Creativity without critique: An inquiry into the aesthetization of the alternative culture
The category of “creative city” is far from neutral. Indeed, it can be linked to very contrasted – and even opposed – practices and urban worlds. In order to grasp those differences, we need to take a closer look at what is entailed in the concepts of “creativity” and “art”, analysing in particular their political dimension. In this paper we defend the idea that it is the ambiguous polysemy of the notion of creativity – especially under the influence of the work of Florida (2002, 2012) – that is the cause of many problems in the contemporary analysis of urban dynamics. Among other, contemporary conceptions of creativity tend to underestimate its potentially subversive dimension in order to accentuate its compatibility with economic imperatives. A striking illustration of this "creativity without critique" is given by the aesthetic register of the « alternative culture » – characterized by recycling practices, urban wastelands – which nowadays tends to become devoid of its political implication and be used as a commercial niche (a process we call « aesthetization »). To illustrate this question, we analyse various examples found in cultural places in Lisbon, Geneva and Ljubljana.