Citizenship, civic memory and urban performance: Mission wall dances

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16 Scopus citations


The meaning of art changes in various contexts. This article examines how an outdoor performance transformed an urban street in the Mission District of San Francisco into a site of citizenship and political communication. This is the story of how choreographer Jo Kreiter and her small group of dancers used the power of memory, the social narratives about her San Franciscan performance site and symbolism to enhance the political message about gentrification embedded in her dance piece Mission Wall Dances. The relevance of public performance, however, does not come exclusively from its location, but rather includes its engagement with civic life. The performance of Mission Wall Dances became a dialogue between the physical site, the specific subject matter and the experiences and memories of the audience members. The associations made between the performance and its neighbourhood location in the minds of the audience members can build a sense of civic identity, at both individual and group levels. The images and ideas present in the performance commingled in the minds of the audience creating a new meaning for an urban landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-352
Number of pages24
JournalSpace and Polity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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