – to
Remed’s Amor al Arte, 3TTMan’s Viva la Calle Libre and Eltono’s Untitled – to bring
back these archetypal examples which will stand-in for the practice of Consensual
Ornamentation as a whole. Which of these, then, could we say is a more, or less,
propositional variety of Consensual Ornamentation, which provide an example
of an imagistically illocutionary act? How do these images function within the
realms of common humanity, of common concern, of an inclusive public? How do
they comply with the notions of normative rightness, subjective truthfulness, and
propositional truth?
ordinarily say, for example, that a speaker’s request for a glass of water “raises a truth
claim” – that she claims it to be true that a glass of water can be obtained and brought
in a reasonable amount of time. More likely we would say that she presupposes
these factual circumstances’ (ibid.: 12). In the same way, the truth claim of Consensual
Ornamentation can be seen to be presupposed, the untapped potential of the city,
for example, the instrumental suffusion of the street, being seen to be the basic and
indirect proposition of each work.


2.13 Remed,
Amor Al Arte,
Madrid, Spain,

Ornament and Order

Amor Al Arte by Remed
Love of Art. Boldly written in white chalk in a large, handsome, calligraphic script
and set at eye-level upon an orange and grey stone wall. A simple sentiment, an
uncomplicated statement: three words, a pulsating heart, an infinity symbol, and
Remed’s eponymous ideogram (the small figure at the far right of the image).
Being illegally produced, using the traditional medium (city wall) if not a traditional
tool (spraycan) of contemporary graffiti, I need first briefly explain why this image
is not here being taken as a manifestation of street-art or graffiti, why I believe
it constitutes an example of Consensual Ornamentation. To reiterate, then, by
shifting our focus away from the idioms of both graffiti and street-art, idioms that
an image such as the one above would nominally be inserted within, we can then
move away from the habitual themes of gangs, crime, illegality, vandalism, ‘art’ and
gentrification, themes that fail to address both the patently ornamental and overtly
communicative aspects of the work itself. Even more importantly, however, is the
fact that Remed himself would reject the placement of this image within either
of those originary terminologies, neither of which can come to elucidate the true
import of the image itself. Whilst it is easy to reject this image as an instance of
either street-art or graffiti then, I must still explain how Remed’s work corresponds
to the ornamental constituent of Consensual Ornamentation. We can quite clearly
see that this work is a) adjunctive, an addition (chalk) to a surface (brick wall), a
figure on the ground, a mura rasa; and b) decorative, to once again be working

Consensual Ornamentation


within the base elements of ‘unity, proportion, scale, contrast, balance and rhythm’
(Moughtin, Oc and Tiesdell 1999: 3), acting decoratively through its calligraphic
status. It not only matches the basic definition of ornament, but much like the tags
previously discussed, Remed’s work can in fact be seen to be doubly ornamental,
as an addition and embellishment to the letter and an addition and embellishment
to the city in the same moment. Whilst this ornamental status alludes to a clear
personhood – intertwining Remed’s body with the body of the wall – whilst it
can be understood as inherently ambiguous – like chalkboard markings, never
being able to be fully erased – in what way can we deem this work as something
consensual, something working within Habermas’s notion of embodied rationality,
within his conception of communicative action?
Firstly then, we can see this work, through its overtly textual status, to be explicitly
stating something; it conforms to a literal vocabulary and grammar, it has a definite
sense and reference. And propositional? It acts to convey information, to remark upon
some specific matter, making a concrete, attestable statement working, as Bal would
put it, through the medium of a ‘text-image’ (Bal 1999: 4). Not only producing a factdriven declaration however, it can equally be considered an illocutionary act, a fully
performative action; the loving of art is being enacted through the writing upon the
wall of the city, the very act of performance an act of love, the meaning and the action
of the statement signifying the very same thing. It can thus be seen as both a literal
pronouncement and performative enunciation of Remed’s love of art. Yet how does
it correspond to the tripartite procedural notions required in Habermas’s analysis of

2.14 Remed,
Blanco Ante Gris
[Gracias por tus
mensages], Madrid,
Spain, 2011


Ornament and Order

the public sphere? First, in terms of a common humanity, Remed’s work can be seen
as an act that, through its unrestricted presence in the public domain, disregards any
notion of social status; in terms of common concern, it can be seen as a statement
broadcasting itself outside of the traditional media, working against public authority
through its independent production and against the pure instrumentality of the visual
culture of the city through its non-strategic demands; and in terms of the inclusive
public, it enables pure accessibility to the public of readers, listeners and spectators
through its legibility, its inclusivity, through its refusal of the clique. As a rationally
communicative form it can also be seen to conform to the notion of normative
rightness. Its acceptability as a form of communication in its particular social situation
is attested not only by its clearly supportable statement, not only through Remed’s
attempt to establish an interpersonal relationship with his recipients, but is made
manifestly evident by the literal response that Remed’s work elicits; as we can see in
Figure 2.14, Remed’s messages are often subject to literal responses – Gracias por su
mensajes ;), ‘Thank you for your messages’ – rejoinders which proved the contextual
acceptability of his initial proposition. As an example of communicative action it can
also be seen to conform to the notion of subjective truthfulness. Remed’s perceived
sincerity can thus be proven through the illicit performance and attendant risk this
produces, through the basic lack of instrumentally motivated ‘gain’ the message
attempted (proven through the lack of identifying name or website attached), a
sincerity which Remed’s resultant response A ti para sentir los!, ‘to you for feeling
them!’, can be seen to reinstate. And as an ideal performative act it can conform to
the final validity claim of propositional truth. Its acceptance within the sphere of the
external, objective world being shown through its very discursive redeemablity, the
propositional counterargument to Remed’s initial statement being refuted through
its very existence.
It’s simple. I paint in the street because I want to have one pure moment. One
moment where I can express myself simply and clearly to everyone who passes in
the street. I’ve always painted on canvas, and I’ve always been able to show my
studio art to a gallery, but the work in the street is like the sum of all my knowledge,
all my life, all the evolution I have had. It’s all of that together put in the street. I
mean it works both ways, the street influences the studio and the studio the street
of course. But my expectations, and maybe with 3TTMan and other friends, is to
get closer to the condition of the studio when we paint in the street. That is the best
gift I can give to myself and the people. To be true in the streets, to be as dedicated
there as I am in the studio. That’s what I think people deserve. Not to sound
egotistical. But they don’t deserve just a tag. I mean I LOVE tags. Because I know
them, I understand them, I read them, I write them. But when I’m painting in the
street it’s for the universe, the whole city, not just for the ones that are making tags.
I’m painting for your mother and mine, I’m painting for everyone I have never even
met. So I have to make it “touchable”. I want people to see it and understand what
I’m saying. I just try to make something beautiful that will talk without me having
to be there to explain it […] Now my paintings, in the street people see it and I don’t
have to say anything. With all of them I think people can understand it straight
away through its simplicity. I love that. It makes it all more simple, more direct, it
allows me to get a true feedback. I can really communicate with people. I know they
will see it, I know they will understand it. And it gives a real communication to the
street, to all the people in it (23/8/2008).

Consensual Ornamentation


Viva la Calle Libre by 3TTMan
At one stage removed from our first example, what we have depicted here contains
both figural and discursive elements, components of both overtly textual and
representational content. On the left and right hand side of this triptych we can
thus find 3TTMan’s eponymous hero bursting in and out of the wall in which he
lays, diving through the brick in a dramatic manner; and within the central panel
we have four words, Viva la Calle Libre, ‘Long Live the Free Street’. Set on a prominent
corner in the centre of Madrid, beseeching all who pass it. Again, illegally produced,
again using the medium (city wall) but not tools (cement) of traditional graffiti, and,
once again, being neither suffused within the realm of graffiti nor street-art. Having
already explored the ornamental constituent of Remed’s work above I will here
forgo any lengthy analysis of this aspect here (if I still have to convince the reader
at this stage I am fighting a losing battle), only to stress its nature as secondary
substance (cement) on primary surface (wall), its explicitly adjunctive status, its
innately decorative, agentic endeavour (3TTMan not only producing the work but
being represented within it), and its indeterminate condition both attached and
detached to its surface.
Yet its locutionary, illocutionary, its propositional status? Well we could firstly
quite clearly see the work to be ‘saying’ something (and thus be locutionary), working
through a certain force, through a lucidity in its statement; Viva la Calle Libre thus not
only provokes a relationship between speaker and listener via clear, rational speech,

2.15 3TTMan’s
Viva la Calle Libre
(Madrid, Spain,
2010) after a
(or perhaps
erasure by local
authorities, an
attempted erasure
only serving to
give the original
work more


Ornament and Order

it acts as a wish, a prime example of an illocutionary utterance, a statement and
an action at the same time. Moreover, as an explicit performative, ‘Long Live the
Free Street’, like ‘Long Live the King’, is a statement in which the act of wishing is
fulfilled through its own utterance, the utterance not narrating something true or
false but something felicitous or infelicitous, something which functions through its
ability to successfully perform the act in question. Yet aside from these conventional
locutionary properties, I would also move to argue that the images themselves,
devoid of their central text, function in very way as the above illocutions. The
eponymous three-headed figure thus works not just to substantiate but to visually
pronounce, to perform, to assert the very statement itself, the image representing
the freedom 3TTMan embraces, representing the literal breaking down of barriers.
Yet does this image correspond to the vital Habermasian technicalities of common
humanity, common concern and inclusive public? Being present, available to all those
living in the city in the openness of the street, it can be understood to implicitly
disregard entrenched social hierarchy, to be legible, and thus open to all possible
readers, listeners, viewers, to form a legitimate topic of discourse, a legitimacy
registered through its vocal support of an open public sphere. Yet does it work within
the communicative validity claim of normative rightness? It is here proven through
its status as an acceptable gesture, a declaration which is appropriate to make
within the city itself (in a city increasingly subject to restrictions and limitations),
with is appropriate if not relevant to societal norms. To subjective truthfulness? Here
ably demonstrated through its illicit, non-remunerative status, the sincerity of the
statement proven by the act itself. And propositional truth? Here established through
its ability, like all of 3TTMan’s works, to stand up to counterarguments (‘down with
the free street’), to cohere, to obtain within its particular ‘truth’, the truth of 3TTMan’s
total support of the continual vibrancy of the street.
What first gave me the idea of doing the project was seeing a wall on which
children had drawn their names, their declarations of love, when the cement
was still fresh. It felt raw and natural at the same time. I became more and more
fascinated by these interventions in the street because they seemed to reveal a
more spontaneous expression than when someone is consciously working in
public space, like a purer form of communication … I don’t like something just to
be good, to be beautiful, to be good for its own sake. For me it’s a way to express
yourself, but as you express something you create something which can touch
others. At the end, what we do is for people to see it, and so I like to send messages
in it. The saturation of information in the street today makes all those who use
public space as a medium of communication – whether that’s advertisers, graffiti
writers, architects – to seek visibility at any cost. What I love is that with the cement
however is such a rudimentary technique can have more impact than these huge
marketing campaigns. There’s no need to have permission, in fact the technique
allows you to work in the center without authorization. You get around the “need”
to do something for any reason than itself. Like with the Fill in the Blanks project
[see Figure 2.12, a project in which 3TTMan used his cement technique to repair
potholed pavements all over the city] I felt the responsibility to do that, to pick
up what the City Council had dropped, to improve the city for everyone. I felt the
civic rumble in my soul! I don’t want to impose my ideas on people and say yeah,
you have to think this way, for me, that’s too much of an imposition. I want to do

again using the medium (street wall) but not tools (acrylic paint) of traditional graffiti. A form of almost total abstraction. and again.16 Eltono. Utrecht. painted wooden board set within a red-bricked wall (acting as an almost perfect canvas) and adjacent to a tag-covered electrical box and an advert-covered general store. Situated at the furthest end of our three examples in purely textual to expressive terms.Consensual Ornamentation 83 something fun. Although I will argue that this image is still one searching for a consensual response. 2. respectful. red and blue. Situated upon a black. Again. 2013 . and then let people see what they think about it. Untitled. Untitled by Eltono The tuning fork. a connection with the people. in levels of overt propositionality to ambiguity. here we have no textual elements. for the final time. and thus possibly the most difficult to coincide with the strict technicalities of Consensual Ornamentation. honest. Netherlands. always evolving design. I mean I don’t pretend to be a type of social artist that causes a revolution in the people. sharp lines set out in white. Eltono’s iterable. working in an entirely different way from either what are too commonly termed either graffiti or street-art. for me that cause is too high. with no intermediary. alongside three matching triangles set in red and blue: figures which snake around each other to form Eltono’s eponymous shape. We have seven discrete. There’s a direct relation and reaction … There’s no other art that works in this way. I just want to have a relation. to put it there. I actually think that is worth a lot more. not force them to think something (23/8/2010). illegally produced. And you could see people really understood it. and brings up the masses against the government. I just want to provoke a thought.

But could we not simply see this as a Lyotardian sensual. maze-like form (and thus to allude toward all the tension-fuelled discourses which are allied to this ornamental status). this would still be a purely metaphoric analysis. Madrid. it is exposing itself to us as a viewer. to stress once more its obviously decorative. So what real linguistically viable issue does this work attempt to explore? 2. illocutionary.84 Ornament and Order As previously justified. 1999 .17 Eltono. propositional standing becomes presently the more complex element to unwrap. Spain. As discussed. save to say adjunctive element (paint) on primary surface (wooden board). Untitled. but can it be understood as having any rational. on the public wall of the city. a vocabulary based on simple geometrical shapes. or perhaps one working within the grammar of the architectural construction it is situated within. I will not trouble to investigate the ornamental aspect of the work. being a publicly accessible form we can firstly conclude that it is an inherently expository one. it is ‘saying’ something (whether in purely linguistically comparable terms or not) by just being there. figural message (as we will come to explore in more depth within the next chapter) rather than a more literal one? The image is obviously operating in a communicative way. discursive potential? Although I could move to suggest that it is working within a specific graphic vocabulary. But its potentially locutionary.

Spain. In this manner.: 1910). images which ‘seem to say “look!” while often implying “That’s how it is”’ (ibid.18 Eltono. it can be making a proposition through its being rather than through its saying. Working against the violence of the official signs as much as the violence of graffiti.: 1916) – such as a collective silence which can express a negative answer or such as the famous blank page in Laurence Sterne’s Tristam Shandy which informs us of Yorick’s death. 1998 What I want to argue here is that.: 1913). And thus working against both the licit and illicit images which it lies beside – overtly echoing the operational modality. a sense of quietude. It was an explicit search for the notion of common humanity. Untitled. a visual performance of something new in the street urging us to see the very street in a correspondingly new way.: 165). as a speech act. where every member of the public domain was invited into the discourse (enacted through its visual simplicity). Eltono’s image can function through the means of what Michal Ephratt (2008) has termed an ‘Eloquent Silence’ (ibid. As Eltono himself suggested. one can ‘make claims and proclaim propositions using eloquent silence’ (ibid.Consensual Ornamentation 85 2. silence can take on referential roles. Working through a visual simplicity.: 1909). but as an ‘active means chosen by the speaker to communicate his or her message’ (ibid. through a refusal of the noise we are so often forced to encounter. a search . his move away from traditional graffiti was undertaken in order to encounter a wider public audience. produced so as to find a harmony with both the material and social body of the city (integrating both its architectonic and societal elements in a more consensual manner). a visual order. Madrid. mimicking the medium and techniques of each – I will here suggest that Eltono’s work can be understood to be proposing a form of simplicity. not silence as a pause for speech. nor silence as a method of generating power over another. a silence not denoting an ‘absence of meaning’ but one that is fully ‘part of communication’ (ibid. it can be seen as an example of what Bal (2001) terms ‘speech-art’.

but I got to the stage where I wanted to reach other people. They probably appreciated the fact that I respect the place. with a sense of subjective truthfulness. It’s like a beautiful kind of secret. it’s graffiti for graffiteros. a sympathy and intersubjective relation with its public accomplices. to suggest another way of seeing the city. not against. an image working explicitly with. I’m working. But I realised with my work that I was able to communicate with everybody. for its all abstraction then. So I tried to find a way of working in a more involved way. is an image which explicitly attempts to form a consensual relation with all those who see it. The thing with graffiti is that it’s just communication inside graffiti. towards the reaching of an understanding. the other writers in the city. it is an image produced with a proposition at its heart. stopping and looking at it. Even as it may seem to present nothing but form. Rather than being merely a discourse oriented . an act orientated.86 Ornament and Order for common concern. the repudiation of coercion). Of course some people won’t get it. people see it and may think about it. strategic functioning of the city itself ). to modify the way I worked in the city. approaching issues important to members of society as a whole (critiquing the cold. through its illicit and non-remunerative performance. the lines of the city. And the rest of the city doesn’t see it. to communicate with everyone in the street. ‘who did that? What is he trying to say to me?’ It’s a powerful media because you can make people stop and really question their whole environment (23/8/2008). nothing but shape and colour. And that’s fine. It’s easier to appreciate than big silver fat-cap tags. built in order to communicate with its recipients. an existential need to present his way of understanding the city to its inhabitants as a whole. To make people interact with the city in a different way. At the beginning I wanted to change. doesn’t read it. less aggressive. it creates an intimate relationship. as stated earlier. that’s also important. and with the conception of propositional truth. so people will bump into something new and unexpected. I needed to keep that because I loved that interaction with the city. But I still want to put art into places it doesn’t normally go. I saw old men or kids appreciating my work. the factual honesty of the claim a statement on the existential nature of the city. When you’re doing graffiti the rest of the people don’t care that much. a sincerity reached. What I realised with my work when I stopped painting letters is that I could reach another kind of people. the way I’d learnt to relate to the street through graffiti. A Unity of Form and Function Consensual Ornamentation can thus be understood as a discourse shaped to facilitate an intense communal transaction. not everyone will understand what I am trying to do. But the way of thinking. I’m not covering it. it’s only for the small group you’re in. at its very basis. I’m not destroying it. I wanted to try something new. playing with it. Eltono’s image. its acceptability reached through a harmony with the space itself. They hate it and that’s it. And it was something also produced directly within the notion of normative rightness. They see it and they think. where its simple presentation necessitated a form of dialogical interaction (where consensus was based upon the search for understanding. a search for an inclusive public. doesn’t care. to try and find a real interaction with people. Working in the street is simply the most democratic way.

rather than agreeing with. as previously discussed. to insist upon the interactive.: 101). etc. It was about the ‘performance of an act’ (Austin 1962: 99) rather than their ‘consequential effects’ (ibid. Akin to the rival ‘new social movements’ that Habermas discusses (2002). All the works of Consensual Ornamentation are thus meant to be seen. so-called ‘counterinstitutions’ that are understood to evade the ‘clutches of the steering media’ (ibid. without anything more than their counterpart understanding. to be interacted with. they simply aspire to elicit a response. the particular statement presented (Longworth 2006). a manifest not mendacious message where the beholder could then make up their own mind. Whether or not a final consensus was eventually achieved. ordering. instrumentally motivated intentions – ‘buy me’. deterring. this bearing toward rational assertion. i. to create a new form of participation which increases rational discourse and debate. a new site from which one can critique hegemonic practices and develop what was considered as an authentic. it must not be understood as a straightforwardly aggressive or antiestablishmentarian tactic but instead as a new stage from which to enter public debate. images that never produced a brash conclusive statement (a finality occluding impending discourse) but which instead opened a path to discourse. . where they could be (at the very least) party to an attempt at rational communication. The illegality of production can thus be seen as a stance which enables a space from which to work against Habermas’s steering media. A performative utterance could thus be completed without the intended result of anything other than recognition of its existence. surprising or misleading’ and acts such as ‘informing. rather. both seen as a perlocutionary visuality with indirect. say. and even. the desire was simply for genuinely illocutionary communication. was thus not the imperative issue.e. And it is simply this orientation. warning. and thus that defines Consensual Ornamentation at its very core. movements that have the potential to ‘foster the revitalization of possibilities for expression and communication that have been buried alive’.: 108). it must be seen as a communicative platform attempting to confront the misrepresentations of steering media. undertaking. a counterinstitution (through its solicitation toward understanding. to function through an exposition that transgresses law but not perceived rights. utterances which have a certain (conventional) force’ (ibid. that defines communicative action. responsive nature of traditional discourse. that transgresses prevalent hegemonic codes but not prevailing social ones.. ‘do this’ or ‘do that’). The collective adherence to images with the potential for open interpretability. Consensual Ornamentation can hence be seen to reject the instrumentally motivated direction of the public sphere in preference for a more human form of communication. not simply gain) from which actors can critically assess the distortions present within modern media forms. was in fact used by many informants as a technique to both combat the perceived aggressive admonitions of much of the visual culture in the public sphere (whether classical ‘public art’ or advertising. a technique highlighting the disparity between ‘convincing.: 395–6). non-perlocutionary mode of public participation. a new location from which to penetrate into the public sphere as a whole. formed in order to integrate with the public space of the city.Consensual Ornamentation 87 towards the attainment of perceived ‘success’. a form of critical publicity which attempts to return to free deliberation and contestation. persuading. And hence whilst illicit. ‘stop here’.

. and simple corporeal interaction with the city that will be discussed in Section 2 – it is these intentional. between representational and architectonic meanings. these ornamental forms both embellish and beautify their surfaces in their own idiosyncratic ways. the social beliefs of the very producers themselves. a style of parietal writing striving to act in an open manner within its available surroundings – irrespective of its officially permissible status and willing to rationally debate this standing. Here. as productions transcending the very impermeability of their now porous walls. Illegal Inscription. an ornamental form in fact moulding a coherent public sphere through its very existence. Even as the experience of production itself is a key element within the productive process – the jouissance. communicative values that I believe uphold the core distinctions between Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation. then. I would argue that we can see an ornamental form enmeshed within the very centre of the public sphere. spontaneity. I would contend. Kiev. modern forms that replicate a past ornamental structure with no understanding of their initiatory purpose. searching for accord and union with its surrounding community. I would suggest we can distinguish an aesthetic searching for agreement. Ukraine. they form a unity between expressive meaning and construction. a unity of form and function that makes the images produced far from the empty decorative effects created by many modern forms of ornament.88 2. in all the images and artefacts discussed within this chapter as a whole.19 Homer [Sasha Kurmaz]. we can find an unmitigated correspondence between appearance and use. As clearly ornate additions to architectural facades. 2010 Ornament and Order In all three of the specific case studies presented above. the designs acting as performances of thought. of the argumentative impulse. this communicative search for consensus on the one hand and dissensus on the other that defines them at their very base.

I Hereby Apologise for the Damage Done. Netherlands.2. Eindhoven.20 Erosie. 2007 .

then.15 can thus still be seen to hold a key place within the timeless search for a liberating model of a public sphere. 15 Critiques often based on a descriptive analysis of his work. utopian. openly. a discussion of the subjunctive. an assessment of whether there ever actually was the equality of class. And seen through this Habermasian lens. rather than an argument of a prescriptive nature that I am attempting here. Understood through the medium of Consensual Ornamentation. we can see Consensual Ornamentation striving to re-work both the conceptions of the classic public sphere – a place where one can discuss issues away from the demands of the state or the market – as well as the concepts of communicative action – where we can then discuss these issues rationally. complex city. gender and so on that he contended. a form of public.90 Ornament and Order Habermas’s work. philosophical project that he proposed . we can see the abiding desire for an authentic way of communicating in the modern. despite the numerous and often impassioned critiques set against it. where everyone can partake in discourse. insurgent ornamentation with both a communicative interconnectedness and openness imbued within it. we can perceive a clear continuance of the enduring search for the good life. We can find an ornament with a consensual order at its heart.

. It indicates that the transcendence of the symbol is the figure. forms of language that are at the same time unexpected and unheard of. and this functions both at the edge of and within discourse. which is not signified. diacritical space. an exteriority that cannot be interiorized as signification.3 Agonistic Ornamentation If one is pagan. we understand the term agon to mean both an Ancient Greek ‘public celebration of games’ and ‘a verbal contest or dispute between two characters in a Greek play’. Jean François Lyotard The position of art is a refutation of the position of discourse. into our relations with others. I must explain why I am trying to describe this particular aesthetic domain as something agonistic. as forms of efficacy. In its alterity. Jean François Lyotard Outmoded and Suspect As with its Consensual partner. a spatial manifestation that linguistic space cannot incorporate without being shaken. art is posed as plasticity and desire. With its ornamental criteria satisfied (outlined again in their specifics within the case studies below). if (and once more) following the OED. it is certainly not because one thinks that one game is better than another. it is because one has several kinds of games at one’s disposal […] One can introduce into the pragmatics. what I must first here outline is the full importance of the Agonistic part of the neologism which this chapter eponymously takes as its title. Either because one has made up new moves in an old game or because one has made up a new game. opposed to invariability and reason. The position of art indicates a function of figure. curved extension. that is.

moreover. combative’. The Belas Artes Invasion depicted here. These three – Nano4814’s Untitled. rather than the consensual agora. before we begin to probe the theoretical basis of this aesthetic discourse. because the condition of postmodernity is characterized by the plurality and incommensurability of “language-games”’. because the pursuit of consensus “does violence” to this plurality and thereby constrains possibilities for authentic political action’ (Markell 1997: 377). as key to the wellbeing of the public sphere. that we will be able to grasp the types of practices. the desire for disharmony and discord they prompt – while the material forms they most commonly exhibit have been briefly laid out – a practice by and large based in a calligraphic form. ‘striving to overcome in argument’. Each of these individuals has utilized the classical Greek notion of the agonal spirit. one embracing an often intentionally impenetrable appearance and an inward-looking approach – I need to make clear why this agonistic term is so pertinent. For the actual images of the attack at the Choque Gallery. Like in our previous chapter however. that agonism demands. then. and ‘suspect. we must depart from the artistic field as discussed in the previous chapter. I will be examining the work of two key agonistic theorists. discord and disputation. where true freedom in understood in terms of strife. three examples which I will for a second time leave suspended as my argument builds. in its potential to ‘provide a consensual ground for public acts of political speech and resistance’. please see here: http://www. where struggle is both means and end. Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzsche). is thus used as a visual illustration of a similar and the Choque Gallery Invasion/Belas Artes Invasion (orchestrated by Cripta Djan and Rafael Pixobomb)1 – will later be used as distinct case studies to analyse the argument being made. the irrepressible difference of the public sphere that we must now move to In order to further my particular argumentative thrust. very regrettably. representative instances which will come to support the relation I now seek to make both with Lyotard and Mouffe’s theory of the agon. archetypal images of what I argue Agonistic Ornamentation to be. Instead. we must depart from a zone within which ‘consensus and collectivity are valued positively as instantiations of democratic relations between the artist. seeing the competitive agon. unable to obtain. I want again to present three. intentional fractured cultural approach they take on.92 Ornament and Order the term agonistic to mean ‘polemic. where this very expression emerges from. Spok’s TBC. the viewer. it is through their combined elucidation that we will come closer to a definition of Agonistic Ornamentation. it is toward a regime that sees the very idea of consensus as an outmoded and suspect that we will now progress – ‘outmoded. and the artwork’ (Hinderliter 2009: 17). . Whilst the conceptual borders of this discourse have been previously outlined – the closed. rather than forms of argumentation. however. For now. a field that believes in its ‘transformative potential’. I have been. And although their at times variant understandings of agonistic practice do on occasions clash (in what could be seen as a classically agonic manner). 1 Permission to reprint images of the Choque Gallery Invasion. Each of them have focussed on the Homeric impulse toward contest and competition. It is toward an arena attempting to emphasize the innate heterodoxy. and. an event also organized by Critpa Djan and Rafael Pixobomb. the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and the political theorist Chantal Mouffe (both of whom will be ably assisted by figures such as Homi Bhabha.

Vigo.3.1 Nano4814. 2009 . Untitled. Spain.

Madrid. TBC. Spain. São Paulo. 2009 3.3  Belas Artes Invasion.3. 2008 . Brazil.2 Spok.

a ‘cure and an aid in the service of growing. an ‘incredulity toward metanarratives’. there statutes revised. constituents that are at the foundation of an active. a ‘permanent provocation’. in those of Foucault (1982: 790). a space in which ‘one competes for recognition. Disagreement and disputation are thus recognized to be necessary. conflict and disorder are seen an inherent part of democratic existence. rather than negative components of political and social life. a location from which these authorities can be defied. a truth marked by the ‘productivity of meanings that construct counter-knowledges in medias res’ (Bhabha 2004: 33). in fact. Autonomy from the search for accord and an embracement of dissension is believed to develop a position from which hegemonic power can be confronted and interrogated. Scientific knowledge of the type espoused by Habermas – where a ‘scientific statement is subject to the rule that a statement must fulfill a given set of conditions in order to be accepted as scientific’ (Lyotard 1984: 8) – was thus contrasted with what Lyotard termed a narrative knowledge – one that ‘certifies itself in the pragmatics of its own transmission without having recourse . considered to be of profound danger for a truly emancipative society. Within the agon then. in the famous words of Lyotard (1984: xxiv). to expand and develop the practices of an egalitarian public sphere. he fiercely critiqued the Deliberative Democrat’s conviction in the democratizing ability of consensuality and discursive reason. For agonistic theorists. struggling life’. upon the basic impossibility of ever reaching a fully inclusive and unfettered state. For Lyotard. issues that should remain within a continuous cycle of friction. as he suggested in his ground-breaking text The Postmodern Condition (1984).: 716). a truth ‘marked and informed by the ambivalence of the process of emergence itself’.: 10). It is an approach encompassing a wide range of contestational procedures. vigorous instantiation of citizenship. in the poetic expression of Nietzsche (2001: 234). the theoretical landscape we are here exploring is one based on a resistance to everyday normativity. authentic communication likewise born of a recalcitrant will. All are subjects not to be finally agreed upon. one laying weight upon the boundlessness of injustice.Agonistic Ornamentation 95 The Impossible or Unforeseeable Move At its nucleus. Language was understood to be in a state of continuous tension. ‘to speak is to fight […] and speech acts fall into the domain of a general agonistics’ (ibid. and thus whilst Lyotard was of course (notionally) supportive of Habermas’s attempted resistance towards the instrumentality so prevalent within the public sphere. but to be consistently disputed about. nothing can remain unchallenged: boundaries and borders. however. invention itself was understood as something ‘always born of dissension’ (ibid. The general acquiescence to hegemonically inspired ‘truth’ was. Agonistic space can therefore be understood on the one hand as a truly competitive one. As he went on to pronounce. inequities and imbalances. naturally. as a way. an outlook that he in fact argued was ‘parasitic upon an Enlightenment metanarrative of emancipation’ (Villa 1992b: 716). the idea that ‘a model of argumentative rationality and agreement derived from science’ could bestow a ‘context-independent criteria of validity’ was vehemently dismissed by Lyotard (ibid. yet on the other as a space in which one does not battle in search of the ‘truth’ but its direct defiance.: xxv). a condition of unremitting ‘civil war’ (Lyotard 1988: 141). precedence and acclaim’ (Benhabib 1992: 78).

96 Ornament and Order to argumentation and proof’ (ibid. These language games would have three key facets: 1) their rules would not ‘carry within themselves their own legitimation’. artistic. first-order utterances that could denote a radical difference and that could resist incorporation within the totalizing histories of the metalanguage. the turn to the dominion of the Sophists (what he calls the ‘strength of the weak’ [Lyotard 1978. as the ‘unspeakable other’ (Readings 1991: xxxi).: 27) – a crucial distinction which he believed protected the true heterogeneity and multiplicity of the social world. no discourses with any unifying authority. working both within and against normative discourse. or any other’ (ibid. be it pictorial. disconnected. And only by agreeing on the rules of every individual interaction could the field come to any sense. In the agonistic realm Lyotard recounts there were thus no metaprescriptions with any universal authenticity. explicit or not. This appeal to a ‘pagan politics’ (Lyotard 1985: 75). ‘little narratives’.: 79). as a ‘flattening. local. cited in White 1994: 482]). cited in Readings 1991: 51). and 3) ‘every utterance should be thought of as a “move” in a game’ (Lyotard 1984: 10). doing violence to both the heterogeneity of the agonic contest as well as the heterogeneity of the players. 2) ‘if there are no rules.: 72). that even an infinitesimal modification of one rule alters the nature of the game’. could one recognize the basic alterity of every interaction. a space where there could be ‘no narrative to put an end to narratives’ (ibid. the arts as understood as ‘a series of little narratives’ (Readings 1991: 73). No language game could thus supplant another. the ‘increase of being and the jubilation which result from the invention of new rules of the game.: 66). aiming to create a ‘horizon of dissensus’ (Lyotard 1984. there is no game. The paralogical space they opened – paralogy indicating a ‘sensitivity to differences’. the aesthetic could renegotiate our understanding of what cultural transformation might be. these little narratives were understood to displace any scientific claims to narrative theory. advancing the postmodern conception of culture as incomplete. we could then come to critically assess (and then expel) the deeply entrenched societal assurances of truth and meaning. antiagonistic. a distinction which could stand in contrast to the dictatorial metanarratives. endeavoured to ‘break with all attempts to ground action and practical decision in a theoretical discourse of legitimacy’ (Johnson 2006: 143). games that Lyotard maintained could open ‘the way to forms of political practice and judgment freed from the tyranny of science or episteme’ (Villa 1992b: 716). Through the arts. Acting ‘figurally’. come to oust the pervasive metanarratives that dominated contemporary Western thought. quite plainly. an ‘ability to tolerate the incommensurable’ (Lyotard 1984: xxv) – was one which did not aim for consensus but rather for its own displacement. could force the other out of the dialogue.: 51). And through the subsequent collapse of prevalent notions of truth. The result of this was the emergence of so-called petits recits. but be the ‘the object of a contract. As the very ‘field of a resistance to metalanguages’ (ibid. discontinuous. an abhorrent ideal that Lyotard’s postmodern philosophy sought to radically displace. antiinitiatory’ model of political practice (Villa 1992b: 716). each contingent game coming to form a new mode of communication. exemplifying the novatio. . ‘discordant language games’ could then emerge. between players’. It was grasped. Consensuality was simply understood to come to regularize the ‘“moves” permitted’ (ibid.

the ‘impossible’ or unforeseeable move’ (ibid. Art was hence not merely ‘in the service of cultural transformation’ but was ‘cultural transformation’ (ibid. And a ‘preeminently pagan’ aesthetic could emerge not when aiming ‘at mimetic fidelity’ (i. so as to revivify the truth of art.: 55). Within it one could then ‘invent by instituting new rules’. postmodern art does not seek a truth at all but seeks to testify to an event to which no truth can be assigned. one could seek ‘the move that will displace the rules of the game. if late modernist innovation sought a new truth to the experience of telling. the “impossible” or unforeseeable move. Roughly speaking. Paralogism seeks the move that will displace the rules of the game. the condition of art is postmodern or paralogical when it both is and is not art at the same time […] If early modern aesthetic innovation sought a new truth or a new way of telling the truth. more invention’ (Readings 1991: 54).4 Neko. Madrid. . between Lyotard’s conception of modernist and post-modernist forms of art. whereas the paralogical move changes the rules in the pragmatics of knowledge. between the ‘innovative function of art’ espoused by modernism.e. The invention may produce more inventions. but this is not the necessary outcome. as explicated so cogently once more by the late Bill Readings. a Utopia’). but simply when aiming at ‘producing effects’. that cannot be made the object of a conceptual representation (ibid. to set the imagination to work’ (Lyotard 1985: 61). not when aiming at a ‘subjective will’ (‘creating a new truth of the imagination. on art as discovery rather than truth.Agonistic Ornamentation 97 3. And hence we can then come to find the distinction. Untitled. and the true ‘paralogism’ of the postmodern: Innovation seeks to make a new move within the rules of the language game “art”. ‘to play moves’. Innovation refines the efficiency of the system. Spain. to ‘develop ruses.: 55). at ‘provoking more art. paganism an insistence on art against knowledge. 2009 To be pagan was to fully partake in these language games. ‘telling the truth’).: 54). It may well be the fate of a paralogical move to be reduced to innovation as the system adapts itself (one can read Picasso this way).

cited in Grebowicz 2007: 20). it must ‘exacerbate them so as to resist the injustice which silences those who cannot 2 Lyotard gives this visually forceful example of an archetypal differend: ‘Let’s accept now that you are beginning to play with the [aforementioned] tennis balls in someone’s company. There is a differend’ (Lyotard 1993. truly paralogical art would bear witness to the differends2 so present in society. Untitled.5  La Mano and Zosen. as you thought. Barcelona. but is treating them more like chess pieces. 1997 For Lyotard then. Spain.98 Ornament and Order 3. You are surprised to observe that this other person does not seem to be playing tennis with these balls. One or the other of you complains that “that’s not how you play the game”. the instants ‘wherein something which should be able to be put into phrases cannot be phrased in the accepted idioms’ (Lyotard 1988: 56). . where one is forced to ‘find a way to phrase the silence that cannot be phrased’ (White 1994: 490). Yet not only should art ‘evoke or testify’ toward these differends.

the thinker who has most successfully rearticulated agonistically philosophical tracts by theorists such as Nietzsche and Lyotard into a more engaged. one could form a space which could battle the pernicious façade of harmony and consensus.3 one could come to see consensus solely as ‘a particular state of discussion’ rather than ‘its end’ (Lyotard 1984: 65–6). The promotion of consensuality. through petit-recits. however. as well as political thinkers like Jürgen Habermas. initially encouraged so as to manage the burgeoning plurality of society. all metanarratives. which could refuse efficiency and embrace sensuality. creative energy which could never become ‘bound to a single logic or discursive form’ (White 1994: 480–82).: 28). and aims at creating an identity based on homogeneity’ (Mouffe 2005a: 39). ‘“American” here includes Japan. with its moral discourse centered around the individual. The Register of Legitimacy Emerging from this dissensual field. and a democratic tradition committed toward notions of popular sovereignty and equality. one of the principal errors made by Deliberative Democrats (specifically Habermas. a tension she discusses using the work of the German political theorist (and National Socialist) Carl Schmitt. For Mouffe (2005a). through the disruption of all truth. the hegemony of a market-based form of instrumentality. one could then become released from what Lyotard termed as the ‘American’ position. not deductions but ‘moves’ which were of the utmost importance. where it needs to promote an inherent logic of inclusion/exclusion. Through all these techniques. Whilst the two components of liberal democracy had 3 As Grebowicz (2007) notes. and refers generally to a formulation of democracy where dissent is to be negotiated away’ (ibid. . contemporary. the careful poise of the fields now surging away from the demos and toward the hegemony of (neo-)liberal forces. the rule of law and the concept of liberty.: 93). Examining the conflict between ‘homogeneity’ on the one hand and the ‘eradication of heterogeneity’ on the other (Schmitt 1926. Chantal Mouffe represents probably the most overtly political theorist of the agon. in Mouffe 2005a: 38) – a situation where the state needs a certain inequality to produce the very notion of equality (for equality to have any political meaning that is). Our modern conception of liberal democracy thus contains an inbuilt aporia between a liberal tradition dedicated to human rights. social policy. refuse homogeneity and embrace multiplicity. one could form a boundless contest in which it was not resolutions but utterances. through paralogy. but so too John Rawls) was their avoidance of the deep-seated tension between the ‘logic of democracy’ on the one hand and the ‘logic of liberalism’ on the other (ibid. had tipped the fine balance of these (conflicting) logics away from democracy and towards liberalism.Agonistic Ornamentation 99 speak the language of the master’ (Lyotard in Readings 1991: xxx). through language-games. which is essentially political. of us/them – Mouffe argues that there is an ‘insuperable opposition between liberal individualism. and the democratic ideal. Through the fluid space of the agon. one could create a wild.

: 102). has led to the ‘very idea of a possible alternative to the existing order’ – to any alternative to the hegemony of neo-liberalism – being dangerously and totally discredited. with the dominance of the ‘third way’ and middle-ground diplomacy. As Mouffe (2001) maintains: . a symbolic space that can lead to a vibrant instantiation of the public sphere. And thus while the interconnection between liberalism and democracy was still seen to be pivotal.: 102). not only does any alternative ‘to the existing configuration of power disappear’. as opponents with a ‘shared adhesion to the ethico-political principles of liberal democracy’ (ibid. For Mouffe. through an embracement of its friction that we could then confront the basic impossibility of ‘establishing a consensus without exclusion’ (Mouffe 2005a: 105). within an agonistic bond rivals share a common space of representation.: 5). They may disagree on the precise implications of liberty and equality. Mouffe argues that we have become entrenched in a state that. that makes visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate’. from a ‘struggle between enemies’ to a ‘struggle between adversaries’ (ibid.100 Ornament and Order previously stabilized through constant political tension between contending forces then. This was dissensus as improvisation rather than innovation (as we discuss further on pp. transform the ‘them’ from a social other into a social partner ‘whose ideas we combat but whose right to defend those ideas we do not put into question’ (ibid. a form of dissensus which attempted to eliminate the ‘us/them’ dichotomy (a modality following Schmitt’s concept of friend/ enemy) and instead convert the ‘them’ from an ‘enemy to be destroyed’ into an ‘adversary’. but so too does ‘the very possibility of a legitimate form of expression for the resistances against the dominant power relations’ (ibid. Deliberative democracy thus means that groups existing outside of the notional consensus (and there will always be a ‘constitutive outside’ to any consensual process) have no place from which to even enter the debate.: 5). an adjustment creating space for a battle of ideas where ontological differences are in themselves incontrovertible. yet a dissensus which did not work through pure transgression or denial. 217–19). This all then leads to what for Mouffe (2002) is the crucial adaptation of antagonism into agonism. Unlike a purely antagonistic relationship.: 9). one which would not simply form ‘a total break with the existing state of affairs in order to create something absolutely new’ (Mouffe 2008: 12–13). a dissensual arena filled with (affirmative) conflict and confrontation. As a result. directly counteracting the true egalitarian nature of a representative democracy. one where opponents ‘have no common symbolic space’ (Mouffe 2005a: 13). whilst being a quite arbitrary historical contingency. Whilst Deliberative Democracy simply removes recalcitrant actors from the field of play. it was only through the embracement of the inherent tension within it (rather than its negation). then. yet they accept that these differences cannot be determined by rational discourse. today. the prevalent system becoming in fact ‘naturalized and made into the way “things really are”’ (ibid. what was thus paramount was a method of intervention which ‘ferments dissensus. Agonistic Pluralism sees others as opponents not merely further ‘competitors’.

