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Guerrilla picnicking: appropriating shopping centres as malleable quasi-public spaces


Smit, JC, Guerrilla picnicking: appropriating shopping centres as malleable quasi-public spaces, Place de la Monnaie, Brussels (2015) [Performance]

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The public status of shopping centres is contestable. On the one hand they are controlled (surveyed and monitored) spaces of consumption; simply ‘hanging-out’ in their interiors may be conditional on an apparent and subjectively assessed ability to purchase. On the other hand, the shopping centre is synonymous with suburban life, where often these are convenient and available civic places for entertainment, social gatherings and cultural engagement.

Conducting a public picnic within these suburban interiors serves to test out the extent of public freedoms, and stake a claim for the right of citizens to occupy these ‘quasi’ public spaces in an unconventional manner. Recalling nostalgic practices of a mid-19th century recreational pastime, the picnic provides a disarming method of laying claim to the ambiguous public territory of the shopping mall. The picnic blanket acts as a visual marker of the spatial boundary that is being claimed, for a time, by an apparently transgressive public.

Part public celebration and part public protest, the guerilla picnic serves to increase the options for belonging within a shopping centre by a non-purchasing public, affirming the potential of these spaces to cater to a variety of publics. Guerilla picnicking provides a ‘momentary rupture’ to the more orthodox view that shopping centres only provide for relatively fixed, tightly regulated and commodified identities.

Item Details

Item Type:Performance
Keywords:Public space
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Urban geography
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Smit, JC (Ms Jen Smit)
ID Code:108985
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2016-05-16
Last Modified:2018-03-10
Downloads:12 View Download Statistics

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