Beyond the War on Graffiti: The Right to Visual Expression in Urban Spaces
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This article draws on the work of urban scholars, activists, graffiti writers and street artists to explore alternative ways of thinking about visual expression in urban space, with a particular focus on Brisbane, Australia. The article first explores the limitations of criminalisation, arguing that a zero-tolerance approach is counterproductive. Next, the author explores the costly policy of rapid removal, arguing that despite the law’s apparent commitment to upholding property rights, the authorities are ultimately more concerned with maintaining control over the visual appearance of public space. Part four argues that graffiti writers and street artists articulate a different relationship to the city based on being a citizen rather than a property owner. The article concludes by suggesting that harm minimisation is better policy than zero tolerance, and that we need to remain open to the possibilities of illegal visual expression in urban spaces.
Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity
Special Art Issue
© The Author(s) 2015. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.
Law and Society