: 124). 2012 .: 96).6 Remio. to preclude differing political practices. it is what can keep democracy alive and impede the danger of extreme right-wing movements that could mobilize passions in an antidemocratic way (ibid. What I’m arguing is that this form of agonistic public sphere is not something that should be seen as negative or threatening for democracy. as Mouffe paraphrases. it is less likely that there will be confrontations about non-negotiable issues or essentialist identities.Agonistic Ornamentation 101 If there is a vibrant. Untitled. Whilst forcefully disregarding Carl Schmitt’s argument that liberal democracy is a doomed paradigm – that. Brazil. liberalism wholly ‘negates democracy’ as ‘democracy negates liberalism’ (Mouffe 2005a: 9) – any ‘rational resolution’ to the paradox was understood as a vain attempt to insulate politics ‘from the effects of the pluralism of value’. São Paulo. of trying to ‘fix once and for all the meaning and hierarchy of the central liberal democratic values’ (ibid. Connolly’s Neuropolitics (2002). could the democratic deficit be truly tackled (ibid. 3. merely replacing ‘the dominant “means/ ends rationality” of the “aggregative model”’ (the pre-consensual paradigm of Anthony Downs4 et al. rather than particular ‘forms of argumentation’. political public sphere where this kind of confrontation can take place. On the contrary. Rational argumentation and ‘ideal’ discourse were strategies understood to simply ‘preclude the possibility of contestation’ (ibid. Only by putting an emphasis on the ‘types of practices’ possible within a new model of democratic citizenship.) with yet another rational form. this time a ‘“deliberative” and 4 Downs’s ‘rational choice theory’ was specifically critiqued in William E.: 92).: 93).

as its Latin root dissentire would suggest. .102 Ornament and Order “communicative” one’ (ibid.: 95). discourses and institutions’ seeking to establish ‘a certain order’ – and the notion of the political –the ‘dimension of antagonism that is inherent in human relations’ (ibid. And while agonism is thus ‘generally construed as a struggle against’. Mouffe comes to find a notion of citizenship firmly opposed to mere interests. to combat the perception (and often the actuality) that there is no contestational space from which to put forward one’s opinions. Political struggle is seen as a movement toward the possibility of ‘self-overcoming’. Foucault’s suggestion (1984) that just as one ‘must not be for consensuality’. the ‘affirmation of negation’ (Pickett 1996: 451). to advocate an ideal of the public sphere that rests upon the notion of a fervid agonistic confrontation. By ‘privileging rationality’. every act of power to be an exclusion. to curtail the natural movement toward extremisms. ‘both the deliberative and the aggregative perspectives leave aside […] the crucial role.: 101) – can we then can start to construct a democratic sphere able to place the notions of power and conflict at their centre. Only then will we see how politics has always attempted to placate.: 451). as Mouffe continues to argue. a spirited opinion acting in non-conformance with the whole. the exclusion predicated by consensuality being what Mouffe terms an ‘eradication of the political’ (ibid. It is a movement which can hence ‘undermine or at least weaken any given set of limits in order to attenuate their violence’ (ibid. class or group. It means. played by passions and emotions in securing allegiance to democratic values’ (ibid. on the corporeal force of the everyday. which we have seen steadily rising within Europe and the US (where this third-way consensual politics has grown so strong). a movement through which one can make both real changes to domineering societal powers while simultaneously creating new forms of progressive subjectivity. one must ‘be against nonconsensuality’ (ibid.: 379) can thus be seen in a clearer light.: 22).: 95). And thus through focusing on ‘desire’. of ‘self-creation’. simply to differ in sentiment. or anarchic nihilism. the Nietzschean moment of genuine freedom fulfilled through the ability to declare one’s otherness (Villa 1992a: 290). ones returning the passion that had been eliminated from the private sphere by the magnitude of consensuality. perceiving every act of power to ‘show the traces of exclusion’ (Mouffe 2005a: 99). not dissensus as a wild instability. one that could lead to ‘violence being unrecognized and hidden behind appeals to “rationality”’. Only by separating the notion of politics – an ‘ensemble of practices. to domesticate conflict. The aim towards a universal consensus was thus seen as ‘the real threat to democracy’. it is not simply conflict for conflicts sake. on ‘fantasies’. contestation is about the transgression of power. The aim of an agonistic democracy must therefore be to ‘speak to people about their passions in order to mobilize them toward democratic designs’ (Mouffe 2001: 123). but simply any technique of power. Mouffe thus aims not to resist or oppose any specific institution. The political hence becomes a space from which to elude the populist zeal engendered by the democratic deficit. one disguising the ‘necessary frontiers and forms of exclusion behind pretences of “neutrality”’ (ibid. a place where agonistic tension can act as both a barrier of protection against the totalitarian imperative and the first line of attack toward the establishment of new social formations.: 101). here it can more profitably be seen as ‘a struggle for’ (Hillier 2003: 43). opposed to the notion of ‘rational’ economic man.

all morals. It is an inexhaustible mode of commitment emerging through a continual strife. through contest not consensus.7 Katsu. emerging through a continual contest over all meanings.: 423). Firstly. pagan tradition as espoused by Lyotard. but to the speech genres and modes of address that constitute the public’. Fuck You.: 424). revealing local narratives. . a group ‘making different assumptions about what can be said or what goes without saying’ (ibid. it can be seen to summon a conflict that ‘extends not just to ideas or policy questions. USA. all rights. A Pressure and a Presence Following this agonistic analysis. 2011 The agonistic struggle must hence be conceived as never-ending. New York. I want to make two broad arguments. a conflict which attempts to disrupt the deeply ingrained ‘hierarchy among media’ (ibid.Agonistic Ornamentation 103 3. acting as a ‘technique of trouble’ (Bhabha 2005: 374) through which to combat the deadening vacuity of the ostensibly ‘public’ sphere. a struggle to confront truth and power at every level. a group ‘constituted through a conflictual relation to the dominant public’. revealing the differend through every instance and exposition. Agonistic Ornamentation can thus be understood through the modality of language games and petit récits that Lyotard examines. Invoking what Michael Warner (2002) has termed a ‘counterpublic’. I would like to suggest that Agonistic Ornamentation can be understood to function within the paralogic. Working through disputation not discourse.

it is difference. it is an intentionally narrow wide public Agonistic Ornamentation seeks to address. Rather than the visually decipherable images we find in Consensual Ornamentation then. instrumental effects of the existent visual culture in the city. Agonistic Ornamentation can then be linked to the constitutive outside of our current political system that Mouffe argues truly critical practices evoke. 2010. fracture they seek to display. it functions not through a proposition but a battle. Nov’s work here is a classic example of this movement over. shirking politics and embracing the political through the creation of agonistic public spaces. along the entire boundary of authorization’(Bhabha 2004: 156). USA. and a presence.8 Nov York. one working through agonism not antagonism. if unevenly. Focusing on the passionate and fantastical over the rational and deliberate. through games intent on friction and tension as much through their very form as their reception.104 Ornament and Order 3. an ethos of contestation and engagement which reveres rather than reduces true multiplicity. a so often depicted anarchy that these cultural producers seek to ferment (an impulsion which in fact more often comes from the suppression of difference [Connolly 1995: xxi]) – but sooner a ‘pressure. I want to propose Agonistic Ornamentation as a discourse working through Mouffe’s concept of Agonistic Pluralism. Untitled. a discourse aiming not to develop types of argumentation but types of practices. not discourse but utterances. Secondly. the piece seamlessly moving from wall to glass to the wall again. whilst it seeks to provide a direct contrast to the current media discourse. New York. . It is not simply a violence. Agonistic Ornamentation sets out a statement in direct contrast to the manipulative. that acts constantly. rather than with the surface. then moving beyond even the edge of the building itself And whilst like its Consensual partner.

Nov York Needs Release. 2010 . New York.10 GPO.9 Nov York. Greece. Athens. Doing Graffiti 4 The Crime. USA.3. 2010 3.

Agonistic Ornamentation can be understood to reject overarching metanarratives and instead adopt the role of the instable. working over surfaces not with them. a discourse intent not on replacing one order with another but instead on undermining. the execution. Attempting to found not agreement. but a state of deep plurality. contestatory mode of social practice espoused by the practitioners of Agonistic Ornamentation. becoming a visual representation of dissent. disequilibrium and heterogeneity. named. Producing these works in the city is about the undertaking as much as the resultant image. which makes no claim to universality (not attempting to be read. Haunted by the Figure As a quintessential illustration of Lyotard’s petit recits. it can be seen as a practice in which action is espoused over theory (an act that ‘certifies itself in the pragmatics of its own transmission without having recourse to argumentation and proof’ [Lyotard 1991: 2]). contestatory epigraphical markings making up Agonistic Ornamentation come to act as a visual representation of this simultaneity. Acting as a cultural event through its status as performance (rather than simply acting as a representation of this event). the working with as seen so clearly in Eltono’s work (as elucidated in his quote on p. Just as in our previous chapter however. the poetic. Agonistic Ornamentation will be understood to work through an always specific. As an aesthetic form (the archetypal state of the petit recits). his little narratives. received by a singular public but by disparate publics). it will be seen as an aesthetic realm promoting notions of difference.: 51). And the illicit. localized presence. this plurality. these broad arguments must now be more specifically and clearly delineated. through a figural status. it is about the doing. I must show exactly how these theoretical and aesthetics discourses come to so unexpectedly converge. Just as little narratives in no way aim ‘to tell the story. of contest and dispute. through a technique which functions both with and against normative discourse. the act. tagging. to put an end to narrative’. . using the public sphere not simply as a canvas but as a more multidimensional site of practice. which substantiates the incommensurability of postmodern existence through the revealing of localized narratives (via each individual. as a very literal ‘site of transformation and dispute’ (Readings 1991: 47). negating the notion of order itself. but rather evoke ‘new stories by the manner in which in its turn it has displaced a preceding narrative in telling a story’ (ibid. to complement its valorization of struggle and dissensus. ornamenting). Agonistic Ornamentation is a practice that works against. Both Lyotard’s theoretical and Mouffe’s applied frameworks will thus be argued to align with the firm belief in a vociferous. working to resist our architecture not to enhance it. which functions through discrete games relating solely to their fractional. 86). and factional participants (to the closed fraternity of fellow calligraphers).106 Ornament and Order Rather than the order of Consensual Ornamentation then. an act which is almost purely about utterance and action. the marginal. agentic act of writing. to be comprehended.

is ‘haunted by the figure’ (ibid.: 29–30) (a text. ornamental cultural production can thus be seen to function as a steppingstone toward the completion of the next whilst also serving as a reference to the previous. Agonistic Ornamentation can likewise be seen to converge quite directly with the procedural workings of Lyotard’s language games. each tag. 2007 . Moreover. Paris. beyond the literal and into metaphor). or perhaps utterances. is ‘possessed’.12 Turbo. a signature. 2008 3. Untitled. an image that ‘surprises the eye and the ear and the mind by a perfectly improbable arrangement of the parts’ (one that instigates inconceivable relations between shapes and forms). each ornament. an imaged text that. the ‘phrase regimens’ which allude toward the innate diversity of potential meaning. France. each of them ruled by a different regime. which is elevated beyond itself.Agonistic Ornamentation 107 so too each act of agonistic. Untitled. a name. working to push the boundaries of the last. 3. the games. Forming a knowledge which ‘is not simply a tool of the authorities’ – quite clearly working directly against law and ‘order’ – but instead a figure that can come to refine ‘our sensitivity to differences’ and our ‘ability to tolerate the incommensurable’ (Lyotard 1984: xxv) – its openly visible exhibition of the literal antithetic forcing its viewers into an encounter – these recalcitrant ornaments form a separation from the dominant language itself. a figure working as text and non-text). they form ‘islands of language. Agonistic Ornamentation can thus be seen as a quite literal example of what Lyotard (1989) termed an ‘imaged text’ (a calligraphic ornament. It is a dissident narrative enacted on the public surface of the city. the intention simply being constant aesthetic exploration rather than culmination or conclusion. France.11 Turbo. Paris. untranslatable into the others’ (Lyotard 1993: 20). like poetic language. defying the dominant discursive fields.

explicit or not. what one can write (ones name or ones community). . ones internally decided upon by the community in question (to be the ‘the object of a contract. through the joy. or connotation (ibid. to work against the accepted paradigmatic state. they are clearly not sacrosanct however. but more often ‘for the sheer pleasure of […] invention’ (ibid. how one can write (within the various genres of the aesthetic). every invention producing more inventions (as Spok’s case study on pp. every act understood as a natural progression of the contest: each act of ornamentation can thus be seen as part of a wider network.: 10). Following the second rule of language games. And thirdly. an attempt to defeat a competing challenger through the power of one’s design. the process behind the evolution of language on the level of parole. to be working within the same regime of contest as his ornamental partners and thus aware of where one can write (on all public space). unsettling the everyday use of writing. ‘every utterance should be thought of as a “move” in a game’ (Lyotard 1984: 10). Each act of ornamentation can hence be seen as subject to numerous regulations defined by other practitioners of kalligraphia (as seen in more detail in Chapter 4). but through a ‘fight’ with the very terms of the discourse itself. a fight to disorientate. undermining the accepted language (the most ‘formidable’ adversary). between players’ (Lyotard 1984: 10). functioning as a system that naturally reproduces itself – every inscription generating a further inscription. The agonistic element of these language games thus emerges not only through pure confrontation with one’s agonic competitors. Whilst the rules (as set out above) are vital. like these language games Agonistic Ornamentation can first be seen to contain basic rules. The vernacular aesthetic that Agonistic Ornamentation reveals can thus be understood to act as a proclamatory challenge to the state of language itself. the delight taken in finding new ways of disfiguring and distorting the hegemonic language. subverting typology. as the game changes (take the increasing erasure of graffiti on trains by anti-graffiti authorities for example) so do the techniques (the respondent use of tools such as paint-stripper and acid by the writers themselves. Agonistic Ornamentation is not undertaken simply ‘in order to win’ therefore. the game itself open to modification and alteration as the moves themselves progress (‘an infinitesimal modification of one rule alters the nature of the game’ [ibid. who one can write upon (a fact dependent on the outcomes of previous contests).108 Ornament and Order As prescribed by Lyotard then. But undoubtedly even this pleasure depends on a feeling of success won at the expense of an adversary – at least one adversary.: 10]). 117–20 clearly proves). and a formidable one: the accepted language. there is no game’).: 10): Great joy is had in the endless invention of turns of phrase. tools whose markings are even more difficult to erase). of words and meanings. the game progressing and modifying as the utterances themselves change. each ‘move’ within Agonistic Ornamentation obeys certain rules (‘if there are no rules.

And every action.: 30). that places them directly within Lyotard’s understanding of agonism. an artistic signature that is both means and ends in itself. one’s competitors. one changing ‘the pragmatics of knowledge’ [Readings 1991: 55]). the very pseudonyms employed within this calligraphic framework meant that indeterminacy was set against the system itself. Tags thus functioned to ‘derail the common system of designations’ (ibid. upon the fellow participants of the language game. an invention producing ‘more inventions’. to form an energy unbound by instrumental logic. As Baudrillard suggested. one’s adversaries. new rules) and an interior struggle to simply produce more. every marking can hence be grasped as an illustration of the novatio. an exterior struggle through a classic agonic contest (through a battle to invent new moves. but their deeply pagan movement. the rules of art. an interjection. . a use of language that wrestles with its natural state. upon formal language. these scripts resisting ‘every interpretation and every connotation’ (Baudrillard 1993 [1976]: 30). and latterly contestatory through its clash with the accepted language itself. shatter it from within in order to discover new rules. a disruption which takes root through ‘contesting rules. We can thus find an infinite cycle of repetition. where ‘the artist and the writer [are] working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will have been done’ (Lyotard 1984: 81). The scripted enunciation of one’s chosen name. these new subtexts to previously agreed upon texts. where ‘the work he produces are not in principle governed by preestablished rules’. trying to find new ways of playing with the same 26 archetypes was understood as an illimitable. oneself. And through the discovery of these new forms. it is an interruption of the metanarrative which takes root within the porous walls of the city itself. transformation. principles and positions’ (Best and Kellner 1991: 163). their explicit attempt to form an innately partial. we can find a game functioning against the privacy of the wall. Agonistic Ornamentation can thus separate language from itself. against the architecture of the city.Agonistic Ornamentation 109 Trying to find ‘new solutions’ to letter forms (as the artist Petro termed it). irrepressible task. thus comes to function through a dual mode of contestation. to push one’s practice to the very edge. fraught through its very placement). repeated a thousand times through incessant invention (an innovation not refining the systems ‘efficiency’ but revivifying the ‘truth of art’. Agonistic Ornamentation can thus be understood as a ‘discursive intervention within language’. bursting ‘into reality like a scream.: 30). the rules of law. there are further ones provoked with their very selves. initially contestatory through its very ornamental state (as an illicit act at its core. their attempt to radically transform the rules of the city. divided text (one visually embracing alterity). stretched. where the ‘text he writes’ (the ‘postmodern artist or writer’ that is). an anti-discourse’ (ibid. Yet aside from the disputes Agonistic Ornamentation enacts upon spatial surroundings. modification. forms. a search for the ‘perfect’ form which the practitioners themselves acknowledge will almost certainly never be reached. elided. new possibilities. against the use of language. morphed. It is hence not only the basely dissensual positionality of the practitioners discussed here (their desire to work against the norms of the city).

Rennes.14 Mathieu Tremblin. France. Tremblin’s highly astute work is unable to account for a vast amount of information a seasoned agonistic practitioner would also perceive – information pertaining to issues such as style. their capacity to so clearly decipher this ostensible pollution. Whilst the ‘translation’ Tremblin here undertakes can provide an amazing insight into the scopic abilities of the agonistic artist. Tag Clouds – Colombier Optique.13 and 3.3. 2010. technique. . mind state etc. experience.

but their street-work will be a separate discourse. Brooklyn. as dirt. Agonistic Ornamentation is thus suppressed. unlike ‘street-art’.Agonistic Ornamentation 111 3. etc. . can thus never be co-opted by the museum nor made into a product as it can only ever take place in public space.: 54–5). Agonistic Ornamentation is thus an emblematic instance of an aesthetic practice that ‘both is and is not art at the same time’ (ibid. who aim at ‘producing effects’ rather than producing art. New York. As a confrontation of imagination and reason. and the ‘purity’ of the increasingly privatized ‘public’ sphere retained. Untitled. means that the artistic innovation which takes place produces nothing but a continuous displacement. it is marked as vandalism not art. testifying to the injustice of modern neo-liberal space. And. 5 Agonistic Ornamentation.: 55). it refuses to make the system more efficient (in fact attacking this instrumental efficiency through their inalienable status). the “impossible” or unforeseeable move’ (ibid. repressed due to this differend. 2008 The basely ‘aneconomic’ condition of the artefacts produced then. unlike ‘spraycan-art’.15 Read More Books. a practice whose very practitioners themselves often refuse this label. graffiti workshops. as such. They might make a living through sidelines such as graphic or commercial design. Many practitioners thus see themselves as amateurs (as well as fully acting in this manner). every example of this illicit ornament evokes a basic differend. the struggle emerging through the innate polyphony of our social body.: 55). implicitly inalienable. never merely bought or sold. who aim always to find the move that will ‘displace the rules of the game. undertaking these tasks solely for ‘fun’. pollution.. refuses to supply it with new products (the products that the insatiable art market needs to survive5) exemplifying the continuous struggle over meaning within all language. art-direction. the impossibility of legally entering into the domain of representation without capital or power. their lack of a ‘bottom line’ (ibid.

through the ‘common symbolic space’ which can turn enemies into disputants. Working through agonism. Agonistic Ornamentation can be understood as a place of ‘difference and otherness’. their expansion of the possible field of action through founding an alternative framework of engagement (rather than merely working within the said framework). Agonistic Ornamentation exposes and thereby reaffirms the innate heterogeneity of the public sphere. Agonistic Ornamentation does not seek to enter into debate with the ‘public’. Agonistic Ornamentation’s status in the heart of the public sphere is crucial. not antagonism then. practices which elude value. As a practice functioning within a ‘multiplicity of discursive surfaces’ (Mouffe 2008: 10). rather than overturns that which already exists. to enter into a discourse.: 156). an alternative to the existing social contract in terms of aesthetic values. space of the city walls. they establish an alien. Acting as a visible schismatic discourse. yet it does this through the shared. an ocular exemplar of a competing force within the city. which elude the market and traditional circuits of exchange.: 7). as Homi Bhabha has stressed (2004). these practices thus embed the outside within the inside (like ornament in itself ). even if functioning in a militantly combative . in terms of spatial use. who reject the consensual framework of the modern public sphere.: 12) – through its presentation of individuality. With dissensuality and dispute so clearly entrenched within these images – within the overt refusal to follow the rule of law (their demand to appear within the space of appearance at any cost). It is these practitioners who focus on types of practices rather than types of argumentation however. competing with the advertisements. as a system that is never ‘entirely on the outside or implacably oppositional’ (ibid. a field of argumentation with those outside the language game it brings forth. Focussing on practices which lay on the exterior of these boundaries. surfaces such as the very loquacious walls of the city themselves. Agonistic Ornamentation can be seen to coalesce with this contestatory model through its focus on the passionate and fantastical over the deliberative and rational. as the ‘space of the adversarial’. Whilst working to ‘ferments dissensus’ then – a dissensus quite clearly proven through the harsh reaction these ornaments generate – working to ‘makes visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate’ (ibid. within their twisted.112 Ornament and Order The Ever-Present Possibility of Antagonism In terms of Chantal Mouffe’s theoretical programme. By situating itself within and upon the hallowed surface of private property. foreign presence within the very centre of the city. yet also. as a practice attempting to ‘widen the field of artistic intervention’ by intervening ‘directly in a multiplicity of social spaces’ (ibid. that pushes them within Mouffe’s framework of a critical art practice. these ornaments engage directly with the city. in terms of perceived ‘rationality’. the ‘official graffiti of the everyday’ as Hermer and Hunt (1996) term it. the regnant visual culture of the city. its rejection of prevailing notions of property rights – Agonistic Ornamentation presents a discourse which competes. intentionally obfuscatory form (their demand to push typology and the letter-form to its edge) – they can be seen as ornaments who reveal an order outside of the everyday.

Agonistic Ornamentation 113 way. and instability’ do not ‘ruin the democratic sphere’ but instead become part of the very ‘conditions of its existence’ (Deutsche 1998: 289). but ‘the ever present possibility of antagonism’ inherent within the political. Agonistic Ornamentation thus reveals alternatives to and discrepancies within the prevailing system. it promotes a notion of public space in which ‘conflict. Refashioning the ‘common spaces’ of the city. Moreover.: 100). thus ‘has a political dimension’ (ibid. where ‘artistic practices can disrupt the smooth image’ of contemporary neo-liberal urbanity (Mouffe 2008: 13). Agonistic Ornamentation evokes a discourse constituted not merely through a . not a ‘politics’ that solely ‘consists in domesticating hostility and in trying to defuse the potential antagonism that exists in human relations’ (Mouffe 2005a: 101). at the same time transforms a conflictual relation into a relation of exchange. it spurns the aspiration toward openly discursive means of action. division. And rather than the reformation of the Habermasian public sphere as we saw recreated in the former chapter.: 7). through setting up a visual alternative a visual disturbance . Agonistic Ornamentation can thus be seen to locate itself within a setting where the post-political consensus ‘celebrated as a great advance for democracy’ can be critiqued. Through resisting the established patterns of city life. in which the refusal to follow the normative patterns of city life takes on an innate. eluding the ‘grasp of value’ and ‘market exchange’. the often quite antiestablishmentarian stance of their producers is reflected through the intensely political medium these ornaments utilize rather than any naïve ‘political’ message. working not through the deadening space of politics but within the potentiality of the political. Working in a quite obviously divergent way to Consensual Ornamentation then. as Mouffe continues. questioning the norms and nature of contemporary city life.: 100). Agonistic Ornamentation works directly against the apparent escalation of the democratic deficit through its demonstration of a passionate form of popular action. Shirking away from any superficial political posturing such as sloganeering or overt political imagery for example. through providing a space for political dissent even while not working with any overtly political intent. rather than overt political status. the very materiality of their works bestowing a potent sectarian intensity upon them. even if that relation is a relation infused with tension. ‘Every form of art’. Establishing the boundaries of the community from where they emerge. through their innate visibility to those on the outside of this community. Agonistic Ornamentation discourages any attempt to settle disagreement and disputation through a regression to a ‘balanced’ consensus. a clear ideological framework. As Mouffe has indicated (2001). any attempt to make a ‘distinction between political art and non-political art’ becomes a fruitless venture when we recognize that ‘every form of artistic practice either contributes to the reproduction of the given common sense – and in that sense is political – or contributes to the deconstruction or critique of it’ (ibid. reforming ‘everyday culture’ (ibid. Agonistic Ornamentation thus expresses a plurality yet. a form of political inquiry involving ‘decisions which require us to make a choice between conflicting alternatives’ (Mouffe 2005b: 10).

: 33).17 Nano4814 at work. the anti-discursive. working within the ‘space of the adversarial’.16 and 3. Vigo. but one that in other contexts would be regarded with hostility. or with a sense of indecorousness’ (Warner 2002: 424). the contest of the agon? . I want now to return to the images which were suspended at the beginning of this chapter. Untitled. can come to reveal the ‘ambivalent and fantasmatic texts that make “the political” possible’ (ibid. then. and once again. 2009 ‘different or alternative idiom. of the movement from antagonism to agonism? Which embrace the counterpublic. Yet. upon the ‘border-line between outside and inside’. reception and projection’ which mark the boundary zones of our cities (Bhabha 2004: 156). Spain. calligraphic practices to be functioning within the ‘tensions and ambivalences’ of a ‘counter-authority’ (ibid. upon the literal ‘surface of protection. could we say works within Lyotard’s conception of language games. Which of these. it thus treats artistic performance as a never-ending contest. petit récits or the pagan? Which function within Mouffe’s conception of the political. fantasmatic images.114 Ornament and Order 3.: 10). after more of this dense textual description. as a site in which friction is not tolerated but advocated. We can thus see these patently ornamental. to reveal the alterity confronted through the very witnessing of these illicit. to revisit these examples which will be seen as representative instances of Agonistic Ornamentation. we can see how these practices enacted through the ‘dynamics of writing – of ecriture’ (Bhabha 1988: 8).

2009 . to certain 3. I believe that the ornamental status of this work is now pretty much beyond doubt.18 and 3. an ‘n’. or his pseudonym to be more exact. this purportedly agonistic archetype. a large ‘o’. suffice to bring up its adjunctive. caught in the process writing his name. alludere.19 Nano4814 at work. The ornamental artefact we can see here. another ‘n’. smaller looking agonistic efforts as well as an overtly lucid text situated beneath the piece – The Globe School of English – looking particularly stark as set against the explicit clarity of each letter produced within the ‘official’ text. a conjoined ‘a’. an aesthetic that alludes (in terms of it playing toward. undemanding legibility it incorporates. the very basic. An intricately lettered inscription situated amidst both a set of other. followed by his four eponymous numerals (interweaving in a downward motion from the position of his right hand). completed by an arrow merging into the final number and some flourishing stars overlaying the entire piece. so too the reasons I want to examine this image away from the discourses of graffiti and street-art now quite clear. its agentic. half way up a wall. then. Untitled. parergonic essence.Agonistic Ornamentation 115 Nano4814 By Nano 4814: Nano again. Vigo. decorative status. Spain. is one that I would suggest visibly emerges from an aesthetic ‘order’ quite clearly divergent with normative modes of urban visual culture. rather than merely suggesting indirectly). A star.

petit recit. the stain of personhood which it elicits. it challenges the other visual culture which it surrounds. ‘frontiers between “Us” and “Them” are constantly being created. they must be eradicated’ (Mouffe 2002: 15). ‘giving a voice to all those who are silenced within the framework of the existing hegemony’ (Mouffe 2007: 4–5).6 Agonistic Ornamentation is hence placed outside of politics through its depiction as an ‘evil other’. 6 As she continues. a contest with a set group of participants.116 Ornament and Order spatial tensions present within modern urban life. not through any institutional aesthetic. an immoral sphere of activity. a move or a ruse which works through the imagination and produces effects rather than ‘truth’. formed in lieu of any payment. a game played within certain modifiable rules. these frontiers are drawn in moral terms. Set within an ideal of publicity ‘that offers opportunities of identification around democratic political alternatives’ (Mouffe 2002: 11). rather than antagonistic frame. . between “us. he can be envisaged only as an enemy. Being produced within the ‘common symbolic space’ of the city (Mouffe 2005a: 13). the evil ones”. not an adversary: no agonistic debate is possible with the “evil them”. in full understanding of the potential danger implicit in its performance – can thus appear as a practice in direct defiance to the staid homogeneity of the ‘rational’ public sphere. but works through a distinctly agonistic. within an idea of publicness that creates an empathetic relation with the others who uphold a belief in disputative expression. Yet in practice. but. an imaged text which forces us to acknowledge a foreign body in the city. Nano’s image not only signifies an alternative to the norm then. is necessary for a robust democratic life. the good” and “them. but its individuality. since the “Them” can no longer be defined in political terms. Its passionate inscription – produced in defiance of instrumental reason. Nano acts politically not through any explicit political message. rather than political level. much like Mouffe’s discussion of the contemporary ‘post-political’ attempt to ‘deal’ with the problem of political extremists (by placing them in what she terms a ‘cordon sanitaire’). When the opponent is defined not in political but in moral terms. the blank walls as a place of communication. a tactic that endeavours to deal with them solely on a moral. a discourse in need of banishment from the collective ‘moral register’. It is not only a clear language game then. Playing with the city then. And. allied to emotions and sensations forged outside of the everyday. My concern is that this type of politics – one played out in the moral register – is not conducive to the creation of the “agonistic public sphere” which. as I have argued. we can thus see this image unveiling what is ‘repressed by the dominant consensus’ (Mouffe 2008: 12–13). a minority set against the sterile. the attempt to ‘deal’ with the problem of these illegally produced images so too follow much the same pattern. unveiling a constitutive outside. lifeless state of the public sphere. using the barred windows as a climbing frame. through the re-appropriation of public space. an undercurrent. And as what would appear to be a clear ‘agonistic intervention in public space’. places it as a distinctly localized. it is a singular act speaking to a singular public. engaging in a contest with their rational understanding of the city rather than refusing to participate in the city at all. but through the reconstitution of the written form.

it’s not as in your face as Berlin. And I like that. a photorealistic production now only partially visible in the blue and black background to the edges of the shutters. And the third (and here final) reclamation by Spok himself (Layer III): a brazen white splattering of paint formed over the entire façade. but it’s a more pure essence of how the streets used to be. to those who understood this dense jumble of coloured pigmentation as a multilayered surface of meaning. but they don’t really understand it. TBC by Spok TBC. Buse and Zoan on top of Spok. a palimpsest with three key stratums that I wish to unpack. the most ‘violent’ form of graffiti tool available. from me to my peers instead of for the general public. to the other participants of this language game in the city. a surface of material communication. that is. forming a visual indication of the agon. And clear to all involved that this final layer had been produced by Spok and no one else (because the original layer had been produced by him). at the bottom of everything there is some rebellion. Maybe the street is not always being used in the best way. whatever. to those for whom it was produced) with a paint-fuelled fire extinguisher. And I love the feeling that things are happening in the street but not for everybody. postering. a group of ‘throw-ups’ produced on top of this original production. the places you have to really know the city to get to. The Business Class being just three that first came to mind). and that’s positive for me. It’s our private world in the center of the city. Now it’s not really something I think about. Spok’s crew’s moniker emblazoned across a group of three shutters. I see traces of all the people who pass by. stickering. The second (Layer II). I just have to do it no matter what happens (28/7/9). ‘Zoan’ still partially evident to the far right).Agonistic Ornamentation 117 giving a voice to those who desire to participate in the public sphere. with all of us I think. It’s kind of like more hidden and endogamic. We’re talking to each other. But it turns into something much more. It’s like a conversation between the people that are actually using the streets. images such as Nano’s in fact render their deep commitment to the city. I see something there. more than the public itself. But I also see all the hidden spots in Madrid. Compared to other cities especially. clear. And it makes me feel real active because I can feel the city […] Of course. Of course they see it. The first (Layer I). the shutters themselves. a critique key to the maintenance of an emancipative polis. an acronym whose meanings could fill the rest of the page (Típico Barrio Centro. we have a real dialogue going on. We thus have Spok. or how Barcelona used to be with tagging everywhere. tagging. a production formed (and unmistakably so. All the things I do in the street are part of me. and I’m not gonna suddenly change. imprinted with a legal ‘graffiti’ commission produced by Spok himself for the clothing store Sfera. Spok on top of Buse and Zoan on top of Spok. but at least its being used. . A bold. places that are also being hit [utilized] by a lot of people. The Best Choice. rudimentary inscription covering an opaque palimpsest of further images. When I’m in the street. Buse and Zoan from the FTS crew (Fuck The System) being the chief perpetrators (the ‘Bus’ of Buse visible on the far left of the shutter.

remain unscathed by the tagging that enveloped the majority of these commercial premises). TBC. displaying his thoughts on their critique in no uncertain terms. . an agonic contest occurring within a number of arenas. 2009 We know from my previous reasoning my argument for seeing this work as an instance of Agonistic Ornamentation and not just graffiti. but what of the purely agonistic charge.20 Spok. which whilst a commercial undertaking will continue to uphold his reputation as a leading exponent of the aesthetic form. how does this exemplar comply with this particular framework? Primarily. 7 This careful treading of the fine-line between commercialization and purity was most intelligently exposed by Spok in a piece produced on Gran Via (the central thoroughfare of Madrid) for the company Sephora. it would quite clearly read SPOKONE. then.118 Ornament and Order 3. struggling with his own capabilities in producing something in careful balance between classic graffiti and commercial art (using elaborate letter forms alongside photorealistic imagery to accomplish this). We have Spok in a personal test of his own strength (Layer I). we evidently have a public contest taking place.7 We have Buse and Zoan in direct competition with Spok (Layer II). Spok continued to embrace the duality within this very task. these pieces should be left untouched (and these works did. Spain. Whilst to non-participants of Agonistic Ornamentation the piece would simply seem to display the name of the store. we can by now appreciate my arguments concerning its obviously ornamental quality. Whilst working for commercial companies then. Madrid. displaying his fundamental agonistic predisposition with his third-level overpainting. critiquing him (through their very overdrawing) for his active participation in legally produced work. We have Spok reclaiming his status against Buse and Zoan (Layer III). producing something that will be respected (and thus untouched) by other kalligraphos. diverging with the conviction that being produced by a ‘classic’ writer. for the most part. for those indoctrinated into the form.

we can hence see this realm functioning in a way as far from the traditional gallery system as one could imagine. 2009 . We thus have a contest being enacted upon the city in two quite differing modalities. And it can be seen as a combination of both the discursive and figural which transforms a physical 3. the ruses. then. to provoke more art. with the vast majority of the ‘public’ (in general. the conflation of finance and fine-art revoked in exchange for a presentation of a Foucauldian ‘permanent provocation’ (provocation in terms of its original Latin meaning provocare. using their aesthetic tools in a dynamic substantiation of their citizenship. the rules as seen in Lyotard’s discordant language games. Spain. of responses and ripostes. battling to take part in the public visual culture of the city at whatever cost. participatory relationship to the street itself. appreciating the minutiae of challenges and interrogations. something outside the sphere of ‘accepted’ politics. an insurgent practice which signifies plurality. TBC. but of course not always) appreciating their ornaments only as a mass of pollution and dirt. to provoke more ornament. between the agonistic participants themselves (to the almost total ignorance of the general population). promoting open disputation and conflict as part of a committed. an agonic zone where difference is decorated and scratched onto the city. a visuality functioning through an incessant aesthetic encounter. the patterned markings being generated embracing competition as both means and end. It sets itself directly within Mouffe’s search for agonistic engagement. It this signifies the remainder left behind by consensus. This image thus illustrates the local narratives. something outside the centre. the moves. the contest which comes to produce effects.Agonistic Ornamentation 119 Finally we have both camps’ competition with the city itself. a visuality functioning as a proclamation of difference but no more. to ‘challenge’ or ‘call forward’).21  Spok at work. embracing contest as an indispensable rudiment of social life. Using the public space of the city as an open stage for their physical performance. and the second. Madrid. the first.

more correctly. The first. not the Choque Cultural invasion. And it was something totally out of nothing. Nothing for me can be more important that that (27/7/9). I would think about it every day. please note that the images depicted here are of the Belas Artes Invasion. So it was something to fight against things. . For me the best thing to do was to evolve your style. but we’re going do it whatever. So it wasn’t only about vandalism. A thousand different stories.120 Ornament and Order battle into that of an aesthetic contest. never to do the same thing again and again. We wanted to evolve. There was nothing apart from that. the most dedicated and the most stylish. Us and them. the sensations. the adrenalin is pushing to the limit. You needed to paint more and better than the rest. Constantly. ourselves. Pixo Gratis/The Attack at the Galeria Choque Cultural8 The final of our examples. Painting. I want to show that I’m still here. it’s the most perfect thing. I remember everything. We were writers. painting. pasted on a wall on the streets of São Paolo. We want to paint. See footnote 1 in this chapter for more details. Like when we got into a chase. to the yards. And the link? Um dos motivos da fúria – ‘The reasons for our fury’: an enigmatic riposte which needs a more thorough explanation. presents us with what I will argue to be a perfect contrast between Agonistic and Consensual Ornamentation. our style. you had to be known and then known as the best. And graffiti is like that. The pieces. the world just completed stopped. Illegally creating something. but to create things at the same time. the walls covered in posters of a similar format to Eltono’s original print as seen above. but at the same time it’s the biggest thing you could ever do! Just catching a tag for example. the style. to the street. your parents – but we were only doing it for those who knew. It was all about us. Creating something out of nothing. because no-one knew you at first. painting. an image of an Eltono street poster Pixo Gratis – I paint (or. that I can still compete. 8 Once again. a paired set of images. and you show people that you’re still alive […] It’s like being fit. an image with disputation and struggle embedded into its form. You wouldn’t believe it. To get known. and we were young when we started. I really want to be fit because I want to show that I’m still in it. an image of a gallery being defaced (or perhaps refaced) by a black clad figure. And the only thing I wanted back then was to communicate with the other writers in the street. painting. I pixação) for free. the second. We knew everyone in the city would see it. You have to constantly push it to maintain […] You can’t imagine how good the feeling is. Brazil. Can you imagine what an amazing concept that is! We went there. to the subway. because we wanted to do something bigger than graffiti. they’re trying to stop us. we knew they wouldn’t understand it – my parents. it’s a scary thing to do. And I would never enjoy a mission fully if it didn’t finish running! Like a game. The flow.

Pixo Gratis. São Paulo.23  Eltono. Brazil.22 and 3. 2008 .3.

institutionalization. as the flyer proclaimed. messages and inscriptions (the flyer for the ‘attack’. While the gallery termed the defacement a ‘neo-Nazi action’. in overly general terms. stated that it was a ‘total protest’. enveloping paintings. It has become a renowned style of underground urban visual culture. a distinctively Brazilian form of illegal street inscription. the assailants.24 The Belas Artes Invasion. The gallery. outsider and young art’. magazines. Armed with an assortment of spraycans and markers. quite conspicuously. does not use this now loaded term. arguing that the pixadores were both ‘calling people to destroy everything’ whilst harking back to an illusionary ‘nostalgia of the underground times’ (Ribeiro 2008). prints – whatsoever lay in their path – with torrents of paint and ink. ‘art as crime’ and ‘crime as art’). suggesting the use of the slogans ‘long live pixação’. walls. Brazil. depicted below. . 10 The Galeria Choque Cultural (Culture Shock Gallery) is a small independent gallery which exhibits what they term as ‘pop. São Paulo. a literal statement of intent on the walls of the gallery itself. 9 Pixadores are practitioners of pixação. and protesting at what they described as the ‘commercialization. working under the umbrella of what is generally termed graffiti.122 Ornament and Order 3. utilizes both highly elongated letter forms (said to be descendent of metal-band insignias from the 1980s). 2008 On 6 September 2008. but what most pixadores or graffiti-artists would term ‘street-art’. It was a symbolic statement against what they considered the exploitation for profit of an ‘underground’ movement. and highly impressive locations of practice (often at an extreme height and seemingly impossible to reach). a group of 30 pixadores9 invaded the Galeria Choque Cultural10 in central São Paolo. and domestication of street culture’ (Pixobomb/Djan 2008). an ‘art attack’. It is a ‘tagging’ style which. the pixadores coated the entire building with their tags. a ‘path to revolution’ (Pixobomb/Djan 2008).

3. Pinto Gratis.25 Eltono. 2004 . Madrid. Spain.

‘without permission … without notice’). For them. in New York (with Faile’s defacement by the ‘Splasher’). 13 These types of confrontations have occurred all over the world. as well. the pixadores desired only to talk about it amidst the privacy of the counterpublic. being affixed. Even as he was attempting to describe the core graffiti or pixação ideology (the posters themselves intoning sem aviso … sem permissão. Eltono’s poster was another example of the co-option of pixação for what they deemed purely pecuniary purposes (it being for sale in the gallery itself. Eltono.13 Whilst Eltono wanted to talk about pixação with the entire public. a state of deep (but.25 for an example. mostly utilized to publicize traditional local music performances. See Figure 3. being widely and freely distributed in the street). his image the point of ignition. inalienable aesthetic. quite crucially for Eltono. all over the city (referencing the non-merchantable nature of both pixação and illicit street images in general) – for the pixadores its open. The invasion of the Choque Gallery thus perfectly illustrates the differences between these two practices of insurgent ornamentation. communicative intentions was too much to bear. who a few months prior to the attack had produced a poster in conjunction with the gallery – Pixo Gratis (I mark/I paint/I write for free) – soon became embroiled into the affair. the ‘fury’ (as explained on the front of the pixadores webpage. the tension emerged through the differing discursive intentionality of these forms. Whilst Eltono had produced the print in total support of the pixadores.124 Ornament and Order Unwittingly. as well as in sites from Madrid to Melbourne. the pixadores 11 Eltono’s earlier project Pinto Gratis (‘I Paint for Free’) project – undertaken in Madrid and replicating the miniature household painter-and-decorators’ sticker advertisements placed all over the city – can be seen as a first stage of the Pixo Gratis project. the pixadores craved inscrutability and obfuscation. illegally. not irreconcilable) difference between a system seeking centrifugal motion on the one hand and centripetal movement on the other. before its subsequent removal by the host Flickr). a system seeking a culture of harmony in the first case and a culture of opposition in the second. in London (with Banksy’s work being ‘defaced’ by the graffiti artist 10Foot). Whilst Eltono sought legibility and simplicity. between a system aiming to reach the entire demos through its ornamental practices and one aiming to confine itself to its own restricted fraternity. another example of the appropriation of what they believed was their ‘pure’. as we will come to see. simply referencing (as much of his work did)11 the indigenous visual culture of the region where it was produced – using the original techniques of lambe lambe12 hand-set letterpress posters (in fact printed with some of the last remaining master craftsman of this form). Whilst Eltono desired discursive communication. one equally extolling the aneconomic nature of illegal street painting. through the respectively inward and outward looking desires of Agonistic and Consensual Ornamentation coming into direct confrontation. . Buenos Aires to Berlin. that provoked the pixadores assault on the premises. the final ‘indignity’. 12 Lambe lambe is an autochthonous print system used in Brazil (and in São Paolo especially).

“I paint graffiti”. And it doesn’t make sense to me to try hard to be a true and original pixador or graffiti writer and then work every day in a factory! We need places like Choque that help find projects so you can make a living with painting. “I paint for free”. they sent me 14 Such as the Pinto Gratis project discussed in footnote 9. but ones with very different notions of order embedded within them. but of course it wasn’t like that for me. it’s “I paint pixação”. where they are using pixação to sell their product. that just want to have a different life than the typical nine-to-five. It’s an incredible movement. 15 . it was still a blockage to communication which Eltono was attempting to specifically counteract in his work. I tried. then. It’s “I write”. But with this [the pixadores issue] I couldn’t talk directly with anyone. was the simple impossibility of discussing this issue with his opponents.14 but they [this group of pixadores] didn’t understand. This is a place for people like us. painting graffiti. If they went to a big commercial store like Nike. no money. I was suddenly kind of in the centre of this big trouble because of the pixação poster. but it’s just people that are helping young artists. the first occurring at the São Paulo School of Fine Arts. painting public art. for free. or “I do graffiti for free”. supporting the pixação. So they were saying that I was using pixação to make money. It just doesn’t make any sense to fuck these guys [the Choque Gallery]. people that want to live through painting. the refusal of the pixadores to enter into a rational discourse with him. I would definitely understand. Yet what frustrated Eltono the most.15 But that gallery. Yeah. the second at the São Paulo biennale. They were both insurgent ornaments. I always change my work when it’s inside. So the idea of the poster was a project I’ve been doing for years. all for free. And whilst this may not have been the intractable differend we see emergent between the gallery and the pixadores. But there was no sense to what these guys were doing. an obstruction to open communication which had led to his original movement away from agonism and towards consensuality (as he explained on p. yet they undertook this task through almost exactly contrary ways. and I always try to have that link with the outside. I don’t know. 86). Even when I work with the galleries I would never just paint my street work on a canvas and sell it. in the street. maybe they didn’t try to understand. they’re not using pixação to make money […] I’ve been painting like this for years.Agonistic Ornamentation 125 fought for figural sensation. it makes no sense to me. in their mind [the pixadores] they think it’s just people using graffiti to make money. This was in fact the third ‘attack’ by this group of pixadores. made by people just like you and me. None of us want to work with the big commercial galleries. If they went to a big gallery [to paint over it] and they did the same thing. We don’t want to sell our work to big companies. Which was saying pixo gratis. to engage within the democratic process. It was totally the contrary to what they were thinking. as we will see below. the other accord and agreement. They are not like the big art rich guy. it could have made sense. one through disorder and disruption. it’s something I love and respect. perhaps. I was actually apoyando. Both practices may have been attempting to negotiate and access the public sphere.

it is a counterpublic in the Warnerian one.126 Ornament and Order some messages on my website. but they were all anonymous. I was replying “okay. social actors continue to produce material culture which can be seen to reflect these political theories. Whilst the consensualists continue to be critiqued by the agonists for their apparent belief in a transparent public sphere (an approach found only to confirm rather than resist the status quo). it nonetheless serves as an acerbic critique of both their models. but they never replied. through a modernist theory of democracy espousing communicative discourse on the one hand and a post-modernist theory encouraging confrontational dispute on the other. through the Habermasian and Lyotardian philosophical confrontation. the agonists dismissed by the consensualists for their usage of critique without any standard of rationality to base it from (a theory which can be considered as irrational. these insurgent practices can be more fruitfully understood through the political theories of Deliberative Democracy and Agonistic Pluralism that I have recounted. Not a counterinstitution in the Habermasian mould. not only within the public realm as described and illustrated here but so too in a more institutional milieu. the ruses and the politics which they nurture. Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman in the latter). give me your email. I can explain to you what I’m doing. it looks like you don’t understand anything”. a public which ‘comes into being through an address to indefinite strangers’ (Warner 2002: 423–4). a public which ‘structured by different dispositions or protocols’ to the rest of society. and that lack of dialogue was maybe the most difficult thing for me (12/07/09). In all three of the examples presented above we can find the combative. The debate between Agonistic and Consensual Ornamentation thus far outlined can hence be seen to echo the struggle between what Grant Kester (2004) has called ‘dialogical’ and ‘antidiscursive’ art practices (between practitioners such as Jay Koh and the Wochenklausur collective in the former case. rather than seeing them through the reductive filters of ‘street-art’ or ‘graffiti-art’. let’s talk. 16 Whilst Bishop’s theory is by no means as fully developed in comparison to Bourriaud or Kester. dangerous and even ‘neoconservative’ [Habermas in Rorty 1984: 4]). Dialogical and Antidiscursive/Interruptive and Assimilative Agonistic Ornamentation can thus be understood as an aesthetic working at the edge of discourse. to reflect the collision of Nicolas Bourriaud’s (2002) Relational Aesthetics (most often represented by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and Liam Gillick) and Claire Bishop’s (2004) Relational Antagonism (which she illustrates through the work of Santiago Sierra and Thomas Hirschhorn).16 to restate the confrontation between Miwon Kwon’s notion of ‘interruptive’ and assimilative sculpture (and artists such as Richard Serra in the former case and John Ahearn in the latter). polemical stance which Agonistic Ornamentation upholds. the games and the moves. an aesthetic alterity in which dissensus is paramount. And thus rather than seeing both these seemingly antithetical ornamental discourses through the lens of art and vandalism. . they left no emails.

