The ebb & flow of art between cities and their locales

Cities such as Paris, New York, and London tend to be a nucleus of artistry. They have a concentration of capital, cultural institutions, and the best minds who have come from near and afar. Of particular interest to me is the role of a city in shaping the kind of art produced beyond its confines.

The art created in a city — and by art, I mean artworks, films, music, fashion, etc. — is not just the outcome of an outlet for creativity or an available urbane audience ready to engage with it. It is also the sum of the conditions of a city at any given time. The art develops its form via a transformation through successive sequences resulting in an aesthetic removed from its original roots. Let me explain.

People come into a city with art (ideas) that are often rooted in their past experiences. Their experiences in the city transform that art even further. Over time, the art forms peculiar to various regions interact with the art brought in by other people in the city. The city, in effect, acts as a catalyst or engine of production. The result is an aesthetic that contains elements of the origins, interactions of various art forms, and experiences of people but is markedly different from their sum.

So it makes sense that over time the emphasis shifts away from the art itself onto the medium, the city, that enabled this transformation. This is why cities have a draw to them. There is the sense that you can come into it, and in doing so, be transformed, further unleashing your ideas, abilities, and talent.

Eventually, the new modes of art created in the city, whether music, fashion, film, television, artwork, or poetry, is transmitted to far-off places. There, they exert an immediate influence on the sources of art that made them possible in the first place.

An obvious example is an outfit created by a fashion designer raised in Washington, D.C., and now living in New York City. A fast-fashion retailer like Zara or H&M copies the design, and it ends up on display in a random shopping mall in the Midwest. An encounter with the dress, in turn, shapes the experience of a young girl living in that part of town.

Omo Naija | follower of Jesus | Kdrama fanatic | film & art lover | coffee addict | product enthusiast | getting lost to find myself