Abstract

The article explores a new phenomenon in Russian cities, the involvement of ‘creative’ urban youth in the process of beautification and transformation of urban space. This phenomenon is put in the broader international context. International sociology gets increasingly interested in the so-called ‘DIY-urbanism’, creative involvement of citizens in urban transformations; researchers report the incremental expansion of such practices in many big cities internationally. On the one hand, the self-made urban transformations are interpreted as a way of claiming the right to the city (the urbanites are thus challenging the dominant power dispositions and unequal rights to shape the urban space); on the other hand, it is seen as activity of ‘new bohemians’, gentry, trying to intrude the urban discourse. The present paper outlines the existing approaches to the analysis of creative urban transformations and attempts to apply those to the contemporary processes in St. Petersburg. The main task of the article is elaborating an appropriate analytical framework and theoretical and methodological apparatus to reflect on urban creativity. On the example of artists making use of the urban space as an object of creativity, I’m showing two diverse patterns and strategies of self-fulfillment in the city. The first pattern involves interpretation of the urban environment (streets, walls, back yards) as an exhibition space and material for artistic projects. The second pattern assumes using art as a means of transforming society. For the majority of our informants, the networks appeared to be very significant, which allows us making an empirical argument in the debates on ‘networked creativity’ as a key component in non-material production.

Keywords: DIY-urbanism, street art, public space