3. Untitled. Spain. 2009 . Madrid.26 Neko and Jaime.

Thus. we need move from image to performance.: 140). that has been ‘embraced as an automatic signifier of “criticality” or “progressivity” by artists. through eluding the power of the ‘arts administrators’ and ‘funding organizations’ Kwon discusses (ibid. It is thus a ‘curatorial and institutional delimitation’ which ‘often reduces’ and ‘sometimes stereotypes. an institutional delimitation that the inherently informal. the habitually ‘reductive and equalizing association drawn between an artist and a community group’ – a reductive association as epitomized by Foster’s ‘artist as ethnographer’ and an equalizing one exemplified by Kester’s community ‘delegate’ – hence ‘not always the work of a self-aggrandizing. insurgent visual form cannot be avoided or evaded as museum or gallery art can. non-institutional art discussed here can escape from.: 141). whilst acknowledging the critique of ‘public art’ that Miwon Kwon (2004) has famously outlined – a critique of a ‘site-specific’ art that has been ‘uncritically adopted’. these ornamental. the identities of the artist and the community group’ (ibid. whether in a museum. deeply vernacular. critics’ (ibid. as Kwon herself argues. dealers. to be more ‘often the result of institutional intervention and pressure’ than individual malpractice. another space from which to provoke. architects. can be seen to embed both of these ornamental practices more deeply within the public sphere as a whole. their existence away from the institutionalized control of publicly funded site-specific art (in terms of the sitespecific art discussed by Kwon). pseudo-altruistic artist but rather a fashioning of the artist by institutional forces’ (ibid. The co-option and domestication of much publicart can thus be understood. from artefact to ritual. curators. I am not attempting to set in place a base dichotomy of street = good / museum = bad. 17 Whilst Kwon argues (1998) that ‘all art.17 to embedded them within the quotidian space of the mudlevel. insurgent practices here described can serve to similarly elude many of the key pitfalls of site-specificity she points out. a gallery. yet ones that emerge through quite varying politicoaesthetic frameworks. satisfy institutional demographic profiles.: 1). the existence of the ornamental practices discussed here outside of the space of the white cube (in comparison to the models presented by Kester. I am merely suggesting that this innately public. of course. to question. an interior space is merely another site to work within. practices that may function through similar processes of application.: 53) – I would suggest that through emerging under the radar of authorization. or a public street is art in the public realm’ the street must be seen as inherently more accessible than any institutional arena. or fulfill the fiscal needs of a city’ (ibid. Agonistic and Consensual Ornamentation can thus be understood as practices which are set within a quite distinct opposition to one another. . that may function in similar sites and take similar risks. a public art that comes to be simply a ‘means to extract the social and historical dimensions out of places to variously serve the thematic drive of an artist. Bourriaud and Bishop).128 Ornament and Order Yet just as these models can serve as institutional reflections of Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation (and their trenchant critiques of each other thus equally resonating back onto these insurgent discourses). ornament to order.: 1). Yet now that these variances have been outlined.

the particular order of these ornaments. we will then be able to see how the group comes to be reconciled and reunited: We will come to understand the overriding balance between the agonistic and consensual. that one distinct group (the Nov Nueve collective with whom I completed my fieldwork). Exploring the various rituals and rites. the ephemeral action that will now be analysed. so united. to explain how it is that one particular collective. whilst having practitioners from both these distinct camps housed within the very same space. the practices and performances these artefacts are submerged within. And.Agonistic Ornamentation 129 We need move from an exploration of a politico to an ethico-aesthetic. it is the practice. I hope to untangle the knot which has now been set up.were able to remain so cohesive. . in so doing. the immaterial residue of my informants’ spatial acts rather than their material remnants which we will encounter. Rather than the objects themselves then.

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PART II Order .

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1  Eltono and Momo. Brazil. 2011. Untitled. Image courtesy of the artists . Rio de Janeiro.

Italy.2 Eltono. Turin. 2009. Image courtesy of artist . Untitled [Coriandoli Graffiti].

Elijo Irme [I choose to go]. Spain. 2011. Aranjuez.3 Nano4814. Image courtesy of artist .

2010. Untitled [Cement Graffiti]. Image courtesy of Alberto de Pedro . Spain.4 3TTMan. Madrid.

Leon. 2012.5 Remed. Untitled. Spain. Image courtesy of artist .

2012. Morocco. Marakkesh.6 Remed. Image courtesy of the Wackybrothers . Untitled.

Spain. Untitled. Image courtesy of artist . 2008. Madrid.7 Spok.

Untitled. Turin. 2012.8  Spok [background by Yesk]. Image courtesy of artist . Italy.

areligious social lives. a subject matter that. is one which acts as a dominant framework within my interlocutors ‘modern’. To undertake this task I aim to work through the broad anthropological theme of ritual. the distinct processes through which this group of actors actually produce these ornamental forms which must be examined. Catherine Bell Sacred.: 20). Examining these specifically secular. it is an action that is meant to affect the world and it is likely to do so.1 we will then 1 Moore and Myerhoff. Notions of sacrality will hence be seen to be not only implicitly contextual. although often wrongly seen as the domain of ‘traditional’ or ‘spiritual’ societies. in their edited text ‘Secular Ritual’ (1977). Bruce Kapferer similarly claimed (within the same volume) that the sacred/profane dichotomy is often so ‘fused in the manipulation of symbolic object[s] and symbolic action that they become confused and difficult to distinguish’ (Kapferer 1977: 116). but only to imitate doing so. As they argue. Roy Rappaport The contexts in which ritual practices unfold are not like the props of painted scenery on a theatrical stage. often drawing it into the very activity of the rite in multiple ways. ‘if sacred is understood in the sense of “unquestionable” and traditionalizing. yet not religious’ (ibid. it is the more practice-based elements related to these urban artefacts that I now wish to explore. attempted to more thoroughly delineate these eponymous terms.4 Order The ritual act. this is to say. “does something”. although deeply ‘sacred’ practices. is not to take an action affecting the world. but also . Yet Not Religious Having now demarcated the specific forms of cultural production that are being constructed within the aesthetic realm of Independent Public Art. then something may be sacred. To act in a drama. in contrast. Ritual action involves an inextricable interaction with its immediate world.

for us’. which acts as the balance of the ornament itself. I will not only reveal a heightened performative process that suspends and surpasses everyday normativity. not the exclusive site of the magico-religious.134 Ornament and Order find them to be infused with such notions as traditionalism. instilled with such themes as commitment. the focus on ritual will also uncover a practice which works not simply by subverting or inverting the dominant narrative of contemporary city-life. a term – much like the previously discussed ‘graffiti’ and ‘street-art’ – which is as over as it is underdetermined. more often simply ‘matters of practice’ (TMS Evens 2009: 119). an understanding of ritual. performativity and liminality. actions and events into existence. Whether consensual or agonistic (and whilst these different approaches did. all fields which I would suggest are key to the workings of what has been classically termed ‘ritual’ within anthropology. it will be the affects and effects that these processes generate. I must clarify what this very label means before I start making such sweeping claims. An Initial Lexicon As this vignette. deeply prescribed. come to explain exactly what I understand as the term ‘ritual’ itself. play. And it is thus through seeing these ornamental forms as both conventional signifiers (as so far discussed in Part I) and also embodied traces of an event (as now to be examined in Part II) that will enable us to find a more holistic understanding of the insurgent artefacts here discussed. As a word that has been employed by various different scholars in quite variable and differing ways. spectators and environments) that I now wish to more thoroughly explore. . all these practices worked through the archetypal ritual fields of action as understood anthropologically. And through highlighting the tangible systems that bring these various images. formality. as Bourdieu suggested. intensely sacred atmosphere. of order. ‘one and the same’ (ibid. comes to intimate. communicative meaning of my informants’ practices as previously examined. not only are ‘technology and magic. risk. sculpting. scratching away at the body of the city within the realm of rites.: 9) but magico-religious actions. the power of these corporeal processes to mould (rather than simply reflect) social experience. provide different types of events) I will argue in this chapter that all these acts. the furtive performances that were so often undertaken in the production of these ornaments were highly ritualized undertakings. but one that facilitates a reconciliation between the potentially incongruous modes of aesthetic production arising from within the group. as we will see. Explaining how this unified collective of actors can contain proponents of both consensual and agonistic types yet not simply implode through schismatic pressures. as Alfred Gell has argued (1988). transgression. ones immersed in a strongly ceremonial. to place these singular and plural moments of painting. the base (dis)order that they evince (for their participants. I need first. and uncertainty. but which works by a more ambivalent mode of deconstruction. Yet if I am attempting to frame these various ornamental practices in this way. of course. Rather than the semantic. I hope. explaining how the group envelope is kept cohesive through my informants’ shared implication and imbrication within the ever-changing physicality of their immediate urban landscape.

The familiar greetings were again performed and once more we set off. I looked down at him. Low-key greetings were made and we started to walk. black shorts. he joking and laughing at my obvious concern over the sweatshirt blunder … X arrived a few minutes later. leaning against a wall at the side of the station. pulling themselves up from the side of the fence. They were sharing all the basics of information. Spok most definitely not his normally effusive self. the essential facts of what had been happening in their respective lives. which I took off and placed in my backpack. likewise all in black. leaving the plaza by way of a winding footbridge running adjacent to the railway lines. full of paint). The two of them were talking almost inaudibly between themselves. a cheeky smile emerging on his face as per usual. likewise with a backpack slung over his shoulder (again. resting their foot on the wall by the bridge. catching up on the months since they had last met. Madrid.1  Spok on the tracks. I supposed. Again. reaching the other side like a certified professional in about five seconds flat. I felt suddenly conspicuous in my bright white sweatshirt. only one of whom I had met briefly before (a famed writer in the city). a small tote over his shoulder (sprays I guessed). somewhere along the lines plans had changed. but. By the time I reached them (the entrance for me being a touch more difficult – even with prior direction from Spok of an easier. looking a touch tense as he pulled on a cigarette. landing flawlessly maybe six feet down onto the narrow conduit adjacent the trackside fence. Spok abruptly hurdled the handrail without a word of warning. but they appeared to me to be a touch disconnected. then vaulting themselves up and over the top. but of course longer route) there were hushed discussions stirring on the topic of . yet seeming perhaps a touch preoccupied with other matters. Coming back round towards a desolate-looking pathway. watching him then scamper up and over the barbed-wire palisade. We arrived at a small plaza and wandered over to three further characters sat within it (two of them looking a little incongruous on a seesaw. obviously. Spain. all dressed in black bar one (there seemed to be a definite pattern emerging). One of the guys from the plaza (the only one in the non-black top) said his goodbyes and then cycled off – leaving me a touch more uneasy – the remaining three then reproducing Spok’s silky smooth movement on to the tracks. I had previously thought we were going to be painting a wall around the back of the station. an old friend of Spok’s from his crew TBC. along a quiet looking road by the side of the tracks. 08/10/08 […] I pulled up on my bike and saw Spok stood there waiting (at a little after one in the morning). down past the station. black trainers. Black t-shirt.Order 135 4. 2008 Intersection I: Field Notes. dressed head to toe in black. I went over to greet him. the other resting on his bike).

piercing the hushed air with its crisp. Without being able to use a flash and with the painting progressing in near total darkness (solely by the light of the bordering streetlamps).2  Spok at work. ‘key-lines’. foreign sound. It had a remarkable effect. swift movements followed by an occasional pause. every sinew straining for sound … then the sharp hiss of the spraycans would again reignite. saccharine aroma. squatting down by their collection of cans guessing at their colours. Each of them were now in full flow. shadows. there was also quite clearly a further preoccupation with the spatial surroundings as a whole. smooth. an abrupt internal whistle1 would ring out.136 Ornament and Order 4. maybe 15-minute intervals. 1 They all used this particularly marked whistle. at 10. the ‘fill-in’. and. every shake of the can penetrating the stillness that otherwise enveloped us. 30 seconds of total quietude. every trackside within miles of the centre (literally miles in any direction) was covered end-to-end in graffiti. sensitive to the point of clairvoyance towards any unfamiliar. able both to cut through the densest cacophony and to be used at . therefore. who would go-over whom and where. within the rhythm. I shuffled around behind them as they continued to paint. There seemed to be a fairly set routine they were all generally following. 2008 placement. the paint emanating from the flow of their bodies. each of the practitioners alert. the assorted parts coming together to suddenly reveal the unexpected whole. While there was an intense communal concentration formed through the transfixion with one’s own piece. the perspective. but a fairly habitual act for the writers whom I was with]. made by sucking air into their mouths rather than blowing out. the four took their positions and set to work almost immediately. as was the case in Madrid. looking for a good shot. And thus. Once organized and the sites of practice preliminarily marked out (by a line incised with the edge of a can). I had never before considered how shrill the sprays actually were (like white-noise exploding from a detuned radio-alarm clock). Madrid. any indication of potential danger. the piece slowly building up. the air filling with their unmistakeable. a hand in the air denoting silence. one would be forced to paint on top of another graffiti-writer’s previous work – a potentially precarious act for an inexperienced writer who was not yet respected. placing down their bags. starting by outlining the core structure. the seams of the letter forms. selecting their cans and then proceeding to outline their pieces. Spain. I crept over the ballast with care. Naturally. The first burst of noise from the normally innocuous sounding spraycans seemed incredibly loud. penetrating resonance. [They were painting the walls by the side of the tracks (‘track-sides’ as they were called in the not too difficult to gather vernacular). going with the instinct developed from a hundred other nights just like this. squinting to try and make them out. trying to find a makeshift tripod having foolishly failed to bring mine with. not wanting to disturb the feeling of intensity exuding from the collective work.

now thinking back. this single bodily act. Three exits only [pointing at the steps crawling up the poles of the overhead wires at our left. fluid movements. a sound of imminent illicit activity. four artefacts following the regulations of their discourse acutely muted levels. And we don’t wait around to chat to them como 3TT y Remed2 … Whether or not he was being a touch dramatic seemed irrelevant. adrenalin-fuelled state. customarily. he just made me nervous. but feel them. All of the guys were in a heightened. necessitating a mode of performative improvisation. I think Spok was making a point. 2008 Around 40 minutes in (time. This isn’t the city centre ok? They guard the tracks here. gather up their tools and converge together about 20 feet from the wall. the tension in the air was irrefutable. Whether just trying to keep me vigilant. multi-layered four or five letter monikers. all working within different styles and designs. and five of us. to be honest. It was also a style used by many of the graffiti artists in the city. to make me embrace the uncertainty that was so palpable. no lingering around for a moment more than necessary. still searching in vain for the perfect image. or attempting to explain something more significant. Be ready.Order 137 4.3  Spok at work. Because we’re ready to go at any time. had its obvious pleasures]. each of the guys starting to settle back from their pieces. Four classic ‘graffiti’ pieces had been produced. Mira. he murmured. You could pick them out on the street from this single acoustic attribute. getting right up to the surface and then leaning his body back from it. our right and our centre]. Spok came over to me with a slightly pained expression on his face. however. Four artefacts working within a particular mode of rhythmic formality yet demanding. as he proceeded to execute the final highlights (his favourite part of the practice. He walked back to his piece. A brief appraisal and they were ready to go. Spain. . cocking his head to take it all in. each working within a set tradition yet attempting to constantly mould and shape that convention. [Undoubtedly. At the time. he was trying to make me not just see the differences between the afternoon evening events. a bodily technique so oft repeated that the vehicle seemed almost inseparable from the operator. his hand and the can seemed almost one and the same. as Spok had often emphasized. had entered into a debate with the police over the acceptability of their actions. once again. But of course it was a form of anxiety which. He paused. to trip over an empty can at the side of the tracks. ‘bringing the letters to life’ he used to say). Madrid. ready to move whenever necessary. multi-dimensional. 2 Spok and I had earlier been with Louis and Remed as they’d been painting illegally in the city during daylight hours and. multi-coloured. ready to run. I managed. being particularly hard to gauge). Soon after the task was almost complete. working with his customarily balanced.

which were all crucial to the completion of these aesthetic acts. then. the generation of theories of the occult. the sealing of social contract. While working within a set discourse. how much space lay within the margins?] Of those who have attempted to pin down the precise meaning of the term ritual. what room for experiment was there. Rappaport suggested that. when used collectively. the group of us finally entering a 24-hour café up by the station for a quick caña and a couple of bocatas to end the night. laugh. It was thus a defined bodily practice in two senses. ‘sensible features common to rituals always and everywhere’. It was something that contained a number of stipulated attributes. but also through the awareness and spatial sensitivities which were required during the entire period.: 27). inclusion of both acts and utterances. almost meditation within the ‘flow’. engendering the possibility of an establishment of convention. It was also a night that made me start to think more about the notion of creativity.: 3).: 27).138 Ornament and Order while. of their wider environment. the representation of a paradigm of creation. all of us then climbing back up and over the fence (infinitely easier exiting than entering). within a specifically egalitarian setting. a questioning of public space itself … I grabbed a couple of final snaps with the flash on my camera at last. We walked back up to the station. I shook hands with the new guys. I had initially felt they were acting aloof (me being unknown to two of the four). hugs with Spok. the presence of ‘others’. one whose boundaries were so highly regulated. and the construction of orders of meaning transcending the semantic (ibid. the evocation of numinous experience. a site within which ‘logic becomes enacted and embodied – is realised – in unique ways’ (ibid. the late Roy Rappaport possibly stands as the theorist who has most lucidly unpacked the entangled meanings set within it. communicating innumerable things – the physical status of the artist. the guys now beginning to relax. Drinks and food finished. from meeting to departure. the generation of the concept of the sacred and the sanctification of conventional order. . have both ‘social and material consequences’. the construction of time and eternity. consequences that ‘may or may not be “functional”’ (ibid. this was the night that I really came to terms with the procedural formality of the ornamental process. formality. ritual was ‘humanity’s basic social act’ (Rappaport 1999: 107). the construction of the integrated conventional orders […] the investment of whatever it encodes with morality. it was something that involved an overt commitment to risk. but it now seemed this had nothing to do with it. promises of forwarding photos made. emails were exchanged. bodily techniques. smiles I had never seen on the faces of these writers now starting to emerge. a ‘ritual’ state could then give rise to a multitude of outcomes. to joke around. arranging to meet him at the studio the next day […] [On reflection. and encoding by other than the performers’ (ibid. the specific forms of clothing. invariance. not only through the production of the image. language. the mission now complete they could lighten up. the awareness of the divine. It was an utter contrast to just a few minutes earlier.: 24). Coming to define it through the underlying concepts of ‘performance. Ritual was thus understood as something that could. its basic protocols necessitating a total absorption in the moment. As soon as we were on the other side I felt the mood manifestly alter. Spok catching a few quick throw-ups on the walls as we went. the grasp of the holy. Not only was this moment a symptomatic example of a practice that nearly always took place within a group setting. a total immersion. It was the event itself that led to this perceived detachment. For him. to a heightened sensation garnered through a test of one’s aesthetic/athletic abilities. ‘in a trivial sense’. exit the frame.

calendrical and commemorative rites. a practice that was on the boundary.: 26).: 94]). rites of affliction. Bell. spatial and temporal procedures. as a ‘way of acting that distinguishes itself from other ways of acting’ (ibid. its innately overlapping. objects and places could thus become sanctified or legitimated through various rites and ceremonies.: 138). and finally political rituals [ibid. invariance. a lexicon slightly modifying but in practice mainly concurring with Rappaport’s ‘ritual’ requisites (traditionalism acting as a simple alternate for ‘encoding by other than the performers’.Order 139 features that (crucial for this work). more than anything. was taken up further by the theorist of religion Catherine Bell in her seminal text Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions (1997). It was hence. rites of feasting. This potentially vexing point. with ritual as an overall concept. Moving away from universal. While still outlining what she argued to be the six prototypical archetypes of communal. whose very definition could make it disappear as a conceptual category itself. to what she saw as ‘flexible and strategic ways of acting’ rather than specific acts in themselves (ibid. however (seemingly following Jack Goody’s adage.: 164). People. thus sought to move the terms of reference away from ‘ritual’ and towards ritualization. Bell thus also sketched some key modes of ‘ritual-like’ action. in a similar move to that made by Rappaport. fasting and festivals. ritual was simply a category of action (ibid. considered to be a ‘unique structure. calculated modes of action that gained significance through the delineation of specific physical. detaching itself from the quotidian. polythetic condition (Needham 1975). ‘may in fact. distinctive trait. traditions and strategies of “ritualization”’ that Bell wished to uphold. sacral symbolism . and perhaps perplexingly. although none of its elements – performance.: 26). more rituals. In her estimation. What Rappaport was at pains to insist was that. rather than merely attempting to further demarcate a now seemingly nebulous term. disciplined invariance. It was thus a focus less on the ‘matter of clear and autonomous rites’ and more on the various ‘methods.: 138). ‘[r]ituals. formality and so on – belongs to it alone’ (ibid. a focus on the ‘body moving about within a specially constructed space’. rites of exchange and communion. there could thus. sacral symbolism and performance (ibid. overly generic themes. a practice that sets itself aside from the norm. lead us to recognise events as rituals in the first place’ (ibid. in her mind. not only be no ‘intrinsic or universal understanding of what constitutes ritual’ (Bell 1997: 164).: 26). a body at the same time ‘defining (imposing) and experiencing (receiving) the values ordering the environment’ (ibid. ‘traditional’ rites (these being rites of passages. traditionalism. a text in which she critically examined the various changes and paradigms formulated within the study of rites over its (relatively) short intellectual history.: 81). an ‘initial lexicon’ encompassing the themes of formalism. a marker that could ostensibly fluctuate in almost every feature. yet more rituals […] there is little to be gained either from the term itself or from further subdivision’ [Goody 1977: 26]). yet in itself. This adaptation of idiom enabled her to explore ritual in terms of its concrete practice.: 81–2). yet these aspects could never be thought as inimitable to what he understood as ritual itself. the very idiom had become an almost futile label. but very few cultures were even understood to have had a term for ritual ‘that means exactly what is meant by the English word’ (ibid. ritual had no singular. and toward the specific. rule-governance.

203–6 through the work of Maurice Bloch). to start off with. the limits or curbs placed upon ‘how something can be expressed’ understood to simultaneously influence ‘what can be expressed as well’ (ibid.2 and the sole addition of rulegovernance moulding into Rappaport’s ‘invariance’).: 139). formulating a mode of behaviour that had an implicit structure. Formalism. While often taken to simply denote ‘adherence to form’. one where understated deviation. unlike Bell. then. was grasped in a more discriminating way by the sensitive ear of the participants. Untitled collage by Momo. Yet these apparent restrictions could also be argued to allow a more intense performative meaning to emerge. for Rappaport.140 Ornament and Order 4. for through ritual some of the embarrassments of symbolic communication (notably the two vices of language. formalism must quite crucially not be taken to inevitably signify any notion of restraint or politesse. casual activities. he warns. rather than radical innovation. 2 Rappaport. Practices undertaken would thus often tender a more restricted mode of communication than normally observed in everyday interaction (a constraint examined in depth on pp. but it is not particularly decorous’ (Rappaport 1999: 33). the ‘greeting behavior of teenagers’. lie and the confusions of Babel) may be ameliorated’ (Rappaport 1999: 26).: 138). was understood by both Bell and Rappaport as a method of setting up a distinct contrast with unceremonious.4 Formal. yet unique. the usual and unusual. 2009 more-or-less approximating ‘acts and utterances’. . typical and atypical. ‘is formal in that it is stereotyped. consciously shirked from the usage of the term ‘symbol’: ‘That ritual is not entirely symbolic is one of its most interesting and important characteristics. it was believed to set up a division between the ordinary and the extraordinary. quotidian. one of the most ‘frequently cited characteristics of ritual’ (ibid. traditional. Through a sliding scale of procedurally organized movement (from excessively technical to moderately so).

Even while the ‘invention of tradition’ was a trait understood. societies naturally ‘at odds with modernity’ (Bell 1987: 138). movements away from ‘tradition’ can thus be understood to be prevalent as much in ‘primitive’ as in ‘modern’ societies.: 33). Traditionalism. the ‘attempt to make a set of activities appear to be identical to or thoroughly consistent with older cultural precedents’ (Bell 1997: 145). functions through a bond to a set historical discourse. as we will see. than to any ‘primordial’ belief system (ibid. but to be part of an adhered-to set of passed-down messages or techniques. . all the while retaining a strictly ceremonious. obscene or blasphemous behavior’ (ibid. 2009 Ritual formality could thus often ‘subsume or even specify.: 99). not ‘external sign’ (Douglas 1996 [1973]: 14). Any ‘deliberate’ or ‘calculated invention’ of ritual was hence seen to be a rarity (Rappaport 1999: 32). an apparently unbroken lineage making each ritual element part of a wider whole. a religion based on ‘internal feeling’. behaviour of an apparently transgressive modality. comic. as Hobsbawm and Ranger famously explained (1983). Actions undertaken were thus understood to be not entirely encoded by the participants themselves. to potential manipulation and modification. expressive characteristic. While often seen to be the preserve of ‘primitive’ societies. romanticized past. Untitled collage by Momo.Order 141 4.: 1). aritual sensibility. for example).5 Invariant. violent. even if this was in fact a highly constructed. rule governed. to be widespread within the ‘modern’ era. then. yet distinct. procedures of course liable. the manifestation of ‘traditional’ ritual (as detailed by Mary Douglas (1966) in her renowned grid/group schema). can be attributed more to the basic principles of social organization (the importance of group allegiance and hierarchical roles. these were sets of practices that sought to ‘inculcate certain values and norms’ implying a direct ‘continuity with the past’ (ibid. the Mbuti Pygmies as studied by Turnbull acting as the classic example of a seemingly ‘primitive’ group with a highly ‘modern’.

however. invariance is more concerned to efface temporality. speech and gestures’ (ibid. most easily (and often) distinguished within the various ritualizations attached to sporting activities (events where ‘violent chaos is barely held in check by complex codes of orchestration’ [Bell 1997: 153]). somewhat like traditionalism. a fluency that can in fact free the practitioner from the perceived constraint (Hughes-Freeland 2007). There is thus always room for ‘logically necessary or deliberate variation’. Whereas the ‘canonical’ element of ritual (the messages concerning the wider environment. establishing a unity . Their ‘unique significance’. even as they may be understood (and perceived) to specifically attempt not to. society and cosmos) was hence understood by Rappaport to be highly invariant. can be detected through the distinct. works through anticipation and improvisation. Yet while games and ritual have sometimes been contrasted (by. and far from simply initiating a mechanistic replication. through its unchanging procedural form (ibid. patterns that are often seen to reinforce wider beliefs of approved.: 153). Rule governance. can be seen to emerge through the very relationship between ‘variations in representations indicating the current states of participants’ and the ‘constancy of the order in which they are participating and which they are thereby realizing’ (ibid. a form of creativity that. works through a meticulous concentration on repetition and control.142 Ornament and Order Invariance. actors are restricted to various set patterns of interaction. as Rappaport highlights (1999). features that in themselves permit the commencement of the particular activities.: 328). a balance between the ‘self-control required by the actor’ and a distinct ‘rhythm of repetition in which the orchestrated activity is the most recent in an exact series that unites past and future’ (Bell 1997: 150). Rather than traditionalism’s attempt to protect a particular historical lineage. structure domineering chaos. through specific acts and utterances. the ‘self-referential’ aspect (the messages concerning the individual actors and their experiential existence) can be seen conversely (or correspondingly) as ‘necessarily variant’ (ibid. It is hence a technique stressing the ‘careful choreography of actions’. Adherence to these regulations thus connects ritual to the sphere of morality. ritual must be understood as ‘more or less invariant’ rather than comprehensively so (ibid. from football to fox-hunting.: 151). order can be imposed upon a disorderly world. rather than. ‘proper’ behaviour. Rituals can thus adjust and transform within their very invariance. Moreover. boxing to bull-fighting). different performers as well as different performances naturally varying (even if only minutely so) each specific occurrence of the rite (ibid.: 36).: 151). Regulated ‘engagements of violence and disorder’ or ‘ritualized combat’ (such as perceived in a wide-range of activities. a field where. these ‘strategies of invariance’ can transform ‘the precise and deliberate gesture into one of perfect spontaneity and efficacy’ (ibid. Working within the wider realm of play. in fact. Nonetheless. regimented composition of each particular rite.: 329).: 24). thus often contain distinctive modes of ‘dress. like invariance. separating participants out into winners and losers. as Levi-Strauss argued. rather than extinguishing personhood. as rituals ‘should’ do. a regimented system of action that can ‘close the distance between the doer and the deed’ through its perceived timelessness.

its representation may have to be material if it is to be taken seriously’. they are then able. a materialization giving ‘visible substance to aspects of existence which are themselves impalpable. distance. a clear attachment to both a specifically ordered chaos and rule-governed yet licentious play (as seen most clearly in rites of inversion. which help ‘to define – make definite – important but vague aspects about the world’ (ibid. feelings’ (Bell 1997: 156).: 87). By working through physical display rather than mere text. ‘evoking and expressing values and attitudes associated with larger. however. influence. as Rappaport emphasizes (1999). objects such as national flags and historical monuments.: 22). prestige and worthiness’. evoking both sentiments and taboos common to many ‘religious’ artefacts. can be considered to have strong link to festival rituals such as carnival. the distinction between analogic and digital is that ‘between measuring and counting’. to ‘finish with winners and losers’ (ibid. in a manner more expansive than bare.: 141). this notion of sacrality does not simply connote activities with an explicitly supernatural context. objects whose sacrality is formed through their separation from the world of the everyday. which we shall discuss in Chapter 5). more abstract.: 140).: 88). ancient images and objects (with either mythical or authentic value). the latter referring to ‘entities or processes whose values change not through continuous infinitesimal graduations but by discontinuous leaps’. And. Prestige or influence. Play is hence distinguished as a type of action marked out from the everyday.Order 143 [Rappaport 1999: 44]). these artefacts cannot be taken to be solely ‘symbolic’. are often overtly understood to be ‘holy’. their ability. like worthiness or influence. 4 The recently reported incidents (and consequent furore) of the defamation of war monuments in the UK by drunken (and urinating) youths serve as an illustration of the evident sacrality bestowed upon these ostensibly secular sites. to contain meanings beyond their constrained physical form. Rappaport argues. temperature. like games. however. marked out as ritual through its highly directed yet non-instrumental objectives. velocity. As previously noted. are hence accounted for by material. the former referring to ‘entities and processes in which values can change through continuous imperceptible graduations in. transmitted through such ritual indices as ‘pigs. mood. 3 Howe (2000) critiques this view.: 157). by noting the ‘unpredictability of some rituals’. its contests working within a framework of distinct and regulated parameters. as he continues. Ritual can of course contain analogic processes as well. coppers and blankets’. 5 ‘Speaking roughly’. ‘when what is signified is incorporeal.4 These are forms understood to materially extend. not solely linguistic properties. for instance. as almost all rituals include ‘acts and objects as well as words’.3 play. . as a distinct entity to gaming. to communicate in what he terms a digital rather than analogical mode. sacral symbolism incorporates various ‘symbols that embody values. Ritual is thus understood to work digitally through its ‘material representation’ (ibid.: 76). but of great importance in the ordering of social life’ (ibid. but these are often overridden or suppressed by their digital ones (ibid. maturation. such as the ‘beating of the heart and changes in the size of animal populations’ (Rappaport 1999: 87). and relatively transcendent ideas’ (ibid. conventional linguistic disclosure5 (ibid. The penultimate element.

6  Remio at work.4. USA. Los Angeles. 2010 .

7  Remio at work. USA. Los Angeles.4. 2010 .

at least very least. the very ‘manner of “saying” or “doing”’ understood to be ‘intrinsic to what is being “said and done”’ (ibid. to function within a seemingly repetitive. but creates and fulfils it. rather than solely communicating (ibid. ritual. as ‘a living event’. and to employ a multidimensional. there ‘may be another similar performance tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. yet one always marked out by a manner of differentiation. as I mean now to outline. It works directly within the Austinian realm of the illocutionary. Whether of an ephemeral or enduring kind. no matter how intricate.: 38). Without performance. and the unique. Whilst performance is links ritual to the world of theatrical presentation and classical drama. not only represents action. unlike drama. and perhaps most important of Bell and Rappaport’s ritual stipulates.: 81). corporeal knowledge understood to shape one’s understanding of the world (Bell 1997: 160). Rituals are thus ‘realized – made into res – only by being performed’ (Rappaport 1999: 37). then. Working on a multi-sensorial stage. each act. to operate amidst a system of rules and regulations. to be produced in order to be seen. or. Although both forms of exposition reflect upon a notion of wider order. whether it is conducted on an individual or communal basis. as Edward L. the rite must be performed. but that is another performance’ (ibid. fundamental to the process of aesthetic production my informants undertook. no matter how detailed. performative framework. And any performance must therefore be grasped primarily. whether through practice or spectatorship. through its latent. a participatory. invariant framework. fundamental to the procedural formation of what I have termed Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation. it is understood to function through the ritual participant not simply ‘being told or shown something so much as’ being ‘led to experience’.146 Ornament and Order The final. active undertaking of each individual rite. Schieffelin noted (2005). Multiple Sensory Modalities All of these ritual components described above are. performance. elaborate or austere. it is hence the most evidential and vital of ritual’s features. the deliberate ‘self-conscious “doing” of highly symbolic actions in public’ (Bell 1997: 160). there simply ‘is no ritual’ (Rappaport 1999: 37). to refer to an enduring tradition. one in which all members participate in the proceedings. having the possibility of a multitude of meanings. appealing to discourse that goes beyond the lives of the ritual practitioners themselves. 153).: 86). to work through both innately affective or expressive and intrinsically analytic or communicative symbols. for Rappaport (1999) this connection must be seen as familial rather than integral. are not in themselves ritual acts. within what could be described as a ‘mania’ for a non-instrumental precision. of explicit doing. as Rappaport conclusively asserts. They are aspects without which these artefacts could not .: 81). an arrangement of play as an inversion or potential subversion of everyday social life. Ritualized behaviour can thus be seen as a practice which works within a sliding scale of formalism (from unstructured to structured). an event that when over is forever gone (ibid. acts as the overall framework within which all the other categories of ritualization can ensue. Descriptions of ritual.

or scratch upon public surfaces. can equally be considered as media restricting painting to highly proscribed boundaries. the spatial location of these acts. a formality of ‘stereotyped elements’ (Rappaport 1999: 33). another common tool. but also clearly prescribed social contracts proscribing these acts – edicts working through all of our key social institutions. or simply any other ‘surplus’. denoting approaching police or other institutional authority. At the furthest end of this scale. Primarily.7 the judiciary8 – quite recent social contracts in fact (as shown through the work of Juliet Fleming [2001]). 7 The proscriptions emerging throughout the school system and centring on the prohibition against writing on school property. The very medium of production. creating a set of formal characteristics. Colouring-in books. order would be entirely absent. write. 8 The proscriptions against writing or drawing within ‘public’ spaces. activity would generally take place nocturnally (a ‘liminal time in which the world of work is seen to lose its hold’ [O’Connor and Wynne 1996: 162]). authoritarian or otherwise). that designated them as something different. thus places these acts as something ‘special’. Tension was thus heightened. the practice would most often occur within a bounded location (outside the space of the everyday within a train yard or aside a train track. detachment and heightened physical elaboration fluctuating between exceptional and moderate formality.6 the education system. and there were thus innumerable indiscretions one could make. taboo-breaking ornaments can be seen to function in the self-same variable way. modify. such as the disused can discussed previously. There are not only implicit. one is not supposed to draw. whose violation immediately sets the actions off in contrast to informal. paint. Both of the ornamental practices described in the previous chapters thus worked. something framed. clothing would be regulated (muted colours the norm). through contrasting themselves to those of the everyday. something denoting ‘this is ritual’ (Bateson 2000 [1972]: 182). ‘backstage’ locale [Goffman 1959]). levels of convention. a building site. a rooftop. during a painting ‘mission’ for example (such as described in Intersection I). but also the wider landscape. so these ‘violent’. without which style. . commonplace ones (from commercial advertising to institutionally acceptable public-art). first and foremost. 6 The proscriptions emerging through childhood: painting being regulated to specific media. each ritual actor constantly on the look-out for potential danger. many things one (as an ethnographer in particular) could trip up on – literally. with household walls being harshly prohibited. verbal communication kept to a minimum unless otherwise necessary (silence thus reigning apart from various cautionary colloquialisms9). ‘obscene’ (Rappaport 1999: 33). and quite unmistakably.Order 147 be revealed. structure. their performative routines separated from quotidian habits. something unique. or metaphorically. actions highly regulated. And just as ritual (and of course ritual transgression) has been shown to work within varying degrees of formality. conduct and deportment would be overtly discriminating (movements being highly measured in terms of both the precise medium being worked upon. install. through the family. 9 Such as the previously described internal whistle or other colloquial sayings such as su padre (your father).

148 Ornament and Order through the accidental use of a camera-flash. even a ‘youth’. disturbing concentration. within a generalized display of tagging for example. Alone. Yet even more significantly than all these potential indiscretions. one blundered simply by not painting. one would find an activity undertaken within the normalized spaces of the everyday (a site which one would not specifically go to but already be amongst). through talking noisily. one where 4. 2009 . Spain. Everyone.8 Nano4814. or simply being unconscious of one’s wider surroundings (especially of law enforcement). and Brk at work. should have the ability to paint. At the other end of the spectrum however. Vigo.

the practice was one within which improprieties were naturally harder to make (as one was not so explicitly obliged to participate). unstructured activities. pointing quite overtly to something beyond itself . Action would hence occur rapidly. being generally less considered. every work situated within an emplaced tradition. 2012. a rituality derived in main through the explicit act of writing (and one linked to more classic calligraphic processes with their concern over the ‘freedom’ of the line. the ornamental artefacts working within a ‘restricted code’. Thus. tension not exceptionally heightened.: 243). but a procedural constraint working in a highly different mode to the first described. although highly measured while actually forming the images. crucially. that perfectly replicated Spiro Kostof’s (1992) depiction of the street as the site of ‘solemn ceremony’ on the one hand – a nocturnal painting mission – and ‘improvised spectacle’ on the other – a diurnal practice of tagging (ibid. It was a contrast. New York.9  Slave Cave Collective. Nazca Lines. the appropriateness of the tools utilized).Order 149 movements. The Slave Cave Collective piece depicted here not only has links to the traditions and history of the graffiti discourse (paying homage to a work which any true adherent to the discourse will instantly recognize) but also linking to the theme of sacrality. It hence contained a level of formality. There would be an obvious frisson created through its basic formality. The ornamental practices my informants undertook alluded quite clearly to a continuing historical convention. in fact. a more commonplace action occurring on innumerable occasions. USA. Both modalities (and all those working in between) could be seen to display a form of expressive simplicity however. physical gestures. but. its separation from ‘normalized’ activity. they thus inhabited a realm where each act manifestly exceeded the 4. an aesthetic idiom prone to various rules and regulations: They can hence be understood to work within a set framework of tradition. it would emerge out of more quotidian ones (such as just being on the street. its inherent illegality. understood to be in contrast with prevalent societal strictures. conduct and deportment were interwoven with more habitual. every work referencing (in some way at least) previously accomplished images. yet one that was still. it did not have the intensified procedural regulation of its more extreme relation. being interlaced with everyday behaviour as it was. or making a journey from one place to another).

were in themselves unchanging and predictable. authorities who would pride themselves on being able to name every ‘king’ from every era. it need not only be invented (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) but also exist in a state of continuous fluidity. in reference to the almost ridiculously elevated veneration of Subway Art and the authors Chalfant and Cooper in particular (the lionized progenitors of the liturgy but not the practice). while working within particular visual regimes. Customs were hence vindicated through the understanding that they were following an ancestral lineage. Any ‘break’ could then be placed as another point in an undeniable flow. who could describe the subtle differences between the various intra-aesthetic movements occurring in countless distinct global locales. . master/apprentice relationship which was fundamental to the process of learning. Sixe. 10 It is really hard to overestimate how important the books Subway Art and Spraycan Art have been to the progression of graffiti culture. then. seen as something that was ‘always already modern’ (Kapferer 2005: 47). and one could break out (or perhaps work through) these paradigms to form new arrangements and styles. can be considered as a factor that could facilitate creativity. the nights discussing the merits or shortcomings of one aesthetic ‘school’ over another. Traditionality. to know who had done what.150 Ornament and Order sole ‘author’ or participant themselves. Each of my informants were thus highly schooled in the history and customs of their relevant practices. Maria. one provoked even further by the customary elder/neophyte. the sacred status not only of the individual pieces within these books (which were treated as hallowed) but so too the saintly status of the producers of the bible themselves. experts who would be turned to in times of debate. y José after someone sneezed. unacceptable because of its sheer incomprehensibility). all my informants were connoisseurs. the ornaments produced were still clearly mutable and fluid artefacts. the images. This was by no means a critique of these authors who were held in the upmost respect. On one occasion. a development naturally placed within the historical framework which already existed. This turn to tradition did not simply mean that the forms. gaining authority from a folk-history of previous originators. through the untold hours spent talking about past and present images and image-makers. specialists in the history of these insurgent ornaments. satirically stated Jesus. but simply a commentary on the encompassing traditionalism that he and his fellow practitioners worked within. one expressible through a teleological ‘family tree’ of practices. could only emerge through a form of critical improvisation rather than ‘pure’ innovation (unadulterated novelty often being deemed unacceptable even in the most avant-garde of circles. Any break. (as discussed further in the discussion of creativity on pp. where they had done it and when. It was a crucial part of one’s (unrelenting) education. certain ‘ritual experts’ (such as Alone/Hear amongst my informants in Madrid). And there were. rather than the customary Jesus. Whether through the reading of the liturgical prayer book or ‘bible’ (as it was commonly known) – Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant10 – through the sharing of (badly photocopied) images via the postal system in the days of their youth to the contemporary distribution of images over the internet. of course. Cooper y Chalfant. 217–19).

10  Invariant yet idiosyncratic 1. 2012 . Katsu. New York. USA. Untitled.4.

as we will soon see. chosen icon. Images would work through their related geographical locations (using similar sites such . hundreds in a week. again. Inscribing only one’s chosen appellation. writers could construct tens of tags in a night. on an equally unbelievable scale. Tagging. both Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation can then be seen as incessant. Less obviously agonistic forms also worked within this reiterative framework. incorrectly) perceived to be a monotonous. actors using both recurrent motifs recurrent designs as well as undertaking what could be deemed an excess of exactitude. Untitled 1. as well as the dedication of an associate’s name). Beijing. China.152 Ornament and Order 4. can here be taken as a prescient example. to seem to function amidst an endlessly rhythmic. working in what is commonly (although. disciplined invariance. Image making occurred on an almost daily (or perhaps nightly basis). Eltono. produced at a somewhat unbelievable rate. Untitled 2.11 Invariant yet idiosyncratic 2. almost mechanical form of repetition. or one’s associated crew’s acronym (with an occasional addition of poetic phrases or overt messages to other writers. 2012 Through this obeisance to tradition. thousands upon thousands in a year. unremitting acts. cyclical.

