Aleksandra Ianchenko


As an artist and junior researcher for the project “Public Transport as Public Space,” my aim is to understand atmospheres on urban public transport and the ways in which they can be changed through performative public art practice. Indefinite yet powerful, atmospheres, which emerge in the relation between a perceived environment and perceiving bodies (Böhme 2017), can be created deliberately through aesthetic work and used as a tool for shaping certain experiences and behaviors in public space (Allen 2006). For instance, visually attractive public artworks permanently integrated into the public transport environment may create atmospheres of safety and comfort, navigating passengers through this regulated public space. On the other hand, on public transport, where unacquainted people must travel shoulder to shoulder, different atmospheres emerge not only through material modifications but also through unexpected encounters and events (Bissell 2010). In this sense, performative public art interventions can intentionally “drum up the ambience” (Thibaud 2015) and imbue the atmosphere of commutes with elements that are surprising and out of the ordinary. This paper outlines some of my art projects, which aim to carefully disrupt casual rides on public transport by creating moments of strangeness and humor.


How to Cite
Ianchenko, A. (2020) “A Tram Ride You Would Talk About”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 273–282. doi: 10.32891/jps.v5i4.1403.
Author Biography

Aleksandra Ianchenko, Tallinn University

Aleksandra Ianchenko studied fine arts at Irkutsk Technical University, Russia, where she founded the student-run gallery ATOM and curated exhibitions of local artists. She obtained her second MA in art management at Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, spending a year as an exchange student at Humboldt University in Berlin. She regularly participates in exhibitions in Russia and Germany, including annual shows of the alumni of Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts. Currently Aleksandra is pursuing a joint PhD at Tallinn University, Estonia, and Abo Akademi University, Finland.


Abramson C., Myrna M. B., Worden P. (2010). 'Art and the Transit Experience/Creating a Sense of Purpose' in A. Orum, Common ground: readings and reflections on public space, Routledge, New York. pp. 148-157.

Allen J. (2006). Ambient Power: Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz and the Seductive Logic of Public Spaces. Urban Studies 43: 441–455.

Anderson B. (2009). Affective Atmosphere. Emotion, Space and Society 2: 77-81.

Bissell D. (2010). Passenger mobilities: affective atmospheres and the sociality of public transport. Environment and Planning 28: 270-289.

Bissel D. (2018). Transit Life How Commuting is Transforming Our Cities, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Böhme G. (2017). The Aesthetics of Atmospheres, New York: Routledge.

Cresswell T. (2006). On the Move, New York: Routledge.

Delfi (2020). "Do We Need the Tram? What the Locals Think about It" [online] https://rus.delfi.ee/daily/lasnamae/videoopros-rusdelfi-nuzhen-li-tramvaj-v-lasnamyae-chto-dumayut-ob-etom-sami-zhiteli-rajona?id=88829585. Accessed on 20 August 2020.

De Certeau M. (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hillary F and Sumartojo S. (2014). Empty-Nursery Blue: On Atmosphere, Meaning and Methodology in Melbourne Street Art. Public Art Dialogue 4: 201-220.

Jensen Ole B. (2009). Flows of Meaning, Cultures of Movements - Urban Mobility as Meaningful Everyday Life Practice. Mobilities 4: 139-158.

Martin K., Dalton B and Nikolopoulou M. (2013). Art as a Means to Disrupt Routine Use of Space. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology 28: 139–149.

Paget-Seekins L and Tironi M. (2016). The publicness of public transport: The changing nature of public transport in Latin American cities. Transport Policy 49: 176-183.

Šedá K. (2016) Tram Buskers Tour" [online] http://www.katerinaseda.cz/en/. Accessed on 20 August 2020.

Thibaud J-P. (2015). The backstage of urban ambiances: when atmospheres pervade everyday experiences. Emotions, Space and Society 39-46.

Wilkie F. (2015). Performance, Transport and Mobility, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wilson H. (2010). Passing propinquities in the multicultural city: the everyday encounters of bus passengering. Environament and Planning 43: 634-649.

Young A. (2014). Cities in the City: Street Art, Enchantment, and the Urban Commons. Law & Literature 26: 145-161.