Aestheticizing Public Space and the Right to the City:
Ihwa Mural Village from Regeneration for Residents to Tourism for Others
By Christina Park
The development of Ihwa Mural Village in South Korea, an art-led city regeneration initiative with emphasis on participatory and community art, is exemplary of the brandscaping movement. Within this article Ihwa Mural Village will be explored and analyzed as an economic-interest and profit-driven spectacle that questions the right to the city. The article will examine how the ‘creative city movement’, which promises civic engagement through art, is unsuccessful due to commercialization, low permanence, and the creation of class division. Spectacular urban regeneration, obsessed with developing for the sake of appearance, often fails to respond to the identity of the communities that inhabit the public spaces it seeks to decorate. The success of city regeneration projects should not be evaluated based on the economic, social, and cultural benefits to the city. Instead, it should perform democratic urban politics and put the experience of residents first. The article engages with discussions of the regeneration of urban spaces, and argues that often cities that undergo brandscaping focus on economic development and growth but fail to address the local provision of services and facilities which would benefit the urban population.
Christina Park is a recent BFA graduate from York University in Visual Arts and Art History. Her main research interest is the influence of social media on art activism. Currently, she is in her first-year of the Masters in User Experience Design and Museum Studies at the University of Toronto.