11 Like the iterability of performance itself.: 58). the trained practitioner could see the infinitesimal differences that the hand must always make. its physical practice. each performance understood to be laden with possibility. rather than one’s potential possibilities. all forms of work functioned within a quite set structure of rules and regulations. rhythmical nature of painting. psychic or social states of individual participants’ (Rappaport 1999: 53). through related techniques (such as the carteles or concrete method used by 3TTMan). Whilst the act of production was seen to be both fixed and fluid then. the wider social milieu it was embedded within. in the latter. in the former case. the incessant. particular styles. Even the apparent invariance of a tag – the most seemingly invariant of all the ornamental forms discussed – was fiercely repudiated by the practitioners themselves. one re-performed (and thus re-directed) every time enacted. . the existential state of the practitioner. which each individual tacitly accepted through the very act itself. analysing the particular ‘physical. Invariance. it can be viewed simply as a restriction of one’s potential palette. a combined ethic. perfunctory action. 12 All of the ornamental forms discussed contained both self-referential and canonical information. will thus be grasped as an innately indeterminate business. 11 ‘I’ve done a thousand pieces.’ Whilst to my eye they may have looked identical.Order 153 as the doorframes often used by Eltono). inducted within the instinctive ‘flow’ of heightened action (Csikszentmihalyi 1992). idiosyncratic marking. particular modes of ‘neatness. you could re-trace its physical production. ‘and they might have a similar style but they’re never the same. aspects through which. universal meanings. singular character. 142). It’s impossible for me to even catch two tags the same. a restriction that can be seen to actually produce possibility (a contention explored further on p. spontaneity and efficacy were thus all intertwined through a very specific form of cadenced bodily practice. boldness of contrast etc. ten thousand tags’ he once told me. Spok would maintain that the probability of even two tags being exactly the same was close to zero.12 The invariance which ritual ‘displays or even flaunts’ thus ‘manifests or represents a specific order to which individuals ipso facto conform in performing them’ (Rappaport 1999: 41). a ‘referential’ one that corresponds to the exact state of the practitioner at the time of its production. does not therefore simply denote an unthinking. each occurrence a chance to improvise from within the innate structure. that remains wholly invariant no matter its apparent variance. the physical medium. as we will examine below through Leo Howe’s work (2000). an invariant action with unavoidably variant aesthetic outcomes – a ‘canonical’ element that retains the same message. while. however. but part of a complex in which ‘the two classes of messages are dependent upon each other’ (ibid. through related modes of pattern (such as Remed’s focus on geometry). The differing aspects were not merely ‘two sorts of information’. All inscription. Its predictability is hence highly relative. a wholly variant. each physical act was always bound by external factors. directly referencing an urge.’ (Bateson 2000 [1972]: 135) which would give the works their conspicuous. grasping its more general. And aspects of creativity. a practice through which one would become fully integrated into the task at hand. in both consensual and agonistic modalities.

other writers’ names. possible. which would never be touched by committed practitioners15 – and what were recognized as ‘public’ spaces – shop front grills. home residences. both consensual and agonistic practices were completed at night. And it was thus often acknowledged that aesthetic freedom only emerged for those at the very beginning of their practice (for those who had no concept of these regulations). Regulations over when. with all its attempt to break external regulations.13 Whilst innovation did continually occur. ‘street-furniture’ and so forth. 13 ‘Wherever practiced. and for the masters who had reached the point where all regulations were a framework rather than a mandate. undertaking ornamentation during the day was considered to be foolhardy. can hence be seen as a discourse whose internal regulations are bound to (comparatively) strict conventions. could be detected in nearly every aspect of their work. people’s houses in general. but generally imprudent. 15 Espos’s ‘rules of graffiti’ puts it well: ‘Don’t write on houses of worship. a crucial element of my informants’ ornamental practices. the regulations of ‘what’ were of a more clearly proscriptive nature. Just as conservative or neophyte practitioners in Agonistic Ornamentation will follow the regulations of the New York school. street walls. which were seen as clearly open. Whilst some practitioners of the form were thoroughly conservative then – following the Subway Art. reproducing his satirical stencils in a similarly slavish fashion. for example. Whilst these ‘when’ regulations were prescriptive. advice set mainly for protective purposes. For the most part then. bound by a network of conventions […] Innovation is almost always a matter of reinterpreting or recombining them’ (Trilling 2003: 28–9). to break out of the status quo as discussed in Chapter 3.154 Ornament and Order This rule governance. Differentiating between what were considered ‘private’ spaces – religious sites. their consensual opposites will often become one of the hundreds of adherents of the school of Banksy. Agonistic Ornamentation. what and where one could paint – even as the works flouted other more authoritative conventions – created fixed aesthetic patterns within which one was obligated to proceed. a knowledge that would then allow one to bend and mould these regulations and found a new ground from which to proceed. Whilst aesthetic experts could then play with the form then. monuments.14 Within the regulations over‘where’. the avant-garde which then became part of the mainstream. receptive targets – practitioners would follow these regulations to protect themselves both from ridicule from other followers of the practice as well as from direct targeting by authorities. 14 This argument can also be quite easily mapped onto the sphere of Consensual Ornamentation. New York tradition of practice in an entirely subservient manner – the highest esteem was almost always bestowed upon those who formed the new wave. we can find numerous distinctions between the types of surfaces that were deemed acceptable or unacceptable for ornamentation. Writing on memorial walls and cars is beef beyond belief’ (Powers 1999: 154–5). . Only if you actively wanted to encounter authorities (as with 3TTMan’s practice) was working during the day a viable option. it was only through these practitioners intricate knowledge of the regulations themselves that this improvisational form of creativity could transpire. [ornamentation] is a highly conservative art. and tombstones. neophytes would often quite slavishly follow convention in order to develop both their techniques and knowledge base.

Democracy.4. 2012 4. Self Portrait.13  Filippo Minelli. Mauritania. New York. USA.12  John Fekner. Nouadhibou. 2008 .

was a further aspect of these ornamental practices. transcending the immediacy of the individual piece.: 159). a sanctified imagery. Acting as distinct indexes of their artist’s agency. to signify ideals of value that cannot merely be ‘communicated by words’. places often ‘dead’ until ornamentation transpired). between sacred and profane artefacts. or prohibited from practising. together with the realm of the sacred. to the realm of agonic battle and Greek ritual combat (Cornford 1912) – rule-governance can equally link the idea of competition. Through internal substantiation and external transcendence. locales where one was obliged. of course. each tag. physically known (ibid. and relatively transcendent ideas’ (Bell 1997: 157). as ‘vehicles of personhood’ (Gell 1998: 81).: 141). through its ‘evoking and expressing values and attitudes associated with larger. the production of a valued. their innate styles. between rival clans. their ability ‘to evoke emotion-filled images and experiences’ (ibid.156 Ornament and Order Ritual prohibitions. as well.: 157). between artists and authorities. a sign of the other. a material personhood that could revivify a physical space. via the Olympics. adversarial classes and. in our current case. Sacral symbolism. then. My informants clearly distinguished between sacred and profane sites. existing as mediums of sacrality through their ‘quality of specialness’. more abstract. While not following any appeal to the supernatural. mural or marking. of ritual battle within set rules. Works were also habitually considered as ‘animate’. a virtuosity (in both senses of the term) through the very structure of the ritual itself. The sacred could hence not only be found in the images agency but through their ability to point ‘to something beyond itself’. but need to be visually experienced. contraventions which come to dominate ‘relations between principal antagonists’ (ibid. as the status of the individual practitioner themselves (and artefacts thus being subject to vastly differing temporalities dependant on this overall reverence). back to the realm of the agon – the connection between regulations and games emerging. the ‘sanctified proscription of physically feasible activity’ as Rappaport terms it (1999). And not only linking my informants’ practices (in both their consensual and agonistic dimensions). these ornamental expressions could thus link the ‘intimate and personal’ to the ‘cosmic and impersonal’ (ibid. an attack on the image thus akin to an attack on the person. encoded through the breaking of taboo that this action constructs. it was this very material rather than textual or semantic rendering that gave ritual the ability to signify these ‘incorporeal’ ideals. Yet the images were also understood to surpass the importance of the producers themselves. . images were understood as physical manifestations of the producer. works being ‘alive’. each poster. a violence that necessitated recompense with paint if not blood. was seen not only as a visible sign of the undercurrents of the city. their locales ‘brought to life’ through utilization (both oft repeated metaphors. affective symbology. can hence be seen to be formed with the knowledge that they can (and will) be ritually broken. As Rappaport continued to argue (1999). images which elicited respect due to their locations. through the illicit bodily action that formed it. they could denote a moral discourse. but also as a substantiation of an individual.: 206–8). their ‘meaningfulness’.

Madrid. 2009 . Remed. Spain.15  The arrival of the poli. Spain. Madrid.14  3TTMan. and Fefe Tavelera at work. 2009 4.4.

spectators. to play out ‘their origin-stories mentally. tension. individual productions. ones working within particular aesthetic genres. their very witnessing (as I have previously suggested in Schacter 2008) was thus infused with a sense of corporeal illicitness. in which both had their specific tasks and roles. discursive procedures. comprising specific bodily actions (the balletic movements of hand to wall). By simply viewing these forms (whether intentionally or not). the viewer.: 41). They were ones in which both actors and audience could be mutually affected. forming an event filled with colour. a practice which acts both as a ‘mode of communicative behaviour and a type of communicative event’ (ibid. competing participants. but also expressive. their viewing a recreation of the action through which they came into existence: The performative process. as Gerd Baumann has discussed (1992b). fastened to its later existence. Public performance was a fundamental constituent of my informants’ very outward. a parergon. can thus become implicated in these ritual in a varying set of ways. its presentations and its dramas. the practice of ornamentation here discussed must be understood to be ensconced within a performative framework realized in the moment of creation and yet still extant within its transient material state. liminal) – was thus fully embedded within the image itself. ensuring not only that ‘the participants experience the event intensively and with heightened effect’(Tambiah 1996: 222) but a profusion of variables through which the work could then be understood within a wider. invited guests. the ‘bystanders. participatory. could only ever function through the all-pervading jurisdiction of performance. particular risks (from both the precarity of the acts as well as their institutional illegality) and characteristic times and locales (nocturnal. a visceral reaction provoked by the ‘congealed residue of performance and agency in object-form’ (Gell 1998: 68). collective context. an event attached yet separate to the everyday. reconstructing their histories as a sequence of actions performed by another agent (the artist)’ (Gell 1998: 67). where both were vital to the final efficacy of the ritual. Not only literally marking their medium through aesthetic means. In its movements. validating witnesses. ‘Outsiders’. recipients would be drawn into these traps. all having a role within the performative process. particular sounds (the shaking and hissing of the cans) and characteristic sights (the burst of colour onto the wall). functioning through ‘multiple media’. or even beneficiaries’ of these very public acts considered as fully active members of the process. not only literally producing a frame. They were acts which converged directly with Richard Bauman’s definition of performance (1992a). a display which is ‘aesthetically marked and heightened’ and also ‘framed in a special way’. these ornamental forms communicated in literal and performative modalities. movement. Performances were thus not only distinct. through ‘multiple sensory modalities’ – comprising specific smells (the unmistakable paint fumes). It was an overarching . the practice moving beyond the individual applicant and enlisting a wealth of further claimants (ibid. a performative essence resonating from the moment of production to the moment of reception.: 110). bringing these ornamental artefacts back to the world of exposition. ornamental displays. as with all of the other five themes so far discussed. this sacrality. They would be forced to recall the genesis of the objects. the neighbour. prominent. the eraser.158 Ornament and Order But of course. public ritualizations that yearned for intersubjective responses.

(Un)Civilizing Rituals The physical practice which brought these insurgent ornaments into the world. to accept risk (‘Bomb. Don’t snitch. these were the steps that had to be undertaken. Social boundaries were hence regulated through the contravention. Rather than mindless vandalism. where experience emerged through corporeal knowledge. were thus ones which I would argue were unmistakably linked to the realm of ritual. to be steeped in tradition (‘Learn history’). Rack’). Travel. the network of adherents explicitly demarcated through the violation of the normative taboo 16 As noted on the website Hurt You Bad.Order 159 performative context in which actions were not just illustrated but performed. Be respectful. Write for 10+ years). my informants produced a mode of secular ritual (Moore and Myerhoff 1977). an assemblage of aesthetic regulations. Bomb.: 2). Handle beef. and an allencompassing performative modality. to be mindful of all regulations (‘Be respectful’). not an avoidance of pollution. through rituals of pollution. if one ever wanted to be accepted as a true member of the wider network of practitioners. purposeful action that the ritual itself could emerge. Write for 10+ years’. Through the embracement of a performative formality. Learn history. Whilst Mary Douglas (1966) famously argued that ‘rituals of purity and impurity create unity in experience’ (ibid. within the ethnographic context here described group boundaries were defined and group members unified through an avidity towards. to remain steadfast to the subculture (‘Don’t snitch. rites purposefully producing what was commonly considered as ‘dirt’. If one wanted to become a (ritual) expert. affirming. . a group of affective and communicative symbols.16 And together it thus formed a mode of ritual in which public acts of ornamentation – what Tambiah (1995) would term as ritual ‘saying’ – could act performatively in the Austinian sense – acting as ritual doing. Paint subway trains. this was a practice enveloped in history and tradition. a set aesthetic tradition. one of the most witty and at the same time perspicuous graffiti related websites: ‘Some things that were/will be asked of you: Have style. which contained ritual experts and neophytes. One needed to embrace a unique technique (‘Have style’). a practice ‘creating. where it was through deliberate. Handle Beef. a process whereby the structure of ritualization is ‘existentially or indexically related to [its] participants’. but rituals nonetheless.: 36). rather than protection of physical boundaries. contained correct and incorrect modes of action. one which took a long-standing education to perfect.: 156). Rack. a mode of performative invariance. a set of what from the outside could appear to be uncivilized rituals (in a corruption of Carol Duncan’s expression [1995]). the material acts through which they became manifest. or legitimating their social positions’ (ibid. purposefully forming the famous ‘matter out of place’ (ibid. to a framework of ritualization itself connected (as we will see in the upcoming chapters) to a distinct notion of order. social boundaries coming to be protected and preserved through the regulation of what was commonly considered as pollution.

in his opinion. full of the ‘controlled uncertainty that is found in certain public events’ (Handelman 1998: 66). inescapable influence on their immediate environment.160 Ornament and Order system. and value’ [Bell 1997: xi]). These were practices that had an active effect on the world around them. that ‘provides a frame’ (ibid. to the picaresque. to tricksters. inside and outside). in a symbolic sense (disrupting notions of centre and margin. as Douglas continued. of nocturnal and diurnal norms). Coming to destabilize boundaries in a spatial sense (disrupting notions of public and private. It was a ritual which may have worked against normative societal codes but will in fact come to be seen to have emerged from a distinctly civic disposition. the true connection within the group being. fundamentally intermediate zones that were full of chance. instantiated through their joint adherence to working ‘in the street’. an entangled. art and pollution). a ritual that in itself was the parergon. in a temporal sense (disrupting notions of ‘wasting’ or ‘losing’ time. of indeterminacy. these ornamental forms also had an ability to destabilize boundaries in an overarching ritual sense: They contained embedded links (as we will see in the next two chapters) to the realm of carnival. between the inside and outside of their physical structures (as exemplified in Chapter 1) as much as between the inside and outside of their societal structures (between ‘human beings in the here-and-now and non-immediate sources of power. to clowning. and yet at the same time a ritual that produced one. their joint commitment to these rituals of pollution.: 78). subversion and docility). 17 Eltono related this to me quite clearly.17 It was thus a form of ‘ritual’. in a material sense (disrupting notions of intrinsic and extrinsic. authority. . It was thus not my informants’ working upon the threshold that I want now to go on to explore in the next chapters but their working experientially within it. And it was thus a practice of ritualization which functioned in the interstices of their structures in both literal and metaphoric terms. an insurgent ritual with a civil order at its core.

the specific ritual archetype these acts lay within which I wish to come to explore. even unconscious […] to let the mysteries revel in the streets. Perversion [M]asks. It belongs to the borderline between art and life. the medieval spectacles often tended toward carnival folk culture. disguises and other fictions of some kinds of play are devices to make visible what has been hidden. Mikhail Bakhtin Reaffirmation/Revolution: Now that my informants’ public aesthetic practices have been shown to function within the elements which together comprise what is generally understood as “ritual”. I hope. generally speaking. fasting. in . it will help us to identify what their enacting truly comes to achieve. but shaped according to a certain pattern of play. to frame them or channel them. and. and festivals’. In turn. to invert the everyday order in such a way that it is the unconscious and primary processes that are visible. namely the spectacle. carnival images closely resemble certain artistic forms. it is the overarching ritual framework. whereas the conscious ego is restricted to creating rules to keep their insurgence within bounds.5 Inversion. Subversion. belong to the sphere of art. the culture of the marketplace. and to a certain extent became one of its components. Victor Turner Because of their obvious sensuous character and their strong element of play. This. In reality. will then help us understand why my informants pursue these often dangerous practices. But the basic carnival nucleus of this culture is by no means a purely artistic form not a spectacle and does not. it is life itself. Following what Catherine Bell (1997) has termed rites of ‘feasting.

transgression. Spain. Surveying some of the classic examinations of the carnival rite then – a public ritual not only encompassing a myriad of aesthetic standards such as spectacle. each other. yet at the same time as a state that can ‘perpetuate certain values of the community’ (ibid. in which participants utilize what may appear to be forms of ‘social chaos and licentious play’ (ibid. as understood here following Peter Stallybrass and Allon White (1986). 2012 particular.162 Ornament and Order 5. but one in which polarities such as inside/outside or public/private can similarly be provoked.: 120). Where ‘public authorities’ 1 Carnival. . images and discourses’ as within the ‘specific calendrical ritual’ occurring ‘around February each year’ (ibid. will be seen as a discourse able to reveal itself as much within particular ‘symbolic practices. Carnival will thus be understood as a space within which social actors could gain access to ‘forms of taboo breaking’. excess. and sometimes outsiders – their commitment and adherence to basic religious [or any other binding] values’ (ibid.: 100). where one could challenge authority through creative experimentation and through the exertion of a particular moral conviction. 2 The other two being the ‘divine king’ and the ‘cargo cult’ (Kelly and Kaplan 1990: 121). It can be seen to function both as a public exhibition of licentiousness – a ‘ritual spectacle’ – and a lived-through. Tenerife. be considered as a distinctly ‘civic ritual’.: 104–5). but also being one of what John Kelly and Martha Kaplan termed the three most ‘important anthropological images of ritual’2 (Kelly and Kaplan 1990: 121) – we will find a practice which functions through a disruptive modality yet which can simultaneously. in the terms of Edward Muir (2005).: 15). strategic. humour. play. Carnival will here be recognized as a space not only where traditional hierarchies such as rich/poor or male/female can be set in confrontation. the ornamental rituals which have thus far been examined will now come to be explored as ones in which participants ‘are particularly concerned to express publicly – to themselves. hybrid aesthetic practice (Bakhtin 1984a: 4). the subcategory of carnival1 which lays within this ritual schemata. Fighting Peacefully. risk and creativity. to spaces where one could turn ‘the usual values of normal life upside down’ (ibid.1 3TTMan.: 126) in order to publicly express their beliefs.

a transgression which emerges from a will to order not a wilful chaos. gender. Whilst masks are thus often seen to conceal. the latter seeing it as a discourse of (inversive) reflection. For Semper. 3 Gottfried Semper in fact links carnival and cosmos through their etymological joining in the ‘cosmetic’. 4 This argument is taken up even further by Nancy Scheper-Hughes (1993). a public presentation which works through ‘liberating rather than destroying’ societal statutes (ibid. subjunctive. here they more rightly re-order. a practice creating a negative logic which functions through ‘reaffirmation’ rather than ‘revolution’ (Handelman 1998: 52). it connected ‘cosmetics to carnival’s dressing and masking and both to a “method of inventing”’ (ibid.: 482). but which can similarly be analysed through the work of two other giants of social thought. to be linked through their joint adherence to the cosmetic (in the original sense of the term). rather than it simply reflecting them. It is a debate.Inversion. Perversion 163 may solely see ‘criminal behaviour’ then. an embellishment with which the ‘Greek woman adorned herself to make her body appear’ (Mahall and Serbest 2009: 40). ScheperHughes thus suggests it works to actually deepen them. the cosmetic provided ‘the haze of carnival candles’. others thus argue that it merely reinforces social norms. The upturning of normative systems can thus serve to instantiate. the former group appreciating the carnival modality as a method of (subversive) rebellion. Through working. as DaMatta writes (1991). which by means of grotesque exaggeration are etched even more deeply into the individual and collective bodies’ (ibid. Rather than carnival transgressing social norms. an act of probity. sickness. many theorists have also ultimately come to see it as having a regulatory function. a form of embodied citizenship. these rituals of reversal being themselves reversed (and all the more powerfully for that). something which follows the normative pattern of structure and thus simply upholds it.: 100). which not only contains many similarities to that previously analysed between Habermas and Lyotard (between a consensual modification of norms and an agonistic displacement of them). rather than simply reject.3 Just as carnival’s overtly liminal structure seems to have the innate capacity to disrupt everyday habitus however. suggesting that carnival in Brazil is indeed ‘as much a ritual of intensification as a ritual of reversal’ (ibid. And carnival and order can thus be seen to be close companions rather than direct opponents. then.: 40). attempting to enhance Max Gluckman’s work on rituals of rebellion (1963). carnival can be seen as something which ‘merely reinforces the everyday world’ (ibid. . through the work of the anthropologist Victor Turner and the literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin on carnival.: 62). and sexual divisions. in ‘direct opposition (as an inverted image) to daily life’. It can be seen as a discourse of antithesis which vindicates its contrary form. a practice accentuating rather than contesting everyday social realities.: 100). from a desire to question rather than overturn. a dogmatism working to fortify rather than undermine social norms.: 482). for carnival participants actions may be an ‘expression of deeply held beliefs’ (ibid. Subversion. the ‘play’ of carnival doing the ‘dirty work of class. marginality. carnival was a time when people were only too aware of ‘their own exclusion. For her.4 Whilst some theorists see carnival as a method of revivifying the social sphere. and debt’. They may be a performance of virtue. carnival was understood as something experimental. Whilst for Turner. linked through the intertwined levels of cosmos.

164 Ornament and Order

yet perhaps a not truly contestational realm, a Dionysian force acting as ‘the
balance, not the challenge, to the Apollonian side of life’ (Kelly and Kaplan 1990:
137), for Bakhtin, whose outwardly historical work on carnival also functioned as
a subversive critique of the Stalinist era he lived through, carnival was a ‘corrosive
parody’ emblematic of radical social transformation, a discourse that acted as both
the ‘limit and opponent of “official” structure’ (ibid.: 137). So does the carnivalesque
play which we will find emerging from my informants’ practices simply give rise to a
Turnerian critique, a ritual of inversion, or a stronger Bakhtinian notion of creation,
a ritual of subversion? Do their aesthetic, seemingly transgressive practices stay
within the realm of structure, merely experimenting with it, or break away from
this self-same structure, attempting to eliminate it? And can, in the very first case,
these acts be considered rituals of the carnivalesque at all, to be practices which
function within the formerly mentioned rites of feasting, fasting, and festivals,
within the ‘public display of religiocultural sentiments’ (Bell 1997: 120) that these
rites instantiate.
Intersection II: Field Notes, 12/06/07

[…]We were sat in the kitchen at the studio. Eltono, 3TTMan, Luciano, Manu,1 Tika2 and myself
relaxing in el local3 after another blazing summer’s day, drinking, smoking, chatting, listening
to music – just being together in the pleasing freshness of the night. It was nothing out of the
ordinary, a group of friends just hanging out, joking around, and it seemed things were settling
down for the evening. Yet at around midnight everyone suddenly arose from their chairs and
started making for the door, motioning me to come with them. I hadn’t noticed any earlier talk
of arrangements (it was just a Tuesday night after all), and although I initially thought that work
on an impending show was due to start (a small exhibition taking place at an independent
gallery managed by friends of theirs – a space, in fact, just round the corner from where we sat),
now didn’t seem like an appropriate time to put that into action.
We filed out the kitchen – Manu running back to quickly grab a couple of litros4 from the
fridge before we left, Luciano laughing and pushing 3TTMan along the corridor – collectively
rambling downstairs and on to the street. My eyes adjusting to the orange sheen of the
Madrileño night, I saw Eltono walking a little way down the road, ending up outside la frutería,
standing meditatively amidst the remnants of the day’s trade. He bent down, carefully shifting
the black bags of rotting fruit, picking up a pile of 10 or so wooden fruit cartons (the typical
stackable crates that you find in every city of the world), loading them up, high over his head.
Still chatting, the rest of the team followed suit, picking up the boxes, carefully removing the
detritus and then progressing up the street, seemingly knowledgeable as to where we were
going.5 Moments after we were outside the gallery, Eltono, proceeding to lay his collection


Manu was Nano’s ‘primo’, an unofficial cousin through strong family ties in Vigo. As well as being a

photographer he was at that time working as a lighting director for a local theatre.


Tika was a friend of Eltono’s, an artist originally from Zurich but at that time living in São Paolo.


There’s something about the Spanish word local (meaning ‘premises’, ‘place’, ‘workshop’ and ‘local’)

that was perfectly apt. I think it’s just the fact that it quite clearly took all four meanings at once.


Litre bottles of beer.


The cartons were to be used as part of an installation Tono would later produce in the gallery

space. They were a common medium of his, always easy to find wherever he went, pretty cheap for what you
got (something for nothing) and always carrying a sign of their locality on their form. It was not meant as a
particular comment on recycling or environmental sustainability (although of course implicit in the material),

5.2  Carrying the cartons. Madrid, Spain, 2007

5.3 A litro to celebrate. Madrid, Spain, 2007

166 Ornament and Order

of cartons down on the curb, fished a huge set of keys out of his pocket and opened up the
doors. We all piled in, laying down the crates in the corner, taking a quick peek around and then
swiftly returning outside. Mission one complete; time for the first break. A litro was opened to
celebrate (woops from the crowd), a pass of the bottle about the circle, a customary swig for
everyone and we were off.6 Tika was bouncing down the street ahead of us, tagging every other
doorway with a thick black marker, Manu beside her cursively scanning the area for potential
danger while simultaneously pestering her for a go. 3TTMan and Eltono were lingering at
a nearby skip,7 searching within it then furtively grabbing some clear plastic sheeting from
inside; stealthily coming up on Luciano from behind, they managed to then wrap him up totally
within it, laughing and pointing at the newly mummified creature who lay within. The whole
group was marching down the middle of the road, shouting, hooting, enjoying the moment to
its utmost potential.
3TTMan was now leading the way, winding his way through Malasaña, navigating the narrow
backstreets that formed this densely packed neighbourhood.8 We emerged at the next stage
of action after a few minutes (and another swiftly consumed litro), a huge abandoned shopfront (maybe ten metres by three?) made up of literally hundreds of billposters, a densely
packed palimpsest almost 40 or 50 thick in places. It was a prime example of one of the most
pervasive forms of visual culture in the city, an illicit but seemingly hegemonically accepted
form of commercial advertising.9 Here is perfect, 3TTMan said, seemingly to himself, then stood
back, surveying the posters for a moment. Discarding his mangled roll-up he reached back and
pulled a Stanley knife out from his pocket, leaned up to the wall and started cutting, selecting
a fragment of text, an image, and swiftly detaching it from the surface in four or five sharp
movements. I looked down at the posters now lying submissively on the floor, turning back
to find 3TTMan really starting to get into it. Cutting soon became hacking, hacking turning
into ripping, ripping into a full-frontal assault on the posters, a no-holds-barred attack on the
felonious carteles. By the time I had reached for my camera the rest of the crew was helping
– pulling, wrenching, tearing away at the posters, holding each other up high against them,
clinging to the uppermost sheets, forcing them off the wall in an orgy of destruction, an
ephemeral occurrence of (dis)order, a fleeting instance of (con)fusion in the city. Eltono and
Manu were jumping up and down on the posters on the floor, diving on top of them, suddenly
then dragging one another around the street while they lay prostrate like kings on these newly
created forms of transportation. Out of nowhere a passer-by joined in the mêlée, rugby-tackling
Eltono onto the posters and straight into 3TTMan and Manu (who were themselves now down
there play-fighting on the ground), speedily disappearing laughing into the night (followed by
both comical shouts and a theatrical waving of fists from the wounded soldiers). People were

more simply indicative of an approach to the utilization of the street by my informants in a more general way
– finding things from the place you treasured, and simply reprocessing them within another context. It was
a way of bringing the city into the gallery space without simply replicating one’s street production in what
was a very different context.


Like all resources, drinks were always shared amongst the group. Whether an expensive seven-

euro copa at a bar or, more habitually, a one-euro ‘street-beer’, drinks would be immediately passed after a
mouthful taken. This seemingly banal, quotidian act of group participation was something that undoubtedly
shone a light on the rest of the collectives’ activities. Common engagement, cooperative contribution was
simply a more effective way of being in the city.


Skips, which were plentiful in the city, were always given a quick once over. One never knew what

potential riches or resources lay within.


In fact, the entire area of Malasaña was made up of these ‘backstreets’, tiny roads with space

enough for one car and an almost redundant pavement on each side. This very redundancy meant that the
streets were actively shared, vehicles and citizens in a constant dance of interaction.


Billposters were in fact a seemingly semi-legal form of advertising in Madrid, and thus consumed

nearly every single vacant or neglected structure.

5.4  Collecting the carteles. Madrid, Spain, 2007

5.5  The Pied Piper of Malasaña. Madrid, Spain, 2007

168 Ornament and Order

walking past, smiling, laughing (perhaps a touch uncertainly), not truly understanding what
was going on (much like myself in fact) but able to sense the intense joyfulness of the moment.
After every last obtainable scrap of paper was prized off the wall, 3TTMan piled together the
sheets and started leading the way back, dragging the posters along the road behind him with
us following at the rear [for some reason I remember thinking he seemed somewhat like the
Pied Piper of Hamelin, the posters a substitute for the pipe, us for the children of the town].
Mission two (nearly) complete; time for the second break. The posters were parked by the
side of the road and we darted into a bar for a free chupito (3TTMan having been promised
free drinks by the proprietor having recently painted the exterior facade of the venue). Down
the hatch, a five-minute dance and we were gone. And within a moment we were back at the
gallery, helping 3TTMan haul the posters inside. Someone grabbed a couple of chairs from
the outer courtyard and hauled them out to the narrow street at the front of the gallery. We
sat down, took a breath, and once more I thought the night was perhaps slowing back down,
drawing to a close. Little did I know. A loud whistle cut through the air and Spok appeared from
down the street, wandering down from his apartment on the opposite corner towing a small
roller bag behind him.
He broke into the circle, grabbing the litro, then knelt down and unzipped his bag, pouring out
an assortment of cans onto the curb. So … what do you want me to paint? They laughed. He
stood there thinking, draining the cerveza, then laid it on the floor and got to work, peeling off
the old bits of paper and paint from the outside wall of the space, smoothing down its rough
surface with his hand. He took a quick picture of Luciano and Eltono on his phone-camera and
was set, ready to work, beginning to outline their portraits on the front of the building. I’ve
been painting with sprays for eight years, said Ekta (who too had just arrived, direct from the
airport with a rucksack, a small holdall and a big smile), and I have no idea how he’s doing that.
It’s like we’re using totally different tools. They loved how he worked, the ease he could almost
photographically reproduce an image with his cans, without light, without planning, but Spok
was nonplussed. If you’d painted as many pieces as I have … he trailed off. Soon finished, he
moved across to the other side of the street and threw up a couple of quick tags, seeming
almost desperate to get them out, a tension released with their emanation on the wall. He
loved the freedom of tagging. The photorealism was great, he knew it was impressive, but it
was, as he said, just a ‘trick’. The joy of a tag, the immediacy. That was the best.
Eltono and Tika had moved just around the corner by this point, set up directly in between
the gallery and the studio. They had a nice spot (I’d noticed them checking it out earlier in the
day), a building almost opposite Eltono’s window, an old bar which had been sitting empty
for years, covered now in innumerable tags, stencils and throw-ups. They were sat at the edge
of the street, mixing their colours, chatting quietly between themselves. Things were getting
late, it must have been by now two, three in the morning, and everything felt calmer, quieter.
This wasn’t the rabble-rousing excess of earlier but a more measured, more focussed approach.
Eltono was down on his knees taping out his design, marking out the negative space of his
image; Tika, having pulled herself up onto one of the ever-present dustbins (the always readily
available stepladder), setting out her background in white. Spok and 3TTMan had by now
come down from the gallery (having locked it up for the night) and were wandering back to the
studio, standing with me on the corner, watching the process while finishing the final litro of
the night. Quickly putting his knife and tape back into his back pocket, Eltono started walking
quickly away from his piece (which he had yet to start filling in), whistling towards us while
heading away from the studio and into the side-road. I stood their confused, while Spok and
3TTMan swiftly ushered Tika down from her spot, dashing the litro, a small bottle of rum, the
paint and some contraband behind the bin as they did. I was totally perplexed until the two
undercovers ordered us against the wall. I stood still, feeling taken aback. The possibility was of
course always there but it was something I had simply not been expecting. Flashing blue lights
then reflected off the wall and three vehicles pulled up, discharging 10 or so uniformed officers.
Manu had by now come over, assertively confronting the police while 3TTMan pleaded with

Inversion, Subversion, Perversion


him to calm down. Empty your pockets and place them by your feet. ID cards face up. Manu
continued to berate them: slow night? Nothing better to do? They looked irritated, but also a
touch uncomfortable themselves, like they’d come to the wrong place at the right time [which,
according to the guys later, was probably the case]. They checked the cards, the collection of
materials on the floor, the quietude (apart from the still aggravated Manu) broken by the sound
of the principal’s radio. It looked like they had more important business to attend to. A couple
of stern sounding words (the meaning lost on me) and they departed, almost as quickly as
they’d materialized. It seemed somewhat farcical. They’d neither taken the paints, the drink, nor
the contraband. It was a result. Back to the studio for an hour and Tika and Eltono crawled out
again. Never leave a job half-done […]
[I think this was the night I first truly realized that the street was something that pervaded my
informants’ entire lifeworlds, something not solely connected to what was considered to be their
overtly ‘aesthetic’ production. It was an understanding of the street in which transgression of the
norms of the city was a key aspect, a transgression not only pursued through a purely artistic process,
however, but one concerned with undertaking tasks in a way opposed to habitual conceptions of
public and private, dirt and pollution, order and disorder. And it was this particular disruption, this
disturbance of the everyday, one undertaken as a whole, as a collective, that made me realize the
importance of the realms of play, of risk, of a framework going far beyond the discourses of art and
vandalism, the bounded dichotomy to which it was so often related].

Transformative Performance (Or a Turnerian Inversion)
Turner’s understanding of the carnival dynamic, ‘the creative anti-structure of
mechanized modernity’ as he termed it (Turner 1983: 124), held considerable space
in his examination of contemporary ritual as a whole. Seeing it as the dominant
mode of ritual for ‘proto-feudal’, ‘feudal’ and ‘early modern societies’ (Turner
1979a: 468), a mode of ritual ‘more flexibly responsive to social and even societal
change’ than its traditional archetype (ibid.: 475), Turner understood carnival as
a quintessential mode of ‘public liminality’ (ibid.: 474), as ‘the denizen of a place
which is no place, and a time which is no time, even where that place is a city’s main
plazas, and that time can be found on an ecclesiastical calendar’ (Turner 1983: 103).
Exploring ritual as what he termed a ‘social drama’, a distinctive form of communal
action that could reveal the ‘major classifications, categories, and contradictions
of cultural processes’ (Turner 1977: 77), Turner argued that though often initially
incomprehensible (to the outsider if not the participant themselves), rituals were
forms of public reflexivity, performances of disclosure through which a ‘group or
community’ sought to ‘portray, understand, and then act on itself’ (Turner 1979a:
465). They were moments where the very structure of society would become
visible, where performance could enable the creative reproduction, rather than
mere replication, of cultural processes. Moreover, through the liminal condition of
almost all ritual, their status ‘betwixt-and-between the normal, day-to-day cultural
and social states and processes of getting and spending, preserving law and order,
and registering structural status’ (Turner 1979a: 465), rituals such as carnival were
understood to grant a specific mode of intensified experience which could negate
the life of the everyday. This encounter with the threshold not only enabled actors
to experiment with social order however but also came to establish what Turner
famously termed communitas. This was a notion that explored the particular mode

Rather than simply being a passive. assessed.: 103). categories. the various ways ritual could. emphasis added). remodeled and rearranged’ (Turner 1979a: 468. and all for each’ (Turner 1967: 101). a mechanism for ‘maintaining the cosmological and cultural categories of meaning within which persons and their social relations were constituted’. new cosmological states (Kapferer 2005: 38). one focusing on its potential for ‘becoming’ in preference to merely reflecting. it meant to explore how groups could ‘maintain or retain. It was instead more profitably understood as a period of ‘communitas weighing structure. they could but come to ‘cut out a piece of itself for inspection […] set up a frame within which images and symbols of what has been sectioned off can be scrutinized. It was an understanding that thus stressed the capability of ritual to dynamically act upon society. transformation. Although often labelled structural functionalist in its leanings. ‘change the character and structure of common sense’ (ibid. and contradictions of cultural processes’ (Turner 1977: 77). a structure that was ‘not merely instinctual’ but that involved ‘consciousness and volition’ (ibid. This processual rather than representational understanding of ritual. through its constant dynamism. and. one could reveal the ‘major classifications. these momentary periods of what he called anti-structure were capable of reforming ‘the very ground of being’. Not simply a Durkheimian ‘solidarity’ shaped through confrontation with an outside force. an understanding which saw the ritual of carnival as ‘society in its subjunctive mood’ (ibid. capable of generating new knowledge. thus aimed to dereify all collective representations (what were perceived to be the overarching shared understandings of a particular society or group). the creation of a ‘community or comity of comrades and not a structure of hierarchically arrayed positions’ which emerged amidst the liminal state (Turner 1967: 100). new paradigms and models which invert or subvert the old’ (Turner 1979b: 474). a state of being whose maxim was ‘each for all. Contemporary carnival could hence never be considered simply as a Gluckmanian safety valve then. Within rites of the limen groups could thus work through a ‘deconstruction and recombination of familiar cultural configurations’ (ibid. and proposing in however extravagant a form. a space where. a field in which the experience of pure communitas had the potential to change the very structural bases of society. boundary-transgressing performances such as rites of inversion (the archetypal structural base of carnival) contained the possibility not just of social aggregation but of social revolution.170 Ornament and Order of ‘comradeship’. It was a state provoking an effortless amity that could flood ‘across structural boundaries’ (ibid. Turner’s work on these liminal rites can thus be seen to have demonstrated a concern with themes of social experimentation and transformation. a mechanism for reproduction or ‘prop for social conservatism’. Rather than a mere ‘machine for social reproduction’ then. . modify.: 188).: 188).: 63–4). solely reactive model. through a ‘transformative performance’. and creation’ (ibid. a cathartic act of equilibrium working to ‘preserve and strengthen the established order’ (Gluckman 1965: 109). sometimes finding it wanting.: 38). The carnivalesque was thus a form resting at the ‘potent points of transition.: 10). or subvert social meanings’. if need be. communitas was a structure in which ‘free relationships between individuals become converted into norm-governed relationships between social personae’ (Turner 1995 [1969]: 132).

7  Nano4814. Pelucas and Brk. Spain. 2009 .5. Liqen. Madrid. Nano4814. Untitled [detail].6  Society in the subjunctive. Liqen. Pelucas and Brk at work 5.

the reaggregation coming to form an inevitable part of the whole. while the legal. only by working as a unique practice rather than one side of a bipartite state did Bauman believe it could gain the ability to reach beyond its purely dichotomous. the site where communitas would always and already eventually return (from ‘structure to antistructure and back again to transformed structure’ [Turner 1983: 110]). the liminal world of communitas could be understood to simply retreat back to an almost purely functionalist state. innately deferential state. could it ever surpass its innately subservient status. imagining it as one part of a dichotomous whole rather than society in-and-of-itself. rather than surpass the norm. the supposed freedom of the carnival moment. as an innate requirement for the stable functioning of societas. anti-structure (carnival at its very essence) making its appearance solely ‘as the handmaiden of “structure”’. the particularism. can be seen to have compelled carnival ‘precisely to reinforce. within the very ‘logic of explanation’. and compensate on another plane. has been suggested to be an alliance unable to ever truly dislocate itself from the inherent relationships of power it subsumed. hierarchy and inequality’ of ‘everyday life’ (DaMatta 1991: 43–4). then. due to its intensely knotted. undifferentiated whole’ [ibid. meant that liminal ritual could only seem able to stabilize. indivisible relationship with its base-line structure.: 118) could it ever shake off its yoke. autotelic significance’ (ibid. ‘the commanding position of “structure” over “anti-structure”’ was simply reconfirmed (albeit ‘obliquely’). like figure/ ground.: 43). While carnival may thus ‘seem to be more flexibly responsive to social and even societal change’ (Turner 1979a: 102). but a slave to its master form (ibid. it could only ever balance.172 Ornament and Order Yet as something understood to be resolved eventually into what he termed societas – the fusion of ‘structure’ and ‘anti-structure’ within their potentially adjusting and variable proportions (Turner 1975: 238) – this key Turnerian duality (not merely a distinction of the secular and the sacred. of politics and religion. a sensibility exposing the ‘injustices. a ‘mutually determinative’ relationship between the two basic modalities of society [Turner 1995 (1969): 92–127]). Hence. the placement of societas as the baseline of all social activity. Turner’s overall project was argued to have been unsuccessful in allowing a space for a fully lived alternative to hegemonic ‘structure’. For all its processual potentiality. Only by conceiving marginal ritual as a ‘phenomenon in its own right and of its own. inefficiencies. but.: 118). The social (dis)order of communitas would thus inexorably return to the pre-existing structural order. Thus even as Turner seemed to reject the common functionalist understanding of social structure. immoralities [and] alienations’ generated by ‘mainstream modern economic and political structures and processes’ (Turner 1979b: 117). . rather than truly subvert hegemonic discourse. to become merely a ‘function of the rigid social position of the participating groups and segments in the everyday world’ (ibid. while it may seem to attempt a form of ‘subversion’ that (in a paradoxically Habermasian manner) functioned through a ‘rational critique of the established order’. not a ‘brute fact’ of social life or a truly distinct arena of existence. political state of the everyday (‘a differentiated segmented system of structural positions’ [Turner 1975: 237]) was understood by Turner to be tempered by the all-embracing fraternalism created through a moment of pure equity (‘society as a homogeneous.: 237]). As Zygmunt Bauman (1995) forcefully argued.

then. that resisted the ‘darker.Inversion. an ‘ultimately ahistorical and apolitical’ lacuna within his work (ibid. ‘social drama’ was understood to convert ‘particular values and ends. in Bornstein 2006: 97). the resistance towards communitas that Turner somewhat perplexedly noted within Dramas. distributed over a range of actors.8 Lush. While carnival was understood to enable the weak to ‘curse and criticize’ then. ironically. seeing within carnival a depiction of the underlying conflicts present within a group. an inability to contend with the disputative.: 530). a resistance displayed by the ‘marginals’ who ‘somehow refuse[d] to join the ritual consensus’.5 And it was thus. there was. 2011 . to ‘set limits on the power of the strong – to coerce and ordain (Turner 1979b: 105). seeing action taking place through a ‘preordained mental pressure’. Perversion 173 It failed. Untitled. to take note of the true agency of the social actor. that were 5 As Turner himself argued. Melbourne. charged political reality of the everyday (Weber 1995: 530). Fields. Even as Turner came to transcend Gluckman’s catharsis thesis. a lacuna failing to contest the deep-seated relations of power endemic within society.: 530). and Metaphors. emphasis added). which Weber sees to mark out a true ‘encounter with identity politics and the border’. a force placed upon ‘individuals by codes of their society that they hold to be axiomatic’ (Firth 1974. a ‘resistance to the dominant culture’ formed through a defiance towards the very framing of communitas itself (ibid. into a system […] of shared or consensual meaning’ (Turner 1979: 92. mechanistic ‘steering’ dimension residing in the processual model of incorporation’. as Raymond Firth suggested. It was the actors that came to ‘resist incorporation’. Subversion. as Donald Weber has suggested (1995). 5. its implicitly ‘consensual dimension’ suggested an inability of the weak to go beyond the limits of the strong.

a potency established when the carnival trope ‘exceeds itself’. seeing carnival in a twofold manner.174 Ornament and Order understood to demarcate a truly radical. then.: 52). . but ‘another phenomenon in its own right’ (ibid. frank and free’. rather than replace the everyday. a world as ‘festive life’ (ibid. only then could it become ‘no longer an inversion’. Yet the force of this tradition. Only.: 7–10). entirely ‘independent of the world of hierarchy and authority’ (ibid. It was the setting where a ‘new mode of man’s relation to man’ could be ‘elaborated’ (Bakhtin 1984a [1968]: x).: 53). one in which ‘everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people’ (ibid. in opposition to everyday norms. as Muir here explicates (2005). an expressive stylistic working as a ‘counter-tradition to the “epic” (classical) line of European prose’ (Lachman 1989: 119). The extravagant and licentious texts Rabelais produced however (exemplified by the series Gargantua and Pantagruel) conjoined the two modes.: 7) – as well as a distinct linguistic construction – embracing a ‘special type of communication impossible in everyday life’ engendered through ‘special forms of marketplace speech and gesture. in both these conceptions. carnival was a fully selfdetermining.: 53). Carnival for Bakhtin was hence an embodied articulation of pure freedom – ‘not a spectacle seen by the people’ but one that was fully lived. one aimed at subverting apparently rational viewpoints. as both a literary modality and an embodied way of life. as a construct set. autogenous system. It formed a ‘corporeal poetics’.: 99). attempted to establish a connection between the Renaissance polymath François Rabelais’s literary production and the popular culture of his era in more general.: 10). Rabelais and his World (1984a [1965]). when it ‘breaks its connectivity to the phenomenon it inverts’ (ibid. aiming to reform. and highly prevalent within Renaissance aesthetics (and thus as much present within Shakespeare’s and Cervantes’ work as Rabelais’s [Bakhtin 1984a: 52]). an inversion going beyond its pre-established structural limits. as Don Handelman continues (1998). The key text from Bakhtin’s writings on carnival. one acting as ‘a kind of separate reality’. a genus possessing ‘a life and logic of its own’. In Bakhtin’s belief. inhabiting a ‘peculiar mid-zone’. Corporeal Poetics (Or a Bakhtinian Subversion) Whilst Turner’s model of the carnivalesque can be seen to resemble the consensual archetype as previously discussed.: 531). a style which was considered by Bakhtin to have been idiomatic of the centrifugal mode of discourse emerging from the folk culture of the Middle Ages in general. through the construction of a ‘falsified’ inversion. liberated from ‘norms of etiquette and decency’ (ibid. a space beyond mere ‘theatre’ (and the separation between performers and spectators that the ‘footlights’ engendered). could discourse ever come to be truly ‘invalidated’ (ibid. a framework which seems to have an orientation toward revolution and escape embedded within it. a space of play within which a ‘world of ideals’ could take residence. Bakhtin’s model is often placed as its agonistic foil. truly liminal domain (ibid. one intent on ‘promoting ambivalence and allowing openness and transgression’ (Lachman 1989: 116). one transmitted to.

