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Bushwicked! Globalization and Local Community in an Emerging Art World


Much attention has recently been paid to the shifting meanings and forms of "community" given the increasingly global world. As the geographic basis for community has arguably begun to weaken, while other possibilities for defining community have blossomed, the nature of local communities has shifted. Despite some claims that local communities are no longer especially important in people's lives, arguably this is not always the case. Local community may be particularly important for art worlds, where rapid exchange of ideas and nuanced styles may be best facilitated through face-to-face interaction. How and to what extent is local community established and made meaningful in an increasingly global world? Drawing on data from an ethnographic study of Bushwick, Brooklyn, an emerging bohemian art world that has built its community around a local, geography-based identity, I examine these issues. Bushwick artists have attempted to create a cohesive local art community; yet in many ways Bushwick is also a global neighborhood, as well as one that shares its location with a much more longstanding community of primarily Latino residents, and serves as a satellite to Chelsea, the center of the world for contemporary art. Drawing on data culled from interviews, participant observation, and media and art analysis, I examine the nature of Bushwick's local art community, its relation to the pre-existing Latino community, and its relation to and meaning in the context of the broader NYC/Chelsea art world and society at large.

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