Orange Houses and Tape Babies: Temporary and Nebulous Art in Urban Spaces


  • Carmen L. McClish Independent Scholar, USA



Public space, nebulous, urban, street art, temporality, novelty


This essay argues that the disruption of the routine ways we engage with our cities is necessary for democratic activity and public participation. Building on research that examines the relationship between public spaces and democratic action, I explore temporary forms of creative street installation as interrupting the marketing pleas that have become the only authorized forms of visual art in our cities. I argue that tactics in urban spaces that are temporary and provide nebulous meanings are necessary to grab our attention and make us linger. I propose that these forms of engagement act in the same way as people performing or playing in public spaces. I specifically employ Yi-Fu Tuan’s theoretical notions of space and movement and Margaret Kohn’s discussion of the significance of presence in public spaces to examine the creative ways we engage with and experience our cities. I examine two activist/artist projects: Mark Jenkins’ tape installations and Detroit Demolition. My analysis of these two sites demonstrates the importance of citizens engaging in their urban spaces. By creating temporary artwork that is nebulous in meaning, activists/artists are interrupting the routine ways we experience our cities.


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How to Cite

McClish, C. L. (2010) “Orange Houses and Tape Babies: Temporary and Nebulous Art in Urban Spaces”, Culture Unbound, 2(5), pp. 847–865. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.10244847.