And. always attempted to ‘limit. one could erode ‘the artificial barriers between artistic styles and between self-enclosed systems of thought’ (ibid.Inversion. came to be transformed from both a popular and literary practice to one solely occurrent in a textually mediated form. this spirit attempting to reveal the possibilities that lay ‘beyond the visible horizon of official philosophy’. an auxiliary medium for the carnivalesque after its bodily form had been emasculated. Within this ‘carnival underlayer’. Subversion. control.: 21).: 158). The championing of impropriety that Bakhtin so eulogized. one able to displace knowledge through the ‘carving-out of a living image of another language’ (Bakhtin 1981: 361). within areas that attempted to relentlessly relativize ‘that which represented itself as absolute and complete’ (Hall 1996: 297). one able to shift experience from a mundane to profound context. both Lyotard and Bakhtin could be seen to focus upon a ‘plurality that no single genre. the body and literature. While traditional carnival had thus become institutionalized. was gradually transformed into a mere holiday mood’. What was key for Bakhtin then was the conscious embracement of hybrid constructions. turning ‘fearlessness’ into ‘fear’ (Bakhtin 1984a: 38–9). to ‘find a position permitting a look at the other side of established values’ (ibid. or master-game [could] encompass’ (ibid. words and images left open to interpretation through their purposefully ambivalent nature (ibid. laughter. The carnivalesque strategy of demasking ‘bifurcated and bounded images’ thus helped to keep ‘the potential for dialogue alive beneath the official monologue’ (ibid.: 29). usurped by a legislative license. was hence understood to be found not only in the zone of riots and revelry. Bakhtin’s embracement of heteroglossia (or differentiated speech) can be seen to correlate to Lyotard’s embracement of language games and petit-recits. one acting as both a ‘negation and destruction […] inseparable from affirmation’ (ibid. superimpose new ideals. joyful laughter turning into ‘cold humour. of the feast and the fair. metadiscourse.: 74). sarcasm’. and repress’ any notion of difference (ibid. that were ‘saturated with contested and unfinished meanings’.: 62). for Bakhtin it could emerge in speech and images. an aesthetic with a ‘detotalizing’.: 33–4). an idiom full of heteroglossia. parody. the ‘positive regenerating power’ of the carnivalesque reduced ‘to a minimum’. While master-narratives (whatever their political frameworks). continuing to ‘fertilize various areas of life and culture’ (ibid. irony.: 272). ‘critical function’ (Carroll 1993: 73). a potential that could burst forth through an ‘explicit interillumination between cultural voices’ (ibid. the carnival ideal being grasped to function as an instantiation of plurality which promotes a ‘narrative diversity’. the embracement of a folk cultural practice exposing the ‘contradictory and double-faced fullness of life’.: 21). while its ‘utopian character oriented towards the future. as Stan Mumford (1989) explains in his rich. . This carnival spirit. that attempted to dislocate meanings. one could then dissolve the ‘either/ or’ and assert ‘both/and’. Perversion 175 was seen to have been undermined during the later Romantic period. its true spirit remained ‘indestructible’.: 80). turned into mere parades. the embracement of ‘words or images’. Bakhtinian analysis of the lamas and shamans of north central Nepal. akin to the parallel between Turner’s work and Habermas’s. The language of carnival was thus understood to be an intensely rich one.

This moment of excess. but is amenable to a certain transposition into a language of artistic images that has something in common with its concretely sensuous nature. but crucially . Here. all the while not permitting ‘a single one of these aspects of change to be absolutized or to congeal in one-sided seriousness’ (ibid. 2012 And like the Lyotardian figure. the carnival spirit was understood by Bakhtin (1984b) to induce a language that could not be translated in any full or adequate way into verbal language. of contradiction. but an important constituent of another of Bakhtin’s great works. negation (a smirk) and affirmation (rejoicing laughter)’ (ibid. a realm surpassing. it can be transposed into the language of literature.: 164). Serpiente escalera. Mexico City. this public challenge to bureaucracy. that is. a shift of world orders’. ‘ritual laughter’ was not only directed ‘toward a shift of authorities and truths. We are calling this transposition of carnival into the language of literature the carnivalization of literature (ibid. exceeding discourse.9 Pelucas. the ur-theme not only of Rabelais.: 127).176 Ornament and Order 5. a form unable to be rendered or translated into conventional language. not just ‘universal in scope’. that could ‘fix in a phenomenon both poles of its evolution’. his Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1984b). was seen to function most clearly through the modality of laughter. but combined themes of ‘death and rebirth. and much less into a language of abstract concepts. It was an assertion of equivocation that could ‘grasp and comprehend a phenomenon in the process of change and transition’. The laughter of the carnivalesque was hence considered to be not only ‘the laughter of the people’.: 122). Mexico.

made redundant through their already apparent existence. The New Historicist theorist Stephen Greenblatt. as previously noted. a potential without limits. Bakhtin’s focus on subversion has also been suggested to be one which functions in a more equivocal manner. Laughter indicates that dialogic interaction is still possible even in the most repressive of situations. therefore had the power to be seemingly ‘relentlessly subversive’.: 443. like the theatre itself. totalitarian structures whose function it is to exclude or repress it. it was the ‘very product of the power and furthers its ends’ (ibid. emphasis added). as satire (a ‘laughter that does not laugh’ [ibid. working not ‘as a resistance to power. The ‘subversiveness which is genuine and radical’. even at those moments when community is most threatened (ibid. the low-culture displacing the power of the high.: 451). . these works functioning through both the ‘production and containment of subversion and disorder’ (ibid.Inversion. Just like the critiques placed against Turner’s inversive theory of the carnival however. viewed by Bakhtin as a primary exponent of the carnivalesque). The playful hilarity of the carnival modality could thus.: 79). ‘order’. Subversion.6 And carnival could therefore challenge norms through revealing laughter to be as important as truth. or perhaps more accurately. the clandestine and surreptitious. thus argued that the ‘production of subversion’ was the ‘very condition of power’ (ibid. The ‘carnival rite’ (Bakhtin 1984a: 200) could hence refute the very jurisdiction of dominant institutions. from the realm of the marketplace. being neither ‘possible nor fully convincing without both the presence and perception of betrayal’ (ibid.: 274). as a method of confronting all truth from the position of the everyday. The inclusion of what were deemed to be destabilizing elements within the hegemonic system simply meant that any true challenge to prevalent power relations was precluded. 6 Bakhtin’s focus on laughter was also a ‘subversive attack on the perverted concept of folk culture that prevailed in the Stalin era.: 450).: 439).: 45]). of community. but instigating a ‘complete exit from the present order’ (ibid. in fact. deriding. of a nondetermined relation to the other. It asserts and denies.: 455). laughter not only revealed the unofficial. it reveals a truth that rejects all truth. a culture that was decreed from on high and that in reality offered no alternative to the official one’ (Lachman 1988: 118). was thus ‘at the same time contained by the power it would appear to threaten’. for it is laughter that resists and even undermines the power of all political-religious-philosophical systems and institutions and thus makes dialogue possible. Social drama. be considered more fundamental and subversive than dialogue. Perversion 177 ‘ambivalent: it is gay. and at the same time mocking. triumphant. acting not simply as catharsis. even within monolithic. but rather as an instrument and also a sign of power itself’ (Bristol 1993: 636). as Carroll observed (1993). Demonstrated through a reading of Shakespeare’s ‘Henry’ plays (Shakespeare. it is an indication of sociability. authoritarian. to be the most radical form of dialogue. buries and revives’ (Bakhtin 1984a: 12). Greenblatt suggests that actions that one would have thought would have had ‘the effect of radically undermining authority’ turned out in fact to be the very ‘props of that authority’ (ibid. which is ‘sufficiently disturbing so that to be suspected of such belief could lead to imprisonment or torture’. as he continued. in his celebrated essay Invisible Bullets (2004 [1985]).

both modalities could be understood to contain the potential to work toward the ‘reinvention of authority’ (albeit in ‘different guises’) (Newman 2001: 5). The most that can be said in the abstract is that for long periods carnival may be a stable and cyclical ritual with no noticeable politically transformative effects but that. as Lucia Folena (1989) has shown.The previously venerated possibility of subversion could thus be seen to contain an embedded reverence towards. the moments when rituals. meanings that depend ‘on changing contexts and conditions’ (ibid. Both techniques could fall afoul of the same trap. as a ‘way to contest and even appropriate that reality itself’ (Dirks 1994: 501–2). privilege. and sheer conservatism’ (ibid. They can move. either reinforcing or subverting authority’. the same ‘logic of place’ (ibid. Carnivals can hence start out as inversive practices and mould into subversive ones. carnival cannot be seen to ‘function in any single way. any truly subversive practice. to become ‘synonymous with subversion’ . Whether one followed techniques of inversion or subversion then.: 455). contains the radical doubts it continually provokes’ (ibid. As Stallybrass and White have argued. as a primary expression of Renaissance power. not against authoritarian form. failing to radically destabilize prevailing conditions in any comprehensive way. or. And it was thus simply an affirmation (inversion) or a rejection (subversion) founded – and hence always subject to – exactly that which they sought to exclude. as much a powerful mode for reproducing the ‘reality effect of the natural’. Rites not Wrongs Of course.: 165–6) – that we can then come to uncover the true ‘dialectic of antagonism’ (Stallybrass and White 1986: 16). through its entrenched hegemonic license. the precise nature of the frameworks that uphold these ritual.: 348). it thus ‘makes little sense to fight out the issue of whether carnivals are intrinsically radical or conservative’ for to do so automatically involves the false essentializing of carnivalesque transgression (White 1982: 60). through its simulation. perhaps more rightly.: 14). ornamental practices.178 Ornament and Order because ‘the form itself.: 226]). it prevented. as Stanley Tambiah put it (1985). As Muir continues to sustain (1999). from serving to ‘appropriate and neutralize’ disorder (as revealed within ‘the medieval and Renaissance language of inversion’ [ibid. it may often act as catalyst and site of actual and symbolic struggle (ibid. it is only by examining the specific and individual processes of transgression. but can instead evoke ‘multiple meanings’. It can be understood to be ‘as much about contest and struggle as about power and order’.: 5). an insidious formation of resistance that sought to protect power through its apparent openness to dialogism. given the presence of sharpened political antagonism. either move towards the left – when ‘there is a deliberate attempt to coin new doctrinal concepts and mold new rituals bursting with meaning’ – or towards the right – coming ‘to serve mainly the pragmatic interests of authority.

: 120). conditional forms of social action then. Spain. the ritual processes in which ‘there may be little overt testimony to the presence of deities but a great deal of emphasis on the public display of religiocultural sentiments’ (ibid. to an amorphous public ‘other’ – an allegiance to the basic values of the group from whence they emerge. Each marking must therefore be understood to emphasize my informants’ 5. Untitled [Los Veo y Subo – I See It and I Get Up]. 2009 . Perversion 179 (as revealed within the ‘language of carnival’ in the Jacobean era [ibid. the ethnographic reality of each instance coming to define its potential turns to the ‘left’ or the ‘right’. to their social partners. as a reflection of morality. As highly contingent. Fasting and Festivals’ that I previously mentioned (Bell 1997: 120). Subversion. Yet before we can even begin examining these peripatetic movements.: 226]) – the elite-serving. in which practices are intended to express publicly – to the ritual practitioner. rituals of the carnivalesque must be examined in all their specific glory. What I want to primarily make clear in this chapter then is that the production of these ornaments acted both as a physical illustration and bodily instantiation of the doctrines and creeds of the group with whom I was working.: 226). to explore which way the rituals of ornamentation discussed in this book themselves turn. but were corporeal performances which underwrote these ethical principles. These were acts which thus functioned not only as a visual depiction of a moral code.Inversion.10 Neko. Madrid. I must first advance the status of both Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation within the rites of ‘Feasting. idiosyncratic. ‘negative symmetrical’ rituals of rebellion which emerged within the Elizabethan period latterly coming to be ‘appropriated by the radical [and truly subversive] discourse of Puritan revolution’ (ibid. legitimizing.

their search for a moral way of utilizing its surfaces (their agentic markings revivifying public space). and. communicate with the public sphere. ostensibly ‘criminal behaviour’ could here be more correctly understood as the ‘expression of deeply held beliefs’ (ibid. where norms (not just laws) were radically destabilized. rather than through solely confronting the base polarity of legal/illegal.180 Ornament and Order belief in the transgressive utilization of public space. many of the practices of Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation seem to quite clearly function within the purview of Turner’s work on carnival (or ritual anti-structure as he has termed it). clearly combines with the civic desires of these insurgent actors. each addition presenting their existential need to communicate with the city (whether in its consensual or dissensual patterns). One’s dedication to the values of the group were made clear solely through one’s physical performances. as something not merely reflective but also reflexive. their rejection of the increasing instrumentality of our urban visual culture (to not replicate but exceed the mendacity of advertising). Functioning through the breaking of taboos rather than laws. their total commitment to the values of the group. or more correctly the appropriation of public space. their search for new social relations in the city (whether centrifugal or centripetal). through the innate contravention of prevalent socio-ethico conventions. a ‘time which is no time’ (even when ‘that time can be found on an ecclesiastical calendar’) (Turner 1983: 103). inefficiencies. ‘rights’ (and rites) not wrongs. in particular. inhabit. one must thus act through the violation. play. Like the ‘public liminality’ of carnival then (Turner 1979a: 474). licit/illicit. And just as we can see in Muir’s description of carnival (2005). within the carnivalesque ritual framework. of art/vandalism (provoking the intense debates over the very designations of these artefacts). an overt infringement of legal codes that was about justice not statutes. It becomes a site in which normative rules of time and space are decentred. To act morally. these were public rituals formed with an explicit cognizance of the moral underpinnings of their ‘crimes’. each image making known. These were forms of the carnivalesque working as types of images rather than calendrical festivals. immoralities [and] alienations’ of the modern city (Turner 1979b: 117). as forms of discourse. Yet these were practices that acted transgressively – as all carnivalesque practices must – through disturbing the binaries of inside/outside (inciting the impassioned discourse around the ‘rightful’ place of these ornaments). to other members of the city. as lived-through practices (Stallybrass and White 1986).: 100): This was an insurgent aesthetic practice linked to the strongly civic convictions of my informants. where a corporeal entanglement with (rather than estrangement from) the city was instantiated. their pure need to utilize. revealing their unremitting desire to play a part in the public sphere (to play in the public sphere). Performing in the public was thus an ethical principal which could only be upheld through concrete action. when these insurgent rites transpire the streets become a ‘place which is no place’ (‘even where that place is a city’s main plazas’). . These were carnivalesque practices in which my informants could express to themselves. The understanding of the contemporary ritual of carnival as a practice that aims to act upon the ‘injustices. to outsiders from their practice. These were civic rites where space (rather than class or gender) was radically decentred. Whilst clearly set within the Feasting/Fasting/Festivals archetype then. of public/private (inflaming the disputes over the true location of these fields).

Subversion. assessed. from helping to undertake tasks whenever and wherever). 7 This egality could be demonstrated in thousands of small ways.: 468) can thus appear to be especially prescient here. And the city thus becomes a time and a space in which the meaning and potential. it was granted without equivocation. can thus be seen to act as the quintessential example of a liminal ritual. It meant that one took on responsibility for one-another’s wellbeing (from working together as a group to entirely rebuild their studio. There were no leaders within this collective. Turner’s contention that ritual ‘set[s] up a frame within which images and symbols of what has been sectioned off can be scrutinized. Painting together. a practice which sets up a ritual frame through the production of a physical frame itself. a responsibility that was enacted without consultation and deliberation. The intensified experiences which they shared within these ritual acts enabled this comradeship. the generation of images which are constantly repositioned. the deep egalitarianism. remodeled and rearranged’ (ibid. covert site ‘set off from the routine world’ [Turner 1979a: 467]). reordered. from the weeks spent away from one’s own projects (so as to help on another’s) to the refusal to ever refuse. It was never about who did this or did that (I never ever heard ‘but I did this or I did that’). or in a more clandestine. this sort of individualism – rather than individuality – a challenge to the very existence of the group itself. reorganized by their producers. everything would shatter. the disavowed. forbidden ornament. a ritual liminal within both its material and performative positions.Inversion. that was crucial to the survival of the group as a whole. and all for each’ (Turner 1967: 101) could thus almost seem to be the guiding principle of the group itself. the public back into private. pervading their lifeworlds as a whole. It formed a conscious kinship which flowed back from these moments of liminality into the everyday. Each member was on equal ground with the other. the use value of one’s surroundings became radically altered. each individual showing a responsibility to the group without which he could never have become a member in the very first place. The production of the parergon. painting as a group. where its usage for ‘preserving law and order’ is rejected in favour of its usage for experience and flow (Turner 1979a: 475). Perversion 181 where one ‘wastes’ time through working for free. created an experiential bond which could only ever be substantiated through this very act itself. . from the lending of a hammer to the breaking of bread. where law and order becomes a mere imposition to moral action. if need be. from being available for physical or mental exertion. It becomes a time and space where a dustbin became a ladder. The liminal moment thus becomes one in which all normative functions of the city are upended – where its usage for mere ‘getting and spending’ is rejected in favour of giving and sacrifice. Furthermore. If one needed help. painting with full comprehension of the risks that lay within the act (whether acting in a metasocial context and thus performed ‘in full view of everyone’. the comradeship and conscious bond of amity which was so present within my group of informants – a fellowship which was a constant source of amazement to me. where a wall becomes a canvas. in which it was not favours but responsibilities that were enacted7 – could be seen to have a direct link to Turner’s famous notion of communitas. Without this. Turner’s principle ‘each for all. and. where one rejects the normative use of space through turning the private back into public. where the city becomes a plaything.

timeless ‘art’ (an art which is left to decay rather than anxiously conserved) – can be seen to follow Bakhtin’s famous focus on hybridity. Distorting the set language from within language. As autonomous.11  On the way to paint (plastic bags full of paint not groceries). as Muir explained (2005). it can be seen to set up conflictual relations to art through the very language of art itself. performative. Equally. installational. a form of ‘marketplace speech’ which rejects prevalent societal ‘norms of etiquette and decency’ (ibid. self-governing practices. 2008 As for Bakhtin. setting up various .: 10). self-supporting. they are primarily ‘independent’. Spain. site-specific. from the ‘world of hierarchy and authority’ (ibid. these are rites in which ‘everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people’ (Bakhtin 1984a [1965]: 7). They are forms of outsider art which took joy in embracing the vernacular. in which participation is a prerequisite so as to belong to the group itself. using art to critique art. his conception of carnival as a fully separate reality also appears to function in direct accordance with my informants’ ornamental practices. And as prototypical examples of what is considered to be “low-culture”.: 99). which attempted to speak in the colloquial slang of the street rather than the obfuscatory dialect of the fine-arts. Moreover. which rest in the independence of the street. Madrid. they practice Independent Public Art.182 Ornament and Order 5. they are practices which refuse the boundaries of the institution. These insurgent acts use one voice to critique that same voice. using the city to critique the city. the fusion of artistic techniques that these ornaments provoke – the intertwining of calligraphic. public. eroding established barriers through working within the barriers. the practice and the people in fact inseparable – they are Independent Public Artists. and environmental-arts – their erosion of the very notion of a stable. both Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation can in fact be seen as prototypical Bakhtinian acts.

a practice working not as a spectacle but as an embodied practice. It was an ocular ‘heteroglossia’. An Interval between Two Marks (Or a Derridean Perversion) Of course. and egality. not only due to its base ephemerality but so too as part of a perpetual. the desire to reform rather than repeal order). dialogism. the Turnerian focus on subjunctivity. inscriptions which promoted the ‘other side of established values’ (Bakhtin 1984a: 272). rather than seeing Consensual Ornamentation as an inversive practice which preserves the binary structure it transposes. Subversion. one that visibly attacked the notion of any authoritative language. And this intentional. The practice of ornamentation thus promoteed an ambivalence ‘allowing openness and transgression’ (Lachmann 1989: 116). erasure. It was a practice of ritual laughter that transgressed ‘both the concrete media in which it expresses itself and the historical space and time in which it is actualized’ (Lachmann 1989: 133). different modes of understanding for something often thought of as fixed. there was thus an open-endedness to these works which was overtly present within the image. and as suggested above. could place these understandings of carnival back within the Consensual (Turnerian/Habermasian) and Agonistic (Bakhtinian/Lyotardian) frameworks as previously analysed. keeping ‘the potential for dialogue alive beneath the official monologue’ (Mumford 1989: 21). interminable game. can thus demask the normative mode of the city. demask its increasingly denatured status. liminality.Inversion. modification. for a rejection of all norms). metamorphosis. a dialogism always in the process of change. an inexhaustible process in explicit discourse with city authorities as with the numerous other architects of the ornament. It was a practice in which ‘words or images’ were ‘saturated with contested and unfinished meanings’ (Mumford 1989: 29). this intentionally contestatory hybridity. It was a modality that literally transgressed its concrete media (its concrete edifices). Like the licentious of Rabelais it aimed to provide an instantiation of the carnivalesque through the means of the pen. that materially transgressed space. Yet rather than strictly following these inversive and subversive strategies. Working as part of a wider process of erection. rather than organic hybridity. rather than seeing Agonistic . a laughter that could negate and affirm. and the Bakhtinian emphasis on hybridity. that could renegotiate the understanding of the city itself. and laughter could be seen to function with aspects of both Consensual and Agonistic Ornamentation as previously described. a visual notion of the carnivalesque employed through a dislocation rather than concretization of meaning. Perversion 183 arguments (as most perfectly seen in 3TTMan’s eponymous character) within one unique position. And what these epigraphical inscriptions embodied was thus a carnival spirit which consciously and clearly dislocated stable meanings. a practice which was always in the process of remaking and remodelling. that instrumentally transgressed time. and erosion. as well as the latter’s desire for radical transformation (for a relationship to a minor realm. And it could naturally be argued that the former’s focus on rational critique (the desire for a relationship to society as a whole.

a constitutive outside that refuses to reinforce that which it opposes. what I want to contend within this chapter is that my informants’ ritual practices are ones which come to balance between these aforementioned Turnerian and Bakhtinian paths. this double movement. a writing which could come to ‘challenge metaphysics from within its own language’. Tracing a line between inversive and subversive categories. what Derrida aimed was the perversion of discourse (to turn it aside. once again. It is thus a method which resides in the intermuros – not outside (extra). It bisects the strategies of inversion and subversion. And.: 56). This form of critique created by the limits of the inside itself could then enable us to find a space which did not simply ‘restore the place of power’. a deceptive flight to an extramuros site that only serves to place it more ‘obstinately on the “inside”’. balancing them through the perversive. one could then reject base oppositions. forming a periphery within the very centre. the parergon which holds such a critical place in both the practical and theoretical elements of my informants’ work. to function as a ‘simple change or reversal in the terms of any given hierarchy’). transgressive. to destabilize both sides of the spectrum through what he famously termed a ‘double writing […] a writing that is in and of itself multiple’ (ibid. return us to the realm of the parergon as understood by Derrida. . betwixt-and-between status of the parergon itself. the indeterminate. Of course. is one which we have examined at length in terms of the ornament in itself. that did not come to ‘reaffirm’ exactly ‘what one resists’ (Newman 2001: 11). in Newman 2001: 5)). in terms of its status as the Derridean parergon. refusing the dichotomy of construction/destruction.184 Ornament and Order Ornamentation as a subversive practice which serves to replace one form of hegemony with another. rather. deconstruction’ (ibid. before transcending the hierarchy itself through ‘a positively displacing. Derrida’s search for the radical outside of discourse – for the outside which is simultaneously embedded within the interior – sought not the inversion of discourse (to turn inside out. a question’ (ibid. it re-evaluates it. this move toward the perverse. following this same approach.: 12). reinscribing it as a problem. to elicit a ‘transformation of the hierarchical structure itself’ (Derrida 1978.: 12). Through ‘the play of this interval between two marks’. to act as a ‘suppression of all hierarchy’ which simply suppresses other subjectivities). not inside (intra) but within (inter) the walls. rather. inciting an alteration that both ‘reverses an opposition and reworks the terms of that opposition so that what was formerly understood by them is no longer tenable’ (Johnson 1987: 13). what was foremost for Derrida (2004 [1981]) was the ability to unsettle. inversion/ subversion. a thirdway which I believe more accurately sets out my informant’s ritual positionality. deconstruction ‘neither affirms nor destroys the limit it “crosses”. safe within the intramuros (ibid.: 38). through a ‘double movement’ in which one first inverts the traditional hierarchy (where one operates ‘an overturning deconstruction’). Rather than an absolute transgression or an ‘escape to an absolute outside’. And the theoretical method release from these seemingly irreconcilable positions will. it is in fact a third-way which I want now to posit. a writing which could dismantle the ‘system from within the system itself’ (Holquist 1986: 141). the quasi-detached. nor did it seek the subversion of this same discourse (to turn under.

13 and 5. not destroy/To function in a different register. Three untitled posters by OX from Genevilliers. 2012 .5. 5.12.14  To unsettle. Paris and Arcueil (France).

These works do not reverse order. they set themselves in opposition but not in reflection. the indigenous tactic of manipulating the coerced practices forced upon them neither by ‘rejecting or altering’ them but rather ‘using them with respect to ends and references foreign to the system they had no choice but to accept’ (ibid. It was not simply that these images displayed the nature of the group as the archetypal constituent outside. I argue that they transcend it through a positive displacement. His suggestion that one must form a material aesthetic that refuses to succumb either ‘to the traditional definitions of art’ or the ‘traditional mechanisms of the discipline of architecture’ can be seen to echo my informants’ attempts to provoke a material deconstruction that works through an ‘internal’. which exposes the cracks and fissures of structure through integrating within the cracks and fissures of that structure itself. Like de Certeau’s (1984) description of the silent resistance of the colonized. functioning through the outside that is. Wigley’s (1988) earlier discussion of an ornament in critique of order can thus here come back into focus. nor do they supplant it. agitating but not destroying. All of my informants’ ornamental practices can be seen to have worked in this way. a group working upon the very liminal boundaries of the city itself.: 11). not only as a ‘mechanism for bringing the individual into the community and establishing a social entity’ (the group bond enforced and reinstated through the act of performing together).: 55–6). but through procedures of consumption that ‘maintained their difference in the very space that the occupier was organizing’. the importance of painting within the public sphere made visible through the existence of their ornaments). these practices can be seen to have constructed a visual alterity that sought not to simply reaffirm that which it resisted. the production of these ornaments themselves aimed to present another ideal of the city. perverting not subverting or inverting them. disturbing. yet separate to the centre. carnivalesque practices as a way of escaping power without ever leaving it. In both their medium and their message they place themselves between rather than for or against.: 32). to merely destroy it.: xiii). discomposing. ‘paradoxically. One can see these practices transforming hegemonic impositions ‘from within – not by rejecting them or by transforming them’. They questioned it through their mere existence. thwart’) and thus pervert order itself. These ritual practices must therefore be seen to have functioned not only as an ‘expression of paradigmatic values’ then (the communal aesthetic values. It is an ornament that critiques structure from within structure. on the inside’ (ibid. they pervert the wall (again following the OED. a body in the heart of.186 Ornament and Order Inhabiting the already presiding structures of our cities (rather than operating from a purported exterior). seeking neither to invert nor destroy the boundary but in fact to destabilize it. as something that is not a ‘tool that you apply to something from the outside’ but something that ‘happens inside’ (Derrida 1997: 9). an ability to metaphorize ‘the dominant order’ and thus make it ‘function in another register’ (ibid. These works did not simply efface what was already extant. but as a ‘process for social . they ‘interfere with or distort […] impede. one can see these ritual. to work not from outside the discourse of the city itself but to remain deeply embedded within it. but rather to interrogate and unsettle it. They played with it. rather than ‘external violence’ (ibid.

Subversion. And it is thus the playful. Perversion 187 transformation’. and yet these very same practices also reflected the beliefs of these members within the public sphere. bound through a practice which could then work to structure ‘what the community is produced from. ambiguous. to construct as well as reveal order. . the trickster shift which I now seek to explore. and in relation to’ (Spyer 2000: 292). Whilst in our previous chapter I thus argued that these ornamental practices are quintessentially ritual ones. Yet in our next chapter. in spite of. They were bound ‘by virtue of a heightened intimacy and a sense of being a distinct […] community in opposition to so much around them’ (Bell 1997: 206). The group were bound through these carnivalesque acts. they enabled these actors to act upon the public sphere. their effect on both the group and wider milieu. for ‘struggling over control of the sign’ (a remodelling of both the world and the image through the performative act) (Bell 1997: 89). against. their ability to both bind their practitioners and to transform their physical and social realms in a specifically perversive manner. It is the serious play.Inversion. what I hope to have underlined here is both the ritual archetype they subsume as well as the wider effect of these carnivalesque rituals. what I now want to focus upon is the ritual attributes which my informants themselves must assume. risky characteristics that they must adopt to undertake these carnival rites that I will now turn to.

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“ordinary”. It considered as an act with a ‘distinctive disposition and meaningfulness – a meaningfulness . emphasis added). in disguise and always as a force of disruption. an arch inverter who […] turns all Solomon’s turgid truths into turds. Yet. must be seen as an activity which can contain a ‘volatile. the ludic is thus commonly considered as something which functions within a marginal. like art for art’s sake. liminal site. something set apart from ‘“normal”. “real” life’ (Bauman 1995: 170).6 Play. Barbara Babcock-Abraham A State of Being Rather than a Threshold Like Freud’s repudiation of what was commonly perceived as the triviality of play. ‘purely a game’ (ibid. play must be understood to in fact be inexplicable without function. separated from structure and from order. Like ‘mere’ decoration or ‘mere’ craft. that it is. Michael Camille That the trickster and the clown have become major metaphors for the artist in this century with its increasing selfconsciousness of the creative process is no accident. Risk and the Picaresque In his “double nature” he appears at crossroads. its defined winners and losers). and. “proper”. and akin to Gell’s argument in terms of decoration (1998). They have been artists for a long time. as innately separated from reality. play’s perceived triviality often emerges from what seems to be its autotelic character (in opposition to the results driven focus of gaming. as Derrida (1988) discussed in relation to Freud’s grandson’s famous game of fort/da. again like the form of visual play Gell discusses. Often given a foundational role in anthropological analyses of ritual. its status. sometimes dangerously explosive essence’ (Turner 1986: 30–31). what must first be disclaimed in this chapter is the notion that ‘play is insignificant’.: 67.

With a much vaunted capacity to ‘break out of determining logics’ then. of law and custom. serious play’. family structure and sexuality. as André Droogers (2005) notes. as a notion of marginality that exists ‘whenever commonly held boundaries are violated. of the human person. the space where even ‘either/or’ will not do. a liminal figure endowing his group with ‘vitality’. This tight connection between ritual.: 149–50).: 138). The perceived sanctity. ‘Playful’ and ‘serious’. once again. the solemnity of ritual.: 150). as a communicative narrative set within a ludic ‘frame’ (Roger Keesing 1991: 65–7). . jesters and pranksters who commonly inhabit these doubly liminal spaces. of kinship. one who constructed the now infamous matter out of place. And. Working. the archetypal trickster in general remains heavily biased towards a male figure. to the supplement. the trickster was a ‘“criminal” culture-hero’. to the space of the violation of boundaries. a sense promoting an undeserved (or unproductive) ‘dichotomy between good and evil which persistently confounds the analysis of the essentially ambiguous character of most literary marginals’ (ibid. his inborn marginality was too often grasped in a ‘solely negative sense. all the while carrying the ever-present ‘threat and the possibility of chaos’ (Babcock-Abrahams 1975: 148). For Barbara Babcock-Abrahams (1975). as has Julio Rodriguez-Luis (1979) in a study of the picara (the female version of the soon to be discussed picaro). to give rise to ‘a change of perspective’. just as play is an activity that is taken seriously as long as it lasts’ (ibid. a being at once embodying numerous ‘possibilities – the most positive and the most negative’ (ibid. once more. be they those of the social structure. We hence not only return. quite simply. He1 was thus both ‘socially peripheral’ yet ‘often symbolically central’ (Babcock-Abrahams 1978: 32). to ‘cross registers’. but we emerge within a space where we must revel in (or perhaps simply accept) a deeply entrenched uncertainty. 1 While Ricki Tannen. or of nature’ (ibid. quite naturally leads us to the archetypal anthropological notion of the trickster. and clowning. is itself understood to be in fact a decidedly ‘playful activity. are hence ‘not necessarily opposites’ (ibid. play. a disordering of social norms. being dangerous to or somehow below ‘normal’ boundaries’. like its ‘dialectical dancing partner of ritual’ (Turner 1986: 30– 31). in The Female Trickster (2007). Yet for Babcock-Abrahams. was one who manifested ‘dirt’. these innately betwixtand-between creatures that inhabit the ground between the extraordinary and the everyday. a new ‘vantage point from which any present cultural order can be called into question and replaced’ (Rapport 1997: 109).190 Ornament and Order often at odds with the order of the real world’ (Rapport 1997: 109).: 148).: 138–9). Ritual can thus be viewed as ‘stylized. has attempted to shift the study of this type into an explicitly female domain. The trickster. to ‘generate novel meanings and understandings’ (Kapferer 2005: 46) – a factor which the excessively direct motives of gaming often elide – play can thus be understood as a space which can help to revive ‘creative energies’. Babcock-Abrahams suggests that ‘we might better view this ambiguity as a necessary dualism’. a base disorderliness seen through the clowns. play is not only linked to the protection of order but so too its disruption. scripted. a practice often appearing to be ‘performed in a serious manner’. against this ‘either/or approach’.

1 Nug. Film Stills. Territorial Pissings. 2008. Stockholm. Image courtesy of artist .6. Sweden.

2010 The trickster thus ‘stands in immediate relation to the center in all its ambiguity’ (ibid. This is the contemporary trickster who works to convert ‘any sign or word’ into ‘something else. layered and serious reference’ (ibid. the trickster’s practices can hence be seen in themselves as ones of ‘serious play’.192 Ornament and Order 6.: 36). This is the trickster who works through ‘metagraphic writings’. . an impulse key to both artistic and shamanic practices amongst First Nation groups – and one forming a ‘critical link between subversive practice. Through this depiction.: 39). a state through which ‘he condemns himself to contingency and unpredictability’ (Babcock-Abrahams 1975: 159). spiritual truth.: xii). constant wordplay. who works through ‘adroit perversion’ (ibid. Ryan (1999) terms it (following the Ojibway artist Carl Beam). Madrid. and cultural wisdom’ (ibid.2  Portrait of 3TTMan.: 39). the world (in his European manifestation) of the trickster Guy Debord (2009 [1956]). a play that has as its ‘ultimate goal’ a ‘radical shift in viewer perspective and even political positioning’ (ibid. even its opposite’ (ibid. he stands steadfast within the interior. extreme subtlety. where one can ‘detourn entire situations by deliberately changing this or that determinant condition of them’ (ibid.: 168). where ‘we find the notion of disguise closely linked to play’. a relationship underpinning his customary ‘negations and violations of custom’. Spain. surprising association. This is the world of détournement. ‘neither a plus nor a minus […] neither confusion or distinction […] neither a position nor a negation’ (Derrida 2004 [1981]: 40). The ‘Trickster Shift’ as Allan J.: 3) – must therefore be understood to encompass a wealth of cultural strategies.: 5). aesthetic production. practices working through ‘outrageous punning. a serious play (or ritual practice) intent on disturbing the everyday. It is the realm where a ‘sign or word is susceptible to being converted into something else’.

the world. was understood to have defied the ‘canonical standard of literary and materialist imperialism’ (ibid.: xii). as Ingrid D. furthermore. as Giancarlo Maiorino termed it (1996). translated as bruit parasite). Lazarus. was thus the world of ‘picaresque quotidianity’. It combined the ‘notion of trickery and roguish behavior’ with ‘the idea of the uncertain or hostile attitude of an individual to existing society’. Rowland argues [2009: 83]. ‘inconsistencies of meaning.: 38).: 242). one whose ‘mediating function’ placed him ‘half-way between two polar terms’ (ibid.: 24). while the picaro’s marginality ‘is the consequence of the Catch 22s of his society’s moral strictures and categories’ (ibid.: xiv).: 26). however.: 237). next to. the social bandit (Hobsbawm 1969). his very status as marginal defining ‘a state of being rather than a threshold’ (ibid. His world. ‘to evoke that which must be suppressed’ (ibid. referential ambiguities’ (ibid. differences pertaining to their setting within social reality in the former case and myth in the latter. The ‘interior of the boundary’ was hence considered not 2 Franchot Ballinger (1991) sets out the divergences between the two in The EuroAmerican Picaro and the Native American Trickster. to suggest incompleteness. the malandro and the picaro thus all exist. within and beyond that society’ (Babcock-Adams 1975: 159). he was. and barrios’.:: xiv). And this marginal individual was thus.2 This literary ‘countergenre’. he understands that to ‘play the position or to play the location is to dominate the relation’. the living embodiment of the boundary. low social status in the first case and high in the second. In both. been due to the supposedly Jewish ancestry of the picaro archetype – the aforementioned Lazarillo de Tormes. to ‘subsume a boundary within itself’. uniquely. a trickster modality that Babcock-Abrahams herself termed ‘picaresque’.3 but also his physical location within the city. as Don Handelman explains (1998). Marginality was thus not only his innate state. a genre emerging with the publication of Lazarillo de Tormes (believed to have surfaced between 1550 and 1559).: xxii). ‘included and excluded’. containing both a ‘value of destruction and a value of construction’ (Serres 2007 [1982]: 67). He was. the rebel (Cohen 1986). he was hence considered as a ‘joker’. . Risk and the Picaresque 193 This classical trickster archetype can also be shifted quite straightforwardly towards a more deep-seated Spanish milieu. ‘the tactician of the quotidian’ (ibid. shifted’ (ibid. a world ‘parcelled out to urban residence in the city’s underside. As a producer of ‘noise’ (background noise. its hovels. as Maiorino continues (1996). the trickster. The clown.: 226). ‘we seem to experience what is generally termed ambiguity’ (ibid. like Michel Serres’ depiction of the parasite. himself having a Hebraic forename. He was one who always retained ‘something of that duality’.Play. in French. The Trickster. ‘that is.: 226). who always retained the ‘ambiguous and equivocal character’ fashioned by his betwixt-and-between state (ibid. the first of the picaros. to have defied the regulatory norms of both literary and social practice. of la mala vida’ (ibid. ‘a mediator’. it is to be ‘on the side. not simply attacking (subverting) but transforming (deconstructing) its host system. however. chabolas [probably now translated as slums or favelas]. as Lévi-Strauss pronounced (1963). ghettoes. 3 This marginality may have also. chooses to be marginal. working through a ‘narrative focussed on movement. The very character of the picaro thus ‘live[d] at the center while remaining peripheral’ (Maiorino 1996: xiv).

ritual uncertainty indexed ‘the ultimately uncontrollable nature of cosmos’ itself (ibid. but to erase ‘the border between this domain and that of the mundane. inviting 3TTMan to come and play. therefore. They were always slightly uncanny these dead spaces. maybe. We had to wait. We went for another wander. my emphasis). It was the realization that. the ‘inter-play of elements of order that are in-play’. We moved to the neighbouring structure. yet there it stood. And seemingly even more loudly at that. the paint peeling off the walls. its instability. navigating the deep trenches which had been cut out in the centre of the site. of ambiguity. working not simply to break ‘sacred precepts’. we had to circle back. It looked possibly like the remains of a veranda. or impartial. We went in through the front at first. the marks. as it does through determination’ (ibid. the uncanniness was multiplied. And this very concept of insecurity. but in the middle of the night.: 68). He instantly knew where he wanted to paint. 11/04/09 […] We were waiting for what seemed like hours. Quite why it had yet to be demolished was a mystery. the only multi-level structure left within the interior. thereby altering the order of relationship between them’ (ibid. still chatting loudly on his phone. intending after to navigate his way across onto the rooftop. . probably half-eleven by now. after what seemed like an eternity of goodbyes. and in-transition’.: 69). They produce an ‘alteration of borders’. smoking. to in fact act as an ‘ambulatory manifestation of boundariness’ (ibid. We prayed he’d get off to bed … So we sat. an exposed wall right in the centre of the site.: 68). He went round to the edge of the site [a large corner block directly facing the town hall. but this guy was still stood out on his balcony. The very notion of play. a corner from which we could gain leverage to climb over the surrounding metal fence. can hence be understood to create a ‘paradox of which the boundary itself (or frame. It was possible. in the silence. Intersection III: Field Notes. sat on a bench right beside the building-site.: 248). Bateson’s famous maxim ‘this is play’ hence becomes transmuted for Handelman into ‘this is uncertainty’ (ibid. meant that uncertainty was deeply infused within it.: 247). He was still talking. He would have had a perfect view so we had to be patient. We waited some more … And. the danger begot through its energy. waiting for our fly on the wall to leave the scene. 3TTMan trying to shimmy up its slopping outside wall.: 71. risk. the multiple layers of wallpaper still present. 3TTMan immediately kicked into action. a living room maybe. must be ‘understood as affinities of some more comprehensive notion of uncertainty’ (ibid. whether valorised as beneficial. It was late. We first tried a staircase within one of the still standing edifices. his terrace doors shut and he disappeared from sight and sound. the traces of its past life. harmful. the baritone drone of our accidental spectator deceased. We’d had some dinner. but it seemed too hazardous. in his usage) between serious reality and play was constituted’ (ibid. third storey room whose outside walls had been destroyed to expose its inner realm. as Handelman describes qua Bateson. plastic. but to perfectly match ‘the clown type’.194 Ornament and Order only to be ‘fluid. was thus ‘the recognition that [the] cosmos’ itself – both ornament and order – ‘exists as much through the deep flux of unpredictability. gone back to pick up some extra paint from the studio then returned for the second time. waiting not particularly patiently. returning after about another half hour. a huge apartment building which had been almost totally gutted save for its frontage] and soon found an easy point of entry.: 68). emerging into the eerie remnants of the house (if it could now even be called that). but they cut off abruptly half way up. leaving just a gaping drop down to the trench below. chatting. a small. The risk inherent to play. And the ‘deep ideation of play’ they provoke.

3TTMan in Action.4  Getting in 1 and 2. Spain. 2009 . La Palma.3 and 6.6.

He motioned towards me and point towards the back of the building. Ten. Using the still barred windows as support – an almost perfect ladder to enter onto the now open third floor – he pulled himself up from the ledge and was in. Think. Easy as that. 2009 The room was just structural walls. It was like a two-way mirror. this time able to fully take off his rucksack. landed silently on the ground beside me and grabbed my arm. almost touched us. fifteen minutes must have come and gone (or perhaps it was just two). There’s got to be a way … He went round to the back this time.5 Under the tarpaulin. More voices. then slowly move back into the shadows. La Palma. and still not been able to see a thing. So we stayed there. moving as quietly as possible to a gap in the corrugated fencing to take a look outside. We were totally hidden from view from above but could – due to the illumination of the street-lamps – see everything above us. the low rumbling of voices. There was nothing. every signal from around us. we could have never hoped for more perfect camouflage. perhaps four feet into the dark earth below. 3TTMan whispered over to me and I slowly crept out the cover. 3TTMan in Action. Someone could have come right up to us. He lowered himself back down with care. pushing me toward one of the nearby trenches. Yet just as silent as we were. he said to himself. unsure of what was happening but of course sensing the obvious danger. Frustrated. then the ominous crackle of a twoway. Yet before he’d even put his paints on the floor however.196 Ornament and Order 6. And a gaping trench below for the impending foundations. 3TTMan looked at me. both of us intensely listening to the sounds outside. I returned to 3TTMan and he was already halfway up the wall. and we dove under it. then disappeared from view. our bodies picking up every movement. coating the wall in white before proceeding to start the piece proper. Anyone who had been here had by now left the scene. starting to take off his backpack to get his paints. lay down his paints and get started. crouch down. Spain. climbing up the side of the building like a cat. He slid back down. thumbs up. I saw him pause. It was only then I noticed the low hum of a car engine. moving inside to try and find a way to the outside space he wanted. assured by my obvious lack of concern that the all was clear. We didn’t move. More waiting but this time an interlude fuelled with adrenalin. I immediately went round the trench to meet him. I moved round to the front to get a better view and Louis was already at his spot. He slipped back into the room and moved to the front of the building. almost no floor. . fingers to lips. he pulled up the tarpaulin sheet. The tarp was genius. He signed down that he was okay.

La Palma.6 and 6.6. 2009 . Spain. Resurreccioname … Por Favor.7  3TTMan.

