Academic Review

“Admiration is the feeling that sustains democracy”


“Por amor al arte” (For the Love of Art) – Antanas Mockus’s Political slogan 2006


Quotation #1
“Admiration is the feeling that sustains democracy”

Doris Sommer’s Chapter 1 in Work of Art in The World there is a heavy interested into a bottom to top approach into government led urban renewal. Particular evidence is with her writing over Bogota’s most influential mayor, Antanas Mockus (Jan 1995 – April 97) (2001-2003). Mockus ran on the political slogan “Por amor al arte” (For the Love of Art) as to project metaphorically his vision of seeing cities as works of art themselves.

Pre-Mockus, Bogota was noted as having high inequality, gentrification, violence, and corruption. Sommer’s noted the dynamism of active citizenship to transparent leadership. Mockus initial thought to Mayoral duties to redefined the role of citizenship as both passive and participatory in the phrase coined, “spec-actors”.  This is to combat the narrative of obedience equating to punishment and fear as Mockus understand as breeding resentment toward political intervention. He accessed the role of civic culture as legal, morale, and cultural practices noting the divorce of these practices leading to the formal and informal code of behavior. Mockus  take was to implement the empowerment in citizens as being leaders in their own right, by maintaining the principles of humor, creativity, and political consistency.

What can be consider the role and relationship of governmental and sponsored creativity? How does the role of admiration lead to stability in social order of democracy?

From, Bogota’s Improving Civic Behavior Cities on Speed, Angus Mockus had a view of

disconnection of civil behavior and education, and thus lead to civic discourse. He said, “People throw trash of he streets, because it is all they know” (Dalsgaard) On the notion of creative democracy and civic leadership, “Admiration is the feeling that sustains democracy” I think it is better to reframe the quote to be more direct as, democratic citizen engagement and empowerment can lead to stability. It was Mockus investments into Bogata’s infrastructure; parks roads, schools and his creative “artist-like” leadership which allowed for a majority of vote against his political opponents for his reelection. It was his consistent streak in early social programs; mimes as traffic officers, Girls night out, etc, allowed for the public opinion to shift to view his opponents as, “false promises”. Mockus advocated in the the notion of “citizen heroes” as a tagline for community and individual empowerment in Bogota, he taught politicians to trust citizens and visa versa ultimately leading to equal care of their city. 

By Adam

Bogotá Improving Civic Behavior Cities on Speed, You Tube, April 2014

Dalsgaard, Andreas. Bogota’s Improving Civic Behavior Cities on Speed. Produced by Danish Radio. Published on Apr 3, 2014.

Sommer, Doris . The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities. Durham,NC: Duke University Press, 2014. Prologue and Chapter 1


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