American Flâneuse: examining freedom of mobility through the concept of the flâneur

in urban European spaces

Artist Statement / About

In Edgar Allen Poe’s The Man of the Crowd, translated by Baudelaire, we see the flâneur again as a man quietly watching from his seat in a coffeeshop in London making judgements about and speculating on the lives and occupations of the people passing by on the street. (This eventually leads to him following one particular man throughout the day and into the night, completely unnoticed.) In several of my readings, I came across the idea of the flâneur as a detective of sorts. In The Flâneur, the Sandwichman, and the Whore: The Politics of Loitering, Susan Buck-Morss wrote, “’The reporter, a flaneur become detective, covers the beat” (Buck-Morss, 1986). Walter Benjamin calls up the flâneur in The Arcades Project, describing him as a symbol of changing times, of capitalism, of modernity and all the issues encapsulated within. ”Flaneur – sandwich man – journalist in uniform. The latter advertises the state, no longer the commodity,” he says (Benjamin, 2003). And on and on, as I made my way through the history of and commentary on the flâneur I came across these words: man, he, him.

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experience and coursework that led to the formation of this thesis project