[or] morally’ (ibid. ‘Resurreccioname … Por favor’. playing with the city. a three headed. it totally reminded me of that time.198 Ornament and Order [It was Semana Santa. The first was risk. A Struggle about Who Can Get What Inscribed Although often disregarded within the anthropological literature. The whole thing seemed to have gone in a moment. evocatively. As Leo Howe suggests (2000). being in Mallorca.: 67). Moreover. Scrambling up trees. Done. talking and laughing about how we’d been so well hidden under the tarp. aesthetically. It was about returning some excitement to the city. But a message definitively meant for everyone to understand. and now Christ’s Holy Wounds (slightly phallic wounds perhaps)]. how he’d even wanted the police to come. with imagery. going through some of the photos I’d taken while inside. Louis was trying to convey to me how much he’d loved the excitement of that moment. There was the piece about the bread and the wine (ceci est mon corps). but by the specific locale of practice too. not only the physical but cultural milieu. 3TTMan had been utilizing Christian imagery in all his work. the provisional. the notion of creativity. to be liable to disputation. one with a healthy dose of respect attached to it. For Louis it was all about improvising within the environment. And viewable in its entirety from the street. about 20 or more in total. and this was typical of that period of my life. Howe argues that what was often regarded as a stringent. the excitement engendered through the inherent danger of the act. And whilst rituals rule-governed status meant that many theorists believed that the actual risk was negligible. we could hardly believe it ourselves. Back to our bench. A possibly contentious statement. images. always being the one trying to make you smile. surrounded by huge festal processions every night of the week. As Louis himself said. I checked my watch and realized we’d been in the site for nearly two hours. chatting. an all-pervasive issue present until the entire performance was complete. hazardous act. The second was of course play. and. And he simply refused to ever stop playing […] [There were three key things I kept thinking about when mulling over this night. he was telling me. then. the week building up to Easter Sunday. I never want to stop doing that … It was child’s play for Louis. with his surroundings. utilizing but always upturning commonly held symbols and signs. And a well-deserved cigarette. climbing up the building. It was always and already a speculative. however. he just loved what he did. inflexible regulatory system could (as we have previously seen) be understood to be continuously up for negotiation. one could never truly predict the outcome of the ritual performance whether measuring ‘instrumentally. boxing nazareno (with their distinctive white habit and pointed hoods). Playing tag with my cousins – I loved that moment in my life – I had five cousins my age. an inherently ‘dangerous’ standing simply due to the ‘unavoidable contact with powerful and unpredictable forces’ it engendered (ibid. 3TTMan climbed back down and we scampered back over the outer fence. playing. . hiding under the screen. And he would do anything to be able to keep on doing it]. hidden within the trench. knowing full well that we would be invisible from sight. Finishing the work in maybe 15 or 20 minutes.: 67). using whatever was available at hand. hiding. He loved having a relevance to the local ‘story’. disarticulation. And this. uncertainty can be argued to play a prominent role within processes of ritualization. contingent status of ritual gave it an ‘inherently risky’ status. viewable from the very centre of the city. yet one meant to engender a smile. More than anything else. the final flourish was the textual inscription itself. whether this was the city itself or the stories that lay within it. pushed me towards the final of the three issues. We stayed for a while. not just the hazards presented by the police. It reminded me of being at my grandpa’s house. and due to the fact that one could never truly know if the performance enacted would be a success or a failure. play was a crucial element.

there could likewise be nothing to truly gain. Extrinsic hazards could hence emerge through the ‘incorrect performance’ of complex processes. These latter ritual performances were not only understood to have ‘risk built into the very structures’ however. and they are successful if these forces are ultimately managed’ (ibid. to have any real substance. by ‘gambling one’s status’ (ibid. the practice of ritualization could in fact not only be understood to be in a continuous state of incompletion.: 71). Whilst some dangers could ‘accompany the enactment of a ceremony’ while not being ‘built into the structure’. risk was thus understood as a key element to all ritual. through rites that ‘place social order in jeopardy’. success was ‘therefore never a foregone conclusion. ReadUp.: 179). part of its very essence’ (ibid.: 72). others were ‘integral to the rite itself. that are ‘difficult to contain’. In these cases. unable to ‘cover every conceivable circumstance’ (ibid.: 69). as Das has argued (1998).: 71). intrinsic ones coming through the ‘problematical and hazardous’ presence of ‘boisterous’ attendants (ibid. if ritual were really ‘just about following rules’ it would only be a performance in a very ‘trivial sense’.8 Read More Books. but its constitutive rules. and. Tennessee. If there was nothing to lose.: 69).Play. yet it was an element which could be ‘either extrinsic or intrinsic’ to the action itself. Risk and the Picaresque 199 repudiation.: 72).: 68–9). For Howe. through outside forces intent to ‘disrupt the action’ (ibid. and failure is always 6. as Howe concludes. the actors needing to ‘invest little of themselves’ within the act itself (ibid. Real conscious commitment to the task at hand was needed if the rite were to become something of authentic value. 2010 . Nashville. but were in fact ‘efficacious only if the forces unleashed are potentially dangerous. that threaten ‘to overflow the boundaries that ritual procedures mark out to control it’ (ibid.

evanescence. a process that transferred the ‘saying into the said’. structural mode of ritual analysis with the successive performative. therefore. to be ‘a gamble’ that the practitioners ‘must dare to conduct’ (ibid. ever present potentiality (ibid.: 77) – a contest in which possession of ritual power had to be continually ‘renewed and demonstrated’.: 76). inscription’. a technique of marking that sees its products as being ‘always provisional and always in the process of change as they are inscribed anew’ (ibid. where rites were considered ‘forms of competition’ wherein ‘prestige values’ came to be ‘re-distributed’ (ibid. an internal structure’. an understanding which rejected the apprehension of text as something ‘already accomplished. the risk of malfunction or collapse (the triumph over which gave the ritual practitioner their true power).: 64. It moved to rehabilitate the notion of text from a method that sought to consider rituals as ‘“texts” which can be “read”’ and instead shifting towards the notion of text as process.: 64). And ritual was hence always seen to be a contest – even if ‘the opponent is oneself’ (ibid. unshakeable focus on practice occluding any sense of the longue durée. and thus be ‘self-referential’.: 75). Moreover. singular occurrence produced by living. dialogical one. ritual as inscription provided an intermediating mode of analysis. texts that may have had. through incompletion or incertitude. risk was thus an element that could put ritual in extreme jeopardy. but equally attempted to realign the entire conceptual paradigm of its study. a ‘sequential pattern. all the while embedding the value of risk firmly within them.: 64–5). These were practices that were thus considered to be deeply informed by a relationship to the unknown. . it failed to mention what he considered ‘perhaps the most significant feature of the text metaphor. Yet whilst the performative model opened up the study of ritual to these more practice-based elements. my emphasis). While the formerly dominant textual approach to ritual (as epitomized by the work of Clifford Geertz. a fixed and enduring entity which has a specific set of meanings’ (ibid. Rather than concentrating solely on text or performance then. but to have a real. in particular his classic article Deep Play [1972]) was considered to be insufficiently nuanced toward both the agency of the participants and the particularity of the event itself – ritual’s status as an unrepeatable.: 75). actors with ‘their own competencies. marrying the semiotic. reputations and interests to a ceremony’ (Howe 2000: 63). It was a re-focus upon ritual doing rather than ritual meaning.: 76). not simply to be an illusory possibility. a factor that had to be ‘channeled and controlled by the ritual’s managers’ (ibid. Ritual as performance was meant. Howe argues that it neglected any wider political or social narrative due to its unswerving. but that could never fully subsume the innate ephemerality and tangibility of practice. breathing social actors – the successive performative approach to its study (as exemplified by theorists such as Edward Schieffelin) attempted to surmount these quandaries both by seeing the ritual practitioners as fully imbricated actors.200 Ornament and Order a possibility’ (ibid.: 72). strategy. like performances. Whether incurred through disruption or destruction. presence and becoming’ that were lost by ‘a concentration on the meanings in fixed texts’ (ibid. Howe’s focus on risk serves not only to foreground a key (but much neglected) element of ritual’s constituent makeup however. to capture the ‘elements of uniqueness. understood not merely to be ‘represented as significant’.

Madrid. Spain.6.9  Text as a struggle over inscription. 2007 .

that cannot be comprehended without acknowledging (akin to Gell’s art objects) its originary performative marking. its material natality. to ritual text as genre. claim. Ritual can thus be understood through the medium of text. The inscription model thus not only gives weight to the key ritual attribute of risk. as it is to meanings’ (ibid. And the metaphor of inscription comes to terms both with the over-absorption on ‘meaning’ elicited within a more textually driven analysis and the fixation on ‘doing’ within a performatively driven one. Lack of different texts or the hegemony of one thus simply affirms a system of power (whether economic. it is the performative writing of ‘bodily movements. skills. creative and personalized’ (ibid.: 66). yet open each time to rescription and variability. 5 As Tsvetan Todorov has argued. it confirms the exclusion of other forms of writing. a form that cannot be read without understanding the complexity of writing itself. that is ‘re-written every time it is performed’ (ibid. a façade (of course) always ‘open to subversion and revision’ (ibid.: 241–2). operations and procedures. turning into an innately ‘political process’ (ibid.4 ‘In this sense’. but a ‘struggle about who can get what inscribed’ (ibid. one that always links to others that have come before it. renowned or celebrated performances (whether ‘successful or otherwise’) can become a ‘bench-mark’ for both ‘evaluating subsequent ones’ as well as ‘influencing how they are actually conducted’ (ibid. to both what rituals 4 Thomas Csordas has likewise noted the text/performance dichotomy within the study of ritual. they can become decipherable as either ‘compelling or routine’.: 65). as Howe continues. then. therefore.: 65–6). ‘no text is the simple product of a pre-existing combination but is always the transformation of that combination … [a] doublemovement.5 By linking performances not only to ones that have preceded it but also to others that will succeed it (rather than seeing each event as wholly unique).: 65). a text. semiotic and phenomenological inferences. Csordas ‘sees the former [semiotic] approach as a function of textuality and meaning […] the latter [phenomenological/ performative model] as a function of embodiment and consciousness.: 66). issues normally dismissed from a ritual context due to its formal.: 67). social or political). Csordas concentrates on the phenomenological dimension because it has hitherto been neglected. they present an existential situation. As Strathern and Stewart write (1998). as a function of textuality they represent a potential narrative” (1994: 81). however.202 Ornament and Order Text. from work to literature (or genre) and from literature to work’ (Todorov 1990. Howe’s notion of text thus sees it as an innately processual form. rites appreciated as potentially ‘unique. strategy and competition’. exegesis and efficacy. habits. They can be individual performances linked within a wide ranging historical framework. stake. Signs as they appear in the course of ritual actions therefore also have two aspects: “as a function of embodiment. spontaneity and uniqueness’. it becomes embroiled in issues of ‘risk. in Hughes-Freeland 2007: 209). and hence ‘just as applicable to acts. it can thus be understood as (literally) prescribed and fixed. but he does not deny that the semiotic element may also be present’ (ibid.: 65). becomes not merely ‘a fixed entity with definite meaning’. textually driven attributes. ‘inscription is what is done’. not absolute’. abilities. can now ‘become relative. memories and experiences of people at the moment it is being carried out’. . Issues of ‘creativity. It attempts to fully decode both concerns: meaning and action. creating an ‘appearance of textual stability’.

an action taken not to persuade but to state. highly ‘restricted codes’ that Maurice Bloch (1989 [1974]) famously saw present in its regulatory structure. For Bloch. Ritual was hence understood as hierarchical. to be a hindrance to communicative action. Dance and Features of Articulation. Thus. illocutionary force was understood not only as an action that was completed in-andof-itself. Risk and the Picaresque 203 mean and do. It was about the free flow of communication. even not especially. an inherent creativity residing amidst the apparently ‘highly formalized’. about consequential effects. to control. A perlocutionary act is quite distinctly about this negative notion of persuasion. Perlocutionary speech was that which was understood to be insincere. Song. within song. to perform an act in the very act saying of it (‘you’re fired’. oratory. simply being a set of acts to which participants were structurally forced to commit. illocutionary action thus simply means action bent on understanding rather than success. was grasped to be so ‘redundant that far from representing an enriched and emphatic 6 The term illocutionary as used by Bloch here may seem to have the almost exactly contrary meaning to that recognized by Habermas (1991a. They can act parasitically on illocutionary acts. A Boorish Blabbermouth For Bloch. a form of communication that interferes with the aforementioned free flow. where one does something by saying something.). to confound. an intrinsic part of any investigation into both ritual and aesthetic practices. his understanding of the illocutionary elides it as though its effects were perlocutionary. but as something that falsely persuaded you through a communicative mystification. yet these latter effects are not necessarily predestined. For Habermas. And it is this perlocutionary effect that Bloch seems to have a problem with. The limited ‘grammar’ employed within it (specifically. ‘propositional’ force decreased. as the title of his paper suggested. 1991b). illocutionary perfomatives may be understood to have performative force but not inevitably. predictable. between freedom and constraint. its restricted. and what he would in fact have termed perlocutionary6). And it can thus now lead us towards a crucial debate emerging from anthropological studies of ritual. Its semantic aspect.Play. the debate over creativity and sterility. to be about influence or persuasion. a form actively meant to confuse. cyclical. transparency. Yet while Bloch was right to see rituals as illocutionary due to their ability to transform a person from one state to another. ritual practice was thoroughly illocutionary (a use of the term working in diametric opposition to Habermas’s. on apprehension not influence. it in fact comes to reveal the notion of creativity inhabiting within it. . formulaic structure. ‘I dub thee’. performative. while Bloch does not use the term perlocutionary in his discussion of ritual. as Edward Schieffelin (1985) explained (in a critique of Bloch’s work). and dance) was seen to have reduced the possibility for any open form of communication. as described in his 1974 paper Symbols. making it inherently less open to discursive refutation than everyday techniques of communication. nor necessarily desired by the speaker. to narrow participants’ possible responses to the rite itself. With its stringent formalization. giving one no choice. individual freedom constrained (Bloch 1989 [1974]: 20). etc. ‘I name you’. ‘syntactic and other linguistic freedoms’ were ‘reduced’.

saw ‘discourse’ thus.: 38). the space of ‘semantic facts’ that could be clearly debated and argued (and a notion of propositionality that thus has a direct association with the communicative openness of the Habermasian illocutionary). Art especially.: 26.: 182). highly ‘compelling force’ (ibid. its apparent ‘fixity of form’ was in fact so powerful that ritual was totally ‘unable to tolerate individual creativity’. where the pure autonomy of syntax meant one could ‘articulate almost any argument’ (Bloch 1989 [1974]: 20). was thus a particularly ‘inferior form of communication’ due to its lack of communicative dialogism. of pure freedom. Genre of communication (its form. the function of critical discourse is to be more than discursive’ (ibid. unable to relate either to ‘individuals or to peculiarities in their life circumstances’ (Werbner 1989: 96).: 708–9). one that deemed ritual as the truly obfuscatory space of traditional power. ‘frozen’. His was one placing harsh limits both on the potential for ‘improvisation’ and on any ‘highly personal expression’ within ritual acts (ibid. as Werbner continued.7 7 We can here note how Bloch’s argument works as the perfect mirror image of Lyotard’s previously discussed work in Discourse/Figure. rather than what was said. likewise. ‘impoverished’. Lyotard pronounced ‘figure’ as the field of unlimited possibility. In this sense.204 Ornament and Order form of communication. ‘[as] long as critical discourse disrupts the established system of meaning and keeps open the possibility of unforeseen relations and connections. ideological weapons coming to reinforce both hierarchy and hegemonic control (ibid. Lyotard did concede the possibility for accomplishments which lay in discourse. ritual and art considered as the archetypal form of ‘cultural mystification’. that permitted ‘no alternative’ (ibid. As David Carroll explains (1987).: 84). an impoverishment not diminishing but in fact swelling its highly ‘persuasive’. the ‘sphere where it occurs least’ (ibid. the space of possibility. in Bloch’s view. was frankly dismissed within Bloch’s framework. Non-ritual language was thus understood as the true space of freedom. turning ritual into a ‘semi-hypnotic spell’ (ibid. it represent[ed] an informationally impoverished one’. an articulation believed to have been entirely absent within ritual form (ibid. of infinite originality. without negating. it merely produced an ‘illusion of creativity’ while being. in fact. then. or singing these ‘arthritic’. while Lyotard. ritual was thus understood by Bloch (1986) to simply serve a form of fixed political authority. creating an ‘ideological apparatus’ that one could not argue with (ibid. 28). In contrast to this Blochian notion of the illocutionary stood what he termed ‘propositional’ language. The ‘fantastic creativity’ of ‘natural language’ gave social actors a ‘very wide choice of acceptable answers’ to any given instance of speech. the sensible. for Lyotard.: 38). ‘illocutionary’ things (Bloch 1989 [1974]: 25–40).: 69). due to it not containing the infinite possibilities that semantic language contained (ibid.: 33). it is fulfilling its function of linking up with.: 96).: 176). Yet whereas Bloch has seemingly remained steadfastly against the potential housed within either art or ritual. Bloch thus sees art as the second-rate form of communication. saying. Bloch comprehending syntax along these exact lines. this being the space of open debate and democracy enacted within the practicality of the everyday. not content) was thus crucial. the possibility for a ‘creative use of counter-images’. And the potential ‘richness’ of ritual. . In the process of performing. how something was said.

in fact. what we experience. since there is no possibility of turning either to right or left. 2008 . emphasis added).Play. Nevertheless. England. meant that they could in truth be seen as ‘orgies of conscious deference’ (Bloch 2005: 136). Congruent with Christopher Tilley’s argument (see especially 1999) that ‘metaphors are a primary and irreducible aspect of language’. pointing out that all language does so’ (ibid. Tambiah would have undoubtedly taken ‘issue with Bloch’s assertion that ritual communication is distinct because it combines properties of statements and actions. and as Stanley Tambiah elucidated (1985). Eternal Present (An Endless Void).: 252). London. knowledge. fooled. They were dissonant. metaphoric)’.: 103). as Thomas J. is in fact ‘an essential structure of all thought’ (ibid. as the very antithesis of open communication. the only thing to do is follow’ (1989 [1974]: 41–2). and ‘“speculative” 6. that ‘human thought is metaphorical thought (Tilley 2008: 50. Risk and the Picaresque 205 The innate ‘violence’ contained within many ritual acts then (whether of a physical or psychological nature). reductive strategies functioning as ‘a kind of tunnel into which one plunges. and what we do every day’ being ‘very much a matter of metaphor’ (ibid.10 Nano4814.: 253). the rupture that Bloch constructed between ritual and everyday language could be argued to be a highly nebulous one. Csordas himself went on to claim that the ‘fundamental discontinuity’Bloch set up between these two forms of communication. and discourse’. that the ‘way we think. and where. unravels yet further when we grasp that metaphor. Csordas thus went on to suggest that the supposed differences between ‘“poetic” (symbolic. and alongside Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) famous assertion that our entire ‘conceptual system is largely metaphorical’. Csordas has suggested (1997). ‘the sine qua non of symbolism’. between ‘propositional and metaphorical modes of thought. They were a space in which ritual participants were simply blindfolded. and deceived.

precisely because of its formalization. and constitute impoverished forms of ordinary language or collective mobilizations of the imagination’ (ibid. that can often be the most difficult to achieve aspect of all creative tasks. whom Bloch conducted his fieldwork with] rather than egalitarian societies […] where ritual language and behavior is more loosely determined and negotiable’ (ibid. but are unavailable to everyday speech. innovative in its thorough explication of the potential of some ritual practices to function as a form of social control. can be argued to fail to empirically define ‘the conditions under which particular genres might serve traditional authority or liberation. and its relation to ritual. it would thus seem (as Csordas shrewdly notes). could be transcended (or even made null) when acknowledging their basic. the very rites described. Likewise. One can argue that a hammer is more constrained than a stone in the way it is shaped and the way it must be gripped but that it is still a better tool for building and pounding things.: 256). Creativity. by acknowledging that metaphor and symbol ‘create the conditions of possibility for knowledge that can subsequently be cast in propositional form’ (Csordas 1997: 252–3). . aspects of ‘unpredictability and low probability of occurrence that are criterial for meaning in information theory’. thus becomes a matter of context. that a brilliant conversationalist would be considered less creative than a boorish blabbermouth because his speech is ‘impoverished’ by adherence to codes of wit and analogy. a minimalism.: 260). he fails to explain when or why either may occur. and as Edward Schieffelin has noted (1985).: 709). though innovative in exploring how rituals work (rather than undertaking a purely symbolic analysis). therefore. their ‘meaning’. The redundancy and repetitiveness that Bloch observed within ritual language. may in fact be ones more characteristic ‘of hierarchical societies such as the Merina [of Madagascar. but is a result of skill in a performance that may or may not be consciously controlled (ibid. the ability to move towards the ‘left’ and renewal or the ‘right’ and conformity. a simplicity. innate contiguity. and fuse the meaning of ritual communication’ (ibid. Bloch’s argument. philosophical) modes of discourse’. intensify. one can argue that ritual language. In short. In this apparently barren wasteland of creativity one could thus detect ‘the subtle variation within redundant utterance rather than on the element of repetitiousness per se’ (ibid. a restricted usage of communication that for him outlined its sterility. as Csordas again notes following Tambiah. rites working within a ‘highly formalized language and rigidly prescribed behavior’. missing the fact that creativity does not ‘suddenly become controllable’ [as Bloch termed it]. exist as static or creative cultural forms. Following Bloch’s argument to its logical conclusion. can be a tool of creative persuasion. Bloch’s conception of art [and/or ritual] comes from regarding formalization as an interdiction or removal of generative potential. One can show that a sonnet bears more linguistic constraint than everyday speech but argue that in the work of a skillful poet its lines can be moving and creative because of processes that are not simply masked by everyday speech. rather than a matter of semantics. Moreover. but through the simple ‘capacity of redundancy to heighten.: 255–6). not only referring to elements of ‘pattern recognition and configurational awareness’. He fails to acknowledge the possibility of peripatetic movement (as first considered regarding carnival in Chapter 5).: 256). Fundamentally. could be appreciated to have a key creative aspect.206 Ornament and Order (propositional.

It is hence a movement intelligible only ‘to those who participate in the social world in question’. they ‘make creativity possible’ (ibid.: 59–60). ‘far from being opposed to creativity’. an interplay through which repetition and formality (contrary to their popular perception) can demonstrate an innately productive dimension: In fact. insurgent practices. England. Intensify and Fuse All of the underlying theoretical ideals discussed within this chapter thus far. Heighten. from risk to inscription.Play. regulatory conventions permit the direct opposite. of any ‘individual idiosyncrasy’ – but to be ‘negentropic’. And creativity can hence be seen to be the ‘improvisation of structural variation’. London. through the products of ‘shared experience’ (Friedman 2001: 59).11 3TTMan and Remed at Play. critical to the ritual. a form of increasing order not chaos (ibid. these creative conventions can be seen as to create a diverse set of repercussions. Risk and the Picaresque 207 It comes to be found as much within the seemingly restricted figure as the apparently complex discourse.: 17). and control’ (Csordas 1997: 263).: 249). from sterility 6. to be neither ‘about freedom’ nor about ‘the liberation from constraint’ – neither about randomness nor chaos – the implied corollaries of any ‘pure’ creativity. intimacy. public. rather than the radically new. Creative practice can hence not be seen to be about ‘liberation’ but to be about ‘spontaneity. to ‘changes in traditional customs’ from ‘new meaning for events’ to ‘new perspectives’ (ibid. an improvisational divergence working through ‘implicit attributions of meaning’. to ‘new community’. They form a modality of improvisatory creativity which is critical to my informants’ ornamental aesthetics. from ‘new obligations’. As Margaret Boden continues (1988). from ‘form for inchoate experience’. the themes running from play to the picaresque. 2010 .

the tension between ergon and parergon). What I would first like to suggest here therefore is that these demonstrably ritualized. of ‘alea: chance’ (where the outcome is always uncertain due not only to its illegality but its contextual particularity). between the hell of “reality” subject to instincts and the paradise of the sacred. jugando). a distinct zone to the everyday).: 36]).208 Ornament and Order to creativity. to the aesthetic practices these individuals undertake. between normative notions of epigraphy). It was the term always used in relation to the street (jugar. through the play of traces (a physical residue marking a previous performance. in Derrida’s terms. Painting was play. each act in the process of production contained elements of skill. each set within Roger Caillois’ ludic typology (1961). and chance. are ones which I am of course arguing are dominant motifs in my informants’ practices of ornamental ritualization. how it is ‘distinct or sequestered from ordinary life’ (occurring within a ritual framework. to ‘play’ with one’s surroundings. in fact. its dense moral codes). of the divine’ [ibid. following Huizinga. where play is understood to be enclosed. an absence denoting an anterior attendance). that they were. how it ‘is either representational or competitive in some respect’ (clearly both overtly figurative and overtly contestational in its set frameworks) (Schirato 2007: 7). It must. each act placing my informants both as prime examples of Huizinga’s homo ludens (2003 [1944]). of ‘mimicry: simulation’ (where a ritual world with rules that necessitate maintenance and commitment is physically created and performed). Like Debord and the Situationist’s famous use of play within their politico-aesthetic tactics (most notably. through the play of language (disturbing the relationship between writing and speech. a text that ‘contains in itself its own reality’ (Ehrmann 1968: 56). working not only through the aforementioned play of supplementarity (the material surplus revealing the inbuilt double-bind. the thrill of the practice and satisfaction of completion that my informants would encounter) (Ehrmann 1968: 31). how play is here both ‘voluntary or freely adopted’ (ornamentation being undertaken without any coercive enforcement). And whether it was playing with the design of their works or playing with the physical form of the city. be seen to be ‘synonymous and changeable’ with the everyday. where it is deemed ‘frivolous’. but through a total embracement of play which seeped into every part of the practice. We can note how these ornamental practices work within all four of Caillois’ modalities of play. the wider public. of ‘ilinx: vertigo’ (the pursuit of bodily pleasure. and finally. We can thus see. to be ‘playing’ with the city. the intoxication and addiction to the act of production. however. ‘essentially sterile’ (Caillois cited in Ehrmann 1968: 46) due to its connection with leisure – a separation between work and play that can be argued to be a tenuous one. . how it ‘operates under temporal and spatial limits’ (taking place in specific zones at specific times). playing with symbols or with the street. strategy. They are aspects entirely crucial to the processes which brought these artefacts into existence. carnivalesque acts were fully enmeshed within the realm of the ludic. how it ‘creates and demands and adherence to order’ (an order formed through the practice’s distinct rules and regulations. like limbo. Unlike Huizinga and Caillois’ analyses. especially in relation to this group of actors – play in this scenario must be seen to be inherently intertwined with the quotidian. within the realm of the ‘agon: competition’ (where claims to esteem or simply acceptance are made through one’s visual productions). one’s friends. the hegemonic authorities. delimited from the space of the everyday (‘caught. a play involving oneself.

its weight. there was a ‘passion for play’ within my informants’ practice (Debord 1955. as Debord continued. Untitled.: 99). They could create networks of players – the matrix of ritual partners. innately 6. in Andreotti 2000: 38). of fellow painter – who were spread around the world and at the same time tightly connected to each other. the ‘ever-changing playing field of this new world’. but to actually concur with this notion of ritual. its gravity. a collective play working through the production of an ‘antiwork’ (Andreotti 2000: 42).12 Petro. the significance of this play. actors could ‘regenerate a diversity of local scenes that are independent without being insular’ (ibid. but of their entire history’ (Debord 1983 [1967]: 99). scripted. often visibly enacted through lettering). These ornamental practices were thus the archetypal. Risk and the Picaresque 209 of course. fiercely serious (liable for harsh punishment. more literally. manifestly visible example of ‘stylized. serious play’ (Keesing 1991: 65). or between art and everyday life’ (ibid.Play. does not come to conflict with. England. a notion of the ludic that acted as a ‘critique of human geography through which individuals and communities could create places and events commensurate with the appropriation no longer just of their work. producing the metagraphic writings Debord so fondly speaks of – the hypergaphy which merges poetic and visual aesthetics. As we have seen Droogers point out then (2004). It was a play abolishing ‘any distinction between play and seriousness. intrinsically scripted (working within a set of rules and regulations and. They were overtly stylized (working with specific aesthetic techniques and systems). Newcastle. their notions of the dérive and détournement). textual and graphic discourses. they could undertake a ludic attack on the city.: 38). And through. they could create idiosyncratic geographic styles which all worked toward the same insurgent end. 2012 . containing gravity and consequence). through the ‘freely chosen variations in the rules of the game’.

these ambiguous characters who are both ‘socially peripheral’ – working outside of societal norms – yet implicitly and ‘symbolically central’ – found. like their images. And what I want now to claim is that my informants can so too be understood to exemplify these innately indeterminate figures. its inherent ambiguity (as much present. performing in maniacal. commandeered by Nano’s unforgettable Montaña watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=P5DE5G3vv-w.210 Ornament and Order playful (working with all of Huizinga and Caillois’ prescriptions). a ‘play of forces’. are also ones customarily fashioned by boundary-breaching characters. through the violation of language. the risk taken every time the works are produced. through the contravention of property laws in public space. What was also key to all aspects of play however. they ‘played the fool’. to transgress moral and societal strictures through their ornamental 180]) – can so too be determined within this highly betwixt-andbetween form of practice. http://www. ‘the playful nip’ that ‘denotes the bite’ but ‘does not denote what would be denoted by the bite’ [ibid. low-fi psychedelic short films produced in the public space of the city. hazardous acts. they are full of chance. these uncertain. http://www. the upturning of Yet. like with Remed. Created for the weekly ‘happening’ Montaña Sagrada – an event overseen by Nano. Like to the famous trickster. http://www. youtube. but acts in which the status of both producer and medium is left intentionally equivocal. which meant we could recognize it by the frame that it both exists within and simultaneously manifests. each of the members producing their own masks and costumes. like we have seen with Louis. they donned absurd (homemade) disguises and fancy-dress. http://www. .youtube. often religious imagery. http://www. through the non-instrumental use of the street. through the creation of dirt. they contained all of Keesing’s prerequisites of ritual action which meant that ‘we can recognize it by its frame’ if ‘not by its content’ (ibid. these boundary-breaching LMGNg6k&feature=related. these individuals combine ‘subversive practice’ with ‘aesthetic production’ (Ryan 1999: 3).youtube. at the very heart of our modern urban conurbations (Babcock-Abrahams 1978: 32).com/watch?v=HOrABYyi bec&playnext=1&list=PL7514500AC02B9874. Luciano Suarez and Rafa Suñen (extremely close friends of all at the studio) yet always involving all of Nov Nueve (in both the production of the films as well as in the set design for each night) – trickster-type figures would play a central role here. within its scholarship as its practice).youtube. through the upturning of classical. with Nano. 8 8 See the following for some examples of these Montaña films: http://www. Like the archetypal trickster then.: 65). like we have seen with Eltono. http:// www. as Brian Sutton-Smith claims [1997]. my informants did not merely act like monsters. they seek to create shifts of perspective. ornamental actions are always and already subject to chance and the alea. they literally (and habitually) dressed as such. these ritual. or with Spok. never ‘more exhilarating nor frightening than when boundaries are breached and identities blurred’ (ibid. They transgress. its basic indeterminacy – as outlined by Gregory Batesons’ famous nip/bite [2000 (1972)].: 67). they are unpredictable acts. and quite crucially not only ones left unresolved and thus necessitating completion by their attendant viewers. As ‘uncertainty’ ‘permeates this meta-message of play’ (Handelman 1998: 69).

13  The Montaña Monster. Madrid.6. Spain. 2009 .

14  The Montaña Monster. Spain. 2009 . Madrid.6.

2009 .15 and 6.16  Monsters and Mayhem. Spain. Madrid.6.

214 Ornament and Order As Handelman argued (1998). altering and affecting their physical sites. can thus be understood to not only produce within the boundary. They were not merely the con-artist as so habitually depicted. the picaresque attribute they all contained clearly placed my informants in the role of the ‘half-outsider’. who were seen to function through the cunning of David against the callous city as Goliath. . a bandit cheating. being figures attempting to elicit a ‘confidence’ in their character). as Heilman argues [1991]. my informants’ taboo breaking practices. and barrios of the city (the ‘popular’ locations in which this work most commonly appears).: 247–8). Whilst being mindful of this artist (hero) / vandal (criminal) dichotomy (being a binary that.html for more.9 my informants were considered to be ‘culture-heroes’ by some (providing ‘the most positive’ elements of the city – with signs of vibrancy. he continues (and clowns are individuals who are understood to both inhabit and disturb these sites). who clings to the ‘felt surfaces of life’. of life) and yet for others considered as the city’s ‘most negative’. often tells us more about the system of authority than the actual practices themselves). favelas. their inherent meanings as much as their wider social order. as Frank Wadleigh Chandler (1899) suggested (in Sieber 1977: 2). their boundary-marking performances. navigating his way ‘by hook or crook’. 10 This in fact reminds me of a fantastic book produced by Momo entitled My Scam. but to live through this very periphery. If ‘boundaries are altered’. who acts both as a ‘recorder of sensory surfaces’ and an ‘embodiment of visual and olfactory and tactile passions’ (ibid.: 17). Please see http://momoshowpalace. as Stallybrass and White (1986) have taught us. Our contermporary trickster. physically manifesting dirt [Babcock-Abrahams 1975: 148]). producing their so-called art or their apparent vandalism. ‘then so is the relationship between those parts that these borders order’ (ibid. but one who ‘works through the concrete’. the ‘clown type is an embodiment of uncertainty.: 247). their marginal characteristics. a mere confidence-trickster (although in the cracks and fractures of the city walls. as with both artist and picaro figures. undeniably ‘criminal’ constituent (embodying the ‘possibility of chaos’. like Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull. 9 The status of Banksy in the wider popular imagination I believe further attests to this fact. Providing us with examples both ‘of trickery and roguish behaviour’ while at the same time working both ‘within and beyond society’ (BabcockAbrahams 1975: 159). to be marginal in their site of practice as much as their innate state. scamming10 his way through society’s codes and restrictions. a thoroughly picaresque account of how he spent five years travelling around the US supporting himself solely through the production of unsolicited ‘House Portraits’. As what I argue to be modern instantiations of the archetypal picaro figure then. the ‘joker’ operating as much through destruction as construction (working in a constant cycle of both erasure and erection). to be both artist and picaro all at once. Moreover. and so a device for the dissolution of boundaries’. their power located in the very ‘dirt’ they produce (ibid. the picaro located within the slums. the ambiguous artist operating at the boundary between ‘work and theft’ (Maiorino 2003: 134). these were figures (following the prominent literary conception of the picaro as underdog). our modern-day picaro. the characters discussed within this book can hence be seen. a typology highlighting not only the link between play and uncertainty but also the ability of these marginal characters to turn ‘clearcut precepts into ambiguous and problematic ones’.

These extrinsic dangers could of course be provoked through the inherent complexity of completing a practice (the difficulty of accomplishing one’s work. if often due to their aesthetic innovations being depicted (by so-called defenders of tradition) as fraudulent artifice rather than fine art – in the position of what Lewis Hyde (2008) has termed ‘trickster-artists’. as artists and criminals. or ‘joint-workers’ (ibid. Risk. Spain. through the will of outside agents . the capricious. Their practices are always on the edge of uncertainty (on the edge of the city. Danger. therefore. without inconsistency. their hazardous rites gaining power through risk. And it was my informants’ undertaking of such picaresque behaviour. ambiguous role. non-fulfillment a constant peril. potential gain.: 257). The picaro/artist’s life must therefore be understood as a deeply risky one. 2009 Their status as both loved and loathed. that thus connects them to Howe’s examination of danger and ritual (2000). individuals who work to articulate and re-articulate joints. of marking out an elaborate figure without indecision. as underdogs and outsiders thus places my informants directly within this dichotomous. This was quite clear for all my informants. every performance was a potential failure as much as a success. acts that induced so much unease. Madrid. like the trickster – an oft employed metaphor for the 20thcentury artist.17 (Con)-Artist Zone. Efficacy understood to increase in direct correlation with stake.Play. It places them. on the edge of the law). their perilous rites indexing commitment through the basic hazards of production. every performance engaged the unforeseeable. for the producers of both Consensual and Agonistic Ornaments. all the whilst remaining cognizant of the various environmental dangers that their medium furnished). so much angst. to attack the boundary which the joint manifests. through the danger to one’s social position (through inexpertly or inadequately completing this same task). to make flexible what is taught and arthritic. Risk and the Picaresque 215 6. ‘artus-workers’. meant contact with power. ones which intentionally confuse proscribed social notions of morality (in terms of propriety and property in equal measure).

texts enmeshed within the issues of ‘risk. this was a factor which an expert ritual actor would naturally be able to control with more skill. these ritual inscriptions were subject to a highly contextual mode of performativity. through these ornamental rites which so literally overflowed their boundaries.: 65). to establish new concepts from one base form. The supposedly arthritic status of ritual and of art can hence be understood to triumph against rigidity through its very constrictions. often repetitive states. stake. Even in their recurrent. which were contained in a zone of ambiguity. disrupting performances). the ‘subtle variation within redundant utterance’ . They were texts which were precisely exploring the ‘struggle about who can get what inscribed’. the awareness of one’s surroundings. temporal and coroporeal investments directly into the ritual arena. They were thus the very epitome of performed texts. strategy and competition’ (ibid. of text as process. Each encounter was full of risk from the moment they begun. Rather than comprehending the rule-bound nature of ritual action to orchestrate every step. such as those implicit within natural languages (or. Intrinsic hazards emerged through the very form of these taboo-breaking. being an aptitude which could emerge through practice alone. The successful completion of a rite was always up for contest. which demonstrated my informants’ fidelity. mediating textual and performative practices. Or course. the mastery of one’s implements. a surplus (ibid. The setting of certain material restrictions (such as with Eltono’s tuning fork design or Spok’s eponymous tag) forced one to improvise within a set structural arrangement. And the adherence to set patterns of action can hence be understood to define and control production rather than disable the possibility of creativity. texts literally ‘re-written’ every time they were performed. texts entangled within issues of ‘risk. these very regulations. It was the very encounter with risk. to simply define the ‘outer limits of what is acceptable’ (Bell 1997: 155). which were all about competition and the agon. Following predefined rules was thus clearly understood by these agents as necessary to keep their aesthetic (or ritual) production cohesive (to keep it within the same genre). an iterative mode of etching. can be understood to be always incomplete. it was never guaranteed until one was securely away from the ritual zone. polluting rituals themselves.: 179). claim. but these rules were guidelines not limits. strategy and competition’ that Howe’s (2000) move toward the theoretical centrality of inscription invoked (ibid. Yet without this element of risk the power of these rituals would dissipate: if they were easy to accomplish (both in terms of their formal and performative aspects). Not only rituals of inscription however – the rituals emerging through a physical engraving upon our city walls. what would one truly gain? The management of this risk. as Veena Das suggests [1998].: 65–6). those implicit within ethnographies). always incorporating an excess. ritual acts mediating textual and performative approaches. this placement of financial.216 Ornament and Order (agents intent on prohibiting these acts. full of danger the moment one entered the ritual frame. which attacked order. rather than its overcoming. claim. a mode of creativity my informants valued higher than the mere production of novelty. through a contemporary form of parietal writing – these practices were also rituals as inscription. meant that there could be no contestation over the commitment to practice.

often taken from pattern-books.: 17). but in the capacity to combine traditional motifs in new and challenging ways’ (Camille in Ingold and Hallam 2007: 17). as Ingold and Hallam claim in a précis of Camille’s work. that rejected the innovative nature of modernist art (compared to the paralogical form of its postmodern incarnation). the creativity emerging from my informants’ actions can hence be seen as one focussed on adaptation. rather than the engineer who creates solely from ‘concepts’. my informants created with what surrounded them (using the city space as their medium). ‘Jack-of all trades or a kind of professional do-it-yourself man’ (Lévi-Strauss [1989 (1966)]: 17). akin to Reading’s previously examined reading of Lyotard (1991). This was insurgent ornamentation as the ‘constrained’ hammer not allpurpose stone. not entropic. outcomes that were deeply negentropic. Like the creativity of Michael Camille’s medieval artists then. or mock written texts with drawings. to print. intensify and fuse’ the ritual process (Csordas 1997: 256). the overwhelming obsession of our times. ornament as a ritualized practice of a highly negotiable nature. undermine. the ‘restricted’ sonnet not everyday speech. . ‘impoverished’ with not boorish blabbermouth (ibid.Play. Rather than creativity being about novelty. This was ornament as a form undermining the distinction between poetic and propositional modes of discourse. It also operated through extensions and flows wherein the flourishes of letters would merge with creatures and other motifs (ibid. that rejected innovations function in simply refining the ‘efficiency of the system’ (ibid. They were the bricoleurs who create from ‘whatever is at hand’. about pure innovation (a mode stressing individuation. uniqueness. interpretation. It was an improvisational creativity that meant they all knew how to do anything and everything (to sculpt. or already familiar figures […] Novelty in these manuscripts therefore worked through supplementation as well as through the juxtaposition of elements. connection to a wider framework. from a ‘heterogenous’ set of tools. improvisation (a mode stressing sociality. refusing to follow the brute urge of the market. to design.: 17). improvising with what was at hand to create new outcomes.: 255–6). learning through doing. could thus here be seen to emerge through illuminative inscriptions that would newly gloss. and a focus on product). a creativity that was appreciated to function through the amalgamation and integration of our material world rather than its transcendence. It was a model of creativity stressing social processes over material products – the ephemeral artefact and the ephemeral performance of equal import – one attempting to extricate itself from the ‘cult of creativity’. As unmitigated ‘bricoleurs’. It was a form. ornament emerging from a deeply egalitarian social grouping. These were thus the very craftsmen of ‘devious means’ LéviStrauss depicted (ibid. without every needing to take on the role of ‘Artist’ . Risk and the Picaresque 217 – the variations perhaps only ever interpretable and visible to initiates – being a structural variation able to ‘heighten. separation from the whole. to paint.: 17).: 55). who creates ex nihilo (ibid. and a focus on process). this was a form of practice that was ‘measured not in terms of invention. Creativity. as today. they used every available tool (using the city as a tool). to build). furtive craftsmen working through conventions not inventions.

San Francisco.6. 2012 . USA.18 Remio. Untitled.

: 93). an ornament produced by craftsmen working on the edge of the city. Transferred to the contemporary timeframe. craftsman who both worked upon the boundary and upended their very sites. apart from being one that embraces creativity as improvisation rather than innovation. It thus not only reiterates the relationship between my informants’ aesthetic productions and the genre of ornamentation within which it exists – providing an almost exactly parallel mode of epigraphy to that found within medieval marginalia – but provides a tighter focus on the form of improvisational creativity ornament often displays. from the simplest tag to the most complex installation.: 150). ones effacing the distinction between centre and periphery. Risk and the Picaresque 219 Of course this very passage. which would juxtapose and decorate them.: 22). the (dis)order they are seen to invoke. the ‘critical debates over centre and periphery’ that their marginal acts uncover (ibid. products which could gloss. artisans roaming between the intra and extramuros. one that could be witnessed in all of my informants’ creations. And the area which they inhabited was thus ‘not only the site for representing “the other”’. like the margins of the contemporary city (the place of our consensual and agonistic ornaments) where both ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ impulses could come together to form a very particular ‘architectural order’. between saints and sinners. on the edge of the institutional realm.Play. the ‘irreverent explosion of marginal mayhem’ that these gothic images created (ibid. takes on very different resonances when transferred into our contemporary context. extend and merge their flourished letters with popular visual imagery. like the margins of Gothic ornamental design (the space of gargoyles and chimeras. They form an equivalently carnivalesque space. It was a space. between secular and sacred. misericords and posteriors). The ‘conscious usurpations’ of written forms that Camille explores (1992). where they could come together to form order through a unique style of ‘ludic ritual’ (ibid. mock their border zones. the authors could quite easily be commenting on the creativity inherent within the insurgent ornamental productions that have been discussed throughout this work itself. These were supplementary aesthetic products working through improvisation rather than explicit innovation. .: 10). a marginal aesthetic formed by artisans placed on an occupational par with jongleurs and prostitutes. but so too a ‘place of self-inscription’ (ibid. undermine. is thus echoed almost exactly within the uproar provoked by my informants practices. They form an equivalently tricksteresque narrative.

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and performative frameworks they reside within. one working centrifugally. Ornament. as adjuncts and embellishments. hence there is in fact no thing that does not in some way transcend its functional use. as the space in which one lives and which must look presentable. I have revealed two distinct forms of ornamentation emerging from my informants work in the public sphere. rule-governed. the other centripetally. as the space in which things become public. within a deeply playful yet innately risky arena. artefacts working as both accessories and adornments. is identical with appearing publicly and being seen. I thus argued that my informants’ . and its transcendence. traditional. within the inherently (dis)ordered rites of the carnivalesque. its beauty or ugliness. Hannah Arendt Everything that is. sacred. very public rites of the festival. the formal. one consensual. In which art appears. In which all kinds of things appear. and nothing can appear without a shape of its own. their status within the binding. all the while existing within the anxious realm of both the decorative and the supplement. must appear. In Part I. Hannah Arendt The Permeability of Boundaries In the course of this book I have attempted to outline a number of things: I have reformulated the images produced in the street by my informants as ones functioning through a modality of ornamentation. both of which can be related to discourses emerging from the contemporary art-world yet which contain a quite crucial and critical autonomy. I have disclosed the distinctly ritual quality of the productive process from which these artefacts emerge.Conclusion I comprehend it now in a much larger sense. of course. the other agonistic.

ritual. And now. Both the production of the artefact and the artefact itself can hence be seen to be caught within the parergonal logic. carnival. the boundaries meant to function through a process of exclusion. a permeability which echoes that of the very walls that these ornaments pervade. it is not only carnival perversion that works through ambiguity and disturbance. between inversion and subversion. a constitutive threat able to transform the theory it is set within. And the ornament and order which we have explored here. as a ‘site of resistance’ (Sennett 2008: 227–31). all of the ritual elements discussed in Part II will hence be considered as parerga. the acts which both are and are not. but manifested themselves through the ultimate aesthetic of quasidetachment. I want to stress the evident ‘permeability of boundaries between ritual events and everyday life’ (ibid. to disturb them rather than merely to set them in distinction. the very title of this book will become more comprehensible. between work and play. as the half-outsiders. can in fact also be seen to work upon similar lines. the hors d’oeuvre which have no beginning and no end. an ornament and order which is parergon. Parerga do not merely signify literal ornaments.222 Ornament and Order practices not only took place upon a boundary. the peculiar. to signify play. it is the overarching ritual order that also inhabits the space between the ordinary and extraordinary. both ornament and order. the relic and ritual. the artefact and the performance. brushes. rubs. both material residue and performative trace containing a ‘transcendent exteriority [which] touches. Following Csordas then (1997). . that exists on the borderline of art and life. to be on the edge between two poles yet to exist so as to disrupt each of these poles.: 22). The boundaries that are set between ritual and the everyday. it is not only tricksters and picaros that act as the living embodiment of the marginal.: 68). as sites of ‘exchange as well as of separation’. embracing the heightened sensitivities. through an artefact which was in itself a creature of the boundary. can thus more profitably be seen as borders. I hope. a permeability which inhabits ornament and order in equal measure. It is an ornament and order enveloped within the marginal. which augment and disconcert yet which are related to their ergon through an inseparable bond. as an ‘active edge’. or presses against the limit’ (Derrida 1979: 21). it is the overarching modality of ritual itself that can so too be understood as the epitome of the quasi-detached. that works within a liminal site. within our examination of Order. that is set directly within the constitutive outside. they must be understood to signify the ‘exceptional. the extraordinary’ (ibid. the heightened tensions that these borderlands provoke. within the in-between zones of the city. plays with. as boundary breaching characters with boundary breaching practices. can thus be understood to embrace all the elements that this anxious realm provides. the frames. the quasi-detached. the drapery (or the graffiti) which disrupts the notion of internal and external. between ornament and wall. It is not only play that functions on the edge. Like the artefacts examined in Part I. separate yet conjoined to the everyday. And what I now want to contend is that the arguments I presented within Part II.

As a factor which Caroline Humphrey and James Laidlaw (1994) argue is ‘constitutive of ritualization itself’ (ibid. this notion of ritual commitment is crucial to my argument here. Madrid. in my informants’ case. Untitled. Spain. to certain constitutive (rather than regulative)1 1 This differentiation between regulative and constitutive rules was taken from the work of John Searle.Conclusion 223 The Epigraphic Habit Whilst the core arguments of this text have now been made. It was the common ethico-aesthetic the group possessed. what still remains crucially unresolved is the critical question of balance. the factor that enabled my informants to remain unified within a single collective while containing members from both consensual and agonistic camps. the base moral requirement to be active within the public sphere that came to surpass the distinct politicoaesthetics each individual employed.1 Sam3. order comes not to balance but to in fact trump ornament. It was a commitment to certain prescribed (and. the ritual commitment enacted by each practitioner that enabled their coherence. practice eclipsing product. the belief in the purity and veracity of action in the street. in activity. It was the common belief in practice. How is it that the seemingly distinct politico-aesthetics which existed within the group did not draw them apart? How did their differing gravitational pulls not smash the group to pieces? And what I will now move to argue is that here. regulative ones simply order ‘antecedently or independently existing forms of C. proscribed) actions. 2010 . in action that kept the group envelope secure.: 154). who argued that while constitutive rules ‘create or define new forms of behavior’. performance transcending art.

behaviour’ (Searle 1969: 33). the rules of etiquette that police social relationships ‘independently’ of stated rules. fidelity revealed through the consistent endangering of one’s liberty. on a daily level. Humphrey and Laidlaw thus place ritual clearly within the realm of the constitutive. or mishaps’ (Humphrey and Laidlaw 1994: 117). This was belief as something lived. completing each in turn and then moving on to the next. For my informants. The specific reasons why one acted the way one did were thus rarely discussed within the group. Regulative rules were thus most overtly recognized through habitus. And my informants did not simply commit to the practice of what is often termed ‘graffiti’ then. moral way to act for my informants. whatever is encoded in the canons of the liturgical order in which he is participating’ (Rappaport 1979: 193). the sign of one who dwelled in the street. through consistently consuming one’s time. It was a practice that took time (at the very least. to exposition. . committing and at the same time communicating that commitment through concrete action. by subjective involvement (with all the affective qualities these engendered) that one gained embodied knowledge. only then could he indicate to both ‘himself and to others that he accept[s]. what was of principal importance was simply that this clear allegiance to the city was made. that enabled these social actors to indicate both to themselves and the wider community that they were prepared to adhere to the conventions which were determined by the practice.: 35). it was the sign of a true citizen. simply explaining the meaning of particular expressions. The only thing of true import was action in itself. a knowledge more important than any purely cognitive understanding. risking one’s health through its inherent danger. that took money (the opportunity cost incurred through choosing to work without payment). And only by producing these ornaments could one thus prove his acceptance to the wider order. a commitment to the city that enabled the rapprochement within the group as a whole. originally extraneous to the action he is engaged in. And their actions were thus dominated by what Howard Becker (1960) termed the ‘side bet’. extraneous happenings. performed. practiced. to insurgent production within the public sphere proven. constitutive ones identified through games (football and chess most notably). commit to an aesthetic modality known as ‘street-art’. and thus crucially non-imperative. Working in the public sphere was the only virtuous. through the consistent renouncement of instrumentality. directly in that action’ (ibid. it is ‘stipulation. One did not need to hear them.224 Ornament and Order rules. risking ones liberty through its illegality). a state where the ‘committed person has acted in such a way as to involve other interests of his.000 hours). It was an overarching dedication that was impossible to simulate. an unwavering devotion to ritualized practice in the street. It was by action. They committed to the transgression of norms and laws which were ethically untenable. Only ritual acts (like valid moves in chess) count as having happened. corporeal tasks. This was not a part-time hobby then (although perhaps it was a full-time one. This is unaffected by delays. that involved a huge amount of risk (to one’s body in dual terms. so the celebrant moves from act to act. not due to any explicit taboo but simply due to its status as tautologous: One could see beliefs. in that it was done for pleasure. They committed to public performance. Malcolm Gladwell’s [2008] magical 10. a side bet which proved that one’s actions were beyond reproach. not gain). to the fulfilment of specific. false moves. as distinct from mere regulation which is constitutive of ritual.

Columbia. Untitled.C. Spain. Bogotá. Untitled. Vigo. 2008 C. 2008 .2 Nano4814.3 Eltono.

the ‘harmless’. the flâneur ‘who goes botanizing on the asphalt’. The street was thus a site of disclosure and transmission. the street was about action not consumption. to be fully ‘attuned to the ephemera and contingencies of the urban matrix’. this Benjaminian observation concerning the veneration of ‘shop signs’ was a habitual occurrence amongst my informants. a stage of ‘solemn ceremony and improvised spectacle’ (ibid. to recognize ‘that it exceeded reason’. museum-based art with a more distinctly capital ‘A’. they directly attacked the iron cloak of consumerism through their inalienable actions. where they communicated with 2 Startlingly. More time was spent observing and discussing these objects. his ‘transformation of the boulevard into an intérieur’. where they painted. For my informants. this duty to action within the public sphere meant that my informants actions can be understood to function in a manner almost directly opposed to that of the Baudelairean flâneur so famously described by Walter Benjamin (2003 [1938]). it was a ‘communal register’ to use the evocative words of Spiro Kostof (1992). smeared. act upon the world so as to transform it (Friere 2000 [1967]). the ‘shiny enameled shop sign’ thus being appreciated to be ‘as good a wall ornament as an oil painting is to a bourgeois in his living room’ (ibid. horticulturalists not phytologists. voyeuristic. ‘perfectly affable’ flâneur (ibid. examples of an artisanal. It was the hallowed place where my informants wrote. They directly challenged the docility which Bauman believes the contemporary city engenders. gaze can be understood to sustain. inscription not instrumentation. It was the site where they imprinted their social relationships. calligraphic beauty.: 19). scratched. They directly attacked the schism between public and private through their insurgent ornamentation. to the de Certeauian ‘homme ordinaire’ whose peregrinations lent a ‘political dimension to everyday practices’ (de Certeau 1984: xvii). the submissiveness that has emerged through the increasing schism between public and private space in our metropolitan landscapes. not botanists. the café terraces surrogate ‘balconies from which he looks down on his household after his work is done’. . my informants’ were immersed within a daily enaction of reconstruction and renewal. a place of active. where they daubed. their actions in the city saturated with bodily engagement.2 Yet rather than the detachment inherent to flânerie. These social actors were landscapists.: 19). physical praxis where one could publicly reflect upon. sprayed.: 150–53). devoid of the detachment and social disconnection which the flâneur’s purely visual. through the ‘iron cloak’ of consumerism which now lays heavily on the shoulders of the modern urban dweller (ibid. So too they followed (almost exactly) the Benjaminian (2003 [1938]) description of the flâneur’s attempt to convert the street into a ‘dwelling place’.226 Ornament and Order This dedication to the polis then. than spent analysing any traditional. installed and displayed their decorative forms. a physical engagement which directly challenged the passivity and submissiveness which Zygmunt Bauman (1994) has argued is the contemporary flâneur’s predicament. experiencing it in a way that ‘escaped the structures and statuettes of bourgeois authority’ (Clark 2000: 17).: 243). they did aspire to ‘lose themselves’ in the city. Analogous to the Baudelairean archetype.

Spain. Vigo.C.4 and C. Untitled. 2008 .5  Goldpeg.

It instantiated your moral code. Wood to refurbish your studio? Vamos a la calle. It ensured the boundaries of the group remained cohesive. Need a medium with which to produce your work? Vamos a la calle. a commitment to religion in the sense of its Latin root ligare. And this. painting was confirming. It was a site in which a societal responsibility was performed. .: 132). still so insistent upon working within the public sphere. he could not understand why someone in Sixe’s position would make the effort. it was the always abundant natural resource. this corporeal commitment that contradicts the pleasure Bauman (1995) has suggested has come to be drawn from the ‘mutual estrangement’ and ‘absence of responsibility’ embedded within the ‘modern’ street. painting was pledging. 4 This connectivity through commitment was made most clear to me one day when spending time with Sixe and Goldpeg in Vigo. his status within the non-institutional realm already garnered through years of illegal practice. could be ‘bothered’ to still work in this illegal setting. It was the place where every problem could be solved or resolved. He had no intrinsic need to paint illegally: His name in commercial terms could not at that point have got any bigger. Yet for them that was of zero importance.: 96). I would argue. where they formed and shaped a collective commitment. Need material for your exhibition? Vamos a la calle. which could ‘connect’. It brought you into what Susanne Küchler (1994) has termed a ‘ritual confederation’ (ibid. civic-minded. The street was always and already the answer. an act which could ‘bind’. not latter effect. Yet in a one-hour spree (in the middle of the day). a release from societal strictures. A location to record a short-film? Vamos a la calle. is the key reason why my informants were still so active in the street. it fused you to a community of like-minded.228 Ornament and Order each other. The street was not seen by my informants merely as a passageway from one place to another. It is why they were still so active even whilst they nothing left to ‘gain’. As much as being a mode of self-expression then.3 And it was this material entanglement with the street. that their ornamentation instantiated. and was getting recognition both for his contemporary and independent public work on a global scale. Later recounting this story to an acquaintance. The answer was quite simple: This commitment fastened practitioners to one another. It was a site in which obligations were enacted through its ornamentation. Quite possibly no images of the ornamental forms produced by Sixe and Goldpeg that day have ever been published until now (either in electronic or physical form). And they were bound by it. It was a commitment to present action. incessantly (and joyfully) tagging the entire way. a location for brute transfer or movement. another in Madrid. The street was not only the source of everything.4 Commitment thus affixed you to others. whilst their status in both institutional and subcultural arenas was already assured. It brought you into an alliance which was ‘governed’ – in a further coherence between the insurgent 3 It is hard to overstate the importance of this locale for my informants. to relax. Goldpeg and he had gone from the very top of the city to the port. a way of being which he argued ‘alleviated’ people from any form of ‘lasting obligations’ (ibid. in which engagement not estrangement was found. They were there and knew what occurred. Sixe had just closed a sold-out gallery show in Barcelona. to play? Vamos a la calle. where a deep civic commitment was enacted. Quite possibly only a handful of people in Vigo (a handful who Sixe and Goldpeg probably already knew personally) would ever have even known who produced the epigraphical inscriptions. A place to rest. public-minded kin.

an image that was scattered and expanded through ‘regional networks’ of these confederations (ibid. the other in control of a dancing. 5 And which.: 77). here it was painting rather than planting that functioned to consolidate the group. became ‘co-present in each other’ through the ‘mutuality of being’ that was formed through partaking in these crucial acts. 6 One evening after just leaving the studio. through taking ‘responsibility for and feel[ing] the effects of each other’s acts’ (ibid. bonds which were formed not through ‘a common history of intermarriage. Each individual that I conducted my fieldwork with thus became ‘members of one another’. one accepted its ‘economic and ritual responsibilities’.: 76). it was ritual in and of itself that ‘forged a strong sense of community’. 72) which embodied pledging. homemade marionette. of course. through ‘sharing one another’s experiences’ (Sahlins 2011: 11).: 632) through their knowledge and re-enaction of this imagery (through both ‘imagining and imaging alternative viewpoints’ [Ryan 1999: 5]). an act which ‘joins a man to the group with whom he plants’ (ibid. here it was painting.: 114). that created a network that could provide ‘contacts for workers on the move’ (the ever-present couch. for my informants. must also be available in your own house or your own studio. It was a kinship.: 60). Spok and I bumped into two lost American brothers. This community of practice thus formed social bonds through the production of their illicit ornaments. By publicly committing. but in terms of the memory of imagery and of the knowledge of how to reembody this imagery’ (Küchler 1988: 629). Within moments of meeting them Spok had decided that they would be staying at the studio. available in every city in the world5). they formed an entity of ‘one skin’ (ibid. rather than dancing (see p. which came to ‘indicate […] membership’ rather than merely ‘symbolize it’ (ibid. enclosed group envelope. a confederation. a bond that ‘emphasized the migrant’s obligations to newly encountered’ craft members (the instant responsibility felt to other street practitioners6). by producing together. and.: 14). a benevolence that he need return. It was the sort of good will that he had been a recipient of countless times in far-off destinations. an image that was then ‘shattered into innumerable variations in the course of its repeated reproduction’. an entity of ritual practitioners forming a tightly encased. one implicitly and openly pledged allegiance to the same moral codes and values as the other.Conclusion 229 ornaments here discussed and the famous malangan sculptures of New Ireland – ‘by the right to reproduce a particular image’. . Like Rappaport’s (1999) discussion of the ritual efficacy of ‘planting rumbim’. one accepted ‘the dangers of membership’. and one could thus receive their full ‘rights of membership’ (ibid. both looking slightly dishevelled and searching in vain for a youth hostel. as such. As Sennett has described examining the workshops of medieval craftsmen (2008). which formed ‘associated fraternities’ (global collectives) who would provide for you in times of need (ibid. one of whom would play the harmonica. They were street performers. an ornamental society constructed through an unrelenting commitment to ritual action. classical picaresque figures travelling across Europe with empty pockets.: 96).

7  Sixe. 2008 .C. Vigo. Untitled. Spain.6 and C.

The parietal writings enacted by my informants must hence be seen to directly relate to the model of embodied citizenship which they all upheld. It was the all-pervasive and highly ‘elaborate’ forms of ritual these individuals enacted that ‘did the work of binding the guild members’. ‘to one another’. by parietal writings ‘inscribed on stone or bronze pillars and displayed at the entrance of temples and in other public places’ (ibid.: 358). The particular ‘regime of display and regulation’ that my informants undertook.: 157). the ‘city of words’ which Simon Goldhill discusses (1999). but to be reflected. directly led to the communal cohesiveness which was so readily displayed.: 28). such as found within Zaidman and Pantel’s explication of the religious codes of Ancient Greece (1992).: 27). spaces that can ‘parody. to an ethico-aesthetic in which practice was paramount. Their shared ‘political convictions’ – their pure belief in the sanctity of the street. his spaces which have the potential to create ‘new metropolitan forms of the social not yet liquidated by or absorbed into the old’. the ornament and the order they enacted. It was one in which written enactments.: 8).Conclusion 231 Rather than these rituals simply defining a Durkheimian pre-existing social collectivity then. forming a ‘bond of artificial kinship’ (ibid. the production of a literal frame which proved their morality. was thus able to ‘render aesthetical judgement partially or completely irrelevant’ (Groys 2010: 49). the quintessential parergon. and it was above all the observance of rituals rather than fidelity to a dogma or belief that ensured the permanence of tradition and communal cohesiveness’ (ibid. The ‘city of images’. And just like that which is emergent in James Holston’s (1990) ‘spaces of insurgent citizenship’ (ibid. They can act as the archetypal constitutive outside. the ‘bizarre’. And it was hence a practice.: 26–8). utilizing ‘central civic space’ yet always and already acting as a ‘manifestation […] of peripheries’ (ibid. fidelity to the city in our contemporary case was proven through these acts of inscription.: 246). the laws regulated by ‘written enactments’. Like the ‘sacred laws’ of the Greeks then. the ‘epigraphic habit’ of which he alludes. for both access and excess. and likewise our insurgent craftsmen. can thus be seen not only to have played a key role in the ‘formation of the ideals of citizenship’ within ancient Athena (ibid. derail. can hence be understood as an ‘exercise of citizenship’ (Goldhill 1999: 1) which functioned through a practice of ‘visual and verbal display’ (ibid. or subvert state agendas’. that emphasized correct action over correct belief. these practices can exemplify the struggle ‘over what it means to be a member of the modern state’ (ibid. often ‘grotesque’ ‘collective demonstrations’ my informants undertook came to create the very social collectivity itself. . the stipulation to practice in the city not doctrinated but instead illocutionarily undertaken. The ornamentation which my informants undertook can thus be seen to have been one that championed orthopraxy over orthodoxy. an enactment of citizenship proven through an insurgent ornamentation. in which the observance of ritual. replicated within our contemporary example. it was the enacting of rituals that provided ‘a frame to establish their probity’ (Sennett 2008: 60).: 337).: 167). the compulsion. that was ‘ritualistic in the sense that it was the opposite of dogmatic: it was not constructed around a unified corpus of doctrines. in the city as a site for play. forming a ‘moral community’ through the physical actuality of these processes (ibid. for action.

the images countering instrumental pressures. the ‘Parisian copies of Greek and Roman’ monuments placed within Union Square within the late 19th and early 20th century (ibid. the artefacts initiating new forums. Terry’s ornament can be seen as one functioning through an ‘illusion’ of order. dissonant state. discordant. of social disorder’ (ibid. Zaidman and Pantel discuss. the cult of the ideal body’ within our ‘twentieth-century totalitarian systems (national socialism. in its approaches not artefacts. countering the market. his revolutionary trompe l’oeil that we first saw in our introduction. the imitatio of the free art.: 78).232 Ornament and Order C. as Peter Weibel has argued (2005). through an illusion of ‘moral perfection that neoclassicism was supposed to represent’ (ibid. Stalinism)’ – that we must protect against the ‘doctrinaire of art. to follow it in its methods not materials. be seen in all its paradoxical. can now. Spain. guard against the imposition of an aesthetic ideal from a detached scaffold – an imposition such as the infamous incorporation of ‘the ideals of Greek Classicism. 2012 Francis Terry’s neo-classical reformation of Leake Street. Untitled. initiating new forms. can thus (perhaps paradoxically) be seen to more closely follow the classical Greek mode of ornamentation as Goldhill.8 3TTMan. Like the ‘decontextualized’ ornaments discussed by Rosalyn Deutsche (1986). It is merely that I believe that we must.: 77). unwittingly ironic glory. It is not simply that I mean to demean classical Greek ornament itself. fascism. nor castigate the relationship between the decorative arts and democracy as concretized by them. The images and artefacts produced by my informants and explored within this book however. . in its disordered. Tarifa. I hope.: 1009). of the ideals of the Greek culture’ being utilized to ‘disguise the barbaric state of an unfree society.

2010 .C. 2011 C. London.9  The Leake Street Classicist. England.10 GPO. Athens. Greece. Untitled.

These words and deeds. these deeds. They will be seen to reconcile through their joint adherence to the vita activa over the vita contemplativa. The agonistic belief in dissensus and the consensual approach to reason can thus simply be seen as variant means of engaging fellow citizens. These ornaments. in need of a space through which they could exhibit themselves ‘in a world which is common to all’ (Arendt 2001 [1968]: 18). ornaments and orders. but to instantiate a form of insurgent civility. and deeds are not used to violate and destroy but to establish relations and create new realities (ibid. where words are not empty and deeds not brutal. of action as embodying the very basis of human freedom. They act not merely to encode an understanding of the street. embodying the very basics of civic life. differences which never come to ‘render them utterly incompatible’ (Markell 1997: 394). to an ‘active engagement in the things of this world’ (ibid. images and actions. Both forms. consumed by display. whether following a politics of agonism or consensuality.: 200). ‘new opportunities’ (ibid.234 Ornament and Order Rather than the chaos and pollution which Terry sees them represent. through their equivalent valorization of a life ‘devoted to public-political matters’ (Arendt 1958: 12–13). . these artefacts which are both ‘in need of some public space where they can appear and be seen’. While the practices of Agonistic and Consensual Ornamentation may be so idiosyncratic on their superficial levels then. by exposition. words and deeds which come to in fact conciliate many of their inherent differences. are ones which I would suggest follow both modes of ornamental practice delineated in this work. they will here be seen to come to reconciliation through their equivalent valorization of the ‘beautiful’. ones which both aimed to ‘establish relations and create new realities’ (ibid. what Arendt has called ‘the most talkative of all bodies politic’ (ibid. differences that generate fruitful and talkative tensions rather than the silence of total otherness’. where words are not used to veil intentions but to disclose realities. They can be understood simply to contain ‘differences of tone and emphasis. a model of citizenship able ‘to counter the authoritarian management of will and opinion formation by the market or the state’. could hence be understood to lie not in any particular physical location.: 26). variant methods of action. able to initiate ‘new conditions’. but in the ‘organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together’ (ibid. not merely performative. These words. were not simply beholden to but consumed by an active relationship with the city.: 1026) for the contemporary public sphere. And the authentic polis. They act as a mode of action that is not merely discursive. but one that is parergonically anchored between the two. thus come to fold back into each other through the fundamentality of action. were ones which were both based on innately illocutionary frameworks. It can be seen as a space which can elicit a power actualized only where word and deed have not parted company. they can be seen to enact a model of citizenship which has the polis at its heart.: 200). by revelation in the street at any cost.: 17). an understanding of contemporary democracy.: 198).


Ornament and order, art and ritual have of course oft been conjoined to one
another. Famously connected by the classicist scholar Jane Ellen Harrison (a key
member of the Cambridge Ritualists group), in particular within her text Ancient
Art and Ritual (1913), the two spheres’ intimate connection, their ‘common root’,
has oft been seen to be the joint ‘impulse’ towards collective emotion they share,
their analogous status in which ‘neither can be understood without the other’
(ibid.: 2). Centring her study on Ancient Greek theatre, Harrison believed that
the etymological linkage between the Greek word for rite – dromenon – and
for theatrical representation – drama – was as an issue of ‘cardinal importance’,
a linkage establishing the fact ‘that art and ritual are near relations’ (ibid.: 35).
Translating both terms as ‘a thing done’ (ibid.: 35), both ritual and art were hence
seen to ‘give out a strongly felt emotion or desire by representing, by making
or doing or enriching the object or act desired’ (ibid.: 26); both aimed to work
through ‘a re-presentation or a pre-presentation, a re-doing or pre-doing, a copy
or imitation of life’ (ibid.: 135); both were social practices intent on defining a
collective morality or spirit (ibid.: 217–18).
Much in debt to Sir James Frazer’s Golden Bough however, particularly his
emphasis on the fracture between magic and science, for Harrison so too there
remained a vital schism between art and ritual. Whereas art was understood as
‘a thing in itself, done for its own sake’, ritual was seen to ‘always looks beyond to
some end outside itself’, to always have ‘some magical intent behind it’ (Ward 1979:
19). Art was thus understood to be secular, rational, modern, a form of imitation
solely for the sake of material representations; ritual to be something sacred,
irrational, primitive, a form of imitation for the sake of practical repercussions.
Whilst great art may have arisen ‘from ritual’ then, contemporary manifestations of
ritual were believed to be in ‘essence a faded action’ (Harrison 1913: 230–31). Ritual
was thus not only believed to be an archaic antecedent to what was a seemingly

236 Ornament and Order

enlightened art – an antecedent form that must ‘wane, that art may wax’ (ibid.:
228) – but art was considered a ‘more sublimated, more detached form of ritual’
(ibid.: 228). From this perspective, ritual is thus understood to always be of the
subjunctive mood – a modality in which actors form a ‘sculptured prayer’, a zone
where ‘the desire was to recreate an emotion, not to reproduce an object’ (Harrison
1913: 25–6) – art conversely seen to be crucially indicative – an arena where ‘the
copy becomes an end in itself, a mere mimicry’, a space now devoid of all passion
and fervour (ibid.: 27). Moreover, it was a relationship with a set dominant partner, a
set evolutionary teleology leading directly from ‘primitive’ ritual to ‘modern’ art, an
ideal which whilst perhaps able to tell us more about the ‘humanist, evolutionary
mental climate of her day’ (Ward 1979: 18) – an approach that in itself could now
appear to be quite ‘primitive’1 – is also one still quite widely entertained today.
In a more recent account of the connections between ritual and art however,
the classicist Jas Elsner (2007) has come to destabilize Harrison’s Social Darwinian
timeline – the apparent unstoppable surge toward a more dispassionate, detached,
anaesthetic state of art, one where aesthetic appreciation was ‘cut loose from
immediate action’ (Harrison 1913: 135) – suggesting instead that ‘sacredly charged
images’, what he terms a ‘sacred phenomenology’, fully permeated both the
Ancient Greek and Byzantine modality of ‘visual representation’ (Elsner 2007: 42).
Arguing that explicitly ritualized or ‘religious ways of viewing images’ came in fact
to ‘predominate over what may be described as more aesthetic (or even secular)
responses to art in the culture of late antiquity’ (ibid.: 30), Elsner thus suggests that
the importance of these aspects has been conspicuously ignored by contemporary
research on Ancient art while simultaneously functioning as a vacuous ‘truism’ –
classical art practices appreciated to be ‘religious’, yet scarcely analysed as such.
Art historical issues such as ‘style and form’, ‘patronage and production’, ‘mimesis
and aesthetics’, were thus seen to have insulated the study of Greek and Roman
art from these vital ‘ritual concerns’ (ibid.: 29), overwhelming them through a
shackled fixation upon historical evolution’ (ibid.: 37). Employing the traveller and
(proto-)geographer Pausanias’s famous essay The Description of Greece from the
2nd century AD, Elsner utilizes Pausanias’s key distinction between a ‘religious’,
‘ritual-centered’ discourse and a ‘connoisseurial’, ‘art-historical’ one, building a case
around the ‘simultaneity and co-existence’ of these discourses within the ‘Second
Sophistic’s writing on art’, a concurrency that would, ‘by the fifth and sixth centuries
A.D. – become mutually exclusive’ (ibid.: 33). Analysing the description of a bronze
offering made by the Orneatai at Delphi (after defeating the Sicyonians in a battle),
an offering or imitation considered ‘not so much a static object as a dynamic set
of relations, not just something material but a performance’, Elsner contends that
these images acted not only to ‘represent the sacrifice and procession they had
vowed’, but to in fact be ‘that sacrifice and procession’ (ibid.: 43). These innately

As Wittgenstein has famously argued (1993 [1967]), Frazer himself (Harrison’s
theoretical lynchpin), could be argued to be ‘much more savage than most of his
savages, for they are not as far removed from the understanding of a spiritual matter as
a twentieth-century Englishman. His explanations of primitive observances are much
cruder than the meaning of these practices themselves’ (ibid.: 131).



performative artefacts were thus ‘not simply works of art, gifts, or tokens of
exchange with the gods’ (ibid.: 43): They carried ‘dynamic religious properties’,
acting as ‘charged ritual objects in their own right’ (ibid.: 43).
Rather than the typical assumption that classical ancient art (‘the art of
naturalism and ekphrasis’ [ibid.: 48]) was innately linked to its (normatively allied)
Renaissance form, linked through a detached, mutually secular discourse, it was
the art of the middle-ages to which, Elsner argues, it in fact bore more resemblance.
The ‘sacred images of Byzantium and the medieval west’ were thus understood to
have been ‘closer to the arts of ancient polytheism than either the Church Fathers
or the Renaissance antiquarians would have wished or acknowledged’ (ibid.: 48),
a convergence between images and ritual that the ‘moderns’ simply chose not to
recognize. The power of this highly ritualized visual culture was hence understood
to have gone hand-in-hand with the ‘practice of iconoclasm’ and the ‘damnatio
memoriae’, which were so ubiquitous within the history of the Byzantine, a form of
destruction that ‘asserts’ (rather than denies), ‘the actual presence of its prototype’
(ibid.: 44), which, through the images’ intrinsic power to portray the supernatural,
gave rise to the very fear of these artefacts. The ‘cult images’ discussed by Pausanias
would thus later come to be dismissed from the prevalent discourse, coming to be
‘feared, as Elsner continues, and even destroyed, as demonic idols’ (ibid.: 33). Yet of
course, the destruction of images during the history of Byzantine Iconoclasm came
simply to allude to their overwhelming ritual presence, to prove (as I have discussed
in Schacter [2008]) that the images succeeded in their charge. The seemingly
endless cycle of production and destruction simply illustrated (and continues to
illustrate) the true power of these images to physically touch their viewers, to call
them into action, their destruction inevitably calling forth ‘a fabulous population
of new images, fresh icons, rejuvenated mediators: greater flows of media, more
powerful ideas, stronger idols’ (Latour 2002: 16–17).
Whereas the ‘damnatio memoriae’ discussed by Elsner were believed to form
an ‘elimination of memory through the demolition of images and inscription’ –
the ‘destruction of the image’ working akin to the very ‘destruction of the person
condemned’ (ibid.: 44) – Küchler’s (1988) study of the Malangan funerary carvings
produced in New Ireland sees the ritual destruction of artefactual forms to in fact
aid memorialization, explicitly turning ‘visual representation into memory’ (ibid.:
632). These highly ornate sculptures, revealed from their screened surrounds
during the mortuary ceremonies of social partners and later ‘sacrificed’ either by
being taken into the forest to decompose of their own volition or sold to (evereager) foreigners and anthropologists, were produced explicitly so as to be
destroyed, a ‘visual mnemonic system’ whose ephemerality generated rather
than impaired memorialization (ibid.: 626). As what we can see as a ‘Melanesian
counterpart’ to the Western monument (the monument whose existence causes
‘amnesia’ but whose destruction causes immortalization), the Malangan enabled,
through its very ‘erasure, the creation of an inherently recallable image’, instigating
a ‘process of remembering that is not directed to any particular vision of past or
future, but which repeats itself many times over in point-like, momentary and
thus “animatorical” awakening of the past in the present’ (Küchler 2001: 63).

238 Ornament and Order

PS.1  Gone but
not forgotten.
Destruction and
Madrid, Spain,

It can hence be understood to have engendered a similar form of active aesthetic
participation to that which ‘appears to have governed medieval church art’ (ibid.:
62), a dynamic mode of visualization seeming to efface our stringent divisions
between what we habitually term ritual and art. ‘Complex visual objects such as
Malangan sculptures’, Küchler continues, are thus ‘problematic for anthropologists
[as well, I would add, for art historians], who regard them with a sense of distance
that appears appropriate for all things falling within our category of art’, a Kantian
form of dispassionate aesthetic appreciation running contrary both ‘to the
assumptions under which the sculptures were produced’, as well as the relations
of exchange within the ‘Malangan system’ (Küchler 1988: 628). While eliciting a
‘visual and conceptual complexity’ (ibid.: 626) akin to any ‘Western’ artwork and yet
functioning within a highly-ritualized modality – in its production (the carver being
‘stripped of all the temporal aspects of his being during the period of carving’ [ibid.:
631]), its integral artefactual status (the sculpture being understood as ‘coming to
life’ with the fitting of its ‘eyes’ [ibid.: 631]), as well as its performative and social
usage (participants becoming what was termed a ‘nonpartible entity’ through
their participation in the mortuary event itself [ibid.: 632]) – Malangan art can
hence come to radically disconcert its common Western partner. It can radically
disconcert the binary of ritual-artefact/secular-artwork through its fleeting
lifespan (contradicting the notion of art as something stable, solid, impenetrable,
as something that must be preserved for future posterity), through its animate
status (contradicting the notion of art in the subject/object dichotomy), through
its densely, highly ritualized mode of practice.
These examples from Elsner and Küchler start to show the certain ‘technologies
of enchantment’ (as Alfred Gell termed them) that both art and ritual seem to share,
the certain ‘technical procedures’ that elicit a drawn breath, an incomprehension
of how they came into existence; they can be seen to form a domain in which



the seemingly separate spheres of ‘magic’ and ‘technology’ cannot be so easily
detached (Gell 1988: 6–9). Efficacy can thus be understood to emerge through
the bending of everyday sensations, something that for Gell (1998), in discussing
visual artefacts, appeared through what he termed ‘animation’ (ibid.: 77), through
the ‘pleasurable frustration’ of being trapped within a rhythmic surface (ibid.: 80),
the ‘mazy dance’, as explicated in Chapter 1, ‘in which our eyes become readily
lost’ (ibid.: 76). From this perspective, then, the ‘cognitive resistance’ of art, its traplike quality, was produced through its tantalizing, arresting form, its labyrinth-like
materiality, the topological teasing it produced – by blocking our process of pattern
reconstruction, by making us physically spin (ibid.: 82–5). It was produced through
an act that could catch the complexity and captivation of movement in a purely
visual display, one ethnographically elucidated by Gell through the example of
Malakulan sand-art. Within this form of ritual art emerging from the New Hebrides
(and, like the Malangan, another distinctly ephemeral form of art), the emphasis
was placed not as much upon the ‘artefact produced, but the “performance” aspect
of the procedure, the way in which an expert could delineate a complex figure
[…] without hesitation of deviation, in a single continuous movement from start
to finish’ (ibid.: 93). The highly complex patterns produced were thus not thought
of ‘as independent visual objects at all, but as performances, like dances, in which
men could reveal their capability’, an aesthetic that was ‘about efficacy, the capacity
to accomplish tasks, not “beauty”’ (ibid.: 94). It was a form of animation brought on
through the literal dance of the image, an aesthetic process form fully interlacing
ritual performance and artistic product. For Gell, then, the transformation of
seemingly ordinary ‘artifacts’ into ‘art’ came through three key factors: that they

PS.2 Jurne,
Untitled, California,
USA, 2012

240 Ornament and Order

were made ‘in order that they should be seen by a public’, an audience forcibly
placed into a social relationship with them (ibid.: 24); that they worked, through
‘abduction’, as indexes of social agents or social agency, the ‘outcome’ and the
‘instrument’ of this agency’ (ibid.: 15); and that they were ‘difficult to make, difficult
to “think”, difficult to transact’, they come to ‘fascinate, compel, and entrap as well as
delight the spectator’ (ibid.: 23).2 The famous trap he discusses in his paper Vogel’s
Net (1996) is hence considered to be an art object not only due to it being a physical
manifestation of the mind of its producer or, as Arthur Danto would have it, due to
it being deemed an art object by its producer, but due to it being embroiled within
all the ‘specific rituals’ related to hunting in Africa, intertwined within the complex
of social relations that these rituals elicit (ibid.: 24); unlike a common ‘tool’ such as
a ‘cheese-grater’, then, a tool used in an implicitly routinized fashion, the net was
used in a highly ritualized one, marking out its status as an art object, marking out
its indexical abduction, its cognitive attraction, its social reception (ibid.: 24).
All these aesthetic processes, whether of a ‘ritualistic’ or ‘artistic’ nature, can thus
be understood to point towards both wider sociological as well as more contracted
individualistic issues, to be the physical embodiment of an individual mind – an
artefact functioning as a form of extended personhood – yet to work equally within
an intricate network of social relations – to be unable to exist (like ‘culture’) without
‘its manifestations in social interactions’ (ibid.: 4). Like Rappaport’s (1999) notion of
canonical and self-referential ritual then, the messages of a cosmological versus
an existential nature (ibid.: 329), or, as Bruce Kapferer similarly argued (2005), the
latent capacity possessed by both ritual and art ‘for communicating simultaneously
the immediately concrete and the abstract’ (ibid.: 39), both forms can be seen to
function through the ‘universalizing of the particular and the particularizing of
the universal’, bipartite facets that were both ‘actualized and revealed in art and
ritual as performance’ (ibid.: 191). The ‘common recognition that much ritual is
art, and vice versa’, Kapferer continued, is thus upheld through their equivalently
‘complex compositional form’, the fact that they both manifest ‘varying possibilities
for the constitution and ordering of experience, as well as the reflection on and
communication of experience’ (ibid.: 191). Both art and ritual can hence both
be understood to contain elements of symbolism and drama, composition and
framing, work and play, to be practices which function directly through sensory
experience, performance and affect. They can both be seen to operate through
the realm of what Christopher Pinney (2001) has termed ‘corpothetics’, a sensual,
bodily way of encountering the material aesthetic world (as opposed to the more
conventional Kantian ‘asensual, anaesthetics’ that Susan Buck-Morss has warned
of ), a mode of aesthetic engagement encompassing ‘ritual images’, as well as
what were more commonly appreciated as ‘artworks’ (ibid.: 158), encompassing
ornament and order in all its forms. Ritual and art, as Ellen Dissanayake concludes
for us (1995), must therefore both be understood to be ‘compelling’, to use ‘various
effective means to arouse, capture, and hold attention’, both ‘fashioned with the
intent to affect individuals emotionally’, both exaggerated, stylized, ‘formalized’,

These three ‘diagnostic features’ are pointed out by Layton (2003) in his critique
of Gell’s work (ibid.: 448).

Ritual and art must therefore both be judged as equivalent discourses. These ornaments thus come to mediate their figural and performative aspects. their integrally conjoined status. likewise concerned with a ‘realm. to be likewise ‘concerned with a special order’. nor solely a ritual performance.: 366). the resultant division of this manuscript served to almost totally bisect these two elements. These were practices which both focussed on ‘a thing done’. They must be seen as two parts of a whole. And what I thus now want to emphasize is the true inseparability of these forms. Frame and Content Whilst I initially claimed in the introduction to this book that ornament and order were conjoined through the Greek word kosmos.Postscript 241 both ‘bracketed. all ritual merely practice. as Jane Harrison argued. but an interweaving of practice and product. Like Richard Vinograd’s (1988) exploration of 15th. like the equally charged. to function through their productive processes as well as innate material state. of text and process. each incomplete without its other. phenomenological Byzantine images that Elsner discusses.and 16th-century Chinese scholar paintings – and in direct contrast to the focus ‘on the work of art as imagistic object’ so prevalent within Western aesthetic discourse since the Renaissance – our ornament must therefore be understood to function ‘as an event rather than an object’ (ibid. which invoked elements of a high emotional charge. as two quite distinct categories. through conduct as well as connotation.: 46–8). it is not just an art object. cannot simply be considered simply as ‘a variety of play or ritual’ but in fact to be considered ritual’s equal.: 34) – so too art is not merely the image on the wall. that ritual (and order) is the practice. ones caught in a boundless embrace. they are Kosmos. art and ritual. to be ornament and order all at once. these were acts which. And just as ‘hunting is not those heads on the wall’ – as Herbert M. of process and product. an action performed. set off from real or ordinary life’ (ibid. as a way of defining their communicative and performative bases. Cole argued (1969) citing a famous article by Leroi Jones (ibid. And art. the parergon and ergon in concord. served irrevocably mutually constituting ends. It is the intertwining of mask and masking. mood [or] state of being’ (ibid. as ‘an occasion for contact’ between ‘between artist and viewer’ (ibid. Rather than ritual slowly ebbing away with the evolution of art. from this outlook. The separation undertaken within this book has thus been made for conceptual clarity and rigor. they are both entirely fused into one another. it is both the ornament and the order.: 369). not to try and argue that all art is merely meaning. . the insurgent ornamentation I have analysed within this text can so too be understood to be fully integrated within both of these realms. It is not merely that art (and ornament) is the artefact.: 49). served ritual as much as aesthetic ends. through the perspicacity of communal action as the profundity of symbolic meaning. as ones that can neither subsume nor dominate the other. treating ornament and order. the two discourses remaining separate in accordance with their respectively ‘primitive’ and ‘modern’ modalities.

Spain.3 Remed.PS. Madrid. 2011 . Untitled.

performative. their agency. or the substitute for religion which those who have abandoned the outward forms of received religions content themselves with’ (ibid. every erased image leading to the creation of two new ones. And just as art is a trap. and claim neither/nor. almost impossibility. concrete and abstract conceptions. the great difficulty. law-breaking ingenuity. they become both material and performance. liminal. every destruction acting as an incentive for continued production.: 97) – can then help to clarify the thin line between the two fields. sacred. a physical choreography visually outlined. . their ability to touch. It is at once an art pervaded with ritual intent and a ritual pervaded with an artistic one. functioning through an incredulity shaped by their stylistic and mediumistic impenetrability. They are forms linking both individual and collective themes. as Latour terms it (2002). in fact. or. they can provide witness to an aesthetics of efficacy. of a shared network. ‘To enter within such forms’. ‘to write about art at all is.3 The separation between the two sides. invariant. a congealed residue of performance. rule-governed. their traditional. their existence within the realm of an iconoclash (the destruction we are so unsure about). as Handelman argues (1998). physically affect their viewer. their embrace of uncertainty. to write about either religion.: 16) that these ornaments incite. thus becomes null. their social functionality – yet are equally complex visual entities in and of themselves. the equivalency and interchangeability of art and ritual. not a contrived ‘beauty’ but something that is at the same time both a ritual act and material artefact. insulating the images from their vital ritual concerns. It becomes an entirely moot point.: 97). of differentiating between ‘religious and aesthetic exaltation’ – and hence his suggestion that ‘art-lovers’ actually do ‘worship images in most of the relevant senses’. the become ornaments totally infused with rituality – like the Malangan a ritual infused through their heightened production. canonical and self-referential notions. They thus elide their status as either/or ritual. either/or art. through violating perceptual expectations through their taboo-breaking. allude to their irresistible ritual presence. both/and. Their equivalent subjection to iconoclasm. through their animation. As Gell himself argued (1998). can thus be seen not simply as ‘static’ objects but as ‘dynamic’ sets of relations. a decoration endowed with its ‘necessary accidents’. They elicit their distinct technologies of enchantment. thus comes to allude in both cases to their ritual power. The ornamental forms constructed by my informants. committed states. refuting ‘their de facto idolatry by rationalizing it as aesthetic awe’ (ibid. their latent impermanence. of ability. as Gell continues (1998). And so too like Malakulan sand-art. harm.Postscript 243 A focus on purely art-historical notions such as style or form thus only gives us one part of the story. images of distributed personhood. It hints at the ‘fabulous population of new images’ (ibid. theses ornaments act as a material residuum of a physical dance. between the aesthetic and the ritual. 3 Indeed. much like the Orneatai’s bronzes. of ornament and order. so too ritual can act in the same way. embedded risk. emergent creativity. to allude to their status as the ‘cult images’ he describes.

Vigo. aesthetic)’ (ibid. must hence be understood not simply as ‘instruments for clarifying our life’ by ‘imposing a set of canonical meanings on it’. 2012 ‘is to be captured by. Rituals.: 209–10). . Untitled. regardless of why it came into being. And this. They must be understood as social frameworks that provide us not with a desiccated. through. or for whatever motives it is enacted. as Innis concludes. the logic of their design – and so to be operated on by the event. to transform us. an embedded kinship functioning through both doing and meaning. Spain. just ‘like works of art’. and caught up within.4 Alone [Hear]. a knowledge ‘that fuses our consciousness in all its dimensions (somatic-motoric. snares of Being’ (ibid. perceptual. through symbolic and literal action.: 209–10). comes to explain ‘the deep affinity’ we find between ritual and art. to affect us by ‘influencing the lived quality of our very existence’ (ibid. but with a fully participatory one. then. but as mechanisms that have the ability to move us. imaginative. Such designs are […] snares of the mind and sense.244 Ornament and Order PS. as Robert Innis (2005) continues. purely intellectual knowledge.: 16–17). conceptual.

Postscript 245 the production of ‘a frame and a content that mutually define one another’ (Innis 2005: 208). This is a frame and content that we give ourselves over to ‘because in the deepest existential sense we find ourselves embodied in them’ (ibid.: 208). Both embedded within and themselves the parerga. an ornament and order. Both ornament and order. their interchangeability. rather than merely bearing on the other or externally pointing to the other’ (ibid. This is their similitude.: 208). Both frame and content. This is a frame and content. . that ‘embody each other. their equivalent framing. That they are both adjunctive and decorative.

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Andres and Laura. Neko and Noas. Thanks must also go to two omnipresent figures during my time at UCL. they showed me more kindness. support and goodwill than I could have ever imagined or have ever hoped. to all those who made me feel so welcome. Louis. Nanito and Xavier. Léon and Bambam. Thanks also to the rest of my Madrileño family. aka Dumar Brown. Pelucas and Tiñas. Alongside his supervision have been a number of other important figures: Dr Paolo Favero. for his arresting. the very first second I accidentally encountered my ‘informants’ in downtown Madrid during the beautiful. Guillo. Y si se me olvida alguien.Acknowledgements From the very first moment. Feli. Suso and San. Momo and Lucas. to Sierra and Sara. My immense thanks go to my supervisor and mentor Professor Christopher Pinney. Isauro and Maf. I have been blessed by his presence during my academic career to date and I hope our conversations will long continue. Thanks to David for solving my which/that issue (along with a hell of a lot more) and Els for generally helping me to survive. mil perdones. of relentless encouragement and support. aka Nov (aka Dumaar Freemaninov). but I feel that my life has been immeasurably improved through simply knowing you. Tomas and Fede. not only would this book have been impossible without you. and the departmental technician Chris Hagisavva. Manu and Marina. thoughtful foreword as well as the continual inspiration he gives me. Thanks to all my other amazing comrades from our time at UCL. I can’t wait to see you all in July. all motivating me toward a more insightful theoretical analysis. unforgettable Summer of 2007. without whom I would have never passed my Master’s thesis. Professor Susanne Küchler and Professor Michael Rowlands all gave me their time and their thoughts during different stages of my PhD. Since our first meeting he has been a source of intense intellectual stimulation. Thanks to El Mac for the opening epigraph. Okuda and Fli. A million thanks to Nov York. Thanks to Dems and Fefe. Rafa and Lupe. A huge thanks to Sixe. let alone been accepted on my doctoral programme or completed this book. to Nuri. . and to Margarita Skeeta. Paz and Belen. the Postgraduate Coordinator Diana Goforth. Ekta and Duncan. Fernando and Chus.

248 Ornament and Order Finally. And of course to all my chosen kin. to whom this book is dedicated. Rocks and Zips. you know who you are and you know what you mean. Josie and Julius. I wish to thank my family (although just to ‘thank’ seems almost ridiculous). to which I am entirely indebted. Rachel and Steven. To my parents Marilyn and Leon. The research on which this book was based was made possible by a studentship from the ESRC. . To Diana and Kaelen.

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42. 108 acropolis 8. 10. 208. xvii. 128–9. 3–5. 48. 30–32. 174. 75. 7–8. 48. 106–8. 149–50. 163. 153–4. 174. 126 agora 7–8. 155. 16. 186. 88. 156. 95–7. 42. 234 Agonistic Pluralism 48. 112. xxvii. 20–21. John Langshaw 59–60. 64. 192. 92. 243 agon 91–2. 207–8. 73. 173. 102. 87. 138. 109. 28. 92. 153–4. 239. 117–18. 50. 10. 192–3. 207. 200. 146. 231–2. 100. 164. 3 artefactual agency 16. 238. 164. 81. 32 Athens 26. 108–9. 78. 105. xxvii–xxviii. 106. 53. 180. 233 Austin. 115. xxiv. xxvii. 100. 216 agonism xvii. 210. Joe 21 Austin. 146. John 26 adbusting 19 addiction 26–7. 159 Babcock-Abraham. 26. 27–32. 102. 114. 194–9. 146. 120. 65. 118. 21. 222–4. 73. 210. 156. 96. 39. 68. 115–16. 10 Adams. 198. 73–5. 20–21. 219. 232. 180. 104. 88. 30 Alone/Hear 33. 162.Index 10Foot 124 3TTMan (Louis) xxii. 72. 10–12. 7–8. 114. 178 antiestablishmentarian 87. 44. 40. 80–82. 245 Adorno 70 aesthetic v. 240. 27. 11–12. 134. 34–5. 106. 81. 77. 85. John 126 Akay 11–12 Akim 11. 25. 4. 244 Ancient Greek xvi. 112–14. 25–6. 137. 10. xxi. 39. 124. 29. 247 Abarca. 109. 61. 126. 179–80. 49 Alberti 3. 51. 168. 128–9. 70. 158–9. 235–6 Ancient Mexican 7 Andreotti. 104. 158. 16. 91. 183. 219 Arcueil (France) 185 Arendt. 126. 243–4 agency xxvi. 104. 208 adjunctive xxv. 95. 44. 148. 99. 18–21. 44. 40. 157. 223–4. 243 antagonism 100. 3. xxii. 54–5. 88. 30. 166. 133–4. 7–8. 84. 113 architectonic 5. 99–104. 84. Javier 19 acid etching 21–2. 124 animation 33–4. 88 architecture xvi. 126. 169. 91–2. 234 agonistic xvi. 40–42. Hannah 221 vita activa 234 vita contemplativa 234 Art Below 1. 182–219. 210 contingency and unpredictability 192 dirt 190 dualism 190 picaresque 193 socially peripheral 210 symbolically central 210 . 150. 192. 67. 36. Libero 209 antiwork 209 aneconomic 111. 47–51. xxvii. 106–20. 186. 125. 240–41. 42. 115. Barbara 189–90. 112. 92 Ahearn. 32–4. 221. 236. 47. 124–6. 152–6. 77. 51. 161–2.

164. Seyla 95 Benjamin. 174–7. 94. 216 disciplined invariance 142–3 formalism 140–41 lexicon 139 performance 146 ritualization 139 rule-governance 142 sacral symbolism 143 traditionalism 141 Belting. 103–4. 98. 180 . 183 heteroglossia 175 hybridity 182 laughter 176 spectacle 162 subversion 164. 15 Bornstein. 124 Besançon (France) 44–6 Bhabha. 171 Brown. 109 Bauman. 28. 169–83. 156. 85. Denise Scott 3. 126. Gerd 158 Baxter. Homi 92. 174. 219. Donald 27 Brown. Margaret 207 Bogotá (Columbia) 225 bombing xxii. 208. Zygmunt 172. 49. 206. 128 postproduction 19 Boyte. Susan 4. 146. Hugh 76 Beam. Erica 173 Bourdieu 134 Bourriaud. Franchot 193 Banksy xxvi. 117. Walter 226 Bentham. 186–7. 70. 140. 228 Barthes. 177 Brk 148. 50. 189. 139. 26–7. apo-deictic 72 graffito 70 pastness 72 publicly demonstrating 70 speech acts 72 text-image 79 Ballinger. Hans 21 Belvés (France) xxiv Benhabib. 72. Maurice 60. 140–43. Mikhail 161–4. 160–61. Howard 224 side bet 224 Beijing (China) 6. 228 Baumann. 182–4 carnival 163–4. 114 agon 92 ecriture 114 space of the adversarial 112 technique of trouble 103 truth 95 Bill posters 39 Bishop. Mieke 63. 79.268 Ornament and Order Bakhtin. Donald 70 Buse 117–18 Byzantine 236–7. Nicolas 19. 124. 1. David 4. Jean xviiii. 180 criminal behaviour 163. 122 Bell. 32 applied decoration 4 visual pleasure 21 Bristol. 154. 38 Buni 33 Burke. 210 alea 208 ilinx 208 ludic typology 208 mimicry 208 Cairo (Egypt) 10 California (USA) 239 calligraphy 21–2. 226. 36. Michael 189. 203–6 communicative dialogism 204 illocutionary 203 restricted codes 203 ritual 203–4 Boden. 39 Baudrillard. Carl 192 Becker. 56 Brett. 219 architectural order 219 conscious usurpations 219 ludic ritual 219 self inscription 219 Canales. 112. 31 Buck-Morss. 241 Caillois. 160–64. Michael D. 187. 117. Richard 158 Bauman. 152 Belas Artes Invasion 92. 172. 25–6 Cambridge Ritualists 235 Camille. 95. 177 dialogism 178. 21–2. 214 Barcelona (Spain) xxii. Catherine 133. 240 asensual anaesthetics 240 orderliness 4 Buenos Aires (Argentina) xviiii–xxii buffing 29. 174. Claire Relational Antagonism 126 Bloch. Jeremy 10 panoptican 10 Berlin (Germany) 16. 221–2 anti-structure 169–70. 217. 34. 179. Roger 208. 177 Bal. Roland xviiii. Jimena 36 Cap 22 carnival 143. Harry C.

95. 177 contestation 87. William E. 104. 177. 63. Joan B. 19–21. 53. 142–3. 47–51. 221 centripetal 124. 18–21. 183–4 language 175–6. 200 clowning 160. 41. 76–7 Coomaraswamy. 199.156. David 175. 124–5. 95. 101–2. 231. 178 constructive 26. 208 confundere 35 Connelly. 203–6. xxvii. 90 competitive 51. 190. Eric 11 Cornford. 208. 67. 55. 58–61. 55. 183 liminal structure 163 ludic 189–90. 160. 124–6. 1. 204 Carruthers. 231. 208–9. 47 Cooper. 163. 163. 219. 72–3. 42. Maeve 59. 223–4. 65–6. 241 Collins. 190. 162. 221. 60. 82–3. 77. 76–7 communicative action 77 conversation 73 subjective truthfulness 76 validity claim 63. 116 communication xxviii. 126. 192 subjunctive 163. 154. 180. 160. 180. 162–3. 147. 208. 178–179. 170. xxv. 11. 180. 117. 104. 190 co-option 124. 223–4. 153. 222 public liminality 169. Henry 150 chaos xxvii. 192. 215–16. 228. 19. 69. 210. 73. 87 ritual 205–6 symbolic 140 verbal 147 visual 65 Communicative Action 55. 173–4. 85–8. 95–6. 67. 73. 42. 177–9. 103. 101–2. 215. 162. 128–9. 80. 234 Clifford. 128 Cohen. 90–92. 109. 5. Craig 21 Catania (Italy) 9 CCTV xxv cenophobia 38 centrifugal 124. 55. 95. xxii. Martha 150 Corijn. 231 269 union 7 civility 7. 180 ritual of intensification 163 spirit 183. 4. 179–80. 29 containment 67. 69. Josef 7. 177–8. Francis Macdonald 156 . 95 discursive 124 mass 57 perlocutionary 59 open 205 rational 55. 182–4. 99–102. 82. 8 Connolly. 82. 86–7. 234 ordered 143 perceived 42 social and moral xxvi. 236 subversive 163–4.index inversive 163. Ananda 3. 216 laughter 175–7. James 25. 182–3. 167 Caryaen women 30 Castleman. 164. 152–4. 10 citizenship 57. 86. 42 Chu xxi Chytry. 163. 77. 221 Chalfant. 140. 192. 214. 146. 234 conservative 1. 73. xvii. 207. Herbert M. 120. 112–13. 174. 183–4. 55–9. 180. 234 arena 69 commitment 228 concern 67 desires 180 dialog 55 disposition 160 justice 7 life 234 minded 228 practice 11 rites 180 ritual 162 space 7. 216 Cooke. 210 taboo breaking 162 transformative performance 170 Carroll. 75. 104 consensual xvi. 48. Peter 33 colonization 61 commitment xxiii. 240 authentic 61. xxiv. xxvii. 95–6. 80. Mary 5 carteles 15. 208. 162 violent 142 choquitos 15–16. 206. 61–9. 138. 119. 116–17. Stanley 193 Cole. 106. 75–9. 234 civic 7. 134. 92. 228–9 common concern 64–9. 204. 101. 174. 61. 219 method of inventing 163 perversion 184.

231 E. 11. 224. 183. 258 Ephratt. 255 . 46. 42. Guy 192. 208. 96. 100. 152–3. 163. Mihaly 153 Csordas. 158–9. 204. 241 damnatio memoriae 236–7 Second Sophistic 236 truism 236 visual representation 236 Eltono ix. 168–9. 20. 126. 46. 113. 26–35.189. 126. 106. 190. 205–7. 88. 138. André 190. xxvii. 7–8. 35–6. 226. 162. 16. 208 iterability 146 parergon 3. 209 duality 118. xxii. 25–26. Veena 199. 198. 21. 232. 64–6. 83–6. 111. Michel 1. 72. Marcel 32 Duncan. 236–8. 122–5. 44. 221 enlightenment xvii. 223. 120. 172. 225 embellishing x. x. 59 Droogers. 89 Escif x. 134. 222 deconstruction 184 double writing 184 ergon 36. Terry M. 55. 216–17. 209 hypergaphy 209 decoration xxv. 39. 241 Erosie xi. 38. 200 dialogism 178. 160. 53. 102. 159. 142.S. 42. 42. 29. 183–4. 245 perversion 183–4 pharmakon 36. 243 criminality xxi Cripta Djan xx. 143. 46. 153–4. 160. 150. 112. 172 Danto. 122 Crowther. 247 Elche (Spain) xxii Elkins. 38–42. 46. 75. 158. 231. 5. 240 creativity 4. 79. 186. 95. 106. 35–6. 46 184. 183 Ehrman.270 Ornament and Order corporeal 88. 216 de Certeau. 234 Dems33 xxii. 21. 210. 170. 112 Doma 22 domestication 122. xi. 36–7. Roberto 163. 92. 219. 3. 208–9 dérive 209 détournement 192. 124 Derrida. 206–8. Jane M. 164. 217. 84. 169. Anthony 101 Drexler. 156. 183. Rosalyn 113. Mary 31. 41 Debord. 245 Delta 41 democracy 8. 38–9. 174.Itso 12 egality 64. 73. 20. 247 demos 8. Paul 27 Csikszentmihalyi. 159–60 primordial 141 rituals of purity and impurity 159 traditional ritual 141 Downs. 6. 222. 7. 247 ergon 3. 31. 48. 204 Dier 33 Dirks. 155. 119. 81. 38 destructive xv. Carol 159 Durkheimian 170. 49. 254 ESPO 50 etching ix. 58 detourn 19. 186. 163. 181. 111. 26. 247 El Mac 68. 126. 228 cosmological 29. 77. 209 Deutsche. Ellen 240 dissensus 88. 219. 226 de Meuron. 208. 208. 86. 128 Douglas. 73 Escobar. 20–22. 48. Pierre 28. Jaś 28. 115. Francesco 8 dialogical 21. 15. 7–8. 22. 146. 38–9. 106. 51. 44. 193 Duchamp. 99–102. 3–4. 78–9. 20. 232 di Giorgio. 115. 141. James 50 Elsner. 166. 222 boorish blabbermouth 206 fundamental discontinuity 205 modes of discourse 205 propositional form 206 culture-jamming 19 DaMatta. Thomas J. 241. Nicholas B. xii. xiii. 163. 48. 181. 234. 222. 99. 232. 231. 184. Jacques 208 Eindhoven (Netherlands) 89 Ekta 168. 189. 102. Michal 85. 28. Arthur 240 Das. Jacques 1. 38–41. 202. Jesus 5. 221. 202–4. 216 Evens. 134. 214 displacement 96. 178 dirt xxv.B. 228. 192. 34. 343. 210. 234 ferments 100. 216. 16. 254 epigraph xxi. 146. 192. 186 Dissanayake. 179–80.

179–80 Feasting 139.index existential 59. 67–9. 194. 147. 138 Foucault. Jürgen x. 104. 170. 179–80 Fefe Tavelera xxii. xvii. 31. 243 technologies of enchantment 238. 194. 146 formality xxvii. xvi. Stuart 175 Hallam. Don 160. 163. 99. 158. 159. Hal 28. 76. 155 Fernández-Galiano. 78 Gielen. 233 Grabar. 90. 80. 254. Ernst 5. 35. 114 Friedman. 122 gangs xxi. 170. 44. 78 Garr (Garrulo-Koas) xi. 63–70. 255. 77. 241. Michel 72. Pascal xxvi Gillick. 82. 161. Max 163. 75–7. 87. 44. 95. 59 Handelman. 164. 53. 69–70. Elizabeth 217 Hames-Garcia. 27. 164. 50. xii. 241. frame x. 82. 193. 73. 214. 73. 39. 134. 243 animation 44 apotropaic art 34 artefactual agency 32 271 Malakulan 239. 82–3. 41–2. 243 personhood 32. 48. 134. 69–70. 175. 72–3. 255 Ferrell. 72. 86 refeudalization xvi. 64. 245 fraternities xxii. 38. 102. 77. 58–61. 46. Erving 147 Goldhill. 3. 216. David 10 Fleming. 156. 210. 92. 61. 243 abduction 240 agency 32–4. 189. 140. 161. 255 festivals 139. 113. 86 common humanity 64–9. 85 communicative action 55. 100. 233. Simon 223. 47.R. 231–2 epigraphic-habit 223 GoldPeg 227–8 Gombrich. 126 illocutionary aims 59 inclusive public 64. 28. Jonathan 207 Friedman. 57. 55–61. 207 Foster. 129. Jeff xxi. 161. 75. John xii. 231. William 30 GPO 105. 164. 158. 124 Fase xxii Fasting 139. 38. 116. 80. 107. Barbara 58 Galeria Choque Cultural (Culture Shock Gallery) 120. 153. xxvii. 203 conceptual triad 55 Deliberative Democracy 48. 80. Stephen 177 Groth. 243 Gentrification xxvi. 266 feudal xvi. 44. 180. 250 Fleming. 159. 264 extramuros 184. 34 calligraphy 25–26 graffiare 44 grassroots 11 Grebowicz. 238–40. 87. 37. 97. M. Jack 139 Goodyear. Luis 41. 60. Boris xxvi. 160–61. Juliet 36. 100. 245 exploration 12. 90. 179–80 Fetish 31. Margret 98–9 Greece 7–8. 69. 31. 149. 156. 202. 80. 64. 34. Clifford 200 Gell. 76 Hall. 236 Greenblatt. 172. 64 subjective truthfulness 59. 79–80. 94. 155 fill-in 21. 79. 134. 86. 147 Folena. Yona 10 FTS crew 117 Fultner. 264. 137–9. 75–7. 86 validity claims 59. 105. 95. Raymond 173 flâneur 226. 126. 71. Oleg 21. 50. 61 common concern 64–9. 231. 77. 203–4 coffeehouse culture 56. Sir James 235–6 friction 38. 202. 240. 219 Faile xxvi. 34. Malcolm 224 Gluckman. Alfred 32–4. Lucia 178 folk-art 27 formalism 139. 61 Goody. 25–6. 157 Fekner. 240. 244 . 119. 77. Liam 126 Gladwell. 36. 183. 190. 64. 138. 70. 72–3. 174. 70. Thomas 47. 356 Gluckmanian 170 Goffman. 163. 229 Frazer. 156. 158. 173. Jacqueline 11 Grottaglie 72 Groys. 210. 29. 181. 240. 141. 33 Geertz. 231 Habermas. 82. 82.136 Firth. 57 Structural Transformation 55–7. 256 Goodnight. 169 Filippo Minelli x. G.

29. 237–9. Innis. 124–6. Pauline 96 Jones. 47. 12. 79. 63. 151–3. 177–8. 259 animatorical 237 Malangan 229. Michael 184. Robert 244–5 innovative 49. 183 Hill. 195–7 Lachman. 143. 228. David 12. Bruce 133. George 205 lambe lambe 124 Latour. 150. 134. 159. 205 Johnson. 141. 202 Huizinga. 210 homo ludens 208 Humphrey. 209–10 Kelling. Miwon 126. 243 illocutionary 59–60. 231 Homer (Sasha Kurmaz) 38. 207. 173–5. 153. 249 inversive 163. 59. Leroi 241 Jurne 239 Kaïka. 32. 146. 39. 229. 46. George 40 Kellner. 170. 163–4. 217. 70. 226 Krull. 75. 241 Kostof. 46. Lewis 215 iconoclash 3. 224. 241 intermuros 184 interruptive 126 intramuros 184 invariance xii. 175. 88 Homeric 92 Howard. 231. 109 Kester. 84. 108–9. 116 Ingold. 182. Jonathan xxvii. 159–60. Andrew 36 Hersey. 222. George 8. 151 Keesing. 240 Kapferer. 122. 216–17. 103. 217 inversion 143. Ebenezer 10 Howe. 234 imaged text 107. 97. 161. Leo 75. 180. Roger M. Felix 214 Küchler. 244 Koh. 26 Andalusia 7 letter-based art mediaeval 26 —— illumination 26. Steven 31 Jaime 21. James 223–4 Lakoff. 11. 29. 179. 44. Joe 112 Hermogenes 30 Herscher. 183 Laidlaw. Susan 228–9. 243 invention 97. 47 quattrocento 30 sylography 10 Herzog. Tim 217 Ingram. Caroline 223–4 Hunt. Johan 208. 206. 150. 72. 30. 51. 237–8. 183. 3. 127 Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) 41 Johnson. 77. 198. 217 inscription 27. 196 Izenour. Jean 102 Hirschhorn. 219. 38–40. 90. 183–184. Thomas 126 Hobsbawm. 10. Grant 126. 226. 146. 234. 193 Holquist. 181. 236. Douglas 56–7. Jane Ellen 235. 128. Barbara 184. 88. 150. 203–4. Emmanuel 35. 41 heteroglossia 175. 119. 215–16 Hughes-Freeland. Jay 126 kosmos 3. Elizabeth 142. 241 Harvey. Robert Bechtold 214 Hellenic 4. E. 10.J. 200–202. 87. 47 Kwon. 177. 237. 243 . 81–2. 202. 231. Spiro 149. 128 assimilative sculpture 126 La Mano 98 La Palma (Spain) 65. 198–200. 47. 190. 240 Katsu 24. 31 Havana (Cuba) 68 Heilman. 153. 30 Hermer. Jacques 28.272 Ornament and Order Hapsburg 7 Harrison. 177. 88 kinship 181. James 51. 243 memorialization 237 ritual confederation 228 Kunstwollen 27–8. Maria 10 kalligraphia 108 Kant. 29. 190. 40. 138–42. Renate 174. 183–4 Islamic 7. 247. 169–70. 108. 226. 190. 219. 250 Holston. 28 Hillier. Bruno 3. 207. 209. David 61. 115–17. 228. 187. 231. 69. 237 insurgent xxvi. 128 dialogical and antidiscursive 126 key-lines 136 keyed insignia 21 Kiev (Ukraine) 38. 238. 26. Alan 112 hybridity 182–183 Hyde.

84. Laura 21 Mumford. 174. 189. 114. 67. 100. 106. 42. 183. 150. Chantal xvii. 205–6. Edward 162. 66. 171.index iconoclash 3. 95. 119 petits recits (little narratives) 96. 247 Montaña Sagrada 210 Monterrey (Mexico) xxv Moore. 217 permanent provocation 95. 99. 192. Stan 175. 223. 173 Merrifield. 112–14. 34. 126. 16. 166. Nancy xxi Madrid (Spain) xxi–xxii. 215. Thomas 214 Manu 164. 158. Giancarlo 193. 228–9 Mouffe. Thomas 56 Melbourne (Australia) 124. 175–6. 106. 112 heterogeneity 96. 61. 32. 186 horizon of dissensus 96 imaged text 107 innovation 97. 247 mura rasa 78 . 208. 201. 34. 99. 100 language games 92. 123–4. 84. 210 ludic 189. 20. 117–19. 135–7. 173. 214 countergenre 193 malandro 193 Mallorca (Spain) xxv 198 Mann. Daniel ‘San’ xxii–xxiii. 113. 200. 126 American position 99 differends 98 discursive intervention within language 109 displacement 96. 147. 116 politics 101–2. 211. 114. Patchen 60. 169–70. 109. xxvii. 34. 19. 228. 106. 126. 47. Marc 41 Mauss. 182 Mulvey. Marcel 32 McCarthy. 58. 260 bricoleurs 217 duality 193 mediator 193 lexicon 134. 70. 22. 156. 29. Jean-François 48. 174. 169. 247 Mahall. Mischa 27 Leon (Spain) 43 Lévi-Strauss. 29. 38–40. 189–90. 238. 114. 163 Maiorino. 10. 15–18. 217. 106. 117. 106. 232–3 learning 47. 107. 1–2. 179. 32. 172. 234 Maurer. 7. 20. 74. 217 Leinkauf. Claude-Bricoleurs 193. 103. 159 moral code 138. 165–7. 215 metasocial 181 Mexico City (Mexico) 176 Miller. Robert 240 Leach. 180–81. 147. 243 laughter 175–7. xxiv–xxv. 222. 99. 119. 27. xxv–xxvi. 116. 208. 94. 175 pagan 91. 168. Edmund 15 Leake Street (England) 1–3. 166. 179. 102. 116. 168–9. Adolf 15. 204. 78–9. 140–41. 139 liberalism 99–101 lifeworld 55. 106–9. 96–7. 109 metaphor 4. 97. 243 Liqen 171 London (England) xxi–xxii. 181 ligare 228 liminality 134. 104. 91–2. 100. 160. 163. 44–6. Andy 8 metalanguage 96 metanarrative 95–6. 97. 182. Ben 1 Moore. Sally Falk 133. 127. 208–9. 33. 96–7. 202. 124. 28. 92. 46. 5. 9. 114. Daniel 28 Modernist 28. 217 Momo xxii. 36. 219 Lush 173 Lyotard. 92. 79 mud-level 11. 183 Muñoz. 247 marginalia 219 Markell. 99–102. 11. 212–13. 205. 84–5. 119 agon 92. 30–32. 183. 50. 128 Muir. 7–8. 180. 23. 186. 156. 103. 144–5 Los Contratistas xxii Los del rodillo 33 Luciano 164. 54. 95–9. Cliff 21. 112 homogeneity 99. 163. 23. 62. 48 excrement 28 waste 31 Los Angeles (USA) 35. 103. 217 Agonistic Pluralism 48. 163. 104. 157. Guy 87 Loos. 175 273 Macdonald. 178. 207. 104. 30. 25. 183 Layton. 81. 119 Moughtin. 99. 107–8. 242. 119. 103. 114 paralogic 96–8. 186. 103. 233 Longworth. Mona 4. 214. 150. 99. 216 cordon sanitaire 116 dissensus 96. 190.

119. 234 urban xxv. 83. 50. 10–12. 44. 208. 185. 33–4. 146. 41. 104. 53. 202. 124. 95. 234. 51. 114. 92. 128–9. 154. 7–8. 29–32. 114. 135. 3. 16. 106. 106. 231–4. 156. 46. 214. 12. 119. 208. 75–8. 236. 10–12. 124. 92. 100. 56. 195–7 Panofsky. 141. 124–6. 210. 142. 26. 226 ornaphobia 27 ornatto 5. Barbara G. 158. 216–17. 200. 247 Noviciado Nueve xxi. 243 art 27. 10. 239–41. 79 Odessa (Ukrainem) 11 order xxi. 184. 70. 150. 156. 112. 30. 81. 247 New Ireland (Papua New Guinea) 229. 82. 40. 208. 38. 86–8. 136. 174. 20–21. 240–41. 129. 111. 163. 47. 7–8. 1. 160. 30–32. 106–15. 12. 67. 44. 133. 10–12. 28. 47. 231. 158–9. xxvii–xxviii. 171. 232 Parthenon frieze 8 pattern 31. 50. 162. 179–80. 241 architectural xxvii. 3. 59. 138. 226. 186–90. 21. 39. 125. 42. 90. 15–17. 33–4. 180. 171. 10–12. 115. 156. 20–21. xxi. 134. 124. 30–31. 42. 51. 179–80. 95. 46. 214. 208. 219. 138. 88. 158. 241 parergonic 47. 42. 200. 169–70. 90. 222–36. 214–17. Pauline Schmitt 231–2 paralogical 96–8. 172. 153–4. 47. 181. 115–16. 222–4. 179–80. 181. 180. xxiv. 241 Paris (France) 10. 163. 27. 119. Justin 147 Oc. 50. 219 decorative xxv. Friedrich 92. 76. 142. 158. 151. 61–69. 214. 219 construction of xxi. 224. 38. 234. 84. 116. 76. 47 Murphy. 79–80. 106. 114 Palma (Spain) 65. 27–8. 115. 198–200. Saul 27 outmoded 91–2 OX 185 pagan 91. 180 insurgent xxvi. 34. 221. 46–51. 176–8. 222.274 Ornament and Order murals xxii. 208. 87. xxvii Nuevo Leon xxii Nug 191 Nuria Mora xxii. 102 Norris. 92. xxi. 169–70. 26. Barnett 126 Newman. xxvii. 35–6. 180. 85. 26–7. 216. 142. 124–9. 183–4. 226. 202. 3. 153. xxv. 184 Nietzsche. 19–21. 88. 98. 214–17. 219. 65–6 O’Connor. 114–17. 99. 42. 96–7. xxvii. 161. 247 performance xviii. 111–14. 88. Christopher 38 Nouadhibou (Mauritania) 155 Nov York xv–xviii. 21. 226. 186. 42. 170. 226 practice based xxi. 72. 146. 106–9. 113. 235 visual 3–5. 88. Peter 10 Myerhoff. xxv. 48. 41. 96. 221. 128. 44. 149. 38–9. 182–4. 198–200. 217 Neko 21–2. 239 Pausanias 236–7 Pelucas xxii. xxvi. 53. 122. 210. 85–8. 41–2. 142–7. 73. 33. 72. 7. 138. 106. 31. 124. 5. 128. 73. 103. 46–7. 85–7. 113. 116. 7–8. 109. 219. 4–5. 103–5. 72–3. 3–5. 231–2. 152. 128. 85–8. 186. 228. 41. 103. 51. 232 illicit 26. xxvi. 42. 207–8. 158. 159 uncivilized rituals 159 Nano 4814 xxii–xxiii. 75. 148. 10–11. 159–63. 109. 27. 231. 189. 237 New York (USA) xv. 85–7. 172–3. 119. 234 social and moral chaos xxvii. 179. 182. 243 . Saul 178. 231. 44. 84. 199. 159. 38–43. 111–20. 104. 183. 115–16. 90. 46. 239. 134. 217. 79–80. 34. xxv–xxvi. 226. 57. 138–9. Erwin 27 Pantel. 124. 184. 29–31. 138–9. 206. 3. 76. 50. 225 Nashville (USA) 199 Nazca Lines 149 Needham. 154–5 Newcastle (England) 209 Newman. 26–31. 133. 55. 146. 127. 7–8. 134. 219. 36. 60. 92–3. 164. 24. 33. 115. 103–4. 80. 10. Taner 21. 41. 128–9. 180–81. 222–4. 63. 31. 26 Ostrow. 231–45 architectural xvi. 72. 33–4. 97. 217 parergon xvii. 56. 226. 51. xxvii. 7–8. 109. 56. 92. 78–9. 205. 206. 154. 176. 243 ornamentation xxii. 163. 102. 206. 134. xvii. 217. 8. 153. 7 orthography 8. Rodney 139 negentropic 207. 107. 180.

164. 119. 27. 236. 34. 112–13. 231. 183 radical xvi. 51. 70. 198. 186. 133. 95. 214. 208–10. 179. 76. 146. 116. 48. xviii. 51. 44. 186–7. 176. 140. xxi. 175. 153. 38. 62–4. 228. 173–4. 96. 208. 156. xxiv. 60. 156 proposition xxviii. 169. 215. 104. 180–81. 107. 63. 28. 192. Roy 72. 16. 53. 42. 32. 208. 194. 217 language 59. 234 pollution xxvii. 102. 152. 222 petits recits (little narratives) 96. 102. 53. 158. 239–41 public 158. 133 medium of 51. 106. 21. 19. 125–6. 92. 158–159. 62. 100. 100. 239. 226. 186. 224 ritual 198. 46.179. 229. 88. 58. 202. 103. 192. 69. 166. 202. 192. 57 reflective 4. 231. 172. 173. 245 aesthetic xix. 199 Readings. 133–4. 186–7. 221–2. 66. 173. 234 275 politics xviii. 119. 231. 180 public sphere xix. 183–4. 226. 203 personhood 15. 66–9. 56. 26. 99. 100–102. 234 political xvii. 109 reaffirmation 161. 243 process 33. 236. 75. 134. 138. 128. 169–70. 87. 75. 72. 224. 177. 138–43. 50. 163 refeudalization xvi. 169–70. 61. 108–9. 124–5 pixadores 122. 96. xxvi–xxvii. 172. 142. 243. Susan A. 158. 214. 92. 32. 181. perversion 161. 70. 169. 203–6. 239–40. 10. 229 Pickett. 216. 80. 38 play xxvii. 116–17. 226. 86. Antoine 4 Pinney. 34. 124–5 Pixobomb 92. 238 Radtke. 137. xxi Phillips. 184. 175 policia 5. 34. 177. 113. 48. 120. 240 rationality 55. 65. 57. 206. 198–200. 104. 243 cultural xxvii.181. 122 Plato 36. 99. 79. 101. 115–16. Brent L. 222. 77. 187. 175 Petro xxii. 87–88. 178–181. 82. Tom 26 picaresque 160. 32. 177. 126. Christopher 10. 202. 42. 133–8. 192. 119. 215–16. 106. 169. 134. 130 Picon. 243 perlocutionary 59. 134. 192. 5. 8. 179. 126 Rawls. 101–2. 59. 146–7. 219. 153–4. 146. 72. 106. 113–15. 177. 214–16. 26. 70. 138. 148–9. 222. 82. 101. 146. 229. 5. 104. 180. 96. 224. 128. 114.index ethical 79. 113. 219. 174. 186. 221–2. 139. 7. 207. 166. 61. 200. 11. 113. 142. 50–51. 208 music 152 physical xxv. 80. 138–9. 80. 238. 234 quasidetachment 35–6 quattrocento 30 Rabelais. 96. 48. 222. 252 illicit 108. 156. 122. 153. 161–4. 204. 153. 46. 92. Bill 96–7. 63. 193. 95. 241 transformative 169. 153. 31. 240 pixação xviiii. 174. 240–41 plurality 63. 59. 236–8. 106. 116. 209 phalérophobie 34. 21. 22. 117. 202. 181–2. xxiv. 40 Pharmakon 36. 70. 53. 114. 158. 179–80. 118. 55–8. 126. 79. 147. John 99 Read More Books 111. 224. 80 public liminality 169. 69. 50–51. 110–11. 221. 146–7. 7 polis 11. 216–17. 87–8. 98. 223 production xix. 200. 198–200. 146–7. 234. 207–10. 208–10. 88. 140. 66. 77. 214. 76–7. 238. 226. 190. 44. 173. 134. 223–4. 241. 240. 107.183–4. 90. 109. 116. 228. 234. 170 performative xxvii. 207–8. 192. François 174. 117. 63–4. 169. 175. 69. 27. 87. 16. 104. 47–8. 79–86. 156. 75. 163. Fred 44 Rafael Pixobomb 92 Rappaport. 61. 189. 154 prescribed actions 134. 207. 48. 147 profane 133. 77. 159–60. 21–7. Stephen 50. 142–3. 102. 180 reflexive 180 . 216. 187. 243. 178. 112. 134. 113. 174. 119. 234 postproduction 19 Powers. 107. 158. 219. 95. xxci. 192. 38 Phillips. 99. 222. 35. 72–3. 109. 231. 204–6 proscribed actions 223 public authority 56. 99. 61.

247 San Francisco (USA) 218 sanctified 139. 34. 70. 122. 228–9. 222. 92. 116. 103. 51. 1–3. 117–19. 210. 138. 177 Shandy. 153–4. 158. 210. 100. 92. 136. 128. 149–50. Rafael xv. 138–9. 178–80. 241 Rennes 110 resistance 10. 28. 75. 223–4 selfhood 34 Semper. 215–16. 128–9. 216. 28.276 Ornament and Order Remed xxii. 95. 202–10. 149. 170. 30. 146. 83. 144–5. 198–200. 199. 156 Sanskrit 4 São Paulo (Brazil) xx. 150. 111. 19–20. Carl 99–101 Searle. 237 artefactual agency 16. 64. 112. 219. 133–4. 71. 208. Richard xxii. 177–8. 210. 247 Slave Cave Collective 149 societas 172 Sophists 96 Spanish Renaissance 7 spatial xxvii. 156 sacred 4. 186. 159. 7–8. Tristam 85 Shit 33 Sieber. 44–6. 192. 134. 87 sterility 203. 156. 183–4. 163. 208. 214 state power 56 steering media 61. 119 revolution xviii. 85. 228–9. 221. 80. 20–21. 156. 134. 192. 8. 229. 76. 5. 31. 173. 218 renaissance 1. 200. 194. 137. 136. 65. 207. 189–90. 48 Ryan. Ingrid D. 203–4. 172–3. 72–3. 202. xxi. 191 strategic 59–61. 98. 199–200. 224. Richard 126 Serres. 187. 85–6. 101. 231. 128. 202. 243–4 Rodriguez-Luis. 38. 154. Asli 4. 210. 94. 42–4. John R. 47–51. 206–7 Sterne. 134. 143. 54–5. 208. 168–9. 36. 76. 36. 92. 67. 162 Strathern. 247 Remio 101. 146. 108. Nancy 163 Schieffelin. 34. 51. 229. 153. 133–4. 153. 129. Michel 193 sgraffito xxvii. 161. 116. 178–81. 1. 178. 156. 158–64. Pamela J. 194. 125 Schacter. 180. 77–81. 198. 129. 27. 237. 109. 146–7. 39. Peter 162. 193 rule-governance 139. 169–70. 26. Santiago 126 silence 85. 163 Serra. 80. Chandler 214 Sierra. 86. 217 Splasher 124 Spok xxii. 9. 222. 33. 157. 239 Revok 35. 176. 243 rites xvi. 122. xxvii. 162. 136–7. 174. 163 ancient stucco 3 Sennett. 143. 174. 186–7. 231. Edward L. 202 street xxiv. 187 Stallybrass. 7–8. 16. 69. 243 Salvajismo xix Sam3 223 San Daniel Muñoz xxii–xxiii. 229 sacral symbolism 139. 219. 163–4. xxv–xxvi. 69. 117. 149. 7. 138. 216. 30. 221. 196. 33. Patricia 11–12. 16. 223–4 Ruskin. 182. 147. 182. 7. 208 speech acts 5. 228. 203. Richard 126 Rothko. 215–17. 231–4 . 36. 226. 194. 232 Riegl. xxiv. 28. 158–9. Alois 27–8. 142. 181. 247 spraycan art xix. 47 Ring 33 risk xviii. 25. 187. 206 Schirato. 161. xxi. 56. 215–16. 94. Mark 126 Rowland. 59–60. 235–7. 168. 10. 129. 202 Stockholm (Sweden) 66. 66–7. 208. 138–143. Andrew J. 230. 147. 170. 206. Gottfried 3–4. 11–12. 91. 142. Julio 190 Rorty. 72. 38 Shakespeare 174. 166. 64. 139. 218. 20–21. 3. 164. 198–200. 221 ritual xv. 221. 179. 34. Allan J. 47. 32 corporeal illicitness 158 Scheper-Hughes. John 4–5. 207. 156 rules and regulations 108. 135–8. 150 Spyer. 221–4. 59–61. 169. xvii–xviii. 153. 160. Laurence 85 Stewart. 194. 20–21. 119–20. 95–6. 116. 172. 109. 223–4. 80–83. 15–16. 178. 10. 150. 115. 81. 242. 121–2. 62. 182. 7. 33. 180. 63. 20. 231 Serbest. 235–41. 75–8. 160–61. 68. 234 Situationist 208 Sixe Paredes xxii. Tony 208 Schmitt. 124–6. 210.

40–41. 128. 61. 40. 146. 75–7. 80–81. 177. 64. 152–3. 36. 244 synoikismos 7 taboo 143. 30. 21–2. 192–3. Tsvetan 202 Tonk 33 277 track-sides 136 tradition xix. 112. 192. 163–4. Christopher 205 Tiravanija. 186. xxvii. 113. 30. 183–4. 102. 79 Tika 164. 106–7. 187. 86. 228 Tambiah. 156. 104. 148. 226 stylography 10 subculture xvii–xviii. 143. 206–7. 88. 221. 143. 116. 162–3. 50. Erik 10 symbolic xxviii. 232 Tunis (Tunisia) 10 Turbo 107 Turnbull. 109. Robert 3. 181. 78. 7–8. 177. 178. 122. 163–4. 72. xxvii. 36. 228–9. 190 communitas 169–70. 162. xxv. James 4. 103. 21. 177–9. 11. 67. 30. 154. 55–7. 225. 214 Venturi. 139. 44. xxi. xxi. 178. 47. 205. 137. 243 transformation 48. 85. 87. 169–70. 231. 69. 66–7. 139–42. Richard 241 violence 41. 202. 59. Peter 67 subjunctivity 183 subversion 36. 156. 180. 5. 241. 217. 113. 142. 227–8. 44. 168 Tiesdell. Rirkrit 126 Todorov. 153. 172. 79. 122. 7. 169–70. 124. 10–11. 21. 156. 5. 117. 87. 99. 194. 187. 142. 172–3. 51. 69. 208. 222 Sullivan 3 superficial 8. 122. 205–6. 124. 102 Vinograd. 163–4. 224. 106. 50. 216. 183–4. 48. 219. 95–6. 95. 238 Tenerife (Spain) 162 tension 40–41. 11. 159. 193. 120. 160. 147. 95 vandalism xxii. 226. 67. 174–5. 96–7. 82. 234 Terry. 146. 177. 8. 32. 210. 164. 189–90. 116. 158. 230. 3. 222. 58. 231 urban xv. 170. Francis 1. 183–4. 140. 47. 21–2. 107–8. 75. 88. 159. 133. 203. 202. Mathieu 110 trickster 160. 180. 210. 84. 92. Vitruvius 3. Dana R. 46. 77 throw-up 21. 204. 222. 180–81. 26–7. 31. 120. 149. 72–3. 85. 180. Steven 21. 30 Vorotniov. 205. 243 tabula rasa 20 tag xvii. 169. 24–6. 189–90. 83. 139–40. 76. 41. 63–4. 92. 214–15. 38–42. 239 transformative 10. 99–100. 232. 51. 178. 169. 152. 104. 207. 69. 180. 110. 234 textual modality 48. 38. 133–4. 104. 141. 198. xxii. 180. 133–4. 40. 172. 154 trompe l’oeil 3. 115–16. 27. 102. 31–2. 31. 226 utterances 63. 159–60. 28. 134. 35–6. 149–50. 36. 126. 147. 78. 214. 41. 174. 96. 138. 190. 166. 186–7. 21. xxv. 99. 39. 198. 226. 186–7. 159. 183–4. 3. 208. 142. 169–70. 168–9 Til 33 Tilley. 114–15. 186. Terry. 108. 126. 178 transgression 100. 119. 205–6 Tannen. 224. 168. 162. 164. 224 transgressive 11. Ricki 190 Tarifa (Spain) 232 tattoo 34. Quinlan 1. 217. 69–70. 96. 3. 149. 224 Suso33 xxii Swyngedouw. 159. 162. 159–60. 100. 184 Tremblin. 49–50. 169–70. 48. 137. 199–200. 42. 69. xix. 140. 234. 219. 148–9. 189. 210. 244 Villa. 168. 162. 170 structure xv–xvii. 146–7. 184. Vova 37 . 136. 113. Colin 141 Turner. 16. 170. 64–5. 138. 169.index structural transformation 55–7. 80. 91. 34. 169. 210. 232. 69. 222 Trilling. 166. 26. 156. 112. 172–5. Stanley 158–9. 44 technicizing 61 temporal 75. 31–2 Vigo (Spain) xxii–xxiii. 77. 142 validity 59–60. Victor Witter 161. 216. 181 duality 172 structure and antistructure 172 Union Square 232 unity xvii–xviii. 93. 80. 26. 26. xvii. 112. 41–2. 41. 61. 83. 63–4. 159 Suber. 111. 208. 113–14. 118. 42. 215. 156. 216. 183–4.

Allon 162 Wigley. 126 Warnke. 126 counterpublic 61. 235–6 Warner. Barbara E. 36. James 40 Wilson. Matthias 27 wheat-pasting 47 White. Woodrow 26 Wittgenstein. Georgina 70 Warsaw (Poland) 37 Weber. Frank Lloyd 27 Wynne. Albrecht 70 Werbner. Louise Bruit 231–2 Zedz 41 Zoan 117–18 Zosen 98 Zukin. 103.278 Ornament and Order Wadleigh. Donald 173 Weibel. Michael 61. 46. Frank 214 Ward. 40. Ludwig 236 Wochenklausur Collective 126 Wright. 204 Wermke. Derek 147 Zaidman. Sharon xxvi Zurich (Switzerland) 164 . Peter 232 Wellmer. 186 white-out 34 Wilson. 103. 34. Mark 31. Richard P. 